High School Science Teacher Induction in Texas: Implications for Policy
Ivey, Toni Ann
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Texas public high schools induct beginning science teachers each year; yet, little is known about how schools induct beginning teachers. The three studies included in this dissertation use a mixed methods approach to explore data collected by the Policy Research Initiative in Science Education (PRISE) Research Group during the 2007-2008 academic year. The first study focused on principals' perceptions of teacher induction. A content analysis of interviews collected from 50 principals examined principals' perceptions of teacher induction. Analyses indicated that high school principals had an overwhelmingly narrow focus of mentoring and provided mentor teachers with little support or training. Findings indicated that induction activities for beginning teachers were front-loaded before the school year began and were left in the hands of unprepared mentors during the school year. Further analyses indicated that the primary purpose of mentoring and induction for beginning teachers in Texas high schools revolved around orientation to campus policies and procedures. Beginning teachers' instructional needs appeared to be an afterthought. The second study explored beginning high school science teachers' evaluations of their induction experiences. Beginning teachers identified the best school-level induction supports received and recommended improvements for school-level induction. Teachers identified mentoring as one of the best received supports, yet also made recommendations for more structure in the mentoring experience. A comparison of beginning teachers' responses with teacher turnover found that: (a) Stayers (i.e., teachers retained at a campus) were most likely to report that they received induction support from other science teachers; (b) Movers (i.e., teachers who transferred to another campus) less frequently reported working conditions as a positive induction support; and (c) Leavers, (i.e., teachers not retained in the profession) most frequently did not identify induction support from the school. The final study compared principals' perceptions of induction and beginning teacher Movers and Leavers' evaluations of their induction experiences. Findings from this study indicated that principals were aware of induction components that were considered helpful by both Movers and Leavers. However, principals did not acknowledge what Movers and Leavers recommended for improvements to current induction practices. The final chapter provides a summary of all three studies. Recommendations are made for improving induction practices for high school science teachers. In particular, high school principals should discard their current "hands-off" approach to teacher induction and become more active in their induction experiences. Additionally, types of induction practices should increase to include more than mentoring. Moreover, policy makers should reform mentoring policies so that current practices, which have a narrow focus on school policies and procedures, are abandoned.