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NEW TEACHER SUPPORT PAYS OFF: Policy Brief Emphasizes the Importance of High-Quality Teacher Induction

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"There is a huge chasm between rigorous, data-driven, high-quality induction and mentoring, and the more traditional ‘buddy systems' that pervade our nation's schools," said Ellen Moir

High-quality teacher induction programs can lead to improved teacher retention, increase teacher effectiveness, and financially benefit schools, districts, and states-as well as teachers and students-according to a policy brief recently released by the New Teacher Center (NTC) at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Titled “New Teacher Support Pays Off: A Return on Investment for Educators and Kids,” the brief states that strong teacher induction programs are “an efficient and effective use of public resources” and urges policymakers to invest in such programs and make the creation of policies to strengthen them a priority.

The brief lists six elements that NTC researchers have found high-quality induction programs to have in common: a duration that covers at least the teacher’s first two years in the profession; sanctioned time for mentor-new teacher interaction; rigorous mentor selection criteria; training and ongoing support for mentors; pairing of mentors and new teachers in similar subjects and grade levels; and documentation and evidence of new teacher growth.

The brief argues that not all programs are necessarily beneficial. “There is a huge chasm between rigorous, data-driven, high-quality induction and mentoring, and the more traditional ‘buddy systems’ that pervade our nation’s schools,” said Ellen Moir, founder and executive director of NTC. “The first provides a return on investment because it produces more effective teachers who stay in schools and remain in the profession. The second focuses on moral support, which is nice, but a pat on the back simply doesn’t lead to better outcomes for teachers or for kids.”

NTC researchers concede that teacher induction programs can be expensive-as high as $7,000 per teacher in some cases-but point to a recent study that finds the cost of replacing a single teacher in certain urban districts to be more than twice that. Additionally, the brief states that for every $1.00 invested in high-quality teacher induction, the net return in five years is about $1.66. The return is generally attributed to enhanced student learning and reduced teacher turnover costs.

The NTC’s findings were presented at a briefing on Capitol Hill in late October, at which Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), who introduced the School Improvement through Teacher Quality Act earlier this year, was the opening speaker.

“Improving teacher quality is the single most effective step we can take to increase student achievement and turn around struggling schools,” he said. “Research has shown that offering support for new teachers like comprehensive, multi-year mentoring cuts attrition rates in half and helps these teachers become high-quality professionals who improve student learning. I will continue to push for induction programs for new teachers to ensure they have the skills and training to be truly effective in the classroom.”

“New Teacher Support Pays Off: A Return on Investment for Educators and Kids” is available athttp://www.newteachercenter.org/pdfs/NTC_Policy_Brief-Hill_Briefing.pdf.

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