Document Type



Doctor of Education


Educational Leadership

First Adviser

White, George P.

Other advisers/committee members

Yoshida, Ronald K.; Sperandio, Jill I.; Mancuso, Steven V.


This study examined the relationship between the leadership behaviors of school administrators and the retention of U.S.-hired teachers in American Overseas Schools in the Near East and South Asia (NESA) region. The study included a separate analysis of the leadership-retention connection for the subgroup of teachers considered by their principals to be the 10% most effective teachers, and the other 90% of the teacher population.Previous research in U.S. school settings has found teacher quality to be the strongest organizational variable predicting student achievement, and found teacher turnover to predict a range of negative outcomes for students, including lower academic achievement (Connors-Krikorian, 2005; Griffith, 2004; Ingersoll, 2001; Ronfeldt, Loeb, & Wyckoff, 2011). Research conducted in U.S. schools found teacher retention to be predicted by school principal leadership, but not school head leadership (Grissom, 2010; Scholastic and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, 2010). However, research in overseas American schools found school head leadership, not school principal leadership to predict teacher retention (Mancuso, 2010, Desroches, 2013).In April 2013, teachers in 41 NESA schools were sent a link to an online survey which included 45 questions from the Multi-factor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ) rating a range of transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership behaviors of their principal and school head. The survey also included a demographic section gathering an array of teacher, organizational, and school characteristics. From an estimated total population of 2500 teachers, 200 teachers fully completed the online survey, including 59 teachers considered to be among the top 10% most effective teachers, and 141 from the rest of the teaching population.A quantitative analysis of the responses was conducted, including a series of logistic regressions to determine the strength of associations between leadership behaviors and teacher retention. Additional logistic regressions were conducted using demographic characteristics as covariates in an effort to account for potential alternative explanations for any leadership-retention associations found. The responses of the 10% most effective teachers and the other 90% were analyzed separately. For the 90% group, neither principal nor school head leadership behaviors were found to be statistically significant predictors of teacher retention, though teacher satisfaction with their teaching assignment did predict retention. For the top 10% most effective teachers, however, school head transformational leadership emerged as a strong predictor of retention.The strength of school head transformational leadership as a predictor of retention of the most effective teachers informs the practice of school leaders. Both the study's methodology separating the most effective teachers, and the finding of a different response to leadership between this group and the rest of the teacher population, represent potentially useful contributions to existing teacher retention research.