Staying Power: Preparation Route and Teacher Persistence

The past five blog posts have presented data related to the teaching profession in Texas. We have examined data ranging from the educator landscape in Texas to teacher production by Educator Preparation Program (EPP) type to multiple measures of EPP quality (exit survey, new teacher survey, and principal survey). This blog post looks at the final piece in our exploration of data surrounding EPP quality by reviewing early-career persistence data for new teachers.

Does preparation route matter for early-career persistence in the teaching field?

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) annually publishes Teacher Retention by Preparation Route data that show the counts and percentages of new teachers who remain in the teaching field through the five full years of their teaching career. These data are disaggregated by preparation route (Traditional EPPs, Alternative EPPs, Post-baccalaureate programs, and out-of-state licensed teachers) and allow for a comparison of early-career longevity within teaching. Combining the two most-recent TEA reports gives us seven years of data for teachers who started in AY 2014-2015 through AY 2020-2021. Three of these new-teacher cohorts have the full five years of retention data in the combined reports. In the visualization below, the years on the y-axis relate to the first academic year of teaching (2015 through 2021), and the “Year: #” columns across the top of the x-axis show the retention rate by measurement year.

  • Similar to how retention/persistence rates are calculated for university students, retention rates for new teachers show what percentage of them started in a specific academic year and were employed in a Texas public school in the subsequent years. For example, a teacher who is issued their first standard certificate during the 2015-16 academic year and employed in a Texas public school in the following year, 2016-17, will be included in the 1-Year retention number. If the same teacher is employed in the next academic year, 2017-18, they will be included in the 2-Year retention number (TEA Report).
  • From AY2015 through AY2021, more than 158,000 new teachers were hired by Texas public schools. Across all EPP types, more than 15,000 of those new teachers (9.5%) did not remain in the teaching profession for more than one year, giving us an overall one-year retention rate of 90.5%.
  • On average across the seven years in the data, 93.4% of new teachers trained by Traditional EPPs at universities persisted to the second year of teaching, compared to 89.9% of new teachers who were trained by Alternative EPPs
  • This gap between Traditional EPPs and Alternative EPPs continues to grow over time. 
    • In Year 2, there is a 6-percentage point difference (87.3% for Traditional EPPs vs 81.2% for Alternative EPPs).
    • In Year 3, there is an almost 8-percentage point difference (81.2% for Traditional EPPs vs 73.6% for Alternative EPPs).
    • In Year 4, the difference is almost 9 percentage points (75.3% for Traditional EPPs vs 66% for Alternative EPPs).
    • In Year 5, there is an almost 10-percentage point difference (69.1% for Traditional EPPs vs 59.4% for Alternative EPPs).

NOTES: As a reminder, Traditional EPPs include all pathways to certification (traditional, alternative, and post-baccalaureate) that are offered by a college or university in Texas, while Alternative EPPs are “nontraditional routes to certification” that are not affiliated with a college or university that allow individuals with a bachelor’s degree to serve as teachers-of-record while completing teacher certification requirements in Texas. 

So What?

Across the six blog posts in this series, we have seen that more new teachers are being hired who have gone through Alternative EPPs than through Traditional EPPs. Across the various quality metrics captured by the TEA, most of the indicators support the view that new teachers produced by Traditional EPPs are rated higher than those from Alternative EPPs. The data shown above for early-career retention in the classroom may serve as the indicator that distinguishes Traditional EPPs from Alternative EPPs, given the almost 10-percentage point difference across 3 cohorts of new teachers who remained in the field through their fifth year as teacher. As with so many facets of our society, the full measure of the fallout from the Covid-affected years of AY2020 and AY2021 may not be seen for a few more academic cycles, but the early-career retention rates for teachers should be a closely-watched metric to follow in the years ahead.

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