Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ed. D.


Educational Leadership, Evaluation and Organizational Development

Degree Program

Educational Leadership and Organizational Development, EDD

Committee Chair

Ingle, W. Kyle

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Shuck, Brad

Committee Member

Haselton, Blake

Committee Member

Hampton, Georgia

Author's Keywords

teacher retention; teacher engagement; low-performing schools; veteran teachers; highly effective teachers


It has been established that attrition of both novice and veteran teachers, but particularly novice teachers, is an ongoing challenge in the United States. The literature confirms that teacher attrition is most prevalent in schools that are hard to staff. Researchers described these schools as urban schools serving high numbers of under-privileged, minority students typically taught by new, inexperienced, and often ineffective teachers. Having large numbers of beginning teachers and increasing numbers of veteran teachers exiting teaching is disruptive to the social, emotional, and academic well-being of the students and prevents schools and school districts from reaching state-mandated student academic goals. A large percentage of beginning teachers typically leave teaching within three to five years after beginning the job. Empirical literature attests to teachers becoming more effective with experience. Beginning teachers leave before they acquire the knowledge and skills needed to become effective teachers. It is therefore critical to retain highly skilled and knowledgeable veteran teachers who can lead in the turnaround process. This research proposes that there are still pockets of highly effective veteran teachers who still teach in low-performing schools, who are experts in their field and therefore possess the skills and knowledge to lead in the turnaround process. It is critical for schools and school districts to find ways to retain these teachers. In this qualitative single instrument case study, I used semi-structured open-ended questions to gain information, hear and interpret participants’ understanding of three main factors. First, I sought to understand the characteristics of highly effective teachers as reported by principals, teachers-colleagues of highly effective veteran teachers, and highly effective veteran teachers. Second, the ways in which highly effective veteran teachers engage in low-performing schools as reported by principal, teacher-colleagues of highly effective veteran teachers, and highly effective veteran teachers. Third, the perspectives of highly effective veteran teachers on engagement and how engagement contributes to their commitment to continue teaching in low-performing schools. Finally, implications for practice and future research were discussed.