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STARTING STRONG: Early-Career Teachers and Principals Need More Support, Says Report from New Teacher Center

Approximately one in five U.S. teachers is in the first three years of teaching; and yet most states still provide insufficient mentoring and induction support for beginning educators, according to a new report from New Teacher Center (NTC), a national nonprofit organization committed to new teacher induction.

“No single U.S. state has perfected its policies to ensure the provision of high-impact, multi-year induction support for all beginning educators,” says the NTC report. “Some states have prioritized the needs of new teachers and principals in recent years … [b]ut more than twenty states still don’t require all early-career teachers to receive support and assistance, and thirty states have no such requirement for beginning school principals.”

The report, Support from the Start: A 50-State Review of Policies on New Educator Induction and Mentoring, examines state educator induction policies against nine criteria that address issues such as mentor quality; time available for mentors and new teachers to interact; funding for induction; and overall program quality, standards, and accountability.

“While a majority of states address many of our nine policy criteria, many of their policies are weak, and often serve purely as guidance and sometimes only apply to programs in districts that choose to offer them,” the report says.

Only three states—Connecticut, Delaware, and Iowa—meet NTC’s top three criteria for quality induction programs:

  • requiring schools and districts to provide multi-year support for new teachers;
  • requiring new teachers to complete an induction program for a professional license; and
  • providing dedicated induction program funding.

Although twenty-nine states require some form of support or induction for new teachers, only fifteen require such support during a teacher’s first and second years, the report says. A few states, though, support teachers beyond their second year. Delaware, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, and Utah require three years of new teacher support, while Ohio requires four years.

Few states require such support for new principals, though. Twenty states require mentoring support during a principal’s first year, while only six states require support for two years or more, the report says.

Most states do not connect their induction programs to teacher licensure requirements either. Twenty-four states require new teachers to complete or participate in a mentoring or induction program to receive a teaching certificate. Only fourteen states require principals to participate in such a program as part of the licensure process.

Moreover, most states do not provide sufficient funding to sustain their educator induction programs. Sixteen states allocate dedicated funding for teacher induction, but only nine of those states provide funding to all of their school districts, the report says. California, Maryland, Minnesota, and Ohio do not have funding streams dedicated solely to teacher induction; but these states do allow school districts to use allocations from other funding areas to support teacher induction programs.

“Policy alone won’t address all of the challenges new educators face, but it does guide this area of educator quality that deserves far greater attention,” says Liam Goldrick, NTC director of policy and author of the report. “Strengthening state polices will contribute to the ultimate goal of improving student achievement.”

Bolstering state teacher induction plans also contributes to greater educational equity. High-poverty schools typically have higher concentrations of new and beginning educators, who “are, on average, less effective than more experienced ones,” the NTC report notes.

“Too many beginning educators in one place can impact student achievement and unfairly put students in these schools at a disadvantage compared to their more advantaged peers,” the report says. “While all schools and students can benefit from more effective teachers, the power of high-quality induction has special significance for schools that serve a disproportionate number of low-income and minority students. … High-quality induction programs can help provide the specialized support that new teachers need and transform these schools into strong professional communities where educators want to stay and work—and be more successful in working with students.”

As a 2014 Alliance for Excellent Education report notes, high-poverty schools typically have higher teacher turnover rates than other schools, a fact that compromises the nation’s capacity to ensure that all students have access to skilled teaching. Comprehensive induction programs that include multiple types of support—such as high-quality mentoring, common planning times, and ongoing support from school leaders—can curb that turnover, especially among new teachers. Collectively, roughly half a million U.S. teachers either move or leave the profession each year—attrition that costs the United States up to $2.2 billion annually.

Support from the Start: A 50-State Review of Policies on New Educator Induction and Mentoring is available at http://newteachercenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2016CompleteReportStatePolicies.pdf.

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