Connecticut is using an intensive teacher induction program aimed at supporting and retaining the next generation of teachers. To understand its effects on teacher turnover, a recent REL Northeast & Islands study investigated the relationship between participation in the program and beginning teacher retention.
Early career teachers make up a growing percentage of the teacher workforce and they tend to leave the profession at higher rates than more experienced teachers.1, 2, 3 Teacher turnover can be an even greater challenge for schools and districts that serve large populations of students of color and students experiencing poverty.4 Induction and mentoring programs may be an effective strategy for supporting and retaining new teachers, especially when programs are implemented as intended and teachers are engaged.
The TEAM Program Study
In 2010, Connecticut rolled out the Teacher Education and Mentoring (TEAM) Program, which aims to improve teacher efficacy in the classroom and prevent teacher turnover. A requirement for beginning teachers in Connecticut, it includes five instructional modules and ongoing support from an assigned mentor aimed at helping align teacher instructional practices with the state’s standards.
Claudine Primack, the TEAM Program manager, and her colleagues at the Connecticut State Department of Education (CDSE) wanted to know if beginning teachers who followed the TEAM Program requirements were more likely to stay in a teaching position in the same district or at least in Connecticut public schools.
CDSE was particularly interested in beginning teacher retention rates in Connecticut’s 30 lowest performing school districts, called Alliance districts. They also wanted to learn about teacher retention in a subset of Alliance districts—Opportunity districts—which are the 10 lowest performing districts in the state. Teacher turnover is notably higher in these districts compared to higher performing districts.5
CDSE partnered with REL Northeast & Islands to conduct a research study to investigate the relationship between teachers’ adherence to the TEAM Program requirements and teacher retention. Primack hoped that the study findings would help CDSE raise awareness among state legislators and other stakeholders about the importance of teacher induction and the need to bring additional resources to the TEAM Program.
The study found that teachers who followed the TEAM program requirements were less likely to leave their positions, including in Opportunity districts. While other factors may have affected their retention, teachers who completed more of the program requirements had a higher probability of staying in their district and in the state public school system after one year and three years of teaching. Although teacher retention was still lower in Opportunity compared to other districts, teachers from these districts who completed at least 75 percent of program requirements were more likely to stay in their district compared to teachers who completed just 25 percent.
The study also offered information on teachers’ adherence to specific program requirements that could prove useful to Connecticut and other states considering teacher induction programs. Overall, a higher percentage of teachers completed the module and reflection paper requirements compared to the percentage of teachers who completed the required contact hours with their mentor. Additionally, a higher percentage of teachers in Alliance districts completed program requirements related to modules and time spent with a mentor than in non-Alliance districts.
The results of this study encouraged Primack and her colleagues to dig deeper into TEAM program implementation in Opportunity districts. They plan to convene a stakeholder committee to discuss the study results and other TEAM-related research. Knowing that module completion was higher for teachers in Alliance districts, Primack hopes to learn more about which modules were the most useful to teachers in these districts and other areas for program improvement.
Primack said, “Ultimately, the work of this committee will bring about revised, sustainable practices within the TEAM program that will result in increased teacher retention, more effective teaching, and improved student performance.”
To learn more, read the study or watch a webinar that provides an overview of the findings and discusses implications for states and districts.
1Borman, G. D., & Dowling, N. M. (2008). Teacher attrition and retention: A meta-analysis and narrative review of the research. Review of Educational Research, 78(3), 367–409.
2Guarino, C., Santibanez, L., & Daley, G. (2006). Teacher recruitment and retention: A review of the recent empirical literature. Review of Educational Research, 76(1), 173–208.
3Ingersoll, R., Merrill, L., & Stuckey, D. (2014). Seven trends: The transformation of the teaching force (CPRE Report No. RR-80). University of Pennsylvania, Consortium for Policy Research in Education.
4Carver-Thomas, D. & Darling-Hammond, L. (2017). Teacher turnover: Why it matters and what we can do about it. Palo Alto, CA: Learning Policy Institute. Retrieved from https://learningpolicyinstitute.org/sites/default/files/product-files/Teacher_Turnover_REPORT.pdf
5Connecticut State Department of Education. (2015). Data bulletin: Public school hiring trends and certification subject area shortages for 2015/16. Retrieved from http://edsight.ct.gov/relatedreports/Shortage%20Area%20Data%20Bulletin%202015-16v2.pdf.