2017 General Teacher Prep Programs Policy
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: Alaska does not require a mentoring program or other induction support for all new teachers, although the state does offer a voluntary Alaska Statewide Mentor Project for new teachers in districts that choose to participate. Under the Alaska Statewide Mentor Project, mentors and new teachers communicate weekly and meet in person monthly.
Mentor Selection Criteria: The mentors for Alaska's optional program are teachers with extensive classroom experience who receive formal training in eight three-day Mentor Academy sessions held over two years. Alaska requires mentor selection from a pool of exemplary teachers but does not specify that this is connected to teachers' classroom effectiveness or subject-matter expertise.
Alaska Statewide Mentor Project http://asmp.alaska.edu/home Project Overview http://asmp.alaska.edu/sites/default/files/publications/1617ASMP%203-Fold%20ECTs(3).pdf
Ensure that a high-quality mentoring experience is available to all new teachers, especially those in low-performing schools.
Although Alaska 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.
The state should 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. The state should also specify a method of performance evaluation.
Select high-quality mentors.
While still leaving districts with flexibility, Alaska should articulate more specific 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.
Alaska recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis; however, the analysis was updated subsequent to the state's response.
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.