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Improving the Effectiveness of Beginning Teachers

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August 06, 2014 03:47 pm

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High annual turnover rates seriously compromise the nation’s capacity to ensure that all students have access to skilled teaching. On July 17, the Alliance in partnership with the New Teacher Center, held a webinar to discuss meaningful support for the growing number of beginning teachers who are less likely to stay in teaching. The webinar served as the release of a new Alliance report On the Path to Equity: Improving the Effectiveness of Beginning Teachers—that examines research on teacher turnover, induction, and the optimal conditions to improve retention and teacher effectiveness. Dr. Richard Ingersoll, Professor of Education and Sociology, Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania, who contributed the report’s analyses of state attrition costs and served as a webinar panelist, contends, “In short, the data suggest that school staffing problems are rooted in the way schools are organized and the way the teaching occupation is treated.”

Webinar panelists Dr. Terry Holliday, Commissioner of Education, Kentucky Department of Education; Ingersoll; and Ms. Ellen Moir, Executive Director, New Teacher Center made the following points:

  • Disadvantaged students are most likely to suffer the effects of high turnover and poor teaching quality.
  • The vast majority of research shows positive effects for comprehensive induction for beginning teachers, including improvement in teachers’ instruction, retention, and student achievement.
  • Teacher shortages in specific areas such as mathematics and science are misdiagnosed: they emanate from high attrition rates.
  • Retaining effective teachers, particularly in high-poverty schools, depends on a systems approach to creating supportive teaching and learning conditions.
  • Working conditions are linked to teacher retention, improving practice, and better student achievement gains and should be integrated into all school improvement initiatives.
  • States and districts should use data on school conditions to make system improvements—to evaluate administrators and district leaders, to improve preparation and professional learning, and to allocate resources for school improvement.
  • Key to retaining teaching talent is affording them greater classroom autonomy to meet high standards for student learning along with career opportunities to use their expertise as teacher leaders.

Holliday stressed, “Teachers need to have a voice. Districts that are successful in meeting high standards engage and empower their teachers.” Moir concurred, saying, “America spends billions and billions of dollars on professional development that teachers hate. We could do a far better job by listening to our educators about what will make a difference in their ability to teach effectively.”

Archived video from the webinar, as well as a complete transcript, are available at https://all4ed.org/webinar-event/jul-17-2014/.

Mariana Haynes, PhD, is a Senior Fellow at the Alliance for Excellent Education and author of “On the Path to Equity: Improving the Effectiveness of Beginning Teachers.”

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