Summary Paper – Beginning Teacher Induction


Summary Paper – Beginning Teacher Induction

After completing the readings for this week and reading the article below, submit a one- to two-page summary paper of the article. You are invited to compare your first year of teaching with the suggestions by Ingersoll.

  • “Beginning Teacher Induction: What the Data Tell Us” by Richard Ingersoll  (Kappan, May 2012, vol. 93, No. 8)


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ince the advent of public schools, education commentators and reformers have perennially called
attention to the challenges encountered by newcomers to school teaching. Although elementary
and secondary teaching involves intensive interaction with youngsters, the work of teachers is
done largely in isolation from colleagues. This isolation can be especially diffi cult for newcomers,
who, upon accepting a position in a school, are frequently left

to succeed or fail on their own within the confi nes of their classrooms
— often likened to a “lost at sea” or “sink or swim” experience. Other
commentators go further, arguing that beginners tend to end up in the
most challenging and diffi cult classroom and school assignments, akin
to a “trial by fi re.” Indeed, some have assailed teaching as an occupa-
tion that “cannibalizes its young.” These are the very kinds of issues
and problems that effective employee entry, orientation, and support
programs — widely known as induction — seek to address. Teaching,
however, has traditionally not had the kind of induction programs for
new entrants common to many skilled blue- and white-collar occupa-
tions and characteristic of many traditional professions.

This has changed in recent decades; induction for beginning teachers
has become a major topic in education policy and reform. The theory
behind such programs holds that teaching is complex work, that pre-
employment teacher preparation is rarely suffi cient to provide all the
knowledge and skill necessary to successful teaching, and that a signifi –
cant portion of this knowledge can be acquired only on the job. This
view holds that schools must provide an environment where novices
can learn how to teach, survive, and succeed as teachers. These programs aim to improve the performance
and retention of new hires and to enhance the skills and prevent the loss of new teachers with the ultimate
goal of improving student growth and learning.

While teacher induction has received much attention in the policy realm, until recently, empirical research
on these reforms has been limited. It has been unclear how widespread induction programs are across the
nation, what activities, supports, and components the induction experience usually includes, and, most im-
portantly, whether receiving such support has any positive effect on teachers and students. All of this poses

teacher induction
Induction is an education reform whose time has come.

By Richard M. Ingersoll

RICHARD M. INGERSOLL ( is a professor of education and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania,
Philadelphia, Pa.

V93 N8 47

48 Kappan May 2012

tional wisdom has been that the aging of the baby-
boomer generation has led to massive teacher retire-
ments, in turn, precipitating a teacher shortage crisis.
Our data analyses show that the teaching force has
indeed gotten steadily older in recent decades, and
this has led to more teacher retirements. But, the
data also suggest that the peak of retirements may
have passed; we found that the numbers of teach-
ers retiring slowed between 2005 and 2009. In con-
trast, we’ve identified three larger, but lesser-known,
changes in the demographic character of the teach-
ing force, all of which have strong implications for
induction (Ingersoll & Merrill, 2010.)

The first trend is what we call the “ballooning” of
the teaching force. After two decades of flat growth,
since the mid-1980s, the teaching force in the U.S.
has dramatically increased in size. The U.S. Census
Bureau indicates that K-12 teaching has long been
one of the largest, if not the largest, occupational
groups in the nation, and it is growing even larger. In
the mid-1980s, student enrollments began to grow,
and they have done so ever since; the teaching force
has grown at the same time. The rates of these stu-
dent and teacher increases have not matched those
of the post-war, baby-boom years, with one large
difference: The rate of increase for teachers has far
outpaced the rate of increase for students. That is,
the number of teachers is going up far faster than

difficulties for those engaged in the very important
and very practical matter of deciding which, if any,
program or activity to offer in schools.

To answer these questions, I began a series of re-
search projects several years ago with my colleagues
Tom Smith and Michael Strong and a doctoral stu-
dent, Lisa Merrill. In order to investigate the larger
context surrounding teacher induction, we used the
best national data available to explore demographic
changes in the teaching force as a whole in recent
decades. We analyzed how widespread beginning
teacher induction programs are across the nation,
whether their prevalence has increased over the past
decade, and what types and amounts of induction
beginning teachers actually get. In addition, we con-
ducted our own statistical analysis of how participat-
ing in these induction programs affects the retention
of beginning teachers. Finally, we reviewed the exist-
ing empirical studies that have evaluated the effects
of induction on teachers and students.

