Carol A. Bartell; foreword by Linda Darling-Hammond

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Outcome Data
    Over the past seven years, 70 inservice beginning teachers have participated in the program; they have been predominantly female (99%) and Anglo-American (91%). Currently, 54 (77%) TSs have earned a master's degree and 4 (6%) TSs have withdrawn from the program for personal reasons. Twelve more TSs are enrolled in courses or preparing to take comprehensive exams. By the end of 2005, it is projected that 66 (94%) TSs will complete the master's degree program: 15 (23%) in Special Education-Mild/Moderate Disabilities, 26 (39%) in Reading, and 25 (38%) in Elementary Education. To date, 63 (95%) of TSs remain in the profession: 11 special education teachers and 52 elementary education teachers.
    Each fall, the previous cohort completes a survey using a 5-point Likert scale. Over a 6-year period, TSs have consistently agreed that e support ach assistance received is helpful. For example, the item "I felt the assistance I received through the TS Program improved my professional competencies as a teacher" has received ratings ranging from 4.20 to 4.88. In response to questions about involvement in professional activities, 41% indicated membership in educational organizations and 75% reported participation in leadership activities.

Discussion and Recommendations

    The Teacher Scholars Program has exceeded expectations with most participants remaining in the teaching profession, earning a master's degree, and engaging in school leadership activities. Actively recruited by principals, 98% remain in schools in southeast Louisiana, and 100% successfully pass the Louisiana Teacher Assessment Program. Already 15 TSs have or will receive a master's degree and certification in mild/moderate disabilities.

    Program outcomes suggest that: (1) systematic, sustained support is critical, and mentors play a pivotal role in beginning teacher retention; (2) a specialized "just-in-time" master's degree program enhances teacher performance and readiness for leadership; (3) collaboration among university faculty, school administrators, and other school personnel can maximize teacher success; and (4) beginning teachers who participate in programs like the TSP more often pursue ongoing professional development. For example, data from follow-up questionnaires indicate that TSs earn additional certifications (e.g., administration, early intervention) and achieve National Board Certification early in their careers.
    Innovative induction programs like the TSP are needed to prepare both general and special education teachers for the challenges facing educators in today's schools. With committed faculty members and administrative support, other teacher preparation programs can develop collaborative induction programs supporting beginning teachers' entry into professionally rewarding careers.

    Education Commission of the States (20,3, June 16-18). National Policy Summit. Using public policy to prime the pipeline: The role of community colleges in P-12 teacher education. Retrieved June 16, 2005 from

    Ferriter, W., & Norton, J. (2004, Spring). Creating a culture of excellence. Threshold, 18-21, Retrieved June 7, 2005, from

    Huling-Austin, L. (1990). Teacher induction programs and internships. In W. R. Houston (Ed.). Handbook of research in teacher education (pp. 535-548). New York: Macmillian.
    Ingersoll, R. M. (2001). Teacher turnover and teacher shortages: An organizational analysis. American Educational Research Journal 38, 499-534.
    National Commission on Teaching and America's Future (2003). No Dream Denied: A Pledge to Americas Children Summary Report. Washington, DC: National Commission on Teaching and America's Future.
    Resta, V., & Huling, L. (1996). Something practical: A win-win program for new teachers. Kappa Delta Pi, 25, 107-109.
    Sonya C. Carr, Ph. D., Department of Teaching and Learning. Elizabeth D. Evans, Ed. D., Center for Educational Services and Research, Southeastern Louisiana University.
    Contact information: Sonya C. Carr. Ph.D., Teacher Scholars Program Coordinator,, 985/549-2492 and Elizabeth D. Evans, Ed.D., Teacher Scholars Program Director, Southeastern Louisiana University,, 985/549-5019.

