New teachers need more focused and consistent mentor support, according to a recent study conducted by the New Teacher Center at the University of California, Santa Cruz. The Kauffman Foundation-funded study, Teacher Induction in Kansas City: State Policy, District Trends, and Their Implications, examines 13 school districts in Kansas and Missouri exploring the landscape and experiences of teacher induction.
Overall, the study finds that each district is aware of the importance of a strong induction program and has made a commitment to it. Both Kansas and Missouri have developing state policies and are working to define guidelines and mandates for districts.
Based on document reviews, interviews, focus groups and online surveys conducted between November 2006 and June 2007, the study addresses the details of current induction efforts, the experience of individuals participating in such programs, and each state’s policy on these efforts.
The research indicated that Kansas City districts could improve their new teacher support programs by offering more time for mentor and new teacher meetings, more focused and consistent mentor support, better matching between mentor and new teachers, higher-quality mentor training, more observations of new teachers, and more observations of veteran faculty by new teachers.
The study also indicated that more must be done to improve new teacher support in rural districts and in urban districts that serve high-poverty, high-minority communities. The study concluded that in such districts with low quality induction programs, retention and its ensuing challenges (teacher quality, student achievement, unstable school communities) are of great concern for schools, districts, and others interested in the future of public education.