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: South Dakota does not require a mentoring program or any other induction support for its new teachers. As a result of new legislation, the state offers an optional, two-year statewide mentoring program. South Dakota also allows local districts to apply for funding to develop their own mentoring program.
Mentor Selection Criteria: South Dakota requires mentors in both the statewide mentoring program and the district-designed programs to have at least five years' teaching experience.
South Dakota Statute 13-43-55.1 South Dakota Administrative Rule 24:41:01:01 Statewide Mentoring Program http://doe.sd.gov/mentoring/
Ensure that a high-quality mentoring experience is available to all new teachers, especially those in low-performing schools.
Although South Dakota supports mentoring of some teachers, the state should ensure that all new teachers—especially teachers in low-performing schools—receive mentoring support, particularly in the first critical weeks of school.
Set more specific parameters.
While still leaving districts with flexibility, South Dakota should articulate minimum guidelines for a high-quality induction experience. The state should set a timeline by which mentors are assigned to new teachers, ideally soon after the commencing of teaching. South Dakota should set guidelines on the frequency and amount of time mentors and new teachers should meet and should specify a method of performance evaluation.
Select high-quality mentors.
South Dakota 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.
South Dakota declined to respond to NCTQ's analyses.
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.