Senate Bill (SB) 814, Amendment 3 brings hope to new teachers and new principals for support in their first years in their new jobs. Sponsored by Sen. Kimberly Lightford, the goal of the legislation is to make an important statewide investment in high-quality mentoring and induction for new teachers and leaders. Such legislation can increase retention, accelerate novice teachers’ and leaders’ professional learning, and improve student achievement. The legislation, which was developed through the work of a representative committee of the governor’s P-20 Council Teacher and Leadership Effectiveness (TLE) committee, has unanimous support around the state and for good reason.
According to Erika Hunt, “New teacher and principal mentoring can positively impact teacher and principal retention, which will have an immediate impact on the educator shortage struggle we face today. It is important for the state to not just focus on teachers when looking at teacher shortage problems but also to focus on leadership support as principals affect the working conditions for teachers and staff. The governor’s P-20 Council TLE committee felt that it was important to address new mentoring support for teachers and leaders and this legislation simultaneously does both”. Illinois has a foundation for supporting new teacher and principal mentoring as new teacher and new principal mentoring programs were enacted in the mid-2000s but only funded for a few years. The original Illinois New Principal Mentoring legislation (P.A. 094-1039) was passed by CSEP in 2006 through a former Wallace Foundation grant.
SB 814 addresses the struggles that Illinois schools face with an average turnover of two principals in a six-year period as noted by the Illinois State Report Card data. Principal leadership and support are among the most important factors in teachers’ decision to stay in their school or in the profession. Research from Sutcher, Darling-Hammond, & Carver-Thomas (2016); Barnett, Henry, Vann, & St Clement (2008) has found that improvements in school leadership were strongly related to reductions in teacher turnover.