Designing a Successful New Teacher Induction Program: An Assessment of the Ontario Experience, 2003-2006

Larry A. Glassford & Geri Salinitri

University of Windsor


As teacher candidates reach the end of their structured professional training, a similar thought strikes most of them. There is so much more to learn! Teacher development, they now realize, is an ongoing process and not a discrete event. Graduation with a Bachelor of Education degree, followed by receipt of an official teaching certificate, does not magically confer upon them all the knowledge and skills they will need to meet the challenges that lie ahead. Finding a job in the classroom is only the first step. At that point, they must quickly 'learn the ropes' in a particular school and school board, absorbing the nuances of both community expectations and a specific workplace culture, while at the same time surviving the 'trial by fire' of classroom management, instructional planning, lesson delivery, and student assessment. The task is frequently overwhelming. Many teachers drop out. Others become too soon jaded, their initial idealism replaced by a cynical survival mentality. Not infrequently, they are socialized to a mediocrity that works in limited ways, but shuts the door to continuous learning. Instead of perpetual improvement, the way has been prepared for perpetual mediocrity.

The successful induction of beginning teachers, it is now widely recognized, is a vital link in what should be a career-long continuum of professional development. The first couple of years on the job seem to set the tone for the career that follows - or in too many cases, the career that is aborted. Few areas of educational reform offer as much potential for the improvement of student learning as does this one. Better teaching leads to more effective learning by students. Few would question this axiom. A better start to their teaching careers would produce more effective teachers. This, too, seems obvious. Putting it together, it is clear that careful attention to how we nurture novice teachers through their first years of on-the-job training will lead to far better learning outcomes for the students in their classrooms, clear through to the end of their careers.

Across North America, sustained interest in the beginning years of a teacher's career dates from the early 1980s. Following the disillusionment that marked both the liberalization of education in the Sixties and its opposite, the back-to-the-basics reaction of the Seventies, attention began to focus on the professionalization of teaching as one source of long-term school improvement. In the words of one American expert, Linda Darling-Hammond, " professionalism starts from the proposition that knowledge must inform practice; its major goal is to ensure that all individuals permitted to practice are adequately prepared" (1990, p.288). Paper qualifications, however, proved to be an insufficient predictor of either longevity or competence as a teacher. In an attempt to combat a perceived crisis of teacher mediocrity, many American states opted for an additional feature: a standardized entry-to-the-profession test of all graduating teacher candidates(Brookhart & Loadman, 1992; Childs, Ross & Jaciw, 2002; Dybdahl, Shaw & Edwards, 1997). Many of these same states began to look seriously at a second remedy: a structured orientation to the environment and profession of teaching. "Sink or swim" seemed increasingly inadequate as a launching strategy for beginning teachers' careers (Holloway, 2001; Huling-Austin, 1990; Robbins, 1999; Smith, 2002).

In this paper we will investigate how one Canadian province, Ontario, has in recent years moved from 'Plan A', the standardized entry-to-the-profession test, to 'Plan B', a structured professional initiation program, in an attempt to address the same issues facing their American counterparts: declining teacher morale and effectiveness, coupled with eroding public confidence. We will begin the discussion with a brief historical narrative that provides a necessary context for Ontario's policy shift from entry-level teacher testing to a teacher induction program. This will be followed by the presentation of some key criteria for successful teacher orientation, derived from the growing body of literature in this field, leading into an analysis of two case studies: a low-budget teacher induction program in New Brunswick, and a high-budget one in California. Recognizing that in a democracy political validity, in the form of general public acceptance, is as important as program validity for the long-term success of educational reform, we then move to an analysis of the provincial government's implementation strategy, with a focus on both forms of validity. Finally, we offer some preliminary conclusions that not only address the particular program in Ontario, still a work in progress, but also suggest some general prerequisites for success to anyone interested in designing a new-teacher induction program.

The Ontario Educational Context

Informally, at the board and school level, Ontario educators had begun to move in the direction of purposeful support for new teachers by the late 1980s. Cole and Watson (1993) documented this trend in their overview article describing the ebb and flow of program initiatives designed to ease the transition of new teachers into the profession. Based on a province-wide study conducted in 1991, they found that 81 per cent of the province's school systems were providing at least some formal induction, and that 62 per cent went beyond initial orientation to include some combination of mentoring with an experienced partner, or workshop activities specifically geared to teachers in their first or second year. Yet, in spite of this encouraging progress, the authors of the study could not hide their pessimism. "School systems and faculties of education are awaiting direction in the form of induction policy and guidelines from the province's Ministry of Education," they noted, "but see no guidance forthcoming" (p. 251). Funding was tight, and the focus of reform had shifted to curriculum initiatives. Furthermore, they detected no real appetite for significant collaboration between the major potential stakeholders in a teacher induction program: school boards, faculties of education, teacher federations, and the provincial ministry. Rather, each institution seemed to be guarding its own turf, and viewing the others with suspicion.

