Journal Review
Mary Jo Gregory
EDU 713
October 13, 2010


Haun, D.D. & Martin, B.N. (2004). Attrition of beginning teachers and the factors of
collaboration and school setting. Research in Middle Level Education 27, 1-7.


Research has been completed that shows that beginning teachers are leaving the profession at a much faster rate than veteran teachers (Haun and Martin, 2004). The purpose of this study was to investigate two factors on attrition of beginning teachers: collaboration and setting. Research questions that were considered during this study were the following: 1- How do the attrition rates of beginning teachers in urban, suburban, and rural school districts compare? 2- Is there a difference in the degree of collaboration experienced by beginning teachers who left the teaching profession and beginning teachers who remained? 3- Is there a difference in the attrition rate of beginning middle school teachers who are part of an interdisciplinary team and middle school teachers who are not? Highlights from the literature basically state: Attrition of teachers regarding setting showed the teachers of rural settings were more likely to leave the profession more so than urban districts. Some districts address the concern of the attrition of beginning teachers by providing support with induction programs and mentors which increases the commitment to continue teaching. The middle school beginning teachers are provided with collaborative support from other teachers by experiencing common planning time, adjacent classrooms, and an additional personal planning period (Haun and Martin, 2004). They also share a common group of students with this team of teachers who collaboratively provide instruction.
The Project
The researchers gathered data through a research-created collaboration survey. This survey calculated the level of collaboration experienced by former teachers and beginning teachers. Survey questions, found in the literature, related to the following six categories: balance/equity, commitment, process, support, time, and trust. Attrition data were collected from school districts by tracking hiring and attrition information from each school from the school years of 1998-2002 in urban, suburban and rural schools. A multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was used to determine the degree of collaboration by beginning teachers who chose to exit teaching and the beginning teachers who chose to remain in the profession. When a significant difference was found, an ANOVA was issued to the teachers to determine the actual level of collaboration. Chi-square tests were utilized to distinguish the differences of the attrition rates of the groups. Types of middle school collaboration were also examined such as interdisciplinary and not interdisciplinary by teacher status using Chi-square tests also. Follow-up interviews were conducted on five percent of current teachers who completed the survey. The interviews were recorded and transcribed, and the statements were placed on the appropriate level of collaboration on the collaboration survey. Written comments and statements on the collaboration survey were also included in the qualitative data.
The participants consisted of 426 teachers from 36 school districts in a 23-county region state in the Midwest. Three hundred and fifty were current teachers and the other 76 were former teachers. Of the surveys issued, 308 were returned. These participants completed and returned the survey, attrition data was gathered from school districts for each school in rural, suburban and urban areas from 1998-2002 and compared, MANOVA and ANOVA were performed, Chi-square tests of independence were utilized, and follow-up interviews were conducted to complete this research study.
The attrition rate was lowest in urban schools with 4% of the beginning teachers of the last four years leaving the teaching profession all together. “The greatest attrition rate was in rural schools with 17% of the beginning teachers leaving” (Haun and Martin, 2008). The degree of collaboration experienced by beginning teachers who left the profession and beginning teachers who remained in teaching was not significantly influenced. Two subscales of the collaboration survey, commitment and process, showed interest. The MANOVA did not detect significance; when relating to teacher attrition, the ANOVA displayed effects may be present within the subscales. In the Commitment subscale, a significant effect was determined dealing with the comment, “I plan to teach next year partly because of my group” was influenced by the teacher’s status. Also the Process subscale showed influence whether the teacher was current or former using the responses to the statement, “ My group takes responsibility for a common groups of students.” No significant relationship was found when calculating the Chi-square test of independence comparing the attrition rates of beginning middle school teachers who were part of an interdisciplinary team and the attrition rate of middle school teachers who were not part of such a team.
