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Keeping the Good: A Case Study of Successful Teacher Retention in a High-Needs School

Janay Johns Turner, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Given the current impetus to reduce the teacher attrition rate within high-needs schools, it is appropriate to search for understanding from teachers who are not contributing to the teacher attrition rate; teachers who choose to continue to teach within high-needs schools. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to explore, discover, describe, and increase understanding of voluntary retention of successful, veteran teachers at a high-needs, high school. The central research question was, “How do successful, veteran teachers describe their decision to remain teaching at Southeastern High School?” Participants comprised a gender-balanced, ten-person sample of teachers from a high-needs, high school in the state of Florida. The teachers were considered successful based on their record of consistent student achievement as measured by high stakes tests and by student achievement in state and national clubs and contests. Additionally, research participants were judged to be veterans if they had attained at least 35 years of age and had been teaching at least six years at the school. Successful, veteran teachers in this study shared common character traits, including reluctance to change, resoluteness, insistence, desiring to share social capital, and not being driven solely by monetary gain. Shared beliefs included devotion to students, appreciation for colleagues, belief in social justice, and appreciation of diversity and challenge as reasons to continue teaching at the high-needs school. Surprisingly, teachers in this study did not allude to efficacy in the classroom as a basis to remain in their current school. Moreover, there was no consensus regarding dependence on administrative support as a basis for continuing to teach. Due, in part, to these findings, this study provided additional evidence for insight into the nuances of successful, veteran teachers’ professional identity. Successful, veteran teachers in this study had a relational component with both students and colleagues as part of their professional identity, and did not appear to be dependent on administrative support.

Subject Area

Educational administration|Education|Secondary education

Recommended Citation

Turner, Janay Johns, "Keeping the Good: A Case Study of Successful Teacher Retention in a High-Needs School" (2018). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI10982860.