Teachers leave the profession at an alarming rate and, many times, the most talented among them (Henry, 1989; Heyns, 1988; Schlechty & Vance, 1981, cited in Gold, 1996; Shen, 1997). Historically and, even sometimes still today, there often has been little support for new teachers. To retain a sufficient number and quality of teachers, it is imperative that districts find solutions. This study aimed to examine the presence and quality of new teacher support programs as one means of providing intentional support to new teachers.
The study included a conceptual framework based on the literature to help districts envision the process of implementation and maintenance of new teacher support programs. The study provided a 79 question online survey to staff development coordinators in all of the public school districts in the state of Minnesota. Specifically, letters and follow-up post cards were sent to the coordinators indicating the purpose of the study and providing a link to the online survey.
The response rate to the survey was disappointingly low with only 45 of the 339 districts responding. The low response rate raised concerns about the representative nature and validity of the response set. Timing of survey administration likely hindered the response rate. The survey was sent toward the end of the school year and the state education agency had sent a survey to essentially the same respondent group not long before the survey of the present study was sent.
No correlations were conducted but some qualified summary statements were suggested from the data that were returned. Of the districts that responded all of the 45 indicated that they have some form of new teacher supports and many offered evidence to suggest that best practices, such as providing mentors and focused workshops, allowing time for teachers to meet, observe, teach, and learn from experienced teachers, were in place. Responding districts also indicated common facilitators of new teacher support programs, including budgets and leadership, as well as common challenges for implementing and maintaining a high quality new teacher support system, such as funding, lack of training opportunities, and lack of leadership.
University of Minnesota Ed.D. dissertation. August 2009. Major: Educational Policy and Administration. Advisors: Jennifer York-Barr, Ph.D., Julie Kalnin, Ph. D. 1 computer file (PDF); xiii, 250 pages, appendices A-E.
Bertucci, John Anthony.
The state of new teacher support programs in Minnesota public schools..
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