Why do teachers stay? Exploring teacher retention in urban schools.


There are nearly 250 teachers hired each school year due to attrition in Smith Independent School District (SISD). Attrition is a repetitive obstacle to finding qualified teachers for open positions. From the 2015–2016 to 2018–2019 school years, there were 1,000 teachers hired across SISD due to attrition, representing a 24% teacher attrition rate. The researcher and SISD leaders believed that there was a need for additional efforts to address teacher retention. The purpose of this study was to determine the contributing factors to high teacher retention in one elementary school in an urban, high-attrition district in Central Texas to understand what motivated the teachers to stay. A qualitative single case study with lead teacher and administrator interviews and a teacher focus group were the means used to obtain the teachers’ thoughts and perceptions of the job factors that caused them to stay at their school despite high district attrition. Data analysis resulted in a priori codes derived from Herzberg’s two-factor theory, which led to four emergent themes: administrator quality, the work itself/self-efficacy, autonomy and decision-making, and coworker relations. The findings in this research could provide leaders in urban school districts with information on retaining teachers at their campuses.



Teacher retention. Urban schools.