Education Week - October 5, 2016 - 14
Influx of New Teachers Raises Questions About Support
Policy Research in Education, Ingersoll has tracked proportional increases in beginning teachers going
back some 20 years, allowing for a
slight slowdown in the trend resulting from school-hiring declines after
the 2007-08 recession.
But does it matter that the teaching force, at least in many places in
the country, is increasingly "green"?
From qualitative and school-equity
perspectives, the answer is almost
certainly yes. Studies consistently
show that new teachers face a steep
learning curve and that educators
generally improve dramatically over
their first few years on the job. And
recent research has found that teachers get even better as they gain additional years of experience.
New teachers face a variety of
challenges all at once that can make
it difficult to perform optimally,
notes Roxanna Elden, a former
teacher and an author who provides
resources for beginning teachers.
There are the practical challenges
of the new job, such as managing
grades for the first time, coordinating lessons, learning the school's
computer system and administrative processes, and developing relationships with colleagues.
Then there are the classroommanagement and pedagogical challenges that, no matter how wellprepared a teacher is, crop up in
the first year on the job, Elden said,
recalling one of her own early misadventures as a teacher.
"I had no idea how kids were
going to respond to the 'falling star'
classroom-management system I
had," she said, referring to a positivebehavior-rewards framework. "Well,
they didn't respond at all, and then I
was just in a room with 30 students."
New teachers often report feeling
unprepared for the realities of the
classrooms. Indeed, the New Teacher
Center, a nonprofit that provides
mentoring services, characterizes a
solid chunk of a typical teacher's first
year as given over to phases of "survival" and "disillusionment."
The challenges facing new teach-
novice teachers in the country, with
about a quarter of its teachers in
their first or second years. The District of Columbia and Colorado, both
with nearly 18 percent of their teaching forces qualifying as new, also
came in at the top of the list.
The states with the lowest percentages of new teachers, according to
the analysis, were New Hampshire,
Rhode Island, Washington, and Georgia. They each reported new teachers
making up less than 7 percent of
their teaching force.
But because OCR data are reported
by individual schools up through
their districts and states, and then to
the Education Department, the figures can be subject to error-including possible undercounting.
For example, nearly 20 of Georgia's
districts reported having no first- or
second-year teachers. Queried about
the data, officials at the Georgia Professional Standards Commission said
they couldn't verify their accuracy.
However, Richard M. Ingersoll, a
professor of education and sociology
at the University of Pennsylvania
who studies teacher-employment
trends, said in an email that, overall,
the national data are in line with his
own research on the demographics of
In studies for the Consortium for
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1
School of Education.
The office for civil rights, which
gathers a wide range of information
from schools in order to monitor education equity, added years of teacher
experience to its collection in 2010-11.
It now has data on levels of teacher
experience across states, districts,
and even individual schools.
The most recent collection, from
2013-14, shows that in most states,
more than 10 percent of the teacher
corps is made up of new educators.
Experts point to various explanations for the seemingly high proportion of novices in classrooms, including school-hiring increases in a
period of economic recovery, population changes, and teacher-retention
However, the prevalence of inexperienced teachers varies significantly
from state to state and district to
district. And experts caution that the
problem is often pronounced in particular schools, so it may be, in effect,
more of a local than a national issue.
According to Education Week's
analysis of the OCR data, Florida
reported the highest proportion of
NATION OF NEW TEACHERS
In most states, more than 10 percent of the teaching
force is made of up educators in their first or second year
in teaching, according to an Education Week Research
Center analysis of data collected by the U.S. Department of
Education's office for civil rights. The analysis used 201314 data released this past spring by the OCR. Nearly every
district and school in the nation submitted information for
the mandatory survey. The analysis did not include juvenile
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education
9% or less
15% or greater
14 | EDUCATION WEEK | October 5, 2016 | www.edweek.org
ONLINE MAP: View individual state
percentages of new teachers.
ers can be taxing on schools and districts as well.
