Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




College of Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Deborah Conner

Second Advisor

Jennifer Garrett

Third Advisor

Robert F. Young


The vision of every elementary, middle, and high school in the United States is to deliver an excellent educational setting to each and every student who enters their school building. Educational research overwhelmingly demonstrates that a primary factor contributing to an “excellent educational setting” is having highly qualified and effective teachers (Rice, 2003). However, the teacher supply and demand issues currently facing our nation is significantly compromising the ideal of providing excellent educational settings in our schools. Teacher attrition is a problem that faces schools throughout the United States. The number of teachers leaving their positions to pursue other careers continues to increase yearly across the nation. Approximately a quarter of public school teachers entering the profession teaching leave within their first three years (U.S. Department of Education, 2007). School districts have responded to this issue by implementing new programs, resources, and support mechanisms to aid in retention (U.S. Department of Education, 2007). Teacher attrition impacts both districts and students in a number of ways. For example, when a teacher leaves their position it not only puts financial strain on the districts, but also has a negative impact on student achievement. The quality of teacher effectiveness and overall student achievement is directly related to having highly qualified teachers. These teachers become highly effective by remaining in the profession and garnering experience (U.S. Department of Education, 2007). This study focuses on how merit-based programs impact the teacher attrition rate and aims to identify the key components of the South Carolina Teaching Fellows (SCTF) Program that impact teacher retention. “The study aims to understand if participation in the SCTF Program during the teacher education preparation program lowered teacher attrition rates, and if so, which components of the SCTF Program affect teacher retention rates significantly. Additionally, the study aimed to identify other key components that were most valued by its graduates that remain in the education profession.

Keywords: merit-based programs, professional development, educator preparation programs, retention, preparation, campus director, mentor, mentee, leadership, opportunities, cohort model, scholarships, impact, early/community experiences, teacher preparation, teacher quality, teacher effectiveness, achievement gains, program evaluation