Evaluating changes to Beginning Teacher Support Funding
This report was originally published 06 August 2021.
What did we evaluate?
From 2014, Beginning Teacher Support Funding (BTSF) was provided to schools with the equivalent of two hours per week release time for each permanent beginning teacher and one hour per week release time for an experienced teacher to provide mentoring support. Schools would receive second year funding equivalent to one hour per week release time for the beginning teacher only. Prior to 2014, there was no consistency in the inductions received by beginning teachers in NSW.
Since 2016, two policy changes have been made to BTSF. First, to expand it to eligible temporary beginning teachers that meet all of the eligibility criteria, one of which is that teachers have not yet achieved Proficient teacher accreditation status. Second, to exclude permanent beginning teachers accredited at the Proficient level from Term 2, 2016 onwards.
We aimed to identify the effect of providing BTSF payments, to fund release time and professional development, on the confidence of eligible temporary beginning teachers, who started receiving BTSF in 2017. We also aimed to identify whether there were any negative impacts of withdrawing BTSF from permanent beginning teachers accredited at the Proficient level from Term 2, 2016 onwards.
How did we evaluate this?
Teacher confidence tends to increase naturally over their first year of appointment. We need to separate this ordinary growth in confidence from that caused by BTSF. To deal with this, we used before and after ratings of temporary beginning teacher confidence, comparing changes in confidence over time between teachers who received BTSF to those who did not. This helps us identify the additional growth in teacher confidence over the first year of teaching owing to BTSF.
Would teachers have had similar increases in confidence without BTSF?
For this analysis to be credible, we had to demonstrate that both groups of teachers, the treatment group (eligible – less experienced teachers who qualified for BTSF) and the comparison group (Ineligible – more experienced teachers who did not qualify for BTSF), are likely to have had similar increases in confidence to each other if BTSF had not been available. We tested this assumption using previous cohorts of teachers. For temporary beginning teachers, we examined confidence ratings of both eligible and ineligible temporary beginning teachers appointed in 2016, all of whom did not receive BTSF, as the policy change had not started. We found that these groups of teachers had similar gains in confidence scores over their first year.
As permanent beginning teachers appointed from Term 2, 2016 onwards who had obtained Proficient accreditation did not receive BTSF, we tested whether teachers appointed in Term 1 in 2014 and 2015 had similar gains in confidence with teachers appointed in Terms 2, 3, and 4 when BTSF had been available. We found that this is the case, testing this using survey data collected for a previous GTIL evaluation.
What did we find?
We found that:
- temporary beginning teachers who received BTSF experienced an average increase in confidence of approximately 0.43-0.54 points additional to the 0.95 point increase in confidence among teachers who did not receive BTSF
- there are no significant impacts of withdrawing BTSF from permanent beginning teachers.
Both results hold across a range of model specifications, and when estimated on a sample of teachers matched on a set of variables common to both groups. These included characteristics like their accreditation level, previous teaching experience, whether they were employed on a full or part-time basis and the location of their school. Other school-level characteristics such as student performance in reading and numeracy, and proportion of students with a language background other than English and a measure of socioeconomic status were also included.
What can we conclude?
The department’s decision to provide BTSF to less experienced, eligible beginning temporary teachers has had benefits to the confidence of those teachers. Meanwhile, the decision to withdraw it from permanent beginning teachers who had achieved Proficient accreditation has had no adverse effects on such teachers’ confidence over their first year of appointment.
What are the limitations of these findings?
This evaluation only examined teacher confidence, measured on a scale that has not been validated. However, we find that it the scale is associated with a greater likelihood of being appointed to a permanent position in a supplementary analysis. A further limitation is that we could not gather data from teachers who left the department in their first year of teaching. If teachers with low confidence are more likely to leave, and there is higher attrition in either the intervention or comparison groups, our results could be biased.