New Jersey Institutions Awarded Research Fellowship to Study Teacher Persistence in Urban Settings

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(July 21, 2014, Washington, D.C.) The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) has awarded a 2014 Research Fellowship in Educator Preparation to William Paterson University of New Jersey in partnership with Kean University and Rowan University. The one-year fellowship will provide researchers $30,000 to study the persistence in urban classrooms of teachers prepared through varied certification pathways.

Using a triangulated, mixed-methods design and data from INTASC-aligned instruments, teacher work samples, focus groups and interviews, researchers will explore how and why varied pathways to teaching contribute to teachers’ retention in urban school districts through at least their fourth year on the job. Teacher attrition in these settings is a common problem that deprives students of the benefits of having experienced teachers and a stable learning environment.

The pathways to be studied include traditional, year-long residency and alternative-route programs for initial certification offered across the three institutions, developed with support over the past 15 years from such high-profile programs as the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship and the federal Teacher Quality Enhancement, Teacher Quality Partnership and Transition to Teaching programs. Developing ways to compare these diverse programs’ impact and sharing the findings with those who oversee the programs are among the study’s promising objectives.

The AACTE member panel that reviewed the nearly 80 proposals for the 2014 Research Fellowship praised the New Jersey project’s original approach to researching urban teacher retention, and the thoroughness of the research design for comparing outcomes from varied pathways into initial licensure of teachers specifically prepared to meet the needs of diverse school settings. Panelists also noted the importance of the research questions seeking to identify potential links between candidates’ performance on two evaluative measures and its relationship to candidates’ persistence as teachers.

“This study reorients the frequently asked question ‘Why do teachers leave?’ to examine the positive aspects driving teacher retention in urban schools,” said Sharon P. Robinson, Ed.D., president and CEO of AACTE. “The strong research design, rich data sources and focus on prominent programs make this project of great potential value to the field. AACTE is proud to support this work.”

“The generous support of the United States Department of Education has made possible our pilot programs, in which we have explored pathways into teaching,” said Candace Burns, dean of the College of Education at William Paterson University. “Now, AACTE’s partnership and support will help us to jointly explore and deepen our understanding of teacher persistence in our partner districts, according to preparation pathway. We are thrilled that we were selected to receive this research fellowship.”

The New Jersey project is one of two inaugural AACTE Research Fellowships awarded for 2014; the other is based at the University of Southern Maine. The fellowships are one component of AACTE’s new Innovation Exchange, which supports university-based educator preparation programs in responding to the changing demands of the workforce and in preparing educators to meet the needs of PK-12 learners. The Innovation Exchange speeds the pace of change by creating a forum in which AACTE’s members, partners and other professional colleagues can share experiences and findings as they address the most urgent issues of student achievement, curriculum reform and preparation program advancement.

For more information on the AACTE Research Fellowship in Educator Preparation and the Innovation Exchange, visit


AACTE: The Premier Voice on Educator Preparation
The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education is a national alliance of educator preparation programs dedicated to high-quality, evidence-based preparation that assures educators are ready to teach all learners on Day 1. Its over 800 member institutions represent public and private colleges and universities in every state, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam. AACTE seeks to lead the field in advocacy and capacity building by promoting innovation and effective practices as critical to reforming educator preparation. For more information, visit

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