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: Pennsylvania requires that all new teachers receive mentoring. New teachers are required to participate in an induction program lasting at least one year, which must include the assignment of a mentor. Local districts are required to formulate programs and submit them for approval by the state. "Criteria for approval of induction plans...must include induction activities that focus on teaching diverse learners in inclusive settings." Induction programs must be evaluated annually.
Mentor Selection Criteria: Pennsylvania does not establish any mandatory criteria for mentors but suggests in guidelines that mentors should have similar certification and assignment, outstanding work performance, the completion of training.
Pennsylvania Code Title 22, Sections 49.16; 49.83 and Section 405.64 Educator Induction Plan Guidelines 2013 http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/act_48_-_continuing_professional_education/8622
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. The state should also set a timeline by which mentors are assigned to new teachers, ideally soon after the commencing of teaching, to offer support during those critical first weeks of school.
Select high-quality mentors.
While still leaving districts with flexibility, Pennsylvania should articulate mandatory minimum guidelines for the selection of high-quality mentors. It is particularly important that the mentors themselves are effective teachers. While other criteria are important in selecting a mentor, teachers without evidence of effectiveness should not be eligible to serve as mentors.
Pennsylvania agreed that it does not specify that a mentor teacher must have demonstrated success in improving student outcomes. The state provided that instead of such a requirement, Pennsylvania encourages that mentors be teacher leaders and have the ability to share knowledge and skills for improving new teacher performance, and it also recommends that mentors have certain teacher traits, such as outstanding work performance.
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.