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: Rhode Island requires that all new teachers receive mentoring. Each district is required to develop a process for mentoring new teachers. The state establishes guidelines for districts as they develop these programs, but there is no evidence that they are mandatory. Programs should require "regular classroom observations, formative data collection, and feedback from induction coaches/mentors to all beginning teachers." Rhode Island's standards encourage "protected time essential for high quality beginning teacher induction." A regular survey and evaluation process to access the program's effectiveness is also required.
Mentor Selection Criteria: Rhode Island recommends that mentors are required to demonstrate "evidence of effective teaching practice, including demonstration of content knowledge for the appropriate student-age level span." The state also recommends that "mentors and beginning teachers are matched according to relevant factors, including certification, experience, current assignments, and/or proximity of location." Mentors are provided ongoing training.
Rhode Island General Law 16-7.1-2 Rhode Island Beginning Teacher Induction/Mentor Program Standards 2014
Set more specific parameters.
To ensure that all teachers receive high-quality mentoring, the state should specify how long the program lasts for a new teacher as well as 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.
Rhode Island recognized the factual accuracy of 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.