Teacher Induction Overview
Teacher Induction PDF
Cleaver, S., Detrich, R., States, J. & Keyworth, R. (2020). Overview of Teacher Induction. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute. https://www.winginstitute.org/in-service-professional-induction.
Teacher quality is an important factor in student achievement and has an impact on student success (Hattie, 2009; Nye, Konstantopoulos, & Hedges, 2004; Sanders & Rivers, 1996). Students who have high-quality teachers have higher test scores than students who do not have high-quality teachers (American Education Research Association, 2004).
Ensuring student access to high-quality teachers has been a focus of reforms and legislation for decades (No Child Left Behind Act, 2002; States, Detrich, & Keyworth, 2012). However, the United States has struggled with low academic achievement, stagnant academic growth, and educational inequalities (Maheady, Jabot, Rey, & Michelli-Pendl, 2007). On the 2019 Nation’s Report Card, 75% of fourth graders and 66% of eighth graders scored below proficiency in reading. In math, 59% of fourth graders and 66% of eighth graders scored below proficiency (National Assessment of Education Progress, 2020).
Teacher preparation has been named a potential reason for trends in low academic achievement (Maheady et al., 2007). This raises the question: are teachers getting the preparation they need to be successful in raising student achievement from the start of their careers?
Currently, teachers graduating from teacher preparation programs may or may not be prepared to teach successfully. As a result, teacher induction programs have been created to serve as a bridge between university programs and classroom teaching (Hart Research Associates, 2010).
The purpose of this overview is to provide an understanding of the research base on teacher induction programs, the impact on teacher practice and student achievement, and recommendations for teacher induction programs. Important questions about teacher induction programs include:
- What should teacher induction programs focus on? What are the effective components of a teacher induction program?
- How should professional development be delivered in teacher induction programs?
- What benefits can schools and districts expect to see from teacher induction programs?
[A head][C1] Need for Teacher Induction Programs
New teachers require training that meets their unique needs and provides intensive experiences to quickly boost their skills and integrate them into their new schools. Newly trained teachers report that they feel unprepared for the actual demands of teaching (Cibulka, 2009; Duncan, 2009). Specifically, they feel poorly prepared to handle behavior, assess student performance, and implement teaching strategies (Cochran-Smith & Zeichner, 2005).
Perhaps because they feel ill-equipped for the classroom, new teachers often produce lower student achievement than more veteran teachers (Rivkin, Hanushek, & Kain, 2005). Also, turnover among new teachers is high: 15% of new teachers leave teaching and 14% change schools after their first year (Ingersoll & Smith, 2004; Smith & Ingersoll, 2004). That turnover rate is almost double the national teacher turnover rate of 8% (Carver-Thomas & Darling-Hammond, 2017).
Teacher induction programs attempt to address the specific needs of new teachers. The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (2006) defines teacher induction as professional development focused on the needs of novice teachers and prioritizing the practices that help them become effective in the classroom. To this end, teacher induction programs teach practices that help new teachers become effective classroom professionals (American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, 2010). They also provide a way to train teachers for the specific schools they have been hired to teach in, and allow for the involvement of existing staff in mentoring and training.
Since they started in the 1980s, teacher induction programs have demonstrated the following benefits (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2004; Ehrich, Hansford, & Tennent, 2004; Fletcher, Strong, & Villar, 2008; Howe, 2006; Ingersoll & Kralik, 2004):
- Increased teacher retention
- Refined teacher practice
- Improved teacher quality
- Improved student achievement
Another potential benefit is the improved morale and communication between administration and teachers (Ingersoll & Kralik, 2004).
Current State of Teacher Induction
Prior to the 1980s, teacher induction programs consisted of a few hours of orientation before teachers started work in the classroom (States et al., 2012). In the 1980s, more formal teacher induction programs were instituted to potentially improve teacher competency. Since then, teacher induction programs have become increasingly common (Smith & Ingersoll, 2004). Recently, García and Weiss (2019) reported that the vast majority of teachers in their first year of teaching participated in teacher induction programs (72.7%). Of the teachers in these programs, 79.9% worked with a mentor and 91.9% completed additional professional development opportunities.
As teacher induction programs developed, they went through four waves (Wood & Stanulis, 2009). Prior to 1986 (first wave), programs were informal and unfunded, and focused on increasing teacher competence and satisfaction, with the goal of decreasing attrition. In the second wave (1986–1989), mentoring was added to many programs, with more structured observations and professional development. In the third wave (1990–1996), programs added formative assessment and teacher observation. Despite showing promise, many of these programs were defunded. Finally, in the fourth wave (1997–2006), programs became more comprehensive and organized, with additional assistance and assessment for new teachers.
