Public education faces a crisis. Each year our drop-out rate exceeds 10 percent, and over a five-year period we see a loss of almost 50 percent (Dove, 2004). We've all heard about high drop-out rates, but these drop-outs are our new teachers! The percentage is even higher in schools located in low socio-economic and inner-city areas.
Over the next 20 years it is estimated that public education will need 1.7 to 2.7 million new teachers, and we can ill afford to lose up to half of our new teachers. Furthermore, it is estimated that the loss of a teacher can have an overall cost of up to $100,000 to a school district for hiring and future training (Maryland State Teachers Association, 2007).
It is critical that school districts look carefully at how new teachers are introduced into the teaching profession and that we explore ways to make their first few years successful. The most popular method of helping new teachers integrate successfully into their first assignment is through the use of a new teacher induction program.
New teacher induction programs were first introduced into schools in the 1980s and 1990s as a way to help new teachers be successful in making the transition from teacher preparation programs into teaching in a regular classroom. Teacher induction programs have uniformly had common goals such as:
* improving teaching performance;
* increasing the retention of promising beginning teachers;
* promoting the personal and professional well-being of beginning teachers;
* satisfying mandated requirements for induction and/or licensure; and
* transmitting the culture of the system to beginning teachers (Stansbury, & Zimmerman, 2000).
Surprisingly, new teacher induction programs aren't without detractors. A recent article published in Education Week had the headline, "Little Impact Seen in Intensive Teacher Induction Model." At first glance, it would appear that teacher induction programs aren't effective. This conclusion would be totally false.
The article cited in Education Week highlighted a comparison of two highly intensive commercial teacher induction programs compared to the variety of programs offered in many school districts. Indeed, this study only demonstrated that what many school districts are doing is really working.
A quality new teacher induction program can not only increase the effectiveness of new teachers, but it can also dramatically improve the retention rate for those teachers. Some districts have reported retention rates as high as 70 percent, and in tracking their "drop-outs" they've found that many new teachers who left their district went to other school districts and have not left the teaching profession at all. The most important questions are: what are the elements of a good teacher induction program, how should we set one up and why?
To set up a quality program it is important to understand how the programs work and what the elements of a program are. This will ensure a school and district will be able to maximize the retention of their new teachers. Overall, there are three types of induction programs: the basic orientation model, the instructional practice model and the school...