Sacramento, Calif- In uncertain times for education there is positive news about California’s beginning teachers. Reform that created a learning to teach system yields higher retention and employer performance ratings for new teachers; that translates into savings for school districts in recruitment and hiring.
The learning to teach system consists of three steps, each geared to advance the development of a credential candidate into a professional teacher.
Basic Teacher Preparation
Undergraduate, graduate or intern programs include rigorous subject knowledge requirements, teaching methods that have proven successful for each specific subject to be taught, individualizing instruction depending on the needs and skill levels of students, working with English learners, and classroom management.
Fieldwork and Demonstration of Teaching Skills
Supervised field experiences lead to student teaching or internships and a Teaching Performance Assessment where credential candidates demonstrate their knowledge and skills in the classroom.
Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment (BTSA)
New teachers receive support and guidance from a mentor who also helps with individualized instructional improvement activities.
Data shows the huge success of this program. National estimates indicate that twenty-five to fifty percent of all teachers who enter the field leave it within a mere five years. But, in California, almost nine out of every ten (87.2%) teachers who complete the new program and participate in BTSA are still teaching after five years.
This approach not only improves instruction in a thoughtful and systematic way, but provides much needed support for new teachers facing the challenges of the classroom. The result is evident. When teachers stay, school districts save money.
The savings becomes evident with a look at the cost of recruiting and hiring teachers to replace those who leave the field. The approximate cost of recruiting and hiring a teacher is $12,000 to $14,000 per teacher. Some school districts with hard-to-staff schools estimate a much higher cost.
In addition to vast improvements in teacher retention, the learning to teach system has been rated by school principals and vice principals as preparing teachers who are consistently more successful than new teachers who were prepared prior to the reform. In a study conducted by the California State University Chancellor’s Office2, 10,000 principals and vice principals were surveyed. They reported that teachers prepared under the new system are substantially more effective in teaching reading and math in grades K-8, in teaching English learners at all levels, and in using contemporary instructional technologies.
Keeping such a system intact during an overwhelming fiscal downturn is going to be challenging, especially for districts faced with moving dollars around to best meet the needs of students. But the success of the learning to teach system, including the BTSA program, should encourage the continued support of new teachers. It will pay off in the end.
BTSA is jointly administered by the California Department of Education and the Commission on Teacher Credentialing.