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: Idaho requires that all new teachers receive mentoring. The state requires school districts to provide support for teachers in their first two years in the profession.
Idaho has published Mentor Program Standards (MPS) that provide some guidance for districts in designing mentor programs. However, it is not clear that districts must adhere to the standards outlined by the MPS.
Mentor Selection Criteria: Idaho's MPS indicates that subject-matter knowledge, orientation to learning, relevant experiences, current assignments, and geographic proximity are important district considerations when assigning mentors.
Idaho Statute 33-512(17) Mentor Program Standards https://boardofed.idaho.gov/board_initiatives/Education_Improvement_Taskforce/06-21-13/ID_Mentor%20Program%20Standards.pdf
Set more specific parameters.
To ensure that all teachers receive high-quality mentoring, 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 the frequency and amount of time mentors and new teachers should meet as well as a method of performance evaluation.
Select high-quality mentors.
While still leaving districts with flexibility, Idaho 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.
Idaho 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.