Assessing Career Outcomes and Retention
A teacher preparation program is only successful if its graduates become teachers and stay in the classroom. Tracking graduates' career progress is critical to assessing a program's impact, but it is a complex endeavor that is both labor- and time-intensive.
Get your graduating teachers' contact information, and keep in touch with them. Only by keeping track of every teacher that goes through your program for at least five years will you be able to assess the impact your program is having on teacher retention.
- The most effective way to keep in touch with your teachers is through a dedicated contact person with whom the teachers have a personal connection and want to keep in touch.
- To supplement the primary contact person's efforts, collect each of your graduating teachers' contact information, including parents' addresses, cell phone numbers, non-university email addresses, facebook profiles, and any other useful pieces of information you can think of.
- Build an online database that will allow graduates to update their contact information and employment status, similar to what alumni offices do. Survey tools such as surveymonkey can be useful.
- Facebook groups and email lists can be useful ways to keep teachers engaged, especially if useful information is provided through these venues. In general, teachers are more likely to stay engaged if there is something in it for them.
Many PhysTEC sites have done an exemplary job tracking their teachers, and have reported impressive teacher retention rates that are substantially higher than those nationally reported for science teachers.