By 2004, most states mandated support for new teachers as they transitioned from college to the classroom (Villar & Strong, 2007). Today, the scope and quality of teacher induction programs vary. A National Council on Teacher Quality report (Saenz-Armstrong, 2020) found that among 124 districts, the majority (82) provided an orientation that ranged from 3 to 4 hours to 6 days. Additionally, 92 districts provided mentoring for new teachers, ranging from 30 weeks to 4 years. And 25% of districts incorporated collaborative time for teachers during daily planning.
The vast majority of teachers will experience some kind of induction or professional development during their first year of teaching (García & Weiss, 2019). However, especially given the range of induction experiences that districts provide, the amount of professional development provided to new teachers may not be sufficient to produce necessary improvements (Glazerman et al., 2010; Saenz-Armstrong, 2020).
Research on Teacher Induction Programs
Research has examined the effect that induction programs have on teacher quality and retention. Lopez, Lash, Schaffner, Shields, and Wagner (2004) reviewed 89 studies (3 experimental, 41 quasi-experimental, 22 qualitative, 23 reviews of research) and concluded that while much has been written about teacher induction, few rigorous studies have investigated the impact of induction on teacher quality and retention. The studies reviewed by Lopez et al. were weak for a variety of reasons including lack of definition of core variables, reliance on self-reporting, the use of one outcome measure, and many potentially confounding variables. Based on these flaws, Lopez et al. could not conclude that teacher induction programs produced an impact on teacher quality or retention.
Since then, an Institute of Education Science report (Glazerman et al., 2010) examined the results of a randomized control trial (RCT) on teacher induction. The study included 1,009 teachers across 418 schools in 17 districts. Within this group, teachers were randomly assigned to receive comprehensive induction or standard induction programming. The RCT compared benchmarks (retention, achievement, and classroom practices) of teachers who received a comprehensive induction program with those of new teachers who received only standard new teacher support. Teachers who had the benefit of comprehensive induction, which included 1 to 2 years of full-time mentor support, monthly professional development, and opportunities to observe veteran teachers. Teachers were followed for 3 years to gauge the impacts of comprehensive induction.
After one year of comprehensive induction, there was no impact on student achievement or teacher retention. However, teachers who received 3 years of comprehensive induction saw a positive impact on student achievement in their third year. The resulting impact was the equivalent of moving a student who was in the 50th percentile in reading to the 54th percentile in reading and the 58th percentile in math. There was no impact on teacher retention (Glazerman et al., 2010).
In another study, Ingersoll and Strong (2011) examined 15 studies conducted between the mid-1980s and 2010. They included only studies that compared outcome data for participants and non-participants, and studies with clear explanations of the methods, data sources, sample sizes, methods, and outcomes. The parameters resulted in a group of studies that examined at least one aspect of teacher induction programs. Overall, the studies provided support for the conclusion that induction programs have a positive impact on new teachers’ job satisfaction, commitment, and retention. Teacher induction programming also improved new teachers’ classroom practices (keeping students on task, classroom management, questioning strategies, developing lesson plans). This is important because new teachers have indicated struggling with classroom management and implementing instructional strategies (Cochran-Smith & Zeichner, 2005). Finally, the students of teachers who participated in teacher induction programs had higher scores on academic achievement tests than students whose teachers did not participate. From this research, additional research is needed to examine the content, duration, and intensity of induction that produces the best results. In addition, additional research is needed to determine the cost-benefit of induction programs for districts.
Perry and Hayes (2011) used a matched group of 44 newly hired K–6 teachers in one district (22 in the treatment group and 22 teachers who provided a matched comparison) to do a two-group comparative study of teacher induction practices. The teachers in the treatment group participated in a teacher induction program. All teachers in the study completed a survey of their knowledge of the district’s educational processes and procedures. The induction program involved an initial induction process before they started the school year and ongoing professional development across their first 2 to 3 years. Professional development included training, collaboration, mentoring, and visits to demonstration classrooms. Teachers in their third year of the program were better able to use assessment results to improve instruction and increase student achievement. In other aspects, there was no difference between teachers who participated and those who did not participate. Between their first and third years of teaching, both groups of teachers did not demonstrate a difference in their ability to communicate with students and parents, to understand classroom management techniques, to monitor student growth, and to use research-based practices. The results indicated that induction must be multiyear and comprehensive if it is to incorporate teachers fully into a district and to reap the benefits of the program. The cost-benefit of this program was not addressed in the study.
