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New Teachers Report That They Feel Well-Prepared for Their Roles

The majority of public school teachers with five or fewer years of experience said they felt ready to lead their classrooms in the first year on the job, according to a new report by the National Center for Education Statistics.

The report, "Preparation and Support for Teachers in Public Schools: Reflections on the First Year of Teaching" looks at how well-prepared new teachers felt before entering the profession and how well their schools supported them once they were on the job. The data comes from the 2011-2012 Public School Teacher Questionnaire, which compiles information on teachers like their professional background and their view of working conditions.

Of all their instructional tasks (see chart), 80 percent of beginning teachers reported feeling most prepared to teach their subject matter, while 75 percent felt well prepared to align their instruction to content standards. The report also showed that most new teachers feel comfortable using a range of instructional techniques (68 percent), using computers in classroom instruction (67 percent), and testing students' mastery of content (67 percent). A smaller percentage of teachers, 53 percent, felt equipped to use student test scores to inform their instruction.

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Most of these new public school teachers also felt their schools gave them the support they needed. About 75 percent reported having good communication with their principals and other administrators. According to 66 percent of respondents, schools provided training for their new teachers. And 56 percent of the teachers said their schools set aside common planning time for teachers of the same subject, a measure that many educators cite as the most effective form of professional development, according to a recent Education Week Research Center survey.

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The same cannot be said for charter school teachers. Fewer charter school teachers (49 percent) than public school teachers (67 percent) reported access to teacher training in their first year on the job. And smaller percentages of new charter school teachers (68 percent) than public school teachers (76 percent) reported having regular communication with their principal. 

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Another of the report's key findings: More new teachers in low-poverty schools than in high-poverty schools reported feeling well prepared to handle a range of instructional tasks—from teaching their subject matter (85 vs. 75 percent), to disciplining students (60 vs. 48 percent), to differentiating instruction (62 vs. 50 percent)—in their first year in the classroom.

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The findings are important considering that teachers who feel they were prepared for the profession and supported with additional training and resources once they entered the classroom were less likely to leave. Research shows, for instance, that teachers with mentors to guide them through the first few years of teaching are more likely to keep at it.

Images: National Center for Education Statistics "Preparation and Support for Teachers in Public Schools: Reflections on the First Year of Teaching


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