How Some Oklahomans Want to Retain Beginning Teachers

Blog post Jessica Snellings, Research Analyst

Many states have a critical issue with retaining early-career teachers, no matter their preparation pathway. Oklahoma has one of the more severe teacher shortages, with 57% of new teachers leaving the profession by their fifth year, compared to 44% nationwide.

One of the top reasons early career teachers leave is lack of support. Better early career support would help solve the costly problem of having to prepare and hire a new teacher each time another leaves the profession. Providing quality mentorship to new educators offers the chance not only  to retain them, but to grow them into successful and effective teachers who choose to stay in the profession that they love.

Research has found that early career support through an induction or mentorship program yields positive effects in three areas: teacher retention, teaching instruction and student achievement.  All three are key to many states’ goals for solving the teacher shortage crisis and providing effective teachers for their students.

For the past ten months a team at SREB has helped Superintendent Joy Hofmeister form and support a roundtable of educators called the Oklahoma Educator Supply and Demand Network. The network is made up of education stakeholders from across the state, including superintendents, educator preparation program representatives, and state education agency staffers. Its charge is to help find innovative solutions to improve educator preparation and support for early career teachers.

One way the network found to provide support to first- and second-year teachers is through their educator evaluation system — Teacher and Leader Effectiveness — by incorporating  a guided instructional support plan emphasizing common challenges for beginning teachers, bolstered by weekly online one-on-one mentor support from experienced current teachers. They are recommending a pilot of no less than two years to gauge the effects of this plan. Check out the recommendation report for more information.

This plan speaks to the ingenuity of the network, and to a focus on sustainability, by incorporating mentorship into an already codified system, that brings potential value to every single educator in the state.