Overall, while the research that has been conducted shows some positive findings, there is a lack of rigorous research and a lack of recent research on this topic (Glazerman et al., 2010; Ingersoll & Strong, 2011).
Questions Driving Teacher Induction
The most important questions have to do with what teacher induction programs should include and the benefits that districts should expect from them.
What Should Be Included? What Should Teacher Induction Programs Focus On?
There are two ways to approach these questions. First, what should be included specifically for teachers who are new to the profession? Second, which strategies are most effective and should be the focus of induction programs?
What should be included specifically for new teachers? The Alliance for Excellent Education (2004) identified high-quality teacher induction as having the following:
- High-quality mentoring
- Shared planning time and collaboration
- Ongoing professional development
- Participation in an external network of teachers
- Standards-based evaluation
From this checklist, it is clear that effective teacher induction programs are more than an overview of human resource protocols and operations procedures (although those are important for new hires to know).
The teacher induction program that Perry and Hayes (2011) examined included a continuum of professional development through systematic support across a teacher’s first 2 to 3 years in the classroom. This support involved the following:
- Study groups that allowed teachers to network
- Administrative support
- Mentorship through assignment of a specific mentor
- Opportunities for teachers to visit demonstration classrooms and see model lessons
- Building-level professional development through school-based instructional facilitators
A logical follow-up question: Once elements are in place, how long should an induction program be implemented to have an impact? The results from the Glazerman et al. (2010) study indicate that teacher induction programs should last through a teacher’s third year to demonstrate significant impacts on student achievement. However, a review of all 50 states’ induction program policies by the New Teacher Center (Goldrick, Osta, Barlin, & Burn, 2012) revealed that only half of states required any induction or mentoring for new teachers, and no state provided an induction program that included high-impact multiyear induction support.
What strategies should teacher induction programs focus on? In a report focusing on the aspects of instruction that most influence student learning, Wang, Haertel, and Walberg (1997) identified 28 aspects of teaching and created weighted scores by combining the effect sizes of each. The higher the weighted score, the greater the effect size and the more impactful the strategy. From those, they identified the top items that most influenced student learning (the numbers in parentheses are the weighted scores):
- Classroom management (64.8)
- Student-teacher interaction (56.7)
- Quantity of instruction (53.7)
- Classroom climate (52.3)
A meta-analysis by Hattie (2009) corroborated these findings. Hattie identified formative assessment (observation and feedback), classroom management, and teaching strategies as key. From all three of these studies, focusing on classroom management, relationships and interactions with students, and maximizing time for instruction should be priorities for teacher induction programs (Hattie, 2009; Ingersoll & Strong, 2011; Wang et al., 1997).
What Methods Should Teacher Induction Programs Use?
The goal of teacher induction (like the goal of teacher preparation) is for teachers to transfer their knowledge from training to the classroom. Teacher induction programs have the added focus of accelerating new teacher practices to maximize new teacher impacts on student achievement and to minimize turnover (Rivkin et al., 2005). On the whole, induction programs have focused on mentoring and formative assessment of new teachers (Wood & Stanulis, 2009).
Joyce and Showers (2002) examined four methods of training teachers: (1) Discussion, readings, and lectures; (2) modeling of skills/demonstration; (3) practice and feedback under simulated conditions; and (4) coaching, or collaboration between trainer and trainee, to solve problems in the classroom. Training teachers through lectures and modeling was insufficient to transfer skills to the classroom; practice and feedback were also insignificant. Only coaching produced a significant transfer of skills to the classroom.
Coaching could be a strong option for teacher induction programs as many programs are built on a combination of mentoring and formative assessment (Wood & Stanulis, 2009), and coaching already has a strong research base to support its effectiveness (Cleaver, Detrich, & States, 2018).
Teacher coaching has been shown to impact teacher practice and student achievement, specifically reading instruction (Sailors & Price, 2010). Coaching has also been shown to have a positive impact on classroom environment (Neuman & Wright, 2010; Powell, Diamond, Burchinal, & Koehler, 2010). Finally, coaching has demonstrated positive effects on improving specific teacher practices, such as their implementation of a model-lead-test math lesson format (Kraft, Blazer, & Hogan, 2018; Kretlow, Wood, & Cook, 2011).
