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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship of subject matter knowledge in science and the patterns of entering, leaving, and remaining in the teaching profession among college graduates trained to be science teachers. To do this, National Teachers Examination (NTE) Biology and General Science test scores served as the proxy for science subject matter knowledge for a sample of 83 individuals initially certified to teach science in North Carolina during a 4-year period of time. The career patterns of these individuals as science teachers were documented and their work status was identified as nonrecruits, defectors, or career teachers. Using maximum likelihood logistical regression (MLOGIT) analysis, the relationship between career status (the dependent variable) and knowledge of science, race, gender, and the race and status (public or private) of the college from which they graduated was investigated. Of the 83 individuals in the analysis, 30 (36.1%) were identified as nonrecruits, 31 (37.3%) as defectors, and 22 (26.5%) as career teachers. Science subject matter knowledge was found to have a significant (p = .01) effect on the likelihood of being a nonrecruit versus a career teacher. The magnitude of this effect was also important, with the likelihood of being a nonrecruit increasing 120% for every 100-point increase in score on the NTE Biology and General Science tests. Science subject matter knowledge also had a significant effect (p = .05) on the likelihood of being a defector versus a career teacher, with the likelihood increasing 80% for every 100-point increase in NTE Biology and General Science scores. No other significant relationships were found.