An Investigation of the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching and its Possible Influence on Beginning Teacher Retention: A Companion Dissertation
Half of all teachers leave the profession within the first 5 years. Research indicates schools are losing beginning teachers before their crafts are refined. A major way through which teachers are supported in their growth is through professional learning and development programs. The North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT) seeks to provide educators with professional development opportunities designed with adult learning and developmental theories in mind. The following research questions guided this study: (1) In what ways and to what degree has NCCAT discharged its mission as a program of professional development; (2) What are beginning teacher participants’ perceptions of how the NCCAT experience differs from other forms of professional development; and (3) How does participation in an NCCAT experience possibly influence beginning teachers’ retention rates? Results from this study suggest that NCCAT has discharged its quest as a program of professional development. Interview transcripts and journal entries revealed that the majority of the participants cited NCCAT’s rich discussion and active learning opportunities as well as its strong program facilitators as characteristics that set it apart from other professional development models. The Center’s unique learning atmosphere, networking opportunities, and renewing experiences were also noted. Data collected in this study suggest that while NCCAT was not the reason why this study’s participants decided to remain in the profession, it provided “a major positive boost” (Lucy). A limitation of this study was its small sample size. Results are not meant to be generalized. Rather, this study’s findings provide descriptions and theories that may be helpful and applicable to similar professional development programs.