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: Oklahoma requires that all new teachers receive mentoring through the Resident Teacher Program. New teachers must participate in a mentoring program for at least one year, and mentors are assigned soon after the commencing of teaching.
Mentor Selection Criteria: Oklahoma suggests that the principal of each school selects and assigns mentors who must have at least two years' teaching experience and participate in additional training. That state suggests that when possible, mentor teachers should "have similar certification as the resident teacher." Mentors are eligible to receive a stipend of up to $500.
However, "The State Department of Education's interpretation of HB 2885 is that a new teacher must have at least a mentor. As long as new teachers have been assigned to work collaboratively with a mentor, a school is in compliance with the statute," and can meet additional guidelines at the discretion of the district.
Set more specific parameters.
To ensure that all teachers receive high-quality mentoring, the state should set guidelines on the frequency and amount of time mentors and new teachers should meet as well as specify a method of performance evaluation. Merely assuring that all new teachers are assigned a mentor is not adequate to ensure a successful mentoring experience, and Oklahoma should require district mentoring programs to meet certain minimum standards of quality.
Select high-quality mentors.
While still leaving districts with flexibility, Oklahoma should articulate minimum guidelines 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.
Oklahoma was helpful in supplying NCTQ with 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.