Policy makers are concerned about teacher shortages and the high rate of attrition among new teachers. Mentor-based induction has been shown to reduce the numbers of new teachers leaving schools or the profession. However, staying in the profession does not mean that new teachers are effective in helping students learn.
Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study:
The purpose of the project was to study how variations in new teacher support programs are related to changes in student achievement.
Three districts that had participated in the New Teacher Center training program were asked to be a part of a study about program effectiveness. Using data collected from interviews with district officials, the programs of the districts were categorized based on the mentor/novice ratio. This ratio was selected because it has implications for mentor selection, mentor training, and contact time between mentors and new teachers. Districts also provided achievement data for students taught by new teachers in Grades 2–6.
Three school districts in California agreed to participate in the study. The number of participants in the three districts included, respectively, 17 new teachers and 424 students; 31 new teachers and 709 students; and 51 new teachers and 1,288 students.
Data Collection and Analysis:
Two types of data were used for the study. First, a numerical score was created for each program based on the mentor/novice ratio. Second, achievement scores from two consecutive spring testing periods were obtained from districts for students taught by new teachers in the elementary grades. The two types of data were analyzed using a two-level hierarchical linear model. Student ethnicity, class ethnicity, and an indicator of student poverty were also included in the analysis.
Mentor-based induction can have a positive effect on student achievement if the program allows for weekly contact and mentor selectivity is high.