Educational Administration, Department of


First Advisor

John Mackiel

Date of this Version



A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Education, Major: Educational Administration, Under the Supervision of Professor John Mackiel. Lincoln, Nebraska: December, 2017

Copyright © 2017 Rik Devney


The potential of our nation is hinged upon the strength of our educational system across all 50 states. Public education is the backbone of our country and continues to be a spotlight of focus for many. In 1983, President Ronald Regan shared the “Nation at Risk” report, based on the findings from the National Commission on Excellence in Education. The report claimed a level of mediocrity permeated the public education system and children were lagging behind compared to children in other first world countries. This landmark report put a level of accountability on school officials to create higher performing students in every classroom. In 1994, President Bill Clinton signed the Goals 2000 Act, which began to create standards of educational reform. As the presidential office turned over, the focus on education in America did not lessen. President George W. Bush signed the No Child Left Behind act in 2002, which continued a string of accountability factors, including requirements for staffing practices.

Even with increased government policies and reform efforts related to teacher staffing, research continues to reveal challenges related to teacher recruiting, hiring, training, and retaining quality teachers across the country. “Over a decade ago we estimated that between 40 to 50% of those who enter teaching leave teaching within 5 years. This figure has been widely reported since, but it was only a rough estimate using cross-sectional national data. Recently, using national longitudinal data, Perda (2013, in Ingersoll, Merrill, & Stuckey, 2014, p. 24) was able to more accurately document rates of cumulative beginning attrition. He found that more than 41% of new teachers leave teaching within 5 years of entry. Moreover, we have also found that these already high levels have been going up since the late 1980’s” (Ingersoll et. al., 2014 p. 24).

This narrative inquiry qualitative study explores the topic of teacher longevity by conducting in-depth interviews of four teachers who defied the national statistics by teaching in the same Title I elementary school for 30 or more years. This study will capture the stories of each teacher and their rationale for staying in the same school for 30 years or more.

Adviser: John Mackiel