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: Mississippi does not require a mentoring program or any other induction program for its new teachers. Districts wishing to provide mentoring and induction to all teachers can apply to participate in the state's beginning teacher program. Although Mississippi does not mandate that all new teachers participate in this program, districts wishing to participate must adhere to the guidelines. Each beginning teacher support program must provide a minimum of 90 hours of direct contact between mentors and new teachers and must include "direct classroom observation and consultation; assistance in instructional planning and preparation; [and] support in implementation delivery of classroom instruction."
In addition, districts must provide a "description of the amount and nature of each eligible beginning teacher's classroom and extracurricular duties and assurance that these duties are not unreasonable for a beginning teacher."
The state does mandate that alternate route teachers participate in a "beginning teacher mentoring and induction program, administered by the employing school district." However, the program in which alternate route teachers must participate is not necessarily the state's optional beginning teacher program provided for traditionally prepared teachers.
Mentor Selection Criteria: For districts that chose to develop a beginning teacher program, mentors who are selected must have at least three years of teaching experience with "demonstrated mastery of teaching skills and subject matter knowledge" and must successfully complete an approved training program. Districts may pay mentors and give them release time for additional duties.
Mississippi Code Annotated 37-9-201 through 211 and 37-3-2(6)b Mississippi Teacher Mentor Program http://www.mde.k12.ms.us/OTC/TMP
Make induction programs mandatory.
Mississippi should build on its strong mentor program requirements by directing every district to provide new teachers with high-quality mentoring.
Expand guidelines to include other key areas.
While still leaving districts with flexibility, Mississippi should articulate minimum guidelines for a high-quality induction experience. Mentors should be trained in the content area or grade level similar to that of the new teacher. The state should set a timeline in which mentors are assigned to all new teachers to offer support during the critical first weeks of school, and it should require program evaluation.
Select high-quality mentors.
Mississippi should establish criteria for the selection of high-quality mentors. It is particularly important that the mentors themselves are effective teachers. Teachers without evidence of effectiveness should not be eligible to serve as mentors.
Mississippi recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis; however, the analysis was updated subsequent to the state's response.
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.