Date of Award

Spring 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Committee Chair

Philip Rapp


This is a qualitative study of teachers in high-poverty elementary schools in an urban school district. Participants who have been employed for at least 5 years in a high-needs school responded to surveys tracking their perceptions of their school environment. Follow-up interviews were conducted to provide a more in-depth study to gain further insight into why these teachers chose to work in Title I schools, despite the numerous challenges. Teachers reflected on how the following factors encouraged them to remain employed in the high-needs school setting: intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation, professional development, and commitment.

The results of this study indicate that teachers choose to continue working in their Title I school setting primarily because of the intrinsic rewards and their high levels of commitment towards serving high-need students. Teachers who participated in this study were highly motivated by their feelings of self-gratification, self-satisfaction, and their ability to effectively support at-risk students. The participants also showed high levels of commitment to their school, despite the challenges that come from working in a Title I school. Extrinsic benefits included positive collegial relationships, support, and cultural diversity.

This study’s findings can inform school leaders’ decisions on how to best support high-quality teachers in the schools that need them the most. Investing energy and resources into supporting teachers’ intrinsic needs will motivate teachers to continue working in high need school settings. Teachers also need to continue being exposed to positive and productive professional development opportunities and positive school relationships to improve teacher retention outcomes.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License