- The Purpose of the Study:
The purpose of this study was to examine early teacher
attrition through a follow-up of Washington County teachers
in Oregon who left the profession with five years of experience
or less. Focus was given to background data and
areas of greatest professional concerns for former teachers.
Washington County teachers with up to five years of experience
and who left the profession from 1976 to 1978 were
this study's population.
Data was obtained through personnel files at the State
Department of Education (through provisions of Oregon
Revised Statute 192.420) and from two-part questionnaires
completed by respondents. Former teachers were sent introductory
letters explaining the study; and a follow-up
telephone call was made to answer questions before mailing
the questionnaires. Part I of the questionnaire asked for
background data, and Part II required former teachers to
indicate their degrees of concern for 43 educationally
The chi square statistic was used in Part I to determine
whether significant differences existed between the
obtained and expected frequencies of variables for women,
men, and the total population, respectively. In Part II,
the 43 concerns were ranked individually and in the following
clusters; Self, Teaching Situation, Teaching Capabilities,
and Personal Ambition.
Summary of Findings:
Seventy per cent of the former teachers in this study
had intended, upon receiving their degrees, to teach five or
more years. In reality, only one-fourth of them did teach
five years before leaving the profession.
Sixty per cent of the population had only one to two
years experience in their districts of leave. Greater than
seventy per cent of the sample were married.
One-third more women than expected left the secondary
level; and twice as many women as expected left the smallest
districts. Thirty per cent of the women had tenure, and
almost 40 per cent had salaries of less than $10,000. More
than half had one to two dependents, including spouse.
Seventy five per cent of the men who were employed
after leaving the profession had annual salaries of at least
$800 greater than their teaching salaries. Twenty per cent
were not employed during the subsequent year. Thirty five
per cent of the men identified "administration and/or supervision"
as the factor most influencing their decisions to
More than half the men and one-third of the women
deemed it unlikely that they would return to teaching. An
Additional 20 per cent of the men and 14 per cent of the
women said they definitely would not return.
Predominant concerns expressed by former teachers
dealt with meeting needs of students, including: increasing
students' feelings of accomplishment, whether students are
learning what they should, insuring that students grasp
subject matter fundamentals, and meeting needs of different
kinds of students. A low-ranking concern for both women
and men was "excessive time spent on teacher negotiations."
When concerns were organized into the four clusters,
concerns about Teaching Capabilities were ranked highest for
both women and men. In descending order, the others for
women were: Self, Personal Ambitions, and Teaching Situation.
For men, the following rankings were shown:
Teaching Capabilities, Teaching Situation, Personal Ambition,
Summary of Conclusions:
Former teachers in this sample had greater expectations
of their commitment to teaching upon receiving their degrees
than they experienced in reality.
Economics was a major factor in the early attrition of
Of greatest concern to former teachers were their
teaching capabilities in relation to the process of student
learning, as well as concerns about themselves.
Former teachers with one year of experience had greater
general concerns than those with additional experience.
Women had higher levels of concern than men. Also, former
elementary teachers had a higher general level of concern
than those at the secondary level.