Thursday, February 16, 2006

Higher pay no longer enough to make new teachers stay

This is an interesting study coming out of California with policy implications for teacher retention. -Angela

Wed, Feb. 15, 2006
Higher pay no longer enough to make new teachers stay
By Juliet Williams

SACRAMENTO - A moderate salary raise for a new teacher boosts the chances they'll stay in the profession, but mentoring programs and training are even more effective, according to a report to be released today.

Providing just $4,400 more in annual pay increases the chances an elementary teacher would stay by 17 percent, according to the report by the Public Policy Institute of California.

Teachers who were part of the state's Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment program were 26 percent more likely to stay in teaching, according to the study, "Retention of New Teachers in California." The program costs the state about $3,370 per teacher.

The Commission on Teacher Credentialing, which co-sponsors the beginning teacher program, has found similar results, said its director, Mike McKibbon.

"It makes an enormous difference in setting up the first two years as place to learn and grow and get better, rather than the way we used to do it, which was kind of a rite of passage," McKibbon said.

Still, money plays a role. The report said teachers in better-paid districts were less likely to leave their jobs or transfer to another district.

The policy institute said nearly a quarter of new hires in California leave the profession within five years, a rate that will make it even harder to fill an anticipated teacher shortage of 100,000 in the next decade.

Unless the state does something to lessen the departures, about one-fourth of new hires will simply be replacing other recently hired teachers who have left public schools. That will leave fewer experienced, highly qualified teachers, the report says.

The report's authors used data that tracked teachers who earned their California teaching certification during the 1990s.

The support program for beginning teachers received about $88 million in state funding this year and has been supported by Democrats and Republicans, McKibbon said.

"To their credit, they've seen beginning teachers as a place for investment," he said.

Other programs to integrate teachers also have shown promise, such as internships in hard-to-staff schools and a program that moves teachers' aides into programs where they can earn a teaching credential. That program has about 2,500 students this year, McKibbon said.

Sen. Jack Scott, D-Altadena, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, said he was not surprised that the study found mentoring and tutoring programs to be effective.

"I'm convinced that teachers generally are not in the profession for money, and I think the more strengthening we can do, the more mentoring from seasoned teachers, the better," Scott said.

Earlier this month, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell said he will sponsor legislation to spend $53 million for teacher coaches in the state's lowest-performing schools.

He also encouraged financial incentives to recruit teachers to work in those schools and said the state should reopen teacher-recruitment centers that were closed during budget cuts several years ago.

© 2006 and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.


  1. I agree with the fact that good teachers who love their job will stay with that job regardless of what the pay is, but to some extent, I think money does play a big role, especially for first year teachers. From my perspective, I feel the first year teachers, who are generally the younger generation, come with a lot of positive ideas, a lot of hope, a lot of energy, and are usually very excited about making a change in the educational system. Once they start finding out about the politics involved with seniority/ageism and school finance, that is when they start losing some of the hope that they started off with, which in my opinion, is what makes a good teacher good. It would be great, however, to have such a program here in Texas, especially because we are losing first year teachers like flies because they become disillusioned too fast and because they do not get the support that they need. Part of why I will not be a teacher for the rest of my life is because of the pay. Well, that and also the fact that influencing policy creates a bigger impact on students state-wide. Three thousand dollars extra would not hurt, I think, and would help first-year teachers stabilize, especially if they are single.

  2. Texas had a mentoring and induction program--the Texas Beginning Educator Support System (TxBESS)--which my research while director of research at the State Board for Educator Certification found to increase the retention of beginning teachers. In fact, a colleague of mine and I actually found that in high turnover schools (those with a turnover rate of 20% or greater), teachers participating in TxBESS were 75% less likely to leave teaching after one year than teachers not participating in TxBESS. Unfortunately, the Texas Legislature did not view the program as worthy of state funding.

    In Texas, about 18% of all beginning teachers do not return for a second year of teaching and almost 40% do not return for a fifth year of teaching.

    To see more info about Texas teachers, visit my blog at