These fears proved to be realistic. Beginning with the 'Social Contract' cutbacks associated with the New Democratic Party's (NDP) final two years of office, and continuing through the first four years of the Progressive Conservative government led by Premier Mike Harris, funding for education was repeatedly slashed. All programs deemed non-essential, or beyond the classroom, sustained deep cuts. New teacher induction was one of the casualties. By 2003, a survey conducted by the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) of teacher education graduates from 2001 and 2002 revealed major gaps in the way beginning teachers were inducted into their profession (OCT, 2003, May). Eighteen per cent of the responding first-year teachers indicated they had received no orientation from their board. Less than one-fifth of first- and second-year teachers were placed in a formal mentoring program, and of these, only half rated the experience as satisfactory. Twenty per cent of the beginning teachers reported no meaningful board-level in-service training. Although the novice teachers commended the informal support they received from individual colleagues and school administrators, the fact remained that over seventy per cent of the first-year respondents reported high or somewhat high stress levels. In its report, the College of Teachers cited data from the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan which revealed that between 20 and 30 per cent of new plan members had dropped out of teaching in the publicly-funded system within the first three years. Clearly, the momentum behind structured induction programs had dissipated, and new teacher retention was again a serious problem.

The first major public document to tout the benefits of a formalized orientation program in Ontario for beginning teachers was issued by the province's College of Teachers in April, 2000. The Harris government had won re-election in 1999 partly on the strength of a pledge to require all teachers to submit to periodic tests of their knowledge and skills. Once re-confirmed in office the Minister of Education, Janet Ecker, had requested advice from the fledgling OCT on how to administer such a program. Lost amidst the more controversial aspects of their report, which recommended formal testing for entry-level teachers, coupled with a portfolio approach to ongoing professional development by their more experienced colleagues, was Recommendation 4. It advocated "that employers be required to provide a two-year induction program, the core components of which would be defined by the College, to beginning teachers employed on a regular basis to ensure that they continue to develop and to refine the knowledge and skills required by members of the teaching profession" (OCT, 2000, April, p. 124). The onus for implementation and ongoing administration of such a program was placed on the school boards, as employers of new teachers, but of course there were significant funding implications that would necessitate a commitment from the provincial government.

Ecker included the novice-teacher induction idea as part of the Ontario Teacher Testing Program which she announced on May 11, 2000. After listing programs that would become the hotly contentious Professional Learning Program (PLP) for experienced teachers, and Ontario Teacher Qualifying Test (OTQT) for beginners, the Minister went on to describe " an induction program, similar to an internship, that will help new teachers develop good classroom management and teaching skills, through coaching and support from more experienced colleagues." (Ecker, 2000, May 10, para. 9). The promised induction program continued, on paper, to be an important part of the Progressive Conservative government's teacher testing policy, and was listed in a subsequent Ministry brochure as a second phase that would be developed in 2002. (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2002). That promise was not kept, however, and when the new Liberal government took office in the Fall of 2003, its main dilemma with regard to new-teacher development was what to do with the OTQT.

Gerard Kennedy, the incoming Minister of Education, moved quickly to terminate the controversial Professional Learning Program, with its mandated professional development for experienced teachers. However, he initially seemed to favour retention of the Ontario Teacher Qualifying Test, and graduating teacher candidates were again required to pass the standardized assessment in order to be certified in 2004. In May of that year, the Minister met with the Ontario Association of Deans of Education (OADE) to enlist their support for a revised OTQT format to begin in 2005. In followup correspondence, the Acting Chair of OADE summarized the Minister's proposal as follows:

You proposed to us that it would be possible for the legislated requirement for an 'entry to the profession test' to be met by an assessment scheme developed by the Faculties. This scheme would be of sufficient rigour to assure the people of Ontario that new teachers have the background needed for embarking on their careers. You also indicated that the assessment scheme should have common elements but that it could also recognize the distinctiveness of individual programs offered at Faculties across Ontario. You were open to alternative approaches to the delivery and timing of the assessment scheme (Allen T. Pearson to Honourable Gerard Kennedy, correspondence, June 18, 2004, p. 1).

