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BTLS Overview

Overview

This longitudinal study will permit a better understanding of the impact that different life events have on teachers’ careers (such as getting married, moving to a new location, or starting a family). It will also provide some insight on how school and/or district characteristics and policies affect teacher satisfaction, and how teachers respond to transitions in their lives and careers (such as moving to a different school, changing the grade levels or subject taught, becoming a mentor, transitioning into a K-12 administration position, or exiting the teaching field). This survey will contribute to policymakers’ understanding of teachers and of teachers’ careers as they enter, leave, or re-enter the teaching workforce and make important career and life decisions.

The BTLS data can be used to answer numerous questions, including:

  • Are beginning teachers who received formal mentoring from their school or district less likely to leave the profession or change schools in the first few years of their teaching career?
  • Do mobility rates of teachers both within and outside of school districts change over time?
  • Why do teachers leave the teaching profession and which factors have greater importance at various stages in teachers’ careers and lives?
  • What proportion of teachers return to teaching after a break in their teaching career?
  • What motivating factors bring former teachers back to the profession?

Current Activities

Restricted-use data for waves 1-3 of BTLS were released in September 2011, and a combined waves 1-4 data file is expected to be released in the summer of 2012. The next collection of data, for wave 5, is scheduled to begin in January 2012. In the summer of 2013, about a year after the close of data collection, the restricted-use data file containing waves 1-5 will be released. Wave 5 will be the final wave for the 2007–08 cohort of BTLS. Research is being conducted on the 2011–12 SASS to determine the feasibility of launching a second cohort for BTLS from the 2015–16 SASS.

Descriptions of Waves

Base Year (wave 1)
The first year of data collection was the 2007–08 Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS). Although SASS was administered to a sample of teachers across the U.S.A. only those teachers who were first-year teachers are included in the BTLS. SASS emphasized teacher demand and shortage, teacher and administrator characteristics, school programs, and general conditions in schools. SASS also collected data on many other topics, including teachers' perceptions of school climate and problems in their schools; teacher compensation; district hiring practices and basic characteristics of the student population.

First Follow-up (wave 2)
The second year of data collection was 2008–09 and was included in the Teacher Follow-up Survey (TFS). The purpose of the TFS was to determine how many teachers remained at the same school, moved to another school or left the profession in the year following the SASS administration. The 2008–09 TFS was administered to a sample of teachers who completed the SASS in the previous year. The TFS used four questionnaires, two for teachers who began teaching in 2007 or 2008 (beginning teachers) and two for all other teachers. The two questionnaires that were administered to the teachers who began teaching in 2007 or 2008 serve as the second wave of data on beginning teachers. Of those two questionnaires, one was for teachers who left teaching since the previous SASS (Former Teachers) and the other for those who were teaching either in the same school as the previous year or in a different school (Current Teachers). The topics for the Current Teacher questionnaire included teaching status and assignments, ratings of various aspects of teaching, reasons for moving to a new school, information on having had a mentor teacher in the previous year, and earnings. The topics for the Former Teacher questionnaire included employment status, ratings of various aspects of teaching and their current jobs, information on decisions to leave teaching, whether they had applied for a teaching position, and information on having had a mentor teacher in the previous year.

Third, Fourth, and Fifth Follow-ups (waves 3, 4, and 5)
Waves 3, 4, and 5 are known as the Beginning Teacher Longitudinal Study (BTLS) and take on a life of their own separate from the Schools and Staffing Survey and the Teacher Follow-up Survey. The third wave of data collection covered the 2009–10 school year, the fourth covered the 2010–11 school year, and the fifth and final wave covers the 2011–12 school year.

The purpose of these waves is to collect data that will enable researchers to determine the attrition rate of teachers and the rate of reentry into the teaching profession, and to examine the characteristics of those who stay in the same school, move schools, leave the teaching profession, and return to the teaching profession. In addition, researchers can examine activities and occupations of those teachers who leave the teaching profession, and explore subsequent career patterns of teachers who remain in the profession.

As an internet-only questionnaire, the BTLS web instrument displays questions that are applicable to the respondent’s teaching status. Current teachers are asked questions regarding teaching status and assignments, and their opinions of various aspects of teaching, reasons for moving to a new school, reasons for returning to teaching (if they left after the 2007–08 school year but returned for the 2009–10, 2010–11, or 2011-2012 school year), earnings, and information on having and serving as a mentor. The topics for the Former Teacher questionnaire included employment status, their opinions on various aspects of teaching and their current jobs, information on decisions to leave teaching, and whether they had applied for a new teaching position.

Meet the Cohort

The BTLS follows a national cohort of about 2,000 beginning public school teachers as they leave, return, or continue in the elementary- and secondary-level teaching profession. BTLS is conducted on a yearly basis and follows the same group of individuals every year for a period of 5 years. A brief look at the BTLS cohort’s characteristics is presented below.

  • Gender: 74.4% female; 25.6% male
  • Median age: 26
Beginning Teachers' Race/Ethnicity
1 Two or more races, non-Hispanic includes all non-Hispanic respondents who selected more than one race.
NOTE: Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Beginning Teacher Longitudinal Study (BTLS), “First Through Third Wave Preliminary Data File,” 2007–08, 2008–09, 2009–10


Beginning Teachers' Highest Degree Earned
NOTE: Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding. SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Beginning Teacher Longitudinal Study (BTLS), “First Through Third Wave Preliminary Data File,” 2007–08, 2008–09, 2009–10.
  • Percent of teachers entered teaching through an alternative certification program: 27.1%
  • Type of public school: 95.1% of teachers began their first year of teaching in traditional public schools; 4.9% of teachers began their first year of teaching in public charter schools
  • Support received by beginning teachers:
    • 83.5% received ongoing guidance or feedback from a master or mentor teacher
    • 79.7% had seminars or classes
    • 63.7% had common planning time with teachers in their subject area
    • 31.5% had extra classroom assistance (e.g., teacher aides)
    • 87.3% participated in regular supportive communication with their principal, other administrator, or department chair

Urbanicity of Beginning Teachers' First School
NOTE: Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Beginning Teacher Longitudinal Study (BTLS), “First Through Third Wave Preliminary Data File,” 2007–08, 2008–09, 2009–10.


Grade Level Taught by Beginning Teachers
NOTE: Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Beginning Teacher Longitudinal Study (BTLS), “First Through Third Wave Preliminary Data File,” 2007–08, 2008–09, 2009–10.

For More Information

For questions about the BTLS, telephone Isiah O'Rear at 1-202-502-7378 or e-mail your questions to Isaiah.orear@ed.gov.


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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education