School & District Management

Teacher Induction Found to Elevate Students’ Scores

By Stephen Sawchuk — July 13, 2010 4 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Teachers who received two years of comprehensive induction services boosted student scores in reading and math more than teachers in a comparison group who didn’t receive the support, a recent study released by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences finds.

But the induction services didn’t make teachers more likely to stay in their schools, districts, or the profession—nor were they any more likely to report feeling prepared, it concludes.

The findings represent the third and final year of results from a randomized experiment focusing on the impact of intensive mentoring programs.

Conducted by Mathematica Policy Research, a Princeton, N.J.-based evaluation firm, the experiment compares outcomes for teachers who received comprehensive induction provided by trained mentors with those who received typical novice-teacher supports from their district.

The student-achievement findings stand in contrast to those from the first two years of the study, which indicated no effects on scores. (“Intensive Induction Shows Little Impact,” Nov. 5, 2008.)

The data don’t provide insights into what may have produced the new pattern. “We don’t really have enough strong evidence from the quantitative analysis to support one story or another,” said Steven M. Glazerman, a principal researcher at Mathematica.

Delayed Effects?

Comprehensive programs take a more-structured approach to new-teacher support and include a careful selection of teacher mentors, formative assessments to gauge teacher progress, and release time for mentors to observe their charges and provide feedback on instruction.

To study the programs’ effects, the researchers assigned a group of more than 1,000 teachers across 17 districts to either a treatment groupreceiving intensive mentoring services provided by the New Teacher Center or by Educational Testing Service, two nonprofit providers located in Santa Cruz, Calif., and Princeton, N.J., respectively; or to a control group, in which they received whatever services were offered by the district.

All the teachers in the treatment group received one year of the services, and teachers in a subset of seven of the districts received two full years of the services.

Earlier reports found that “treatment” teachers, while receiving the services, were more likely to report they had a mentor and spent more time overall in mentoring activities than their peers. But those activities didn’t contribute to higher rates of student achievement or retention.

BRIC ARCHIVE

The findings from the most recent report, released last month, upend that pattern. In the third year of study, induction programs led to statistically significant improvements on student test scores in both reading and mathematics.

The effect sizes, the report states, are large enough to boost a student scoring at the 50th percentile in both subjects to the 54th percentile in reading and the 58th percentile in math. Such increases are especially noteworthy because they appeared a year after teachers in the subset had stopped receiving the specialized support.

The sample sizes for the student-achievement component of the study were small, measuring the gains of students of only 74 teachers in reading and 68 in math. Small sample sizes can be problematic in quantitative analyses, but the researchers found that those estimates were the most precise, Mr. Glazerman said.

The report notes, however, that looking at the data through other lenses—for example, not accounting for students’ prior achievement—led to lower estimates of the impact of the mentoring.

The report does not find any evidence that the comprehensive induction programs increased the likelihood that those teachers would stay in their districts or in the teaching profession. And those teachers did not report feeling significantly more prepared to instruct.

The idea that the effects of mentoring appear to be delayed might mean several things, said Jonah Rockoff, an associate professor of business at Columbia Business School.

“If the induction did help some teachers by giving them skills they wouldn’t otherwise have had, that should show up in the following year,” said Mr. Rockoff, who has studied mentoring in New York City. “And you would no longer be distracting those teachers who didn’t find it helpful.”

Officials from the New Teacher Center had criticized earlier reports generated by the study, contending that its overall implementation has been problematic. They cited problems in selecting mentors and delays in assigning them to teachers.

The director of policy for the center, Liam Goldrick, deemed the new positive findings “encouraging.” But the center continues to believe that the study’s implementation may have skewed the results.

“We feel the effects could even have been stronger if those limitations hadn’t been present,” he said. “For us, the power of the work came through despite the presence of some of these real obstacles.”

A version of this article appeared in the July 14, 2010 edition of Education Week as Teacher Induction Found to Elevate Students’ Scores

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Recruitment & Retention Webinar
Be the Change: Strategies to Make Year-Round Hiring Happen
Learn how to leverage actionable insights to diversify your recruiting efforts and successfully deploy a year-round recruiting plan.
Content provided by Frontline
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Critical Ways Leaders Can Build a Culture of Belonging and Achievement
Explore innovative practices for using technology to build an environment of belonging and achievement for all staff and students.
Content provided by DreamBox Learning
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Professional Development Webinar
Strategies for Improving Student Outcomes with Teacher-Student Relationships
Explore strategies for strengthening teacher-student relationships and hear how districts are putting these methods into practice to support positive student outcomes.
Content provided by Panorama Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management How District Leaders Can Make Sure Teachers Don't Miss the Loan-Forgiveness Deadline
Many teachers and other public employees may not know they qualify for a student loan-forgiveness waiver that has an Oct. 31 deadline.
4 min read
Young adult woman cutting the ball and chain labeled "Debt" which is attached as the tassel hanging from a graduate's mortarboard
iStock/Getty Images Plus
School & District Management Download A Visual Guide to Nonverbal Communication (Download)
Understanding nonverbal communication can help you improve interactions and get your message across.
1 min read
v42 8SR Nonverbal Communication Share Image
Gina Tomko/Education Week and Getty
School & District Management Ensure Your Staff Gets the Message: 3 Tips for School Leaders
School staff are inundated with information. Here's a few ways to ensure they will actually hear you.
3 min read
Image showing a female and male in business attire connecting speech bubble puzzle pieces.
iStock/Getty Images Plus
School & District Management Keep School Staff Motivated All Year Long: Advice From Principals
Here are some of the things—big and small—that school leaders do and say to keep teachers excited about the job.
13 min read
Teachers and faculty play a game of Kahoot! to get to know one another better during a Welcome Back training at CICS Bucktown on Monday, Aug. 15, 2022 in Chicago, Ill.
Teachers and faculty play a game to get to know one another better during a Welcome Back training at Chicago's CICS Bucktown in August.
Taylor Glascock for Education Week