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: Washington does not require a mentoring program or other induction support for all new teachers, although the state does offer the opportunity for local districts to apply for Beginning Educator Support Team (BEST) grants. The beginning educator support programs must include paid orientation for new teachers, assignment of a qualified mentor, release time for mentors and new teachers, teacher observation time with accomplished peers, and professional-development opportunities for mentors and new educators.
Mentor Selection Criteria: Washington requires local districts to establish guidelines for mentor selection, and the state recommends that they include "knowledge, skills and dispositions for promoting the instructional growth of new teacher."
Ensure that a high-quality mentoring experience is available to all new teachers, especially those in low-performing schools.
Although Washington supports the 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 specific parameters.
To ensure that all teachers receive high-quality mentoring, the state should specify how long the program lasts for a new teacher, set guidelines on the frequency and amount of time mentors and new teachers should meet, and specify a method of performance evaluation.
Select high-quality mentors.
While still leaving districts with flexibility, Washington 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.
Washington 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.