ERIC Identifier: ED436487
Publication Date: 1999-11-00
Author: Weiss, Eileen Mary - Weiss, Stephen Gary
ERIC Clearinghouse on Teaching and Teacher Education Washington DC.
Beginning Teacher Induction. ERIC Digest.
Over two million new K-12 teachers will be employed in the U.S. over the next
decade due to increased student enrollments, reductions in class size, and
accelerating retirements among an aging teacher population (Darling-Hammond,
1997). More than one- third of these new teachers will be hired in low wealth
urban and rural school districts, and the majority of these in center city
public schools with minority student enrollments of at least 20% (Recruiting New
Teachers, Inc., 1999). This large population of new teachers will be challenged
to educate diverse learners in an increasingly complex knowledge-based,
Unfortunately, first-year teachers are frequently left in a "sink or swim"
position with little support from colleagues and few opportunities for
professional development (Darling-Hammond & Sclan, 1996). Well-organized
induction programs are the exception rather than the rule, and informal,
haphazard induction experiences have been associated with higher levels of
attrition as well as lower levels of teacher effectiveness (National Commission
on Teaching and America's Future, 1996). Current estimates are that more than
20% of public school teachers leave their positions within three years and 9.3%
quit before finishing their first year (Recruiting New Teachers, Inc., 1999).
Recruiting New Teachers, Inc. (1999) reports that a growing number of low
wealth urban districts with acute shortages are turning toward induction
programs to keep new teachers from leaving. Urban districts reported a 93%
retention rate for teachers who participated in such programs. Despite the
positive impact of induction programs on retention rates, there has been little
sustained commitment in recent years to permanently institute teacher induction
programs as part of a formal entry process into the field (National Commission
on Teaching & America's Future, 1996).
TEACHER INDUCTION PROGRAMS: CURRENT DESIGN
document the value of teacher induction programs and describe multiple
prototypes for implementation. The benefits of the programs include not only
reduced attrition rates among new teachers, but also improved teaching
capabilities. The availability of formal induction programs and their structures
vary among states and local school districts.
The number of state and local school districts that have created programs for
beginning teachers has grown substantially since the early 1980s, but the nature
of those programs vary by state and district (Sclan and Darling-Hammond, 1992).
According to NASDTEC data, in 1984 only eight states reported initiating,
approving or implementing teacher induction programs; that number rose to 31
states in 1991 (Gold, 1996) but currently stands at 26 states and the District
of Columbia (Andrews & Andrews, 1998). Many states eliminated programs due
to reduced or restricted funding.
Within the states that have created programs for beginning teachers, local
school districts are not always required to offer the programs, nor are all
teachers required to participate. In 1998-99, local district participation was
discretionary in eight states and beginning teacher attendance was voluntary in
five states. In New Jersey participation was discretionary for districts, but
all beginning teachers were required to participate in the districts where
programs were offered. In Washington, participation is voluntary for districts,
and those districts offering programs can decide if all teachers are required to
participate. New Hampshire and California induction programs currently reach
only 30% of their beginning teachers. However, California reports plans to phase
in beginning teacher support for all new teachers (Andrews & Andrews, 1998).
Nationally, 55% of public school teachers with less than five years of teaching
recently reported having participated in some kind of formal induction program
Funding levels also vary strikingly among states, from $17.5 million in
California to $20,000 in Mississippi and New Hampshire. Washington state's
funding pattern is subject to change with each legislative session (Andrews
& Andrews, 1998). In states where induction program design was left to the
localities, little support was given to the programs and fewer teachers had
access to them (Hirsch, et al., 1998).
