A major goal of the Institute has always been to enhance the retention of teachers, especially good and committed teachers, in the New Haven Public Schools. To this end, we have continually tracked retention rates among Fellows.
In 1990 the Institute updated its ongoing study of Fellows who have remained in teaching in New Haven. The study shows that of the 309 individual teachers who have completed the program successfully at least once between 1978 and 1990, two-third s (203) are still teaching in a New Haven Public School. An additional 13 individuals (5 percent) have assumed positions in the New Haven Public Schools administration, and one Fellow is on leave from secondary teaching. Thus 70 percent of all Fellows c urrently work in the New Haven Public Schools. Table 21 shows the proportion of current New Haven school teachers, by subject and school level, who have participated as Fellows.
As the table also shows, a similar proportion of middle school teachers (43 percent) and high school teachers (37 percent) have participated in the Institute. Overall, 40 percent of all New Haven middle and high school teachers of the humanities and the sciences have completed the Institute successfully at least once.
With respect to the number of years Fellows still teaching in New Haven have taken part in the Institute, 40 percent have participated once, 39 percent have taken part either two or three times, and a few other Fellows have participated between f our and twelve times. Thus, while the Institute has served a significant proportion of all eligible New Haven teachers, and while it has become a regular part of the professional lives of some teachers, there are many teachers who have yet to participate and others who we hope will participate on a more recurring basis.
On the other hand, of Institute Fellows who have left the New Haven school system, 80 percent completed the program only once or twice, and only six individuals (6 percent) completed the program four or more times. Thus, as an indication of its cumulative influence in the New Haven school system, and as potential evidence of its effects in retaining teachers in New Haven, the Institute has worked in the most sustained way with those individuals who have chosen to remain in teaching in New Haven schools.
In our surveys we asked Fellows and non-Fellows a series of questions about their plans to remain in teaching and their satisfaction with the profession. Table 22 shows Fellows’ and non-Fellows’ responses to the question of whether, in view of t heir present knowledge, they would still decide to teach if they had the choice of professions to make over again.
Fellows’ and non-Fellows’ responses to this question were almost identical, with 39 and 40 percent indicating that they probably or certainly would choose to become teachers again, and an almost equal number—35 and 37 percent—saying they probably or certainly would not. In the NEA survey cited above, 49 percent said they would choose to become a teacher, and 31 percent said they probably or certainly would not. We also asked Fellows to tell us in what occupation they would like to be working in ten years. Their responses are shown in Table 23.
Responding to a related question, 40 percent of Fellows and 37 percent of non-Fellows said they intended to remain in the teaching profession until they are eligible for retirement. Seventeen percent of each group planned to stay in teaching at least five to ten years longer, while 33 and 28 percent respectively expected to teach for at least another one to five years. One percent of Fellows and 2 percent of non-Fellows planned to leave teaching at the end of the 1986-1987 school year, when the survey was conducted. Eight percent of Fellows and 16 percent of non-Fellows said they would teach until they were required to retire.
Although there is no statistically significant difference between Fellows and non-Fellows on these questions about their plans to stay in teaching, when asked directly, many Fellows have said that their participation in the Institute had contribu ted to their decision to continue teaching in the New Haven Public Schools. Figure 21 illustrates their response.
Figure 21: Degree to which Fellows report that their participation in the Institute has influenced their decision to continue teaching in the New Haven Public Schools
Forty-eight percent of Fellows in 1982 and 41 percent in 1987 said that their work at the Institute had influenced their decision to continue teaching in New Haven; significantly, the percentage who said the Institute had influenced them “a lot” more than tripled between 1982 and 1987, going from 7 percent to 23 percent.
It is therefore encouraging that 14 percent of non-Fellows in 1987 said they would definitely participate in the Institute in the future, and a further 40 percent said they might. This degree of interest is indicative of the number of teachers i n New Haven who might benefit from and would also consider participating in the Institute, but have not yet done so.
Fellows, too, were asked at the completion of each Institute session about their own plans for participating in the future. At the conclusion of the Institute’s 1990 session, almost two thirds of the Fellows who had participated (63 percent) sai d that they definitely intended to return to the Institute in future years, as Figure 22 shows. A further 31 percent said that they would consider returning; only 6 percent indicated that they would not. Forty-two percent of new Fellows indicated that t hey would definitely return, and the year before a full 72 percent of first-time participants said they would. Of those in the group as a whole who were not certain or expected not to participate again, forty-six percent said a higher stipend would incre ase the likelihood of their coming back, 38 percent said it would not, and 17 percent were unsure. Fifty-eight percent said they would be more likely to return if the recognition they received from the school system for their participation were greater, and 46 percent said they might be persuaded if the Institute’s schedule began earlier. Asked to give the reasons why they would not or might not return, the largest proportion (40 percent) cited family or personal plans. Others mentioned full-time summe r employment (10 percent), graduate school coursework (15 percent) or the amount of time demanded by participation as explanations for not coming back. One Fellow claimed not to have benefitted from participating—the only person to make this statement du ring the entire five years that the survey was administered.
Figure 22: 1990 Fellows' plans to participate in Institute seminars in future years
“I will go back to school feeling more organized and confident because I will have something to use in my teaching that I developed myself and that has been written down in a structured manner. I had time to reflect on what I w anted to do, then the time to write it out.”
—Institute Fellow, 1990
“I feel I have tackled a difficult task and have done it well. I will probably take a break for a year or so before applying for the Institute again, but I would definitely do it again.”
—Institute Fellow, 1987
“In my seven years of participation I have never been disappointed. The process of the Institute helps me to turn out a good product on paper and a better product in my classroom.”
—Institute Fellow, 1984
[The Institute] was a rewarding experience, especially the sharing of ideas and the reading for the seminar. I found intellectual stimulation that I do not get a chance to enjoy during the school year because of the isolation found working in a middle school. There seems never to be enough time. There are always meetings after meetings called by the administration but they are not teacher oriented.”
—Institute Fellow, 1989
“I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of my seminar and research. This is my first year as a Fellow, and I do hope it is not my last.”
—Institute Fellow, 1984