Among the furry of education reports being released this month is one from the Alliance for Excellent Education on improving teacher quality by improving the induction of new teachers.
According to the report: About 15 percent of the American workforce of 3.5 million teachers either moves (255,700) or leaves the profession (269,800) each year. The size of the teaching force coupled with the high annual turnover rates seriously compromises the nation‘s capacity to ensure that all students have access to skilled teaching. Researchers estimate that in a 12-month period more than one million teachers — almost a third of the workforce— transition into, between, or out of schools. High-poverty schools experience a teacher-turnover rate of about 20 percent annually — roughly 50 percent higher than the rate in more affluent schools. The estimate of the percentage of new teachers leaving after five years ranges from 30 to 50 percent, with the greatest exodus taking place in urban areas. The cumulative costs of attrition are high— the National Commission on Teaching and America‘s Future estimates that the nation‘s school districts spend at least $7.2 billion a year on teacher turnover. Studies suggest that the price tag for recruitment and replacement seriously underestimates the cumulative costs for eroding the caliber and stability of the teacher workforce, particularly in chronically underperforming schools serving the neediest students.
And here is a piece of data that I find incredible: The attrition rate of first-year teachers — now the largest group within the occupation — has increased by more than 40 percent over the past two decades. The influx of new teachers has neither stabilized the teaching workforce nor improved teaching quality. In 1987–88, the most common experience level, was 15 years; by 2008, the typical teacher was in his or her first year of teaching.
Here is the official release, but read the full report if you have time:
School systems must provide greater support and sustained mentoring for teachers, especially those new to the profession, in order for students to graduate ready for college and a career, according to a new report from the Alliance for Excellent Education.
The report comes as most states have opted to hold their students to higher performance targets by adopting the common core state standards to make sure they have the skills to be successful after high school. However, if teachers do not begin to receive high level “induction,”— system support, professional development, and mentorship — the goals of the common core state standards will go unfulfilled, according to the policy brief “A System Approach to Building a World-Class Teaching Profession: The Role of Induction,” which was written with the support of Metlife Foundation.
“To achieve a fundamental transformation of education and help students meet the higher performance set by the common core state standards, the very culture of how teachers are supported must change,” said Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia. “Coherent incentives and structures must be created to attract, develop, and retain the best teaching talent in high schools serving students with the greatest needs.”
To build a world-class teaching profession for the nation’s students, officials must develop strategies to reduce the rates in which teachers leave the profession and fix the unequal distribution of teaching talent between richer and poorer schools. The Alliance brief recommends the following solutions:
• Develop systems that encourage high-quality educator development and teaching grounded in teaching practice that has been proven effective.
• Design comprehensive programs for new teachers that provide coaching and guidance by well-trained mentors.
• Determine the performance indicators that can reliably assess teacher competency and provide feedback to support professional learning.
• Communicate core expectations for teaching practice, invest in professional development, and create organizational conditions conducive to meaningful staff collaboration and development.
Longstanding research reinforces that teaching quality outweighs even students’ social and economic backgrounds as the most powerful school-based factor in student learning. However, talented and well-prepared teacher distribution continues to be unequal among affluent schools compared to those serving low-income students and students of color. These groups of students are six times more likely than their white peers to attend a dropout factory —one of more than 1,500 high schools where fewer than 60 percent of students graduate on time, according to research at Johns Hopkins University — which is much less likely to employ teachers who are certified in the subject they teach.
The report notes that teachers in such high-need environments often lack opportunities for collaboration and feedback, and they report lower participation rates in mentoring and induction. Additionally, almost 15 percent of the American teaching workforce moves or leaves the profession each year and estimates range from 30 and 50 percent of all new teachers leaving after five years, with the greatest exodus occurring in urban areas. Recent studies suggest that the price tag for recruitment and replacement seriously underestimates the cumulative costs of the continuing erosion in the caliber and stability of the teacher workforce.
The report highlights the work of the New Teacher Center, a nonprofit organization based in Santa Cruz, California, as an example of effective induction and mentoring programs for new teachers. The organization serves as a national resource and partners with schools, districts, and policymakers to help create valuable induction programs.
With an increased emphasis on holding students to the higher common core state standards comes a need to develop a set of policies and practices for schools and districts in terms of how they attract, prepare, support, and develop teachers.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog