Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

The Effects of Leadership and High-Stakes Testing on Teacher Retention

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

The Effects of Leadership and High-Stakes Testing on Teacher Retention

Article excerpt


The purpose of this study was to examine whether principal leadership behaviors and the demands of high-stakes testing had an impact on teachers' intent to remain in the teaching profession. Teacher perceptions of what contributed to their intent to remain in the teaching profession, were also examined. First, the researchers examined whether principal leadership styles and behaviors affected teachers' intent to remain in the teaching profession. Second, the researchers examined the levels of teacher job satisfaction between state-measured subject area teachers such as those who teach reading, math, and English and those teachers in non-state-measured subject areas such as science, history, technology, and elective classes (e.g., band, choir, art). Third, the researchers examined whether a relationship existed between teacher job satisfaction and teacher mentoring with regard to teachers' intent to remain in the teaching profession. Also examined were the leading self-reported factors that contributed to teachers' intent to remain in or leave the teaching profession.

Research suggests that at a time when teachers must carefully examine and master the roles and responsibilities of their profession to meet the needs of students as well as the demands of administrators and policy makers, strains experienced by teachers are resulting in teacher turnover (Valli & Buese, 2007). For some educators, these strains may be a result of high-stakes testing and stressors that are associated with test preparation, procedures, and accountability (Hahs-Vaughn & Scherff, 2008). Such accountability has led to standardization and high-stakes assessment in schools, which is primarily due to the widespread movement of government-regulated mandates in the United States (Rubin, 2011). This movement, which resulted in the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001, requires teachers of English/Language Arts (ELA) to administer high-stakes assessments in both reading and writing. According to Rubin (2011) teachers of ELA have become victimized due to the increased expectations and regulations placed on them above those placed on teachers in other subject areas. As a result, "for teachers today, both in ELA and across the curriculum, NCLB is harming teachers, their practice and their long-term commitment to the teaching profession" (Rubin, 2011, p. 407)

While many teachers claim that responsibilities and workload have increased due to standardized testing (Valli & Buese, 2007), other educators state they merely cannot keep up with the demands of the profession, disrespect from students, an abundance of paperwork, and the lack of support received from administrators both at the school and district levels (Haberman, 2005). Leithwood and McAdie (2007) suggest that when teachers perceive their workload to be imbalanced compared to that of their peers, teacher stress is increased, teacher morale is weakened, and teacher commitment to schools becomes a concern.


Theoretical Foundation

With accountability of NCLB at an all-time high, critics believe that school leaders face tremendous barriers in their efforts to reduce achievement gaps and retain highly-qualified teachers (Smith & Kovacs, 2011). With the emergence of education reform, teachers are held to higher standards and accountability, and student achievement remains at the forefront of educational priorities (Spradlin & Prendergast, 2006).

Because of the focus on higher accountability, administrators are taking desperate measures to insure that their schools are meeting growth and expectations in the eyes of stakeholders and policy makers (Farber, 2010).

Farber (2010) believes that although a majority of schools are meeting or exceeding expectations of accountability, these expectations come at the expense of teachers' time, health, and commitment to the profession. With the continuous pressure to increase student achievement particularly for tested-subject area teachers along with the lack of administrative support, teachers may feel greater stress in carrying out their responsibilities. …

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