Public school teacher attrition and organizational health: a comparative study

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Osborn, Anthony

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The country will need to hire over 2 million additional teachers over the next decade. One major cause of the current teacher shortage seems to be teacher attrition. Beyond retirement and relocation, teachers leave for many reasons. This study explored how teachers from a large central Texas school district who had left their positions perceived a school climate variable labeled organizational health and how this variable might relate to teacher attrition. The Organizational Health Inventory (OHI) (Hoy & Tartar, 1997a, 1997b) was used to measure these perceptions of elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers. A demographic questionnaire was also sent to each of the teachers. The overall OHI results were standardized and compared to the appropriate OHI normative sample. The results were also disaggregated by teacher demographics, characteristics and compared to the normative sample. The Organizational Health perceptions of elementary, middle and secondary school teachers, in aggregate, were average or above when compared to the normative mean. However, when disaggregated, areas of poor organizational health were noted. Elementary school teachers viewed Academic Emphasis as very low, middle school teachers rated Teacher Affiliation and Collegial Leadership below the normative mean, and the secondary school OHI results suggested their schools’ Institutional Integrity was lacking. To address Academic Emphasis at elementary schools, it was suggested that leadership review induction/mentoring programs to determine why special educators who participated in these programs rated Academic Emphasis higher than general educators. At middle school, leadership should examine mentoring with emphasis on timely feedback and analysis focused on programs that encourage specific collaboration between young and older teachers. To correct unhealthy perceptions of Collegial Leadership, Leadership should develop mechanisms that sense and address concerns and needs of their special education staff, especially young teachers. To address Institutional Integrity at secondary schools, leadership should develop programs for new/inexperienced teachers to provide exposure and experience in dealing with outside groups (e.g., parents and organizations such as cheerleading, band, athletics, etc.).