The Status of Teacher Induction in Catholic Schools: Perspectives from the United States and Canada

Article excerpt

Catholic schools struggle with issues of teacher recruitment and retention. The experience of new teachers--both those recently graduated from college as well as those new to the Catholic sector--often impacts retention rates. This article presents a study of induction programs for such new teachers in the US and Canada, summarizes current trends, and offers recommendations for the future.


Beginning teachers leave the teaching profession at alarming rates. Roughly one third of all beginning teachers leave within the first 3 years (DePaul, 2000; Feiman-Nemser, 2001; National Commission on Teaching and America's Future, 2003; Tye & O'Brien, 2002). Approximately 9.3% do not make it through the first year (Weiss & Weiss, 1999) and by the end of 5 years, 50% of beginning teachers will have left (Ingersoll, 2001).

Attrition of beginning teachers is a concern for Catholic schools. In an analysis of the 1999-2000 Schools and Staffing Survey, Ingersoll (2001) found that private schools (Catholic and non-Catholic) had a higher annual turnover rate (18.9%) than public schools (12.4%); among private schools, Catholic schools had a 17.7% teacher turnover rate. Taymans (2007) reported that Catholic secondary "schools experience a 25% teacher attrition during the first two years and a 45% turnover after three to five years of service" (p. 7). The median attrition rate reported in Ontario, Canada, for 1993-1999 was 27% during the first 3 years of teaching (Government of Ontario, 2005).

According to estimates by Hussar (1999), by the end of 2008, there will be a shortage of 2.2 million teachers, with half of that shortage due to teacher attrition. In Canada, the estimates of teacher shortages are not as dramatic as reported in the United States. However, there currently are and predicted to be significant need for teachers within certain teaching specialties (e.g., special education, languages, etc.) and in different regions in Canada (Gervais & Thony, 2001; Ontario College of Teachers, 2006). The problem lies not simply with an inadequate supply of new teachers, but rather with new teachers leaving the profession for other careers (Ingersoll, 2001; Ingersoll & Smith, 2003).

Major contributors to beginning teacher attrition include lack of quality induction programs, unfavorable working conditions (Ingersoll & Smith, 2003) and inadequate compensation (Recruiting New Teachers, 2000). Research reveals that beginning teachers who experience induction, mentoring, and collegial support in their first year are less likely to leave teaching (Guarino, Santibanez, & Daley, 2006; Ingersoll & Smith, 2003). In Catholic schools, teachers who are assisted by induction, mentoring, and collegial support in their first year are more likely to understand the mission and become a part of the school community (Cook & Engel, 2006; Taymans, 2007). To be effective, induction programs in Catholic schools must include support for the religious dimension as well as assistance with pedagogical and managerial issues common to new teachers (Brock, 1988; Brock & Grady, 2007; Chatlain, 2002; Chatlain & Brock, in press; Chatlain & Noonan, 2005).

The ability of Catholic schools to retain quality teachers is a pressing issue. Recruitment and retention of quality teachers are central to the ability of Catholic schools to maintain high standards of excellence. Teachers in Catholic schools must be faith-filled individuals who have the ability to infuse Catholic values into academic content in addition to being skilled teachers. This ability is critical to accomplishing the mission of Catholic education and it requires that the Catholic teacher be well formed in the faith. With the recent decline in numbers of clergy and consecrated people teaching in Catholic schools, increased pressure has been placed on our lay Catholic teachers. As the laity assumes these leadership roles, they feel deeply challenged by the demands on them given their level of formation. …