What we learned is very revealing. Induction is a
timely and growing reform, but, for those respon-
sible for funding, designing, and implementing in-
duction, there is both good news and sobering news.

Changes in the teaching force

For several decades, we’ve heard much about a
“graying” trend in the teaching force. The conven-

| | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45

Years of teaching experience




0 –


75,000 –


50,000 –


25,000 –

100,000 –

75,000 –
50,000 –
25,000 –
0 –






FIG. 1.

Years of teaching experience of public school teachers, 1987-88 and 2007-08

V93 N8 49

professors, pharmacists and nurses, and these depar-
tures are not cost free (Ingersoll & Perda, in press).

For instance, one negative consequence of the
high turnover in teaching is its link to the teacher
shortages that seem to annually plague many schools.
In analyses of national data, we’ve found that neither
the much-heralded mathematics and science teacher
shortage (Ingersoll & Perda, 2010) nor the minority
teacher shortage (Ingersoll & May, 2011) is primarily
due to insufficient production of new teachers, as is
widely believed. In contrast, the data indicate that
these school staffing problems are to a significant
extent the result of a “revolving door,” where large
numbers of teachers depart teaching long before re-
tirement. Moreover, the data show that beginning
teachers, in particular, report that one of the main
factors behind their decision to depart is a lack of
adequate support from school administrators (In-
gersoll, 2003).

Induction programs proliferate

These demographic changes in the teaching force
have large implications for induction. Our analyses
show there has been a simultaneous increase in be-
ginners and decrease in veterans. Beginners are now
the largest group within one of the largest occupa-
tions in the nation, and these beginners have steadily
become more prone to quickly leave teaching. All of
this suggests a strong increase in the need for sup-
port programs.

Not surprisingly, our data indicate that over the
past couple of decades, the number of induction pro-
grams also has grown considerably. The percentage
of beginning teachers who report that they partici-
pated in some kind of induction program in their
first year of teaching has steadily increased in recent

the number of students. For example, from the late
1980s to 2008, total K-12 student enrollment went
up by 19%. During the same period, the teaching
force increased at over 2.5 times that rate, by 48%.

This trend immediately raises two large questions:
First, why? What are the reasons for and sources of
the trend? What is driving this upsurge in teacher
employment? And, second, what are the implications

and consequences of the trend? In particular, how are
school districts paying for this? We have begun to
explore these questions elsewhere (Ingersoll & Mer-
rill, 2010). Here, we will focus on the implications
of this ballooning for induction.

The ballooning has meant an upsurge in hiring
and has resulted in another equally dramatic trend
that we have called a “greening” of the teaching
force. In 1988, there were about 65,000 first-year
teachers; by 2008, this number had grown to over
200,000 (see Figure 1). In 1988, the most common
teacher was a veteran with 15 years of teaching expe-
rience. By 2008, the most common teacher was not a
gray-haired veteran; he or she was a beginner in the
first year of teaching. By that year, a quarter of the
teaching force had five years or less of experience.

A third and final trend we discovered reveals a
sobering side to this greening. Teacher attrition —
teachers leaving teaching — is especially high in the
first years on the job. Several studies, including our
own analyses (Ingersoll, 2003; Ingersoll & Perda, in
press), have estimated that between 40% and 50% of
new teachers leave within the first five years of entry
into teaching. Moreover, we have found that the at-
trition rates of first-year teachers have increased by
about one-third in the past two decades. So, not only
are there far more beginners in the teaching force,
but these beginners are less likely to stay in teaching.
In short, both the number and instability of begin-
ning teachers have been increasing in recent years.

All organizations and occupations, of course, ex-
perience some loss of new entrants — either vol-
untarily because newcomers decide to not remain
or involuntarily because employers deem them un-
suitable. Moreover, some degree of employee turn-
over, job, and career change is normal, inevitable,
and beneficial. However, teaching has relatively high
turnover compared to many other occupations and
professions, such as lawyers, engineers, architects,

From the late 1980s to 2008, total K-12
student enrollment went up by 19% but
the teaching force increased at over 2.5
times that rate, by 48%.

| | | | |
1990-91 1993-94 1999-00 2003-04 2007-08

100 –

80 –

60 –

40 –

20 –

0 –






51% 52%



FIG. 2.

