Teacher Retention through Fund for Teachers Fellowships
Larkin, Rebecca 1956-
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Researchers have identified that experienced teachers are essential to raising student achievement and that effective professional development is a key element in both retaining classroom teachers and raising student achievement. However, researchers have focused primarily on the traditional sources of professional development offered through schools, districts, and university programs. Little attention has been given to the effects of teacher-oriented, non-profit foundations that offer professional development outside of the traditional educational community. Fund for Teachers, a nonprofit organization, awards teachers grants of up to 5000 dollars for summer fellowships to engage in personally designed professional development. This study surveyed a random sample of the over 3500 participants who had received FFT grants between 2001 and 2008 to discover the effect of the FFT grant experience on relational status, and teacher retention in the classroom. After factor and multiple regression analyses, the findings indicate the effects of the FFT grant experience and teacher identity had significant positive effects on teachers’ relational status within the educational community. And, more importantly, the fellowship’s effect on teachers’ classroom practice was significantly predictive of the participants’ job satisfaction. This study contributes to professional development and teacher retention research in two ways. Its findings support the current understanding of the powerful role effective, professional development can play in increasing teachers’ job satisfaction. The study also expands that understanding and identifies the potential contribution to teacher retention by non-profit foundations that provide teacher-designed, effective professional development.