The state should require effective induction for all new teachers, with special emphasis on teachers in high-needs schools.
Rhode Island requires that all new teachers receive mentoring. New teachers are required to participate in a mentoring program for at least the first two years of employment. Local districts determine mentor selection, although the state does require mentors to have at least five years' teaching experience and additional training; the match of subject matter or grade level experience is not expected. Mentors are compensated, and state funds must also be used to provide release time for the pair to "engage in conferencing and observation." A regular survey and evaluation process to access the program's effectiveness is also required.
Expand guidelines to include other key areas.
While still leaving districts flexibility, Rhode Island should articulate minimum guidelines for a high-quality induction experience. The state should require a timeline in which mentors are assigned to all new teachers, ideally soon after the commencing of teaching, to offer support during those first critical weeks of school, and mentors should also be required to be trained in a content area or grade level similar to that of the new teacher.
Rhode Island noted that as part of its Race to the Top commitment, the state has contracted with the New Teacher Center and is implementing a new statewide induction program for the 2011-2012 school year.