Trends in the percent of beginning teachers
participating in induction or mentor programs

50 Kappan May 2012

The more


the induction

program, the

better the


question involves retention — does participation in
induction slow the high attrition of beginners? To
answer this question, we undertook a series of ad-
vanced statistical analyses to examine the effect of
induction on the likelihood that beginning teachers
stayed in or left their schools at the end of their first
year on the job (Smith & Ingersoll, 2004; Ingersoll
& Smith, 2004).

After controlling for the background character-
istics of teachers and schools, we did find a link be-
tween beginning teachers’ participation in induction
programs and their retention. But we also found that
the strength of the effect depended on the types
and number of supports that beginning teachers re-
ceived. Participation in some types of activities in
the first year was more effective at reducing turnover
than participation in other types. The factors with
the strongest effect were having a mentor teacher
from one’s subject area and having common plan-
ning or collaboration time with other teachers in
one’s subject area.

The data also revealed that the various types of in-
duction supports, activities, or practices rarely existed
alone; schools or districts usually provide beginning
teachers with different “packages” or “bundles” of
components or supports. Collectively, getting multiple
induction components had a strong effect on whether
beginning teachers stayed or left. Moreover, as the
number of components in the packages increased, both
the number of teachers receiving the package and the
likelihood of their turnover decreased.

For example, the most common package con-
sisted of just two basic components: working with
a mentor and having regular supportive communi-
cation with one’s principal, another administrator,
or one’s department chair. Beginners receiving just
these two supports had better retention than those
who received no induction at all, but the difference
was small. In contrast, other beginners received a far
more comprehensive package: the above two sup-
ports plus others, such as participation in a seminar
for beginning teachers, common planning time with
other teachers in the same subject, a reduced course
load, and assistance from a classroom aide. Getting
this comprehensive package had a very large effect;
the likelihood that beginners who received this pack-
age would leave at the end of their first year was less
than half that of those who participated in no induc-
tion activities. But only 5% of beginners received
such a comprehensive package in 2007-08. Our con-
clusion was that induction helps, but it depends on
how much one gets. The more comprehensive the
induction program, the better the retention.

Our study looked at just one outcome — reten-
tion — which raises several questions. Have there
been other empirical studies done on the effects of

decades — from about 50% in 1990 to 91% by 2008
(see Figure 2). Moreover, these percentages don’t tell
the whole story. The large increase in the number of
first-year teachers — the greening discussed above
— has meant that, numerically, far more beginners
are receiving support. In 1991, about 61,000 first-
year teachers participated in an induction or men-
toring program; by 2008, this had almost trebled,
to about 179,000. As of the 2010-11 school year, 27
states required some kind of induction program for
new teachers (Goldrick et al., 2012).

However, while most beginning teachers now par-
ticipate in some kind of formal induction program, the
kinds of support that schools provide to them vary (see
Figure 3). The most recent data available — from the
2007-08 school year — show that the most common
induction activity that beginners participated in was
having regular supportive communication with their
principal, other administrators, or their department
chair (87%). Slightly fewer beginning teachers, about
80%, said they received ongoing guidance and feed-
back from a mentor teacher. Just over half of begin-
ning teachers said they had common collaboration
and planning time with other teachers in the same
subject area. Interestingly, almost one-third received
extra classroom assistance, such as a teacher aide. On
the other hand, fewer than 20% of beginning teach-
ers reported receiving a reduced teaching load or
schedule to ease their transition — a support that is
probably more common for beginning professors in
higher education.

Does induction matter?

Of course, the key question is this: Does par-
ticipating in induction matter? One subset of this

FIG. 3.

Percent of 1st-year teachers who received
various induction supports (2007-08)

Facetime with administrator


Beginners’ seminars

Collaboration with colleagues

Teacher aide

Reduced course load







V93 N8 51

induction can help retain teachers and improve their
instruction. The data also show that the kinds and
amounts of support vary. And some research suggests
that content, intensity, and duration are important:
The effect depends on how much induction one gets
and for how long.

