Carolina Teacher Induction Program Completes First Year

CarolinaTIP Director Nicole Skeen, right, works with first-year teacher Karlee Baxter and students in Baxter’s classroom.

Teacher shortages are a critical concern across the United States, and the University of South Carolina is tackling the crisis head-on with an innovative response to teacher retention. While recruiting new teachers into the profession is vitally important, reducing the alarming rate at which novice teachers leave the profession must be a central focus in addressing the teacher shortage, as shared in a recent op-ed by University of South Carolina College of Education Dean Jon Pedersen.

“If you add the belief that teacher preparation and support should not end at graduation, a desire to gather data to inform programmatic improvement, and a teacher retention issue to new accreditation standards and a college leadership team determined to make a positive impact on the profession, beyond the walls of the university, you arrive at the impetus for the Carolina Teacher Induction Program (CarolinaTIP),” said Cindy Van Buren, assistant dean and one of the developers of the college’s induction program.

Designed to be a bridge from the college to the classroom, CarolinaTIP is a 3-year, university-based induction program. The program provides targeted training and support sessions, in-class coaching, and personalized, one-on-one mentoring to recent graduates from the College of Education who are teaching in local professional development schools.

Although the model is based on the established and evolving needs of novice teachers, including their need to pass formal evaluation, it is not bound to specific evaluation standards or state-mandated requirements. This allows CarolinaTIP to remain intentionally responsive to the individual needs of teachers and their students while ensuring transferability between schools and districts. It also enables the program to approach support from a more holistic focus with the aim of growing the comprehensive capacity of new teachers by helping them create a solid professional foundation utilizing emotional support, instructional coaching, and leadership development.

The College of Education launched the new program in fall 2017, partnering with four districts across the Midlands of South Carolina to serve an exploratory cohort of 15 teachers. Feedback from focus groups with initial participants validates the CarolinaTIP support model, and the initial teacher retention rate of 100% in the program’s exploratory cohort is reinforced by additional data that show an increase in job satisfaction and teacher efficacy and a corresponding decrease in job stress.

While CarolinaTIP leadership is encouraged by preliminary outcome data, they recognize that the positive day-to-day impact on teachers is what truly makes this program an immediate success.

“CarolinaTIP has changed my heart about teaching,” said one teacher in the program. “I was at my breaking point and was almost ready to give up, but now I know I have support from someone who isn’t looking at me in an administrative way. It has made me more confident in my teaching. It honestly made me a better teacher with more support than I ever expected to have.”

For 2018-2019, CarolinaTIP is growing to include a fifth district and over 50 recent graduates who will participate in Year 1 of the program while the exploratory cohort transitions to Year 2.

“The University of South Carolina is committed to preparing and retaining quality educators,” said CarolinaTIP Director Nicole Skeen. “As we work to strategically impact retention in the profession, the true beneficiaries will be the districts, schools, and children of South Carolina.”

Thomas Hodges is associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Education at the University of South Carolina, where he also leads a new grant-funded Center for Research on Teacher Education. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.

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Thomas E. Hodges

Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, College of Education, University of South Carolina