The state should require effective induction for all new teachers, with special emphasis on teachers in high-need schools. This goal was reorganized and not graded in 2017.
Mentoring for New Teachers: Kansas requires all teachers working under an initial license to participate in a two-year mentoring and induction program, which will include "regular communication with mentor and observations of other classrooms." These teachers must complete a needs assessment at the beginning of each year that will inform their mentorship, and they must be assigned a mentor by their first contract day. Evaluations assess the effectiveness of the mentor program. Districts must adhere to state guidelines when applying for funding for local induction programs.
Mentor Selection Criteria: Kansas requires mentors to have completed at least three consecutive years of employment in the same school district and to be selected by the local school board on the basis of exemplary teaching ability "as indicated by the board's most recent evaluation of the teacher." Mentors must also successfully complete a mentor training program. The program also requires that when matching a mentor teacher with a probationary teacher, endorsement areas, grade levels, and building assignment are considered.
KAR 91-41-1-4 Kansas Statute 72-1413; 1414 Kansas State Department of Education Mentoring Page http://www.ksde.org/Agency/Division-of-Learning-Services/Teacher-Licensure-and-Accreditation/Mentoring Kansas Model Mentor and Induction Program Guidance http://www.ksde.org/Portals/0/TLA/Mentoring/March%202017%20Mentor%20and%20Induction%20Teacher%20Guidelines.pdf
Set more specific parameters.
Kansas is commended for its strong new teacher mentoring and induction policies. The state should consider further strengthening its policies by setting more specific guidelines on the frequency and amount of time mentors and new teachers should meet.
Kansas was helpful in providing NCTQ with the facts necessary for this analysis.
Too many new teachers are left to "sink or swim" when they begin teaching, leaving most new teachers overwhelmed and under-supported at the outset of their teaching careers. Although differences in preparation programs and routes to the classroom do affect readiness, even teachers from the most rigorous programs need support once they take on the myriad responsibilities of their own classroom. A survival-of-the-fittest mentality prevails in many schools; figuring out how to successfully negotiate unfamiliar curricula, discipline and management issues, and labyrinthine school and district procedures is considered a rite of passage. However, new teacher frustrations are not limited to low performers. Many talented new teachers become disillusioned early by the lack of support they receive, and, particularly in our most high-needs schools, it is often the most talented teachers who start to explore other career options.
Vague requirements simply to provide mentoring are insufficient. Although many states recognize the need to provide mentoring to new teachers, state policies merely indicating that mentoring should occur will not ensure that districts provide new teachers with quality mentoring experiences. While allowing flexibility for districts to develop and implement programs in line with local priorities and resources, states also should articulate the minimum requirements for these programs in terms of the frequency and duration of mentoring and the qualifications of those serving as mentors.