Over the past couple of decades the number of be-
ginning teachers has ballooned and so has the num-
ber of beginners eligible for induction in any given
school. This is important because induction is not
free — especially the more comprehensive programs.
Thus far, we don’t have much data and research on
the relative costs and benefits of induction. Along
with content and duration, induction programs also
vary in their financial costs, and beyond the question
of which kinds and amounts of assistance are most ef-
fective lies the question of which kinds and amounts
of assistance are most cost-effective. Especially in
periods of budget shortfalls, the “bang for buck” of
such programs is, of course, crucial information for
policy makers faced with deciding which programs
to fund. This is an area in which the research com-
munity could provide useful guidance to the policy
community. K


Goldrick, L., Osta, D., Barlin, D., & Burn, J. (2012). Review

of state policies on teacher induction. Santa Cruz, CA: New

Teacher Center.

Ingersoll, R. (2003). Is there really a teacher shortage?

Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania, Consortium for

Policy Research in Education.

Ingersoll, R. & May, H. (2011). Recruitment, retention, and

the minority teacher shortage. Philadelphia, PA: University of

Pennsylvania, Consortium for Policy Research in Education.

Ingersoll, R. & Merrill, L. (2010). Who’s teaching our children?

Educational Leadership, 67 (8), 14-20.

Ingersoll, R. & Perda, D. (2010). Is the supply of mathematics

and science teachers sufficient? American Educational

Research Journal, 47 (3), 563-595.

Ingersoll, R. & Perda, D. (in press). How high is teacher

turnover and is it a problem? Philadelphia, PA: University of

Pennsylvania, Consortium for Policy Research in Education.

Ingersoll, R. & Smith, T. (2004). Do teacher induction and

mentoring matter? NASSP Bulletin, 88 (638), 28-40.

Ingersoll, R. & Strong, M. (2011). The impact of induction

and mentoring for beginning teachers: A critical review of the

research. Review of Educational Research, 81 (2), 201-233.

Smith, T. & Ingersoll, R. (2004). What are the effects of

induction and mentoring on beginning teacher turnover?

American Educational Research Journal, 41 (3), 681-714.

induction? Have any studies looked at the effect on
other outcomes, such as whether participating in
induction improves beginning teachers’ classroom
instructional practices and, in turn, improves student
learning and achievement?

To answer these questions, we recently under-
took a thorough review of existing empirical studies
that evaluated the effects of induction (Ingersoll &
Strong, 2011). The objective of our review was to
give researchers, policy makers, and educators a reli-
able and current assessment of what’s known, and not
known, about the effectiveness of teacher induction
and mentoring programs. After an extensive search,
we found 15 empirical studies that were solid enough
to merit inclusion in our review. Each evaluated the
effects of induction on an outcome, by comparing
data from both participants and nonparticipants in
particular induction components, activities, or pro-

When we began our review, we weren’t sure what
to expect. In educational research, as in many other
fields, the existing base of research evaluating partic-
ular programs or reforms often yields contradictory
findings and mixed conclusions. Whether the target
of evaluation is a new curricular product, the value
of teachers’ credentials, the performance of char-
ter schools, or whatever, typically some studies find
negative effects, some find no effects, and some find
positive effects. In the research on the effects of in-
duction, we also found a few mixed and contradictory
findings. But, interestingly, overall we found mostly
consensus: Induction has a positive effect. Most of
the studies that looked at the effect on teachers’ job
satisfaction, commitment, and retention found posi-
tive effects on beginning teachers who participated in
some kind of induction. Likewise, most of the stud-
ies that we reviewed of teachers’ classroom practices
showed that beginning teachers who participated in
some kind of induction performed better at various
aspects of teaching, such as keeping students on task,
developing workable lesson plans, using effective
student questioning practices, adjusting classroom
activities to meet students’ interests, maintaining a
positive classroom atmosphere, and demonstrating
successful classroom management. Finally, for stu-
dent achievement, most of the studies also showed
that students of beginning teachers who participated
in some kind of induction had higher scores, or gains,
on academic achievement tests.


Induction is an education reform whose time has
come. Over the past two decades, there has been a
large increase in the number of states, districts, and
schools offering support, guidance, and orientation
programs. Importantly, the data also indicate that

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