Another method included in Joyce and Showers’ 2002 review was collaboration among teachers. Professional learning communities (PLCs) engage teachers in thoughtful, explicit examination of teaching practices and their impacts (Little, 1990). Teachers can use PLC time to observe peers and review their own practice, both of which can change teacher practice and effectiveness (Lustick & Sykes, 2006; Sato, Wei, & Darling-Hammond, 2008). Intensive, content-rich, collaborative working experiences such as those in a PLC can improve teacher practice and student outcomes (Darling-Hammond & Richardson, 2009). PLCs may also address needs identified by new teachers to plan instruction and observe teaching (Barlin, 2010).
Another way that districts provide development for new teachers are mentorship programs (Villar & Strong, 2007). Mentoring involves facilitating a relationship between an established teacher and a new teacher with the focus on guiding, influencing, and supporting the new teacher. Typically, a new teacher is paired with a veteran teacher who can provide experience in teaching as well as information about the school and district (Feiman-Nemser & Parker, 1992).
Strong mentoring programs have research support for boosting student achievement. For example, Fletcher et al. (2008) studied three California districts with a new teacher training program that included mentoring. The researchers categorized programs based on the ratio of mentors to novice teachers. Across the three districts, 89 teachers impacting 3,268 students participated in the study. Spring achievement test data for students in grades 2 through 6 was used to gauge the impact of teachers. Overall, mentor-based induction had a positive impact on student achievement when teachers maintained weekly contact with mentors who were veteran teachers and were selected through a rigorous interview process and provided with ongoing training.
In summary, teacher induction programs should include high-quality coaching or mentoring, as well as collaboration, which could be accomplished through school-based PLCs.
What Benefits Should Schools and Districts Expect to See from Teacher Induction Programs?
There are two main questions about the benefits of teacher induction programs. First, is there an impact on teacher quality? Second, is there an impact on teacher retention?
Do teacher induction programs have an impact on teacher quality? The goal of increasing teacher quality is to raise student achievement; therefore, research into teacher quality studied student achievement in the form of test scores or reading assessments (Glazerman et al., 2010; Ingersoll & Strong, 2011; Villar & Strong, 2007). In their review of studies, Ingersoll and Strong (2011) found that teachers who participated in an induction program improved their ability to implement core practices, including keeping students on task, developing lesson plans, creating a positive classroom atmosphere, and using effective questioning strategies. Students of teachers who participated in an induction program also had higher achievement scores on standardized tests than students of teachers who did not participate (specific effect sizes were not discussed).
In a review of a mentoring program in California, Villar and Strong (2007) found that the students of new teachers who participated in a mentoring program achieved reading gains that were equivalent to those achieved by students of more veteran teachers. This is also significant because the new teachers were assigned to classes with lower initial achievement and a higher percentage of students with language learning needs.
It does take time to see benefits in student achievement; Glazerman et al. (2010) found positive effects on student learning occurred only after 2 full years of mentoring. High-quality teacher induction programs can improve teacher quality when quality indicators are in place across multiple years.
Do teacher induction programs have an impact on teacher retention? Research by Smith and Ingersoll (2004) suggests a relationship between the duration and intensity of induction and new teacher turnover. The researchers used an analysis of National Center for Education Statistics school personnel survey data from 1999–2000 to examine information about induction, mentoring, and turnover, and the impact that various levels of induction had on teacher retention. A sample of 52,000 teachers in elementary and secondary schools was included in the analysis. The levels of induction ranged from none (no support components) to basic (two support components) to comprehensive (four support components). The list of possible support components included:
- Professional development
- Common planning time and collaboration with other teachers
- Participation in an external network of teachers
- Regular, supportive communication with the principal or administration
- Reduced teaching schedule
- Fewer number of classes to prepare for
- A teacher’s assistant
Smith and Ingersoll’s analysis found that the more comprehensive the induction, the fewer teachers left teaching or changed schools. In general, mentoring and collaboration reduced the risk that a teacher would leave the district. Having a mentor in the same field reduced the likelihood that a teacher would leave the profession by 30% (significant), but did not impact whether or not a teacher would move schools. Having common planning time reduced the risk of leaving by 43% (significant). Other supports (professional development, participation in an external network, supportive communication with administration, and fewer classes to prepare for) also reduced the risk that a teacher would leave, but were not significant. A reduced teaching schedule and a classroom aide both increased the risk of a teacher leaving, but were not significant.
Another study (Perry & Hayes, 2011) that examined teacher retention in new teacher induction programs found that there was a significant difference between mobility results within the district compared to outside the district. When teachers moved schools, they were more likely to move within the district than to leave it.
