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, are conducting a five-year, $17.6 million rigorous evaluation of the impact of teacher induction programs for the U.S. Department of Education. The researchers are focusing 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 involves 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. Researchers examined whether receipt of a high-intensity induction model resulted in significantly higher rates of teacher retention, improvements in teachers' instructional practice, and greater student achievement. Following their initial year of teaching and participation in an induction program, teachers are being 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.
“Impacts of Comprehensive Teacher Induction: Final Results from a Randomized Controlled Study" (June 2010) Executive Summary