Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Education Policy (PhD)

Degree Level



Education Reform


Gary Ritter

Committee Member

Robert Maranto

Second Committee Member

Patrick Wolf


Charter Schools, Teacher Agency, Teacher Differences, Teacher Motivation, Teacher Perceptions


Using survey data collected from 893 public school teachers in Pulaski County, Arkansas, this study looks for differences in traditional public school teachers and charter school teachers on their (1) backgrounds and teacher characteristics; (2) motivations for entering the teaching profession; and (3) attitudes towards school and teaching. A multivariate analysis of the data revealed that few differences exist between the two groups of teachers on their backgrounds, teacher characteristics, and motivations to enter the teaching field. However, charter school teachers were found to be more likely to have positive attitudes towards school policy changes, a stronger professional commitment to student learning, and perceived themselves to have a higher level of personal agency within their schools than traditional public school teachers.

These findings indicate that charter school teachers and traditional public school teachers in Pulaski County, Arkansas, on average, are not as different as previous research suggests. The differences found in previous studies could be attributed to the types of charter schools that were being studied, which attracted specific types of teachers. In contrast, the charter schools in this study did not have a common mission or recruitment technique and thus few systematic differences were found in teaching backgrounds and motivations for entering the teaching profession between the two groups of teachers. However, the differences found on teacher attitudes towards school and student learning seem to imply that charter schools do cultivate a different type of teacher, at least in Arkansas: one that is more flexible and sees himself or herself as more autonomous.