26 SES 09 B, Educational Leadership And Accountability – Insights Into A Complex Relationship
In many countries, teacher turnover continues to be a problem, particularly among novices in high poverty schools (Allen, Burgess, & Mayo, 2012; Ingersoll, 2003; OECD, 2012; Sutcher, Darling-Hammond, & Carver-Thomas, 2016). Additionally, dissatisfaction with organizational working conditions and school leadership are variables that are frequently cited as predictors of turnover (Burke et al., 2013; Grissom, 2011; Ingersoll, 2003; OECD, 2012). Furthermore, the policy context that significantly influences the work of educators has recently become more and more governed through standardization, testing accountability, and evaluation (Ball, 2016). This policy context is particularly important in that it has been found to shape the work of principals (Daly, 2009; Ball & Olmedo, 2013) and teachers (Ball, 2003). This study uses a United States national data set to test the effects of teacher perceptions of accountability policies, leadership, and working conditions on their job satisfaction and career decisions.
Researchers seeking to understand the reasons for teacher turnover repeatedly discuss the importance of leadership and working conditions in teacher’s job satisfaction, feelings of efficacy, and career decisions (Grissom, 2011; Ingersoll, 2003). Additionally, some studies have pointed out that disadvantaged schools tend to be more top-heavy and bureaucratic (Grissom, 2011). One reason for the expansion of management within disadvantaged schools is the present neoliberal reform policy agenda. A shift from policy focused on equity towards one focused on accountability for student performance on standardized exams has defined the neoliberal policy regime and changed the work of educators (Ball, 2016). For example, Daly (2009) found that administrators perceived the pressure of accountability as a threat to their credibility and effectiveness, and reacted with a more rigid-response to leadership. These findings imply that neoliberal policies may create unfavorable organizational conditions that influence teacher’s decisions to leave. However, this phenomenon has been severely under-researched using the available national data sets in the United States.
- What is the relationship between the neoliberal policy regime and teacher job satisfaction and turnover?
Through a sociological organizational approach to studying teacher turnover, Ingersoll (2001; 2003) argues that “employee turnover is important because of its link to the performance and effectiveness of organizations” (Ingersoll, 2001, p. 505) and that “high levels of employee turnover are both cause and effect of ineffectiveness and low performance in organizations” (Ingersoll, 2001, p. 505). This approach corroborates with previous literature on teacher turnover, which revealed that the following organizational factors are related to teacher job satisfaction: autonomy, student behavior, classroom control, administrative support, collegial relationships, school culture, and principal leadership (Grissom, 2011; Ingersoll, 2003; Ladd, 2011; Sparks, 2016). This study draws on the previous literature, along with Karasek’s (1979) theory that performance reforms influence job responsibilities, levels of influence on decision-making, and supervisory support, to produce a theoretical framework that includes teacher’s perceived satisfaction with three organizational characteristics: accountability policies, influence and control, and leadership.
This study utilizes a nationally representative sample from the 2011-12 Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) and 2012-13 Teacher Follow-up Survey (TFS) in the United States. New items in these latest waves of the survey that relate to teacher perceptions of accountability policies, influence and control, and leadership are the key independent variables in the analysis. The dependent, or outcome variables for the SASS sample, which includes all teachers surveyed is based on teacher’s job overall job satisfaction and their intent to stay in teaching. Since, the intent to stay in teaching is not indicative of actual turnover decisions, the TFS survey will be used as a longitudinal sample. In the TFS, the dependent variables will be the reasons teachers give for moving schools or leaving the profession. The covariates are consistent with prior research that uncovers the reasons for teacher turnover. They include individual teacher characteristics and individual school characteristics. The quantitative method used will be a hierarchical logistic regression model. Prior to conducting the regression model, a principal components analysis for the independent variables will be conducted in order to identify collinearity among variables and reliability for any categories that may corroborate with the prior literature. SASS Analysis A hierarchical logistic regression will be used to measure the predictability of the independent variables and covariates on teachers’ intent to stay and job satisfaction. Each of the variables in the model will be entered in a separate step, for a total of a five-step hierarchical model. The first step will include teacher perceptions of accountability policies, the second step will add perceptions of influence and control, and the third step will add perceptions of leadership. The fourth and fifth steps will include individual and school characteristics respectively. The predictability of the independent variables will be determined based on sustained statistical significance when covariates are added in the complete model. TFS Analysis Cases will be separated by “movers”, or teachers who moved to another school and “leavers”, or teachers who left the profession altogether. This will allow for separate analysis and comparison of the dependent variable, or reason for leaving among both groups. Since the cases will be separated out, the same hierarchical logistic regression model as was used in the SASS analysis will be done separately for movers and for leavers.
