Induction

2011 Retaining Effective Teachers Policy

2011 Goals for Induction

The state should require effective induction for all new teachers, with special emphasis on teachers in high-needs schools.

Best practices

South Carolina requires that all new teachers, prior to the start of the school year, be assigned mentors for at least one year. Districts carefully select mentors based on experience and similar certifications and grade levels, and mentors undergo additional training. Adequate release time is mandated by the state so that mentors, and new teachers may observe each other in the classroom, collaborate on effective teaching techniques and develop professional growth plans. Mentor evaluations are mandatory and stipends are recommended.

Best practice 1

State

Meets goal 7

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Nearly meets goal 17

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Meets goal in part 11

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Meets a small part of goal 6

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Does not meet goal 9

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How we graded

Too many new teachers are left to "sink or swim" when they begin teaching.

Most new teachers are overwhelmed and undersupported at the outset of their teaching careers. Although differences in preparation programs and routes to the classroom do affect readiness, even teachers from the most rigorous programs need support once they take on the myriad responsibilities of a teacher of record. A survival-of-the-fittest mentality prevails in many schools; figuring out how to successfully negotiate unfamiliar curricula, discipline and management issues and labyrinthine school and district procedures is considered a rite of passage. However, new teacher frustrations are not limited to low performers. Many talented new teachers become disillusioned early by the lack of support they receive, and it may be the most talented who will more likely explore other career options.

Vague requirements simply to provide mentoring are insufficient.

Although many states recognize the need to provide mentoring to new teachers, state policies merely indicating that mentoring should occur will not ensure that districts provide new teachers with quality mentoring experiences. While allowing flexibility for districts to develop and implement programs in line with local priorities and resources, states also should articulate the minimum requirements for these programs in terms of the frequency and duration of mentoring and the qualifications of those serving as mentors.

New teachers in high-need schools particularly need quality mentoring.

Retaining effective teachers in high-need schools is especially challenging. States should ensure that districts place special emphasis on mentoring programs in these schools, particularly when limited resources may prevent the district from providing mentoring to all new teachers.

Research rationale

Although many states have induction policies, the overall support for new teachers in the United States is fragmented due to wide variation in legislation, policy and type of support available. There are a number of good sources describing the more systematic induction models used in high-performing countries:

Teachers Matter: Attracting Retaining and Developing Teachers, a 2005 publication by the OECD, examines (among many other factors) the role that induction plays for developing the quality of the teaching force in 25 countries. For shorter synopses, consult Lynn Olson, "Teaching Policy to Improve Student Learning: Lessons from Abroad," 2007.http://www.edweek.org/media/aspen_viewpoint.pdf

Educational Testing Service's Preparing Teachers Around the World (2003) examines reasons why seven countries perform better than the United States on the TIMS and includes induction models in its analysis.

Domestically, evidence of the impact of teacher induction in improving the retention and performance of first-year teachers is growing. See Impacts of Comprehensive Teacher Induction: Results from the Second Year of a Randomized Controlled Study. National Center for Educational Evaluation and Regional Assistance. Department of Education (2009).

A California study found that a good induction program, including mentoring, was generally more effective in keeping teachers on the job than better pay. See Deborah Reed, et al., "Retention of New Teachers in California," Public Policy Institute of California, 2006.

Descriptive qualitative papers provide some information on the nature of mentoring and other induction activities and may improve understanding of the causal mechanisms by which induction may lead to improved teacher practices and better retention. A report from the Alliance for Excellent Education presents four case studies on induction models that it found to be effective. See Tapping the Potential: Retaining and Developing High-Quality New Teachers, Alliance for Excellent Education at: http://www.all4ed.org/files/archive/publications/TappingThePotential/TappingThePotential.pdf

For evidence of the importance of high quality mentors, see C. Carver and S. Feiman-Nemser, "Using Policy to Improve Teacher Induction: Critical Elements and Missing Pieces."  Educational Policy v23 (2009) as well as K. Jackson and E. Bruegmann in "Teaching Students and Teaching Each Other:  The Importance of Peer Learning for Teachers." American Economic Journal (2009).See also Harry Wong, "Induction Programs that Keep New Teachers Teaching and Improving," NASSP Bulletin, 2004; 87(638): 5-27.

For a further review of the research on new teacher induction see Lopez, et al., "Review of Research on the Impact of Beginning Teacher Induction on Teacher Quality and Retention," ED Contract ED-01-CO-0059/0004, SRI International, 2004. 

The issue of high turnover in teachers' early years particularly plagues schools that serve poor children and children of color. Much of the focus of concern about this issue has been on urban schools, but rural schools that serve poor communities also suffer from high turnover of new teachers.

Research on the uneven distribution of teachers (in terms of teacher quality) suggests that, indeed, a good portion of the so-called "achievement gap" may be attributable to what might be thought of as a "teaching gap," reported by many including L. Feng and T. Sass, "Teacher Quality and Teacher Mobility." National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research (2011); T. Sass et al, "Value Added of Teachers in High-Poverty Schools and Lower-Poverty Schools." CALDER Institute (2010) and C.T. Clotfelter, et al., "Who Teaches Whom? Race and Distribution of Novice Teachers," presented at the American Economic Association Meetings, Atlanta, 2002.
See also Bradford R. White, et al., "Leveling Up: Narrowing the Teacher Academic Capital Gap in Illinois," Illinois Research Council, June 2008.

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