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Evaluation Studies of the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance

Impact Evaluation of Teacher Induction Programs

Contractor: Mathematica Policy Research, WestEd, Center for Education Leadership

Background/Research Questions:

Title II, Part A, the Improving Teacher State Formula Grants program, is the primary federal funding under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to support a high quality teacher in every classroom. The program, funded at $2.9 billion in FY 2008, targets high poverty districts and funds a broad array of allowable activities such as support for certification, teacher mentoring and induction, intensive professional development, recruitment, retention, and merit-based teacher and principal pay strategies as well as class size reduction. This evaluation studies induction programs and thus provides an important source of information for this program.

An estimated 14 percent of teachers leave teaching after one year, 33 percent after three years, and nearly 50 percent after just five years. Even those teachers who persist can find themselves struggling if they are not adequately supported early in their careers. One policy response to the problems of turnover and inadequate support among beginning teachers is to support them with a comprehensive induction program. Such programs include weekly mentoring from a full-time mentor (who provides services such as observations of the beginning teacher with feedback) and opportunities for the beginning teacher to observe veteran teachers teaching. Little rigorous research on the effectiveness of comprehensive induction programs exists. The study addresses the following research questions:

  • Are elementary school teachers who are provided a comprehensive induction program more likely to be retained in their district? In the teaching profession?
  • Are there impacts on teacher practices?
  • Are there impacts on student achievement?

Design:

Two nationally known induction providers are included in the study–the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and the New Teacher Center (NTC). During the 2005–2006 school year, approximately 24 elementary schools within each of 17 districts were randomly assigned to receive either the program provided by ETS or NTC (based upon district preference) or the novice teacher supports normally offered by the district. In 7 districts, teachers in schools assigned to receive the comprehensive induction program continued to receive the ETS/NTC program for a second year during the 2006–07 school year. Approximately 1,000 beginning teachers participated in the study. Data collection included measures of teacher retention rates assessed annually, measurement of teacher practices, and student achievement in reading and math.

Cost/Duration: $17,869,969 over 5 years, 9 months (September 2004–June 2010)

Current Status:

The first report was released in October 2008 (see http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pubs/20094034/). The second report was released in August 2009 (see http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pubs/20094072/index.asp). The third and final report was released in June 2010 (see http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pubs/20104027/index.asp).

Key Findings:

  • In their first year in the classroom, teachers assigned to receive comprehensive induction were more likely to receive a variety of supports compared to control teachers In the second year, teachers assigned to receive a 2nd year of comprehensive induction continued to receive more support than their counterparts in the control condition. In their 2nd year, teachers assigned to receive one year of induction received less support than control teachers. In the 3rd and 4th years of teaching, treatment and control teachers received similar levels of support.
  • No differences were found between teachers in the comprehensive induction condition and control teachers on measured classroom practices or on teacher retention rates in the school, district or the profession.
  • For teachers who received one year of comprehensive induction, there was no impact on student achievement. For teachers who received two years of comprehensive induction, there was no impact on student achievement in the first two years. In the third year, there was a positive and statistically significant impact on student achievement for a subset of teachers.