This study is significant to scholars, practitioners, and policymakers. First, there exists a plethora of studies on turnover, and separately, the governance of the work of educators via policy. However, there has not been a sufficient inquiry into how policy relates to turnover. Additionally, while there have been many inquiries into how policy transforms subjects within education, most of this research relies on interviews. This proposed study builds on the null findings of a connection between neoliberal policies and teacher job dissatisfaction and turnover (Grissom, Nicholson-Crotty, & Harrington, 2014; Sun, Saultz, & Ye, 2017) by utilizing new measures that specifically ask current and former teachers about their level of satisfaction with accountability policies such as standards, assessment, and evaluation. Based on the prior literature, the expected findings are that teachers who view accountability reforms unfavorably will be most likely to report dissatisfaction and departure from their position. Similarly, the effects of leadership are expected to be mediators of satisfaction and turnover. Thus, the results can be used to inform practitioners of the ways teachers may feel about policy and the way that policy informs job satisfaction and career decisions. Additionally, it may uncover certain leadership characteristics that teachers find favorable amidst policies that they may find unfavorable. Finally, the combination of results from SASS and TFS provide a longitudinal analysis that explains how perceptions of policies, autonomy, and leadership influence teacher’s job satisfaction, but also their actual career decisions. The results can provide a more robust understanding of the problem of teacher turnover, which can be helpful for countries struggling to attract and retain teacher amidst neoliberal reforms.
Allen, R., Burgess, S. M., & Mayo, J. (2012). The teacher labour market, teacher turnover and disadvantaged schools: new evidence for England. CMPO, Bristol Institute of Public Affairs, University of Bristol. Ball, S. J. (2003). The teacher’s soul and the terrors of performativity. Journal of Education Policy, 18(2), 215–228. Ball, S. J. (2016). Neoliberal education? Confronting the slouching beast. Policy Futures in Education, 14(8), 1046–1059. Ball, S. J., & Olmedo, A. (2013). Care of the self, resistance and subjectivity under neoliberal governmentalities. Critical Studies in Education, 54(1), 85–96. Burke, P. F., Schuck, S., Aubusson, P., Buchanan, J., Louviere, J. J., & Prescott, A. (2013). Why do early career teachers choose to remain in the profession? The use of best–worst scaling to quantify key factors. International Journal of Educational Research, 62, 259-268. Daly, A. J. (2009). Rigid response in an age of accountability: The potential of leadership and trust. Educational Administration Quarterly, 45(2), 168-216. Grissom, J. A. (2011). Can good principals keep teachers in disadvantaged schools? Linking principal effectiveness to teacher satisfaction and turnover in hard-to-staff environments. Teachers College Record, 113(11), 2552-2585. Grissom, J. A., Nicholson-Crotty, S., & Harrington, J. R. (2014). Estimating the effects of No Child Left Behind on teachers’ work environments and job attitudes. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 36(4), 417-436. Ingersoll, R. M. (2001). Teacher turnover and teacher shortages: An organizational analysis. American Educational Research Journal, 38(3), 499-534. Ingersoll, R. M. (2003). Is there really a teacher shortage? CPRE Research Report # R-03-4. Philadelphia: Consortium for Policy Research in Education, University of Pennsylvania. Karasek, R. A. (1979). Job demands, job decision latitude, and mental strain: Implications for job redesign. Administrative Science Quarterly, 24, 285-308. Ladd, H. F. (2011). Teachers’ perceptions of their working conditions: How predictive of planned and actual teacher movement?. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 33(2), 235-261. OECD. (2012). Teaching in focus: What can be done to support new teachers? Retrieved from:https://www.oecd.org/edu/school/What%20Can%20Be%20Done%20to%20Support%20New%20Teachers.pdf Sparks, D. (2016). Teacher Job Satisfaction. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics: Washington, DC. Sun, M., Saultz, A., & Ye, Y. (2017). Federal policy and the teacher labor market: exploring the effects of NCLB school accountability on teacher turnover. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 28(1), 102-122. Sutcher, L., Darling-Hammond, L., & Carver-Thomas, D. (2016). A coming crisis in teaching? Teacher supply, demand, and shortages in the U.S.. Palo Alto, CA: Learning Policy Institute.
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