Many questions remain, such as the effectiveness of various induction components, and the optimal duration and intensity of induction. Also, demands of the teaching profession are constantly changing and evolving. More contemporary research into this topic is necessary.
Cost of Teacher Induction
Because teacher induction is such an intensive intervention, it is important to understand the cost-benefit of providing this type of program to new teachers.
An analysis of Yeh (2007) research found that the effectiveness ratio (the effect size/cost per student) of teacher induction was slight (0.00018). From this, Yeh suggested that induction was not a cost-effective intervention, especially when compared to formative assessment, which was more cost-effective, and to other interventions that were not cost-effective (e.g., class size reduction, charter schools, increased spending, high-stakes testing).
A benefit-cost analysis of a mentoring program for new teachers (Villars & Strong, 2007) found that the program produced a monetary benefit that decreased over time. The benefit was highest for first-year teachers, and smallest for third-year teachers. Of course, the benefit to individual districts will vary depending on many factors. However, note that the benefit of mentoring decreased over time, presumably as teachers improved in their skills and became more comparable to veteran teachers in their ability to produce gains for students.
In terms of retention, the Villars and Strong analysis assumed that the cost of hiring a replacement teacher was worth 50% of the teacher’s salary. With this assumption, the investment in new teacher mentoring provided $1.66 for each $1 spent. Here also, the exact benefit will differ by district and each individual case, but there is a benefit to investment in keeping new teachers through high-quality mentorship programs.
Recommendations for Teacher Induction
Teacher induction is an intense, complicated intervention that requires significant investment in resources, time, and money. To show impacts, teacher induction programs may need to span at least the first 2 years of a teacher’s career (Glazerman et al., 2010).
Teacher induction programs should focus on high-leverage and high-impact teaching strategies: classroom management, student-teacher interactions (e.g., questioning strategies), classroom climate, and quantity of instruction (Cochran-Smith & Zeichner, 2005; Ingersoll & Strong, 2011; Wang et al., 1997).
Induction programs should also focus on leveraging professional development approaches that have the most impact in changing teacher practice and student achievement, namely coaching, mentoring, and PLCs. Successful induction programs are fully integrated into a school’s culture, from hiring practices to curriculum, orientation, mentoring and support, and evaluation (Cherian & Daniel, 2008; New Teacher Center, 2006). They also require ongoing support from administration (Barlin, 2010). Teacher induction must allow teachers to observe, be observed, and learn as part of a collaborative network (Perry & Hayes, 2011). Finally, induction programs should be comprehensive, designed to incorporate teachers into the district, and multiyear (Perry & Hayes, 2011). Providing this level of implementation would align the design and delivery of induction programs with existing implementation best practices (Fixen, Naoom, Blase, Friedman, & Wallace, 2005).
School leaders implementing teacher induction programs should measure the impact on (1) the practices used by new teachers, (2) student achievement, and (3) teacher retention. It may be beneficial to consider teacher retention in a district when examining districtwide impacts (Perry & Hayes, 2011).
The New Teacher Center recommends that states set policies to formally create induction programs and establish policies to ensure that the programs align with best practices, including hiring and training effective mentors, providing formative assessment and classroom observation for teachers, providing teacher induction across multiple years, and adequately funding these programs (Goldrick et al., 2012).
The needs of teachers are constantly shifting. Currently, many new teachers enter education with the expectation that they teach online during an international pandemic. In a review of teacher induction programs within the current demands of education, the National Council on Teaching Quality (NCTQ) (Saenz-Armstrong, 2020) recommends:
- Increasing orientation time for new teachers to help them navigate school expectations, culture, and instructional demands
- Structure mentoring programs to provide support across 2 years
- Prioritize collaborative time for all teachers
- Commit to professional development, particularly around remote instruction
NCTQ acknowledged that, under typical conditions, many districts do not have mentoring and new teacher induction programs that provide the adequate quality and duration to produce desired results. However, this year many new teachers have arrived with less preparation than ever for the challenges of the job, so more induction is necessary (Saenz-Armstrong, 2020).
Teacher induction programs serve an important function for new teachers who do not feel prepared for the demands of the job, and for schools and districts that want to ensure teacher quality and reduce turnover. High-quality teacher induction programs, when delivered with fidelity and across multiple years, can have a positive impact on teacher quality and teacher retention. These programs have the potential to reduce the financial burden on districts while increasing the capacity of teachers. Particularly during periods of online instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic, teacher induction programs should be organized to help new teachers develop successful practices and habits, and connect them with mentor teachers or coaches who can help integrate them into school settings, even when those settings are virtual.
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