"With a large number of new
teachers, it can be really problematic," said Johnson, who is the director of Harvard's Project on the Next
Generation of Teachers. "They may
not know the curriculum, the practices, or what's expected of them."
Without adequate support, she
said, new teachers can often feel
"lost in the shuffle" and in turn
become part of a school's turnover
cycle. High annual turnover can
be "organizationally costly," both in
terms of recruitment expenses and
student learning, Johnson said.
Investing in Training
Gregory K. Adkins, the superintendent of the Lee County, Fla.,
district, understands what school
systems are up against.
According to the OCR data, about
39 percent of the county's teachers
in 2013-14 were in their first or second year of teaching-a figure that
Adkins says reflects his experience
in recent years.
Adkins points to several factors
that have contributed to the trend.
Lee County is a growing district,
with perhaps 2,000 new students
a year. And a state law enacted in
2002 sets strict limits on class sizes,
generating a need for more teachers.
Beyond that, he said, Florida just
has a lot of transplants, and teachers are no exception.
"What that means for us is that,
first of all, we're in constant hiring
mode," Adkins said. By mid-August
this year, he said, the county had
hired 400 teachers and had another
100 or so in the hiring process.
The second implication is that the
district spends a lot of time training-or retraining-the teachers
who join the district every year.
"We're investing more in professional development and support for
our new teachers, because I think
the old model of, 'Here's the keys,
the classroom is over there, here's
page one of what you're supposed to
be covering,' just doesn't work anymore," Adkins said.
In Florida, as in many other
states, mentoring programs for new
teachers remain a piecemeal affair.
Florida requires mentoring only
for teachers who are entering into
the profession through an alternative-certification program, although
some of the state's largest districts,
such as Duval County, which includes Jacksonville, and MiamiDade County, provide it for all new
Lee County's bid to expand supports has largely been the result of a
five-year, $45 million federal Teacher
Incentive Fund grant it won under
Adkins' predecessor. The district has
been using the grant to put into place
a teacher-support system and careerladder framework that it's hoping
will not only ease the transition into
teaching, but give teachers a sense
that staying offers them opportunities to advance in the future.
While that kind of budget may not
be available in many districts, experts say that increased investment
on some level-coupled with increased focus-is typically needed to
ensure that new teachers can thrive.
There's now a solid body of research
showing that induction, mentoring,
and other support programs can be
effective in boosting new teachers'
capabilities and improving their retention rates, Ingersoll said. While
questions remain about the precise
components needed, he stressed that
such programs "can't be thin and
short. The more comprehensive the
program, the better. And then the
price tag goes up."
Harvard's Johnson said administrators should see new-teacher support programs as extending all the
way back to the hiring stage.
"Having a very careful hiring process is often neglected during shortages, but it's really important," she
said. "So that teachers are carefully
interviewed and given opportunities
to demonstrate instruction, ideally in
If the hiring process is not done
well, she said, new teachers may feel
"unknown" and not have a strong
context for their work in the school.
Once on board, Johnson said, teachers should be given regular classroom
observations by instructional coaches
or administrators. "New teachers
ought to be observed every couple of
weeks, with feedback," she said.
That kind of rate is far from the
norm. "But in schools that are doing
well [with new teachers], there is
some provision for these frequent observations. It reflects a serious commitment on the part of the school,"
Daniel Weisberg, the chief executive officer of TNTP, a nonprofit that
helps districts recruit and train
teachers, said that influxes of new
teachers should prompt school systems to work more closely with local
teacher-prep programs to ensure that
educators are graduating with the
"foundational skills" needed to take
over a classroom.
"If they know how to use time well,
how to establish norms and expectations, and how to engage kids, they
have a good chance of a success," he
But Weisberg also emphasized the
importance of intensive coaching in
the first year. "It's really important
for new teachers that they are getting
feedback and have someone they can
go to for guidance," he said.
