The impact of first year mentoring experiences on the attrition rates of alternatively certified teachers.
School administrators across the State of Texas struggle each year to fill classroom vacancies prior to the arrival of students. These administrators often find themselves repeatedly filling the same vacancies that they filled the previous year. Teachers cite many reasons for leaving their schools; two of the most common reasons are lack of support and job dissatisfaction. Largely as a result of teacher shortages, alternative certification programs have become major producers of teachers in Texas. Individuals desiring to be teachers receive a short orientation period, often during the summer, and are then certified to teach for the coming school year. The teachers are required to periodically attend classes through their certification program during the school year. Upon completion of the alternative program requirements, the teacher is recommended for full certification as a teacher in Texas. This study evaluated the impact of mentoring on the attrition rates of alternatively certified teachers. Two hundred twenty-five first year alternatively certified teachers who were part of the Education Career Alternatives Program (ECAP) were given the survey. Ninety-nine surveys were returned, of which 34 were not usable since these teachers were not being assigned a mentor teacher. Of the remaining 65 surveys, 54 were complete and usable surveys. The alternatively certified teachers identified their mentoring programs as being high quality, with some differences based on teaching levels. The teachers also identified all 26 mentoring experiences as important, even though these same activities did not occur in all of the programs. This study found that nearly 72% of the variance in success could be attributed to the perceived quality of mentoring. Teachers who stated that mentoring would play a role in their decision to return to their school for a second year rated their overall mentoring experiences higher than those teachers who said mentoring would not play a role in their decision. This study suggests that quality mentoring, with the mentor identified as a key ingredient in the success of the program, can help to reduce the attrition rates that cripple schools each year.