Teacher attrition and mentoring: an examination of teacher attrition and first year experiences: implications for policy

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In recent decades, The United States Department of Education has become concerned with attrition and retention in our teacher workforce. Very low retention, particularly with that of new teachers, is linked to poor quality of education for students. Regular examination of these conditions utilizing the Department of Education's Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) and the subsequent Teacher Follow-Up Survey (TFS) have resulted in several theories concerning teacher attrition which have, in recent years, put the spotlight on supporting beginning teachers as a way of reducing the number of teachers prematurely retiring from education. The primary purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between the first year experiences such as mentoring and teacher attrition in the Southeastern States. Data from the 2007-2008 Schools and Staffing Survey and the 2008-2009 Teacher Follow-Up Survey and the subsequent Beginning Teacher Longitudinal Study were used to examine the relationship between mentoring and attrition of new teachers. Five broad questions were developed to guide the study: (1) What is the relationship between new teacher attrition and first year experiences? (2) What is the relationship between reported levels of commitment and new teacher experiences with induction or mentoring? (3) What is the relationship between perceived effectiveness of mentor programs and characteristics of the program? (4) What is the relationship between attrition and the characteristics of a mentoring program? (5) What are the relationships between perceived overall effectiveness of programs, professional commitment, and attrition? . The results of the data analyses indicate that, in the Southeast, mentoring was not related to attrition unless certain characteristics of mentoring, such as same grade and subject matching, were considered. Mentoring with same subject or grade level mentors did have a positive relationship with the perceived overall effectiveness of a program, professional commitment, and attrition of new teachers. The results indicated that professional commitment is not a good indicator of attrition but perceived overall effectiveness of programs was a good indicator. The study provides direction for leaders and researchers, particularly in the Southeast, to further develop quality programs aimed at supporting teachers in their first years of service.

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Education, Education policy, Educational leadership