High Quality Induction to Ensure High Quality Teaching
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In his letter introducing the 2011 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, former President Barack Obama stated “we know that from the moment students enter a school, the most important factor in their success is not the color of their skin or the income of their parents – it is the teacher standing at the front of the classroom.” (U.S. Department of Education, 2011, p. 1). The findings of several research studies point to teachers’ classroom practice as one of the most impactful factors, if not the most impactful factor, on the success of students (Akirba, LeTendre, & Scribner, 2007; Putman, 2012; Kini & Podolysky, 2016). However, with high teacher attrition rates nationwide and decreased enrollment in and completion of teacher preparation programs, researchers are projecting a difference of 200,000 candidates by the 2024-25 school year between the supply of teachers and the demand for new teachers by the 13,500 school districts across the United States (Sutcher, Darling-Hammond, and Carver-Thomas, 2016). Given the ways that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this problem, we are at a critical time to consider ways to recruit, prepare and retain teachers for our nation’s schools.
In 2021, Rosenberg and Anderson, writers at Education Resource Strategies (ERS), described the challenge of attracting and retaining teachers as a trifecta of “low salaries, difficult working conditions, and a lack of career pathway opportunities.” Then came the COVID-19 pandemic and, according to the ERS analysts, “being a teacher became even more challenging than before” (Rosenberg & Anderson, 2021, pg. 3). The COVID-19 pandemic elevated the need to consider effective ways to inculcate novice teachers into the profession, give them essential skills, and prepare them for the rigorous, demanding, and rewarding profession that they have chosen. One way to do this is to provide and quickly engage new and beginning teachers in a high-quality induction program that equips them with the necessary skills to be successful and builds their professional capital.
The purpose of this qualitative study was to investigate the gaps within the district’s current comprehensive teacher induction program in comparison to the induction program components within the state’s regulations and Wong’s Induction Framework. Due to the fact that the largest percentage of the new/beginning teacher population leave the district after their second year, it is important that the teacher induction program provides them with the skills that are necessary to be, and feel, successful. The research questions that guided this study were:
What components of high-quality induction programs are new and beginning teachers experiencing in the district’s current comprehensive teacher induction program? What are the ways in which new and beginning teachers’ induction experiences reflect the state’s regulations and Wong’s high-quality Induction Framework? Where do gaps exist between the current induction practices for new and beginning teachers in the district and the state’s regulations and Wong’s components of high-quality induction programs?
The study was executed in three phases, (a) administering a new/beginning teacher survey, (b) conducting individual teacher interviews and school and curricular office leader focus groups, and (c) undertaking a document analysis of district documents. Analyses of new/beginning teacher and school and curricular office leader surveys, interviews, and focus groups assisted in identifying induction program components experienced by new/beginning teachers and offered by system leaders. Findings from all aspects of this study helped identify missing components of the district’s current induction program. These findings indicate the need to build administrator capacity around teacher induction and the establishment of systemic school-based induction programs. Establishing communication structures between system-level and school-based leaders is needed to ensure that new and beginning teachers are being provided a variety of supports that meet their needs.