Retention and mobility patterns for teachers of color in Texas : examining variation by teacher and campus characteristics




Edwards, Wesley Logan

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Increasing the racial and ethnic diversity of the teacher workforce is vital to the success of all students nationally. Calls to prepare, recruit, and retain more teachers of color come from a variety of stakeholders, including policymakers, state and district leaders, as well as school community members. Yet, a growing body of evidence demonstrates the persistent lack of racial and ethnic diversity across teacher labor markets nationally. Researchers and policymakers now point to efforts at increasing retention rates for teachers of color as one important solution towards expanding teacher racial and ethnic representation. Meanwhile, there is a well-identified gap in the research when it comes to studies investigating systematic patterns of retention and mobility for teachers of color. There is also a distinct need for research that can separate out results for Black and Latinx teachers. In this study I investigate the extent to which key school work environment and personal background characteristics are associated with retention and mobility outcomes for teachers of color in Texas. My results indicate that relative to White teachers, Black and Latinx teachers in the state’s largest urban and suburban districts were less likely to leave their campus teaching position at the end of the school year, less likely to find a position in a new district, and more likely to move into a school leadership position. I also find that principal retention, principal-teacher race match, teacher salary, and a traditional preparation background predict increases in retention for all teachers—but especially for Black and Latinx teachers. Yet, as a cause for concern, my results suggest stark differences in exposure to hard-to-staff work environments for Black teachers relative to the work environments of both Latinx and White teachers. This group of teachers were consistently more likely to teach in a school experiencing year over year accountability pressures related to student test scores, chronically high teacher turnover rates, and lower rates of principal retention.
The results from this investigation underline the need for a better collective understanding of the variation in career trajectory outcomes for teachers within large district contexts. The evidence of career persistence for Black and Latinx teachers in such contexts suggests that researchers, policymakers, and school leaders learn from and build on the current school-level practices in place to support the most underrepresented groups of teachers. As many of my results were related to features of leadership or the characteristics of school leaders, it is important that district policy makers and leadership preparation programs place a renewed focus on efforts to better prepare, recruit, support, and retain school leaders of color. Methodologically, this study adds to prior work in important ways. First, I analyze over a decade of administrative data at the individual teacher level from the largest school districts in one of the most demographically diverse states in the nation. This allowed me to report results for multiple racially/ethnically underrepresented groups of teachers in each iteration of my retention and mobility estimates, thus providing more nuance in terms of the career trajectory outcomes for each group. Furthermore, the longitudinal nature of the data I worked with allowed for results pertaining to multiple teacher career outcomes, rather than the binary stay versus leave framework used in most existing teacher labor market research. As a result of this approach, my results add to what we know about the dynamic nature of teacher’s careers, and suggest that future research continue to explore such longitudinal outcomes in a variety of school and district contexts when possible. Additional implications for policy, practice, and future research are discussed.


LCSH Subject Headings