Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Beginning Teacher Longitudinal Study

The supply of and demand for teachers is a topic of attention and concern as teachers of the baby boom generation retire. Finding ways to assure that there are enough teachers to educate America’s children is a major policy issue at the local, state, and federal levels. To learn about the early career patterns of beginning teachers, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) of the Institute of Education Sciences within the U.S. Department of Education undertook the Beginning Teacher Longitudinal Study (BTLS). BTLS is a nationally representative longitudinal study of public school teachers who began teaching in 2007 or 2008. The BTLS provides researchers with the opportunity to examine the
career paths of beginning teachers as well as factors that may influence those paths.

The purpose of this Research and Development (R&D) report is to develop a strategy for the longitudinal analysis of the BTLS data that can be used to better understand teacher attrition, retention, and mobility. NCES may use this strategy to analyze and present data on all 5 years of the BTLS in their future reports. The R&D report has three research objectives: (1) to define the concept of a career path for beginning teachers that can be implemented with all waves of the BTLS; (2) to operationalize the assignment of a career path using this definition (i.e., examine methods for assigning career paths); and (3) to investigate the best approach for analyzing the relationships between beginning teachers’ career paths and selected teacher and school characteristics.

Conclusions and recommendations from the report include the following:

• Analyses of the BTLS data showed that approximately 80 percent of all beginning teachers taught all 4 years, but there was mobility within this group. Three career paths were created for this group based on the type(s) of moves they made.

• Among the remaining 20 percent of beginning teachers, paths were created based on whether a teacher returned, is likely to return, is not likely to return to teaching, or it could not be determined if they would return, using several survey items.

• The method for assigning career paths depended on the amount of information available for teachers, that is, the response patterns across the waves. Because all teachers did not respond to all waves, two possible sets of teachers could be used to produce estimates of teacher career paths, all sample members, and sample members that responded to all survey waves. Based on the analyses conducted using both sets of teachers, using the respondents to all waves of the survey was found to be the best approach to operationalizing teacher career paths.

• Using respondents to all waves was found to be appropriate in analyzing the relationships between career paths and teacher and school characteristics because the results for this group did not differ significantly with results for all sample members.

• No statistically significant differences were found between the estimates produced using teachers responding to all waves including retrospective respondents and those using teachers responding to all waves excluding retrospective respondents. For these reasons, the authors recommend inclusion of retrospective respondents in future longitudinal career path analysis.

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