Date of Award

Spring 5-22-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Barbara Hill, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Darrell Groves, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Trevor Turner, Ed.D.


This qualitative study examined principals’ and teachers’ perceptions regarding retaining teachers in a large urban school system. This study was based on the premise that once teachers are recruited into an urban school, genuine support (conceptual and instructional) is needed for them to be retained in that type of setting. Retaining highly qualified teachers in urban schools is integral for student achievement and can relieve the financial strain for school districts. Studies have found that when teachers reach their fifth year of teaching, many leave the profession for various reasons, and most never return.

To ensure the validity of the study, the triangulation method was deemed most appropriate and the instruments used to gather the data were; questionnaires and focus groups. The study was conducted in one of the largest urban school districts in the metropolitan Atlanta area. Three elementary Title I schools with relatively low (CCPRI) scores per Georgia’s Department of Education and similar demographics were selected to participate. The study required that all participants have more than two years of experience in an urban school. Collectively, 3 principals and 82 teachers responded to the questionnaires and 18 teachers participated in the focus groups.

Based on the findings, teachers leave the large urban school system because of the lack of quality instruction feedback, teacher support, and teacher classroom management in their schools. It was found that it is difficult to retain teachers of a demographic (age and gender per the study). Data collection also revealed that intensive induction/ mentoring programs provided throughout the school year should be offered by the district. The conclusions drawn from the findings suggest that principals and teachers have contrasting perceptions of why teachers leave their schools. Principals felt that they were working to build capacity in their schools to improve professional relationships with the staff, to increase cultural awareness, provide meaningful and authentic teacher quality instructional feedback, and effective teacher support. Teachers felt the need to have additional necessary resources (mentors from the district and funding for targeted professional development) to retain them in urban schools.