Supporting New Teachers: Alabama

2017 Hiring 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.

Analysis of Alabama's policies

Mentoring for New Teachers: Alabama requires mentoring for a minimum of two years, with an optional third year, for all new teachers with no prior teaching experience, including those licensed through alternate route programs. Alabama states that "sufficient time should be scheduled to provide the new teacher with the appropriate level of support and guidance" and that mentors and new teachers should strive for an average of 2.5 contact hours each week. While Alabama states that there is some flexibility in the timeline to match mentors and new teachers for the first year, the state recommends that "ideally, and in subsequent years, new teacher will be matched with mentors prior to the opening of school," although this does not seem to be a requirement. New teachers will complete "regularly scheduled assessments" of the mentor program.

Mentor Selection Criteria: Mentors are current or retired teachers who are chosen by a committee of teachers and administrators, and they must successfully complete Alabama Beginning Teacher Mentor Training or a local equivalent. Alabama requires that mentors have at least three years' "successful" teaching experience and show evidence of effectiveness through evidence such as standardized test score growth, a portfolio of student work that demonstrates learning, observation results, or a videotaped lesson. Alabama also has a mentor selection rubric that defines various desired professional and personal attributes as well as instructional skills. Mentors receive a $1,000 yearly stipend.


Recommendations for Alabama

As a result of Alabama's strong induction policy, no recommendations are provided.

State response to our analysis

Alabama was helpful in providing NCTQ with the facts necessary for this analysis.

How we graded

Not applicable. This goal was not scored in 2017.

Research rationale

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.[1] 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.[2][