Proof – Mentoring Works in Education

Mentoring & Induction Improve New Teacher Retention and Performance
Barry Sweeny, 2000

The National Center for Education Statistics reports that 9.3 percent of new teachers leave the profession after only a year (1994-95 data). An additional 11.1 percent leave their assignments for teaching positions elsewhere after their first year. Typically, 50% of new teachers are gone after 7 years. In rural areas and inner cities, these rates are often dramatically higher.

One of the best known state induction programs is the California Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment Program (BTSA), initiated in 1992, and now a  structured, two-year program.

In the Stanislaus County BTSA Program the overall retention rate for new teachers who have participated in this program is 95 percent. This is a 50% reduction in the pre BTSA rate of teacher attrition for the districts in this collaborative program.

Another BTSA program, the New Teacher Center at the University of California, Santa Cruz, also wins kudos for retention results. The program boasts retention rates that Center Executive Director Ellen Moir calls “outrageously high.” In a study of teachers who entered the program in 1992, 95 percent are still in education and 92 percent are still teaching. As a result, the program has been recognized by the California Council on the Education of Teachers. “Finally, the nation is seeing that a preservice credential program just isn’t enough,” Moir says. “Like other professions, you need an internship and an effective support model with mentoring.”

The Celina Ohio School District’s first year mentoring program is a collaborative project with Wright State University. The Celina Superintendent says the results have far exceeded the investment. In the past 12 years, only three new teachers have not been rehired. Compared with other local school districts of equal size, this is a remarkable record. For example, another comparable school system in their area was involved in three probationary teacher dismissal cases just in the 1995-1996 school year.

In 1996, the Lafourche Parish District in Thibodaux, La., had an annual teacher attrition rate of 51 percent.  The following year, after installing their new teacher induction program, the attrition rate dropped to 12 percent, and today it hovers around 4 percent. Of the hundreds of teachers trained, 99 percent are still in education, and 88 percent are still teaching in the Lafourche Parish schools. The Louisiana Department of Education is considering adopting the program as a statewide model.

In the Armstrong Atlantic State University branch of the celebrated Pathways to Teaching Careers Program, of which mentoring is a major component, the retention rate was a stunning 100 percent for the four years ending June 1999. This is especially significant because most of the teachers in the Armstrong Atlantic program work in very challenging urban assignments in Savannah, Georgia.

Dr. Merchant of Corpus Christi Texas reports her induction program has an impressive 96% retention rate for teachers over the last 7 years!

Data from the National Center for Education Statistics dramatically demonstrate that the positive effect of mentoring on novice teacher instructional skills is linked to the amount of time that a mentor and protege work together.

  • Only 36 percent of proteges who work with mentors “a few times a year” report substantial improvements to their instructional skills.
  • That figure jumps to an impressive 88 percent for those who work with mentors at least once a week.

The Cherry Creek School District in suburban Denver Colorado reports that principals find their mentoring program produces, in the first year, new teachers who have the skills expected of teachers with three or more years of experience.