NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


September 2, 2008

There appears to be a strong relationship between measures of mentoring quality and teachers' claims regarding the impact of mentors on their success in the classroom, but weaker evidence of effects on teacher absences, retention, and student achievement, says the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER).

In a recent survey, the NBER studied the $40 million mentoring program designed by New York City and the New Teacher Center at the University of California, Santa Cruz.  The program was developed to satisfy a state law requiring that all teachers with less than a year of teaching experience receive a "mentored experience."

According to the NBER:

  • Among the teachers participating in the New York City program, 97 percent continued teaching until the end of the school year, 90 percent returned the following year to teach somewhere in New York City and 80 percent returned to teach at the same school.
  • Mentors who taught (and worked as a mentor) in a teacher's school raised the teacher's propensity to return to the same school the following year, and reduced teacher absences by .6 days.
  • Teacher's ratings of mentors improved as their hours of mentoring increased and when the mentors were of the same gender.
  • The hours of mentoring provided had positive effects on reading and math achievement: test scores increased by .05 standard deviations in math and .04 standard deviations in reading.

However, experience in mentoring, teaching or at the Department of Education, surprisingly, had no observable effect on the ratings of mentors by teachers.  And matching mentors' subject matter expertise with teachers' subject matter did not make a difference either, says the NBER.

Source: Jonah Rockoff, "Does Mentoring Reduce Turnover and Improve Skills of New Employees? Evidence From Teachers in New York City," National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper, No. 13868, March 2008.

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