Such practices can also help administrators in shaping the school's staff.
Said Weisberg: "It should be really
important for principals to assess
whether someone has the ability to
be a successful teacher."
Education Week Research Center
Director Holly Yettick and Research
Analyst Alexandra Harwin contributed
to this story.
Coverage of policy efforts to improve
the teaching profession is supported by
a grant from the Joyce Foundation, at
Education Week retains sole editorial
control over the content of this coverage.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - October 5, 2016
Dallas Expands Choices With Single-Gender Schools
Indiana’s Testing Woes Fuel Electoral Battles
New Teachers Make Significant Segment of Profession
Education Week - October 5, 2016
High Court Again Takes School Cases
News in Brief
2016 Sat Results: Slight Dips and Lots of Complications
New Data Tool Allows City-by- City Schooling Comparisons
Hunt Is on for Clues to Students’ Test-Taking Strategies
Shorter Grade Spans Are Linked to More Bullying, Study Finds
New Group to Push for Sel in Schools
Digital Directions: Fedex Targeted in Open Educational Resources Lawsuit
Storm Clouds Loom Over Push for Ed-Tech Law’s Renewal
Appraising Trump School Choice, Child-Care Plans
Personal Lens: A Vp Nominee’s Spouse on Education
Nevada High Court Deals Blow to School Choice Program
Jessica Sager: The Empathy Gap and How to Fill It
Dara Barlin: Trust: The Missing Ingredient in School Improvement
Topschooljobs Recruitment Marketplace
Voices: Having the Difficult Race-Bias Conversation
Kaya Henderson: 5 Lessons From an Outgoing Chancellor
Education Week - October 5, 2016 - High Court Again Takes School Cases
Education Week - October 5, 2016 - 2
Education Week - October 5, 2016 - 3
Education Week - October 5, 2016 - News in Brief
Education Week - October 5, 2016 - Report Roundup
Education Week - October 5, 2016 - 2016 Sat Results: Slight Dips and Lots of Complications
Education Week - October 5, 2016 - 7
Education Week - October 5, 2016 - New Data Tool Allows City-by- City Schooling Comparisons
Education Week - October 5, 2016 - Hunt Is on for Clues to Students’ Test-Taking Strategies
Education Week - October 5, 2016 - Shorter Grade Spans Are Linked to More Bullying, Study Finds
Education Week - October 5, 2016 - New Group to Push for Sel in Schools
Education Week - October 5, 2016 - 12
Education Week - October 5, 2016 - Digital Directions: Fedex Targeted in Open Educational Resources Lawsuit
Education Week - October 5, 2016 - 14
Education Week - October 5, 2016 - 15
Education Week - October 5, 2016 - 16
Education Week - October 5, 2016 - 17
Education Week - October 5, 2016 - Appraising Trump School Choice, Child-Care Plans
Education Week - October 5, 2016 - Personal Lens: A Vp Nominee’s Spouse on Education
Education Week - October 5, 2016 - Nevada High Court Deals Blow to School Choice Program
Education Week - October 5, 2016 - 21
Education Week - October 5, 2016 - 22
Education Week - October 5, 2016 - 23
Education Week - October 5, 2016 - 24
Education Week - October 5, 2016 - 25
Education Week - October 5, 2016 - Topschooljobs Recruitment Marketplace
Education Week - October 5, 2016 - Voices: Having the Difficult Race-Bias Conversation
Education Week - October 5, 2016 - Letters
Education Week - October 5, 2016 - 29
Education Week - October 5, 2016 - 30
Education Week - October 5, 2016 - 31
Education Week - October 5, 2016 - Kaya Henderson: 5 Lessons From an Outgoing Chancellor
Education Week - October 5, 2016 - CT1
Education Week - October 5, 2016 - CT2
Education Week - October 5, 2016 - CT3
Education Week - October 5, 2016 - CT4