Discussion, Implications, Recommendations
In this study, no difference was found between current teachers and former teachers, according to the subscale totals in the collaborative survey. There were some differences found in the one aspect of the Commitment subscale and the Process subscale. “These items related to the following elements of collaboration; the influence of the collaborative group on the beginning teacher’s desire to continue teaching, and the level of responsibility the collaborative group had for a common group of students” (Haun and Martin, 2004). The literature affirmed the findings of the level of responsibility the collaborative group had for a common group of students. Beginning teachers who experienced the supportive collaborative group and the common group of students were more likely to remain in the teaching profession. The attrition rates of urban, rural and suburban schools in the study were considerable. “This study builds on Frantz’s research (1994) that rural districts were losing teachers at a much higher rate than urban districts. In this present study, suburban schools teachers were leaving suburban schools at a rate slightly less than teachers in rural schools, but at a much greater rate than teachers in urban schools” (Haun and Martin, 2004). When examining the attrition of beginning middle school teachers who served on an interdisciplinary team and those that did not serve on an interdisciplinary team, no significant difference was found, but the literature outlined benefits of teams and collaboration to beginning middle school teachers. It showed an increase in the dedication to and success in the teaching profession. Implications to school districts can be made after reviewing this study. Collaboration with experienced veteran teachers and responsibility of common students, like in middle school interdisciplinary teams, support beginning teachers and provide a strong team effort in teaching. If mentoring programs are not available in school districts for new teachers, administrators should seek to build their own beginning teacher support program. When examining the effect of the collaborative group on the beginning teacher’s commitment to teaching, the study concurs with the literature. Heimsmoth (1993) reported that beginning teachers aligned the most important aspect of induction activities was assistance from fellow teachers. Golden (1991) reported that beginning teachers in collaborative schools declared a commitment to remain in teaching more so than teachers who were employed in a non-collaborative environment. Recommendations for future studies may be to research factors that influence teachers to remain in urban schools. Further investigation on the effect of interdisciplinary teams in middle schools and increase of teacher attrition could be the focus of future studies.
My Thoughts
I was rather surprised that more evidence was not presented to support the collaboration effort in middle school. As a middle school teacher, I definitely see the strength of an interdisciplinary team in educating our students and providing support for beginning teachers. When I began teaching middle school, my school did not offer this type of collaborative team. Students were randomly dispersed throughout the entire fifteen eighth grade faculty. Teachers spent valuable time searching for common teachers to speak with regarding different students. As a beginning teacher, many times I attended parent conferences alone and felt no support from fellow teachers. I would like to see further research studies performed on the positive effects of interdisciplinary teams on retaining beginning teachers.
Reviewing the Collaborative Surveys and interviews would have helped me understand the study in more depth. Viewing the subscale categories limited my full comprehension of the study. Also, I would have liked to review the items or comments in the subscales of the collaborative surveys. The only comments shared in the journal article focused on commitment and process. I also suspect that other regions in our country may not share similar results in attrition rates. I would have liked to seen this study completed in other regions of our country.
Connections to the Course Material
From previous experience of serving on a middle school interdisciplinary team, I directly understand the benefits of this collaborative effort. When speaking of middle school teams, Friend and Cook (2010) state, “Specifically, middle school teams can increase the effectiveness of instruction, provide teachers with a much needed support system, help ensure that students’ problems are recognized and solved, and improve students’ work and attitudes” (pg. 73). When collaborating in a middle school interdisciplinary team, teachers of different subject areas share a common planning time and meet about the needs of their common students. During these discussions, teachers may choose to share strategies that have worked with a set of students or individuals. When a student is experiencing a problem at home, teachers can share their knowledge of this problem and collaboratively offer suggestions in assisting this student be successful in their classes. Beginning teachers would benefit in the classroom from having this group of teachers as a support system. For example, parent conferences are held with the entire team, not individual teachers. All teachers are present in the meeting to support each other. When beginning teachers have support such as effective interdisciplinary teams, I feel they are more likely to remain in the teaching profession. In my opinion, when this support is offered in the school, teachers will more likely remain in the teaching profession regardless of the area-urban, suburban or rural.