The Deans declined Kennedy's request, but did offer to allow a periodic program assessment by a qualified third party, to verify that existing courses in each Faculty of Education covered appropriately the legal and ethical requirements for teachers in Ontario. They rightly noted that, while this initiative would ensure that students graduating from Ontario B.Ed. programs would be properly qualified in a particular area of professional knowledge, it would not address the issue of assessing new teachers whose pedagogic preparation was obtained outside the province.

Kennedy and his advisors continued to mull over the possibilities. A discussion paper on the Education Ministry's website stated that "having an entry test to teaching is consistent with our approach of treating teachers as responsible professionals" (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2004, August, p. 5). The discussion paper went on to propose that "a revitalized College of Teachers could work collaboratively with the faculties of education" to redesign and administer such a test, which would ensure a core of common learning. Potentially, the paper added, the entry test "could be moved to after the end of the first practice or 'induction' year" (p. 5). Later that year, in an open letter to the teacher candidate class of 2005, Kennedy (2004) gave as the ministry's view "that the OTQT should be replaced with a better assessment mechanism that is relevant, convenient, and evaluates teaching skills and know-how in a meaningful way" (para. 4). The letter also noted that the government was "exploring an induction program for first-year teachers, "as well as "some form of assessment to be done at the end of the first year of teaching" (para. 5).

The Ontario College of Teachers welcomed the Minister's vague reference to an induction program for beginning teachers. Building upon the results of its annual survey of new teachers, the OCT had been publicly pushing for a two-year program of new teacher induction since 2003. Beginning with a White Paper issued in April of that year, followed by a series of structured consultations, the College had presented the new Minister of Education with a final report in the Fall of 2003 entitled "New Teacher Induction: Growing Into the Profession" (OCT. 2003, December a). In the Foreword of that document the College Registrar, W. Douglas Wilson, noted that "in 2002, fewer than 20 per cent of Ontario's new teachers had mentors. Fewer than half our new members were satisfied with their orientation and induction" (p. 2). Asserting that the quality of teaching was the largest single variable in student learning, Wilson described a continuum of teacher preparation. "We view the early years" he stated, "particularly the first two of our members' teaching careers as a continuation of the learning process that begins in faculty of education classrooms, continues with practice teaching and intensifies as new teachers learn on the job" (p. 3). The OCT Report recommended that the provincial government require all school boards to implement a two-year induction program for new teachers. This induction program would be linked to the College's own professional and ethical standards, and include a structured orientation to the school and board where the new teacher would be working. Other mandatory elements would include a mentoring program in which volunteer experienced teachers were teamed up with each novice pedagogue, as well as professional learning opportunities for new teachers and mentors alike. Both mentors and novices would receive paid release time from regular classroom duties, to enable them to take part in mentoring and professional development. The College's Report estimated the cost would be $4,000 per new teacher over two years, and assuming 10,000 newly-hired teachers per year, this would total $40,000,000, once the two-year program was up and running. Among the core goals were the following: to improve teaching practice, and thus student learning; to retain new teachers, and integrate them into their school's culture; to provide professional development opportunities; to contribute to a collaborative school environment; and finally, "to demonstrate to the public that new teachers have the skills and support they need to be effective teachers" (p. 7). The centrepiece of the recommended program, according to the OCT e-mail newsletter, was mentorships. "The involvement of a mentor is the most powerful and cost-effective intervention in an induction program" (OCT, 2003, December b, para. 6).

