Supporting New Teachers: Evaluating Teacher Induction Models
Educating each generation of children is one of our nation’s most important obligations, and doing so hinges on the availability of qualified and effective teachers. The availability of these teachers is at risk, especially in schools serving children with the greatest educational needs.
Comprehensive teacher induction, a popular but expensive approach to supporting new teachers, provides novice teachers with carefully selected and trained full-time mentors; a curriculum of intensive and structured support that includes orientation, professional development, and weekly meetings with mentors; a focus on instruction, with opportunities to observe experienced teachers; formative assessment tools that permit ongoing evaluation of practice and constructive feedback; and outreach to school-based administrators to enlist their support for the program.
Induction programs, which can range from informal efforts to more intensive programs, are being implemented with tremendous variability in schools across the country at a rapid rate. Evidence of their effectiveness is limited, however.
Mathematica and its subcontractors, WestEd and the Center for Education Leadership at the University of Pennsylvania, conducted a five-year, $17.6 million rigorous evaluation of the impact of teacher induction programs for the U.S. Department of Education. The researchers focused on two high-intensity teacher induction models, one developed by Educational Testing Service and one by the New Teacher Center at the University of California, Santa Cruz. The service providers were selected based on a formal competition judged by an independent panel of experts in the field. The study involved 1,009 teachers in 418 elementary schools in 17 medium and large urban school districts in 13 states.
During the 2005-2006 school year, a randomly assigned group of schools in each of the 17 districts implemented the formal, comprehensive teacher induction program, while a control group of schools selected within each of those districts continued supporting new teachers using existing resources. During the 2006-2007 school year, a subset of districts continued to provide teachers with an additional year of intensive induction support. Researchers examined whether receipt of a high-intensity induction model (either one or two years) resulted in significantly higher rates of teacher retention, improvements in teachers' instructional practice, and greater student achievement. Following their initial year of teaching, teachers were tracked for three additional years.
The study's random assignment design enabled researchers to compare outcomes for these two groups and measure impacts of the more intensive supports. Researchers used surveys, classroom observations, and school records to measure teachers’ backgrounds; receipt of induction services and alternative support services; attitudes; and outcomes related to classroom practices, student achievement, and teacher retention.
Researchers found that:
- During the comprehensive induction program, treatment teachers received more support than control teachers, including mentorship and teacher observation opportunities.
- This extra support did not translate into positive impacts on student achievement in the first or second year. In the third year, there was a positive impact on student achievement.
- Neither exposure to one year nor two years of comprehensive induction had a positive impact on retention or other teacher workforce outcomes.