Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Leadership and Policies

First Advisor

Zach Kelehear


The purpose of this study was to examine South Carolina’s work-based certification program for career and technical education (CTE) teachers. The mixedmethods study included qualitative and quantitative analyses to answer five research questions relating to the certification program and teacher retention: To what extent are best practices evident in South Carolina’s CTE work-based certification program? What are the perceptions of CTE work-based teachers who completed the certification program? What are the first, second, and third year retention rates for South Carolina’s beginning teachers who received CTE work-based certification from the years 2003-2004 through 2008-2009? Do third year retention rates vary across content areas? Do third year retention rates vary based on teachers’ race and gender?

A content analysis was used to determine how South Carolina’s work-based certification program compared to the best practices found in current literature. The researcher came up with the following categories to describe components of CTE teacher certification programs: Academic Requirements, Technical Content Requirements, College Courses/Pedagogical Preparation, Support, Current Employment, and Other Components. Results of the study showed that South Carolina’s program contains about half of the elements that were identified in educational literature.

In order to examine teachers’ perceptions of work-based certification, interviews were conducted using eight CTE teachers who completed South Carolina’s work-based certification program since 2002. Content areas included auto technology; cosmetology; engineering; health sciences; heating and air conditioning; law enforcement; and welding. Interview questions centered on a variety of topics including the types of courses taken and the impact of the program on their decision to remain in teaching. The results of the interviews also provided insight about professional development sessions, mentors/master teachers, and career and technology student organization competitive events.

The researcher used data provided by the State Department of Education (SDE) to determine retention rates for the first three years for all teachers who started between 2003-2004 and 2008-2009. Results revealed that teachers who began in 2006-2007 had the highest retention rates for all three years of 92%, 82%, and 77% respectively. The most drastic decrease in a one-year retention rate occurred with teachers who started in 2003-2004 which represented a 16% decrease. The average third-year retention rate over a span of six years was 65%.

A Chi-Square Test of Independence revealed that a relationship existed between the third year retention rates and the content areas of teacher certification. The study showed that teachers who taught in the Medical content areas remained in the classroom at the lowest rate of 53% even though they represented the largest total number of teachers at 133. Teachers who taught in the Hospitality and Tourism, Family and Consumer Sciences, and Human Services content areas had the largest retention rate of 75% after the initial three years. There was not a significant relationship between retention rates and race and gender.

The findings and conclusions of this study indicate that there is a lack of data for alternative teacher certification programs—especially CTE programs. It is the researcher’s desire that other leaders will find this information helpful as they prepare CTE teachers in South Carolina and beyond.


© 2014, Sherry Rivers