The Education Minister's thinking on the orientation and assessment of new teachers continued to evolve. In a March, 2005 letter to all Ontario-based teacher candidates, Kennedy stated that the Ministry was "now moving to the design stage of an induction year for new teachers that could involve mentoring, increased professional development opportunities and other resources to supplement pre-service training" (Kennedy, 2005, March 24, p. 1). The Minister had not yet given up on a test, however, noting that some form of assessment might be done at the end of the first year of teaching. This hesitation by the Minister attracted the attention of the province's teacher federations. Under the heading "Teacher testing rears its ugly head again" (OSSTF, 2005, March 30, p. 1), the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF) drew its members' attention to the fact that the entry-to-the-profession test had not been scrapped, as was the hated Professional Learning Program (PLP), but rather was simply being moved to the end of the first year of teaching. Citing several academic studies that criticized American teacher tests, the OSSTF urged its membership to "fight this new scheme" (p. 2). For a government publicly committed to mutual respect, dialogue and consensus among the various education stakeholders, such a blunt declaration of intent was bound to draw attention. A working-table panel on teacher development was established to make recommendations on new teacher induction. Its report, issued in June of 2005, advocated the establishment of a mandatory Beginning Teacher Development program, to include orientation to the school board and school, professional development targeted to the needs of new teachers, a supportive mentoring program, and due attention to the teaching load and resources given to new teachers. In addition, it recommended that school principals be required to assess new teachers twice in their first year, in a modified version of the Teacher Performance Appraisal (TPA) system already in place in Ontario. Successful completion of both the induction program and the performance appraisal would effectively replace the previous requirement of passing the OTQT test (Ontario Federation of Home and School Associations, 2005, Fall; Wilson, 2005, September).

The "New Teacher Induction Program" (NTIP) was announced by the Minister with appropriate media fanfare on October 4, 2005. It followed the recommendations of the Teacher Development Working Table fairly closely, though the press release backgrounder cited research on similar programs from around the world, as well as feedback from 21 experimental demonstration projects conducted by school boards within the province. The key elements in the mandatory program to be administered at the board and school level were: orientation, mentoring, on-the-job training, and two evaluations of each new teacher by the school principal. Unlike the OCT design, then, but similar to the Working Table recommendation, training and support of new teachers would be combined with performance assessment in one program. The provincial government promised $15 million in new funding per year to finance the program, noting that cancellation of "the ineffective pen and paper Ontario Teacher Qualifying Test" would free up about half the required amount (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2005, October 4). It was a far cry from the $40 million advocated by the OCT Report of 2003, however.

Initial responses to NTIP were favourable. "The idea to replace the Ontario Teacher Qualifying Test with an induction program that includes mentoring, increased professional development opportunities and other resources to supplement pre-service training for first year teachers is a good one," said the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA) in their newsletter (OECTA, 2005, p. 8). Similarly, "OSSTF welcomes teacher induction program" was the headline on that organization's on-line media announcement. (OSSTF, 2005, October 4, p. 1). Even the College of Teachers chose to view the cup as half full, and not half empty, stating in its professional journal that the government's plan echoed College advice, and that at last, "Ontario's newest full-time teachers will get the initial on-the-job support they need and crave" (OCT, 2005, December, p. 12).

The 2005-06 Program Guideline was not issued until March 3, 2006. It retroactively authorized school boards to begin implementing those aspects of NTIP which did not require legislative approval, in particular orientation of beginners to the school and school board, special professional development opportunities for new teachers, and the establishment of mentoring relationships linking beginning teachers with experienced colleagues. Receipt of the promised provincial funding support was tied to a reporting and accountability process focussed on the school boards. For 2005-06, fully participating boards could expect to receive a $5000 base amount, plus approximately $1200-$1400 per new teacher (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2006, March). Once approved by the legislature, the requirement of satisfactory ratings on two performance appraisals by the school principal would be added to the program. In the meantime, the provisions of the existing teacher appraisal system continued in effect (de Korte, 2006, May 17). In September, the Ministry of Education's Director of Teaching Policy and Standards sent to each school board by electronic attachment resource handbooks for use by principals, mentors and new teachers. A covering memo noted that these resources "were created in response to board requests for assistance, and are optional" (Anthony, 2006, September 14, para. 3). In addition, the memo stated that one "courtesy, hard copy" (para. 4) would be sent to the NTIP contact person at each school board. Clearly, the administrative implementation was proceeding cautiously, mindful of local sensibilities.

The New Teacher Induction Program did not emerge full-blown from a master plan, but evolved from a combination of political and programmatic needs. At this point, a number of critical questions emerge. Does the one-year $15 million program match up to the two-year $40 million program foreseen by the Ontario College of Teachers? Will NTIP be able to deliver quality programming in the key areas of new-teacher orientation, professional development and mentoring? Is it a good idea to link training and support with evaluation in one program? Will the consensus of stakeholders in support of the program hold, once full implementation begins? To answer these questions, it is useful to consult a growing body of literature on both new-teacher induction and mentoring.

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