The structure of teacher induction programs and their underlying
conceptualization of teaching differ among districts. Some induction programs
are based upon "effective teaching" criteria relating to direct instruction for
mastering skills and academic content as measured by students' achievement on
standardized tests. Other programs underscore the complexities of teaching and
the need for dynamic, regenerative school environments that rely on a broad base
of knowledge to inform teachers' behavior (Weiss & Weiss, 1998). States such
as Connecticut, California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Vermont as well as
National Education Association and American Federation of Teacher local chapters
in districts such as Toledo, Cincinnati, Columbus, Rochester, and Seattle
(National Commission on Teaching and America's Future, 1996) have adopted
"constructivist" approaches that expect teachers to practice reflective and
collaborative action, which engender a wide repertoire of techniques to respond
to student needs (Sclan & Darling-Hammond, 1992).
Since the mid-1980s, induction programs have increasingly provided assistance
to new teachers by assigning them to mentors: veteran teachers help beginners
learn the philosophy, cultural values and established sets of behaviors expected
by the schools where they are employed (Little, 1990; Recruiting New Teachers,
Inc., 1999). Some new teachers receive regular coaching and opportunities for
collaboration, while others see their mentors sporadically. In the California
New Teacher Project, the "intensity of the support and instruction...did differ
across projects and had an impact on new teachers' perceptions of teaching and
their performance in the classroom" (Gold, 1996). Not only the frequency, but
the quality of support is important for beginning teacher success; less than
one-quarter of the programs (6 of the 27) reported some kind of training for the
support team in 1998. North Carolina is the only state that requires mentor
teachers to hold a mentor license (Andrews & Andrews, 1998).
Successful mentor programs are dependent upon the quality of training
afforded the mentors (Feiman-Nemser, 1996; Ganser, 1996; Ganser & Koskela,
1997). Research indicates that beginning teachers who are mentored are more
effective teachers in their early years, since they learn from guided practice
rather than depending upon trial-and-error alone. Mentored novice teachers tend
to focus on student learning sooner and leave teaching at a lower rate (National
Commission on Teaching and America's Future, 1996).
TEACHER INDUCTION PROGRAMS: FUTURE DEVELOPMENT
been limited agreement in the profession about what new teachers should know and
be able to do and what constitutes the best learning environments; it is no
wonder that induction programs are divergent. A consensus slowly is emerging
about beginning teachers needing to meet standards for practice that will attest
to their grasp of essential skills, knowledge and dispositions (INTASC, 1992;
National Commission on Teaching & America's Future, 1996). Performance-based
licensing standards for new teachers, informed by research and tested in
practice, have been developed by the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and
Consortium (INTASC, 1992). The INTASC standards provide an overall framework for
documenting accomplishments across the domains of teaching and may be useful for
communicating expectations for new teachers' behavior, structuring induction
experiences, and evaluating professional development.
A growing number of school systems are working with colleges to create
learner-centered environments, such as Professional Development Schools (PDSs),
in which reflective practice and teacher decision-making are part of a school
culture where new teachers are naturally expected to collaborate with more
experienced university- and school-based colleagues (Levine & Trachtman,
1997). The PDS movement has led to an attitudinal shift away from the concept of
mentor as veteran whose unidirectional role is to impart basic knowledge to an
unknowing novice, towards that of an experienced co-worker who, in a
relationship of mutuality with new colleagues, offers assistance and also learns
from the experience. The former concept implicitly stresses the differences and
distances between trainer and trainee; the latter concept accentuates the
connectedness among teachers even at different career stages. In a collaborative
culture, new and experienced teachers who communicate ideas and work together on
real problems put their collective knowledge base into action and experience the
reciprocal relationship between theory and practice. This model of teacher
induction has the potential to influence both members of the mentoring
relationship: the veteran also may learn from the novice. New teachers who spend
their first year in collaborative school environments are likely to have higher
morale, be more committed to teaching, and plan to remain in the profession
(Weiss, in press).
New teachers, who have an inordinate rate of
attrition and are assigned to the neediest students in schools with the least
resources, will comprise the large majority of the teaching force within the
next decade. Although shown to be valuable, induction programs that include
sustained feedback in collaborative environments remain a rare experience for
most beginning teachers. Thus far, teacher induction has been a variegated
landscape of policies and programs.
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