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Cost of Teacher Attrition

The single most important factor in raising student achievement is the classroom teacher (Hattie, 2009; Marzano et al., 2001).  On average, the cost of losing one teacher in southern states is approximately $12,500, which is a modest estimate (Whatlington et al., 2010).  With 22% of teachers in Virginia who do not return to their schools after their first year of teaching (Qarni & Planta, 2018), this potentially costs schools more than $244M.  Especially in schools of poverty, it remains a challenge to recruit and retain high-quality education professionals, and schools with the highest needs continue to be staffed with inexperienced teachers (Gagnon, 2012).  More troubling is that nearly 9,700 teachers in the Commonwealth are teaching with limited experience in Virginia’s schools of highest need (VDOE, 2019).

The Virginia Advisory Committee on Teacher Shortages (ACTS, 2017) reported areas of concern that relate to causes of teacher turnover, one being teacher induction.  Comprehensive teacher induction programs have proven to increase teacher retention (Ingersoll & Strong, 2011).  The ACTS recommended strengthening support by offering more robust induction models for new teachers.  Models of significance include strong professional development and mentoring to help novice teachers not only understand the context of their school and district, but also the application of the most difficult concepts to apply in teaching, such as planning, classroom management, differentiated instruction, and understanding assessment (Breaux & Wong, 2003).

The challenge with school-and division-based teacher induction programs is the number of highly-qualified and willing mentors to work with beginning teachers, especially in districts with limited human resources.  Often times, mentors are assigned multiple duties and do not have time to engage in focused, frequent, and meaningful coaching conversations that lead to improvement in teacher effectiveness (Zugelder, 2019).  With universities charged to enhance and expand school-university relationships (CAEP, 2013), more can be done to address the teacher retention dilemma beyond pre-service.  One exemplar of a systemic, university-based induction program has recently been highlighted by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education and Childhood Education: Innovations as an endeavor that has enhanced the landscape for teacher induction, earning national recognition.

Implementation of the VaNTSP

The Virginia New Teacher Support Program (VaNTSP) is inspired by lessons learned and research findings from the North Carolina New Teacher Support Program (NC NTSP). The VaNTSP will provide five core services similar to the NC NTSP (https://ncntsp.ecu.edu).  The VaNTSP will serve teachers from school divisions that represent urban and rural areas challenged with teacher retention.  Teacher leaders/Instructional Coaches in participating school districts will benefit from the professional development opportunities as teacher leaders/instructional coaches.  They will then provide the instructional coaching for early career teachers and will receive training in evidence-based coaching focused on planning, instruction, and assessment.

Map of Virginia School Divisions

 

Overview of the Five Core Services of the VaNTSP:

  1. Intentional teacher selection. Beginning teachers with 0-3 years of experience will be selected in collaboration with school divisions. The university lead will work closely with school districts to establish criteria for selection, including schools with higher teacher turnover, higher percentages of novice teachers, patterns in student achievement.
  2. New Teacher Content Academy. A content-specific professional development for beginning teachers, as well as in-service/veteran teachers when space is available. Content will be collaboratively designed with school district and university faculty input, but to include strands related to planning, instruction, assessment, inclusion, and teacher leadership.
  3. Aligned professional development. The university lead will work closely with school districts to provide a minimum of three professional development offerings each academic year as follow-up to the New Teacher Academy and inclusion of specific needs of the Commonwealth. An overview of this profession learning is found in the below table.
  4. Intentional, individualized instructional coaching. The university lead will facilitate the training of teacher leaders/instructional coaches from the involved Commonwealth school divisions to apply evidence-based coaching in planning, instruction, and assessment using a research-based coaching framework.
  5. Research & Evaluation. The VaNTSP will work to determine the extent to which participating teachers have improved in the areas of teacher retention, teacher effectiveness, and student achievement during a two-year period. The study will seek to determine implications for replicating the model throughout the Commonwealth.
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