The growing importance of teacher induction
The six-district Walnut Valley Consortium works to prepare and retain new teachers
Two teachers smile and laugh together while walking next to each other in a school hallway

Teacher burnout, turnover and retention have been at the forefront of the minds of local educational agency leaders for years, but now with increased urgency as the pandemic continues to push many educators to the brink.

The six-district Walnut Valley Consortium — comprising Rowland Unified School District, Hacienda La Puente USD, East Whittier SD, South Whittier SD, Whittier City SD and Walnut Valley USD — has long worked to address these issues at the root: preparation through high-quality induction, free of cost to new teachers.

Through induction programs, new teachers are assigned a mentor for their first two years to offer the support needed to be successful. As soon as someone is hired with a preliminary credential within the six districts, Julie Sheldon, the consortium’s induction coordinator, matches them with a mentor they can go to, ideally on the same campus, in their subject area for materials, guidance, lesson plans, support and who can advocate on their behalf. The districts have long provided this to new teachers free of charge, while providing a stipend for mentor teachers. The program boasts a 98 percent retention rate, Sheldon said. “I would say to school boards, find out as much as you can about induction and look at the cost of not having it. It’s an investment in the future.”

While induction is required as part of California’s two-tiered credentialing system, it is often cost-prohibitive for new teachers leaving college with student loans and lower pay. As a result, many beginning teachers may put it off, leaving them without that support in those critical first years.

According to the Learning Policy Institute, “strong mentoring and induction for novice teachers can be a valuable strategy to retain new teachers and improve their effectiveness,” and well-mentored beginning teachers are twice as likely to stay in the field as those who do not receive mentoring. However, state funding once targeted for induction is now folded into the Local Control Funding Formula, which has resulted in many districts reducing their support for new teachers, charging new teachers a fee for induction or requiring them to enroll at an institution of higher education to complete induction. Under the Every Student Succeeds Act, states can leverage federal Title II, Part A funds to support new teacher induction and mentoring, but the state should renew the quality and availability of its longstanding Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment Program, LPI researchers concluded.

New and mentor teachers currently participating in the Walnut Valley Consortium’s induction program shared with CSBA stories about their experiences, how induction became even more critical during the pandemic, why the program is so important and how they and their schools benefit. Read their in-depth responses on the CSBA blog at