Research shows minority teachers positively impact minority student achievement, yet these teachers (especially Blacks and Latina/os) account for the highest percentage of pre-retirement teacher attrition rates. The primary reasons for their premature departures are a lack of autonomy relating to classroom instruction; exclusion from the school-wide decision-making process; and school culture and climate issues. These concerns could be alleviated through the agency of teacher leadership, especially when considering the finding that leadership is second only to classroom instruction when it comes to student achievement. School leaders, therefore, who adopt a distributed leadership model and nurture a culture wherein teachers are empowered to lead reform efforts, could potentially help ameliorate achievement gaps and minority teacher shortages. This mixed-methods, qualitatively dominant study sought to fill the gap in knowledge on the benefits of early career teacher leadership development for minority teachers and its potential impact on teacher attrition rates. Participants were surveyed using the Teacher Leadership School Survey as a means to determine how conducive their individual school’s culture is/was to teacher leadership development and follow-up interviews were conducted to ascertain individual perceptions of teacher leadership and its impact on their decisions to commit to or exit the profession. Findings indicate teachers’ decisions to remain committed to the profession were largely influenced by their intrinsic motivation to teach and champion underserved students; their individual school culture’s conduciveness to teacher leadership development; and the provision of teacher leadership opportunities.
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