The first few years in a teacher's career can be overwhelming and stressful. From understanding how to implement high-quality curriculum and identify students' needs to navigating school routines and expectations, new teachers must learn how to balance competing priorities quickly.
Unlike many other professions, schools can fail to provide a standardized onboarding experience for novice teachers. Without adequate induction supports and opportunities to build strong relationships with students, peers, and school leaders, new teachers either quickly build resilience or end up leaving the position.1 Research shows that comprehensive induction supports that nurture educators may reduce novice teacher turnover.2 Comprehensive induction can include opportunities for new teachers to collaborate with colleagues in learning communities, observe experienced teachers' classrooms, or network with other novice teachers.3 However, research suggests that less than 1 percent of new teachers receive these comprehensive induction supports.4
In Louisiana, teachers with 2–5 years of experience left public schools in 2020 at a rate of 30 percent, compared with 17 percent of teachers with 6–10 years of experience.5 To help retain new teachers, state policymakers are implementing comprehensive induction programs. Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Southwest and the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) have formed the Supporting Early Career and Aspiring Teachers (SECAT) partnership to improve supports for novice and aspiring teachers. Through the SECAT partnership, REL Southwest aims to strengthen LDOE's capacity to use evidence to refine initiatives that support early career and aspiring teachers, such as the New Teacher Experience program and the Louisiana Pre-Educator Pathway.
To address teacher recruitment and retention in Louisiana, LDOE developed and began offering the New Teacher Experience to approximately 15 pilot parishes in the 2022/23 school year. The program includes multiple approaches designed to increase teacher effectiveness, enhance skills, and reduce attrition among novice teachers. The New Teacher Experience consists of four key structures:
The New Teacher Experience begins with a summer kickoff in July for new teachers and programming continues throughout the school year. Participating parishes can enroll teachers in any of the following three supports: affinity groups, professional learning, or mentoring. Furthermore, schools may define who they consider to be a new teacher, although LDOE suggests including all teachers with 0–3 years of experience. Participating schools receive funding that can be used to provide stipends for mentors and new teachers and travel costs for attending training. As the program expands, LDOE encourages additional schools and educators to participate.
REL Southwest and LDOE plan to study the grow-your-own approaches that aim to strengthen and diversify the teacher workforce pipeline. The state's grow-your-own efforts include supporting high school students to take preteaching coursework through the Louisiana Pre-Educator Pathway. This program is focused on cultivating highly skilled educators by providing supports that guide students from high school through college and into the teaching profession. Participants in the Louisiana Pre-Educator Pathway earn college credit that they can apply toward a postsecondary teaching degree.
During the next five years of the SECAT partnership, REL Southwest will work with LDOE and schools in Louisiana to strengthen their capacity to generate and use evidence to refine existing programs for early career and aspiring teachers. In the first year of the partnership, REL Southwest and LDOE partners plan to focus on evaluation support for the New Teacher Experience. In future years of the partnership, REL Southwest will study LDOE's efforts to support new and aspiring teachers. Along the way, REL Southwest will share important takeaways, resources, and policy implications related to teacher recruitment and retention learned through our partnership with Louisiana.
For more information on educator recruitment and retention:From the Louisiana Department of Education:
From REL Southwest:
1 Mullen, C. A., Shields, L. B., & Tienken, C. H. (2021). Developing teacher resilience and resilient school cultures. AASA Journal of Scholarship and Practice, 18(1), 8–24. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1295967; 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). https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED556348
2,3 DeCesare, D., Workman, S., & McClelland, A. (2016). How do school districts mentor new teachers? (REL 2016–125). U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational Laboratory Central. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED565612; Goldrick, L. (2016). Support from the start: A 50 state review of policies on new educator induction and mentoring. New Teacher Center.
4 Martin, K. L., Buelow, S. M., & Hoffman, J. T. (2016). New teacher induction: Support that impacts beginning middle-level educators. Middle School Journal, 47(1), 4–12. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1130841
5 Louisiana Department of Education. (2020). Developing the foundation of grow your programs in Louisiana. https://www.louisianabelieves.com/docs/default-source/jumpstart/pre-educator-pathway.pdf?sfvrsn=d1aa6518_2