Teacher turnover is a problem across the United States, with about 17 percent of teachers leaving within the first five years in the profession.1 This turnover rate costs states and districts money and time, and negatively affects student outcomes. Teacher induction programs offer a way to provide supports for beginning teachers and keep them in classrooms. Although the research is mixed on the effects of mentoring and induction programs, some studies suggest that comprehensive induction programs can increase retention rates among beginning teachers.2
Connecticut is one of 29 states in the country that require a teacher induction program.3 Connecticut’s program—which began in 2010—is called Teacher Education and Mentoring, or TEAM, and all beginning teachers must complete the program within three years. TEAM has several goals, including to “develop teachers who are reflective practitioners, able to critically assess their practice against the state’s teaching standards, and are committed to continuous professional learning.”4 Beginning teachers complete five “professional growth modules,” which address classroom environment, planning, instruction, assessment, and professional responsibility. Teachers also receive support from a mentor in the same district for up to three years to complete these modules.
Claudine Primack, the TEAM Program Manager at the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) Talent Office, reached out to REL Northeast & Islands to see if we could help with evaluating the program. CSDE is required to evaluate the TEAM program every three to five years, and the last evaluation was done in 2013.
Specifically, Primack and her colleagues at CSDE need to better understand if teachers are completing the requirements of the TEAM program in all districts in the state. The original TEAM requirements include completing five professional growth modules within two years, spending 50 contact hours with the mentor, and submitting four reflection papers by the end of the second year of the program.5 CSDE is also very interested in learning whether TEAM is being implemented with fidelity in the schools that are most in need of improvement, specifically the 10 lowest-performing districts in the state, which are called Opportunity Districts. Finally, CSDE wants to know whether teachers who participate in TEAM tend to stay longer in teaching, either at their school or at another school in Connecticut. Primack said this is especially important to explore in the Opportunity Districts, “since they often struggle with teacher retention.”
Working in collaboration with CSDE, my REL colleagues Makoto Hanita, Jessica Bailey, and Noman Khanani and I are conducting a study to investigate whether teachers across the state are fulfilling the requirements of the TEAM program—in other words, seeing if the program is being implemented with fidelity—and whether the fidelity of implementation is associated with teacher retention. Specifically, our research questions ask:
- To what extent is TEAM implemented with fidelity?
- Does fidelity of implementation vary by district or school characteristics?
- Is there a relationship between fidelity of implementation of TEAM and teacher retention after one year of teaching? After two years? After three years?
Primack’s team at CSDE has provided the data for this study. The first cohort of teachers entered the TEAM program in the fall of 2010, and we are studying the data from five cohorts of beginning teachers who participated between the 2011/12 and 2015/16 school years.
“The results of this study will help us determine how to provide support to districts, as well as identify where support is needed,” Primack said. “As we develop a better understanding about how participation in the program is related to teacher retention, we will be better prepared to meet the needs of our early career teachers.”
This study is a project of REL Northeast & Islands’ Professional Learning and Development Alliance, which supports education leaders across the region in making evidence-based decisions regarding the selection, adaptation, scale up, and/or discontinuation of professional learning and development programs and interventions.
Our research team has recently completed the initial analysis of the data and will begin drafting the report for publication. The findings and final report are expected to be published in Summer 2019.
Learn more about REL Northeast & Islands’ Works in Progress.
1 Gray, L., & Taie, S. (2015). Public School Teacher Attrition and Mobility in the First Five Years: Results From the First Through Fifth Waves of the 2007–08 Beginning Teacher Longitudinal Study (NCES 2015-337). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch
2 Ingersoll, R., & Strong, M. (2011). The impact of induction and mentoring programs for beginning teachers: A critical review of the research. Review of Educational Research, 81(2), 201–233.
3 Goldrick, L. (2016, March). Support from the start: A 50-state review of policies on new educator induction and mentoring. Santa Cruz, CA: New Teacher Center. Retrieved from https://newteachercenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2016CompleteReportStatePolicies.pdf
4 Connecticut State Department of Education. (n.d.). Teacher Education and Mentoring Program: Program manual 2016-2017. Retrieved from https://www.ctteam.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/TEAM_Manual_2016-17.pdf
5 The TEAM program requirements changed in 2017/18 and beginning teachers now have the option to submit either four projects or four reflection papers. However, the REL Northeast & Islands study does not include data since 2017 and is using data based on the original requirement of four reflection papers.