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School administrators’ direct and indirect influences on middle school math teachers’ turnover

Christopher Redding (School of Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA)
Laura Neergaard Booker (Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, USA)
Thomas M. Smith (Graduate School of Education, University of California, Riverside, Riverside, California, USA)
Laura M. Desimone (College of Education and Human Development, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware, USA)

Journal of Educational Administration

ISSN: 0957-8234

Article publication date: 6 August 2019




Administrator support has been identified as a key factor in deterring teacher turnover. Yet, the specific ways school principals directly or indirectly influence teacher retention remain underexamined. The paper aims to discuss this issue.


This study includes a survival analysis to examine when beginning mathematics teachers turned over and the extent to which teacher quality and administrative support was associated with the turnover, and an analysis of exit surveys explaining teachers’ decision to turn over.


New teachers with more supportive administrators are less likely to turn over. The influence of administrative support on teacher turnover does not appear to be driven by more supportive administrators improving a school’s professional community, increasing teacher autonomy, or increasing the frequency of professional development and mentoring. While both increased administrative support and teaching quality independently predict reduced turnover, the strength of the association of administrative support on turnover does not appear to be related to the level of teacher quality nor mediated through teacher quality.

Practical implications

Results suggest that the presence of high levels of administrative support are more influential in deterring new teacher turnover than more direct supports, such as the assignment of mentors or recommending professional development.


The use of in-depth data on beginning teachers’ induction supports and teaching quality collected over multiple years shows distinct ways administrators influence new teachers’ decision to remain in their first school.



This paper is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0554434. All opinions, findings, conclusions and recommendations expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


Redding, C., Booker, L.N., Smith, T.M. and Desimone, L.M. (2019), "School administrators’ direct and indirect influences on middle school math teachers’ turnover", Journal of Educational Administration, Vol. 57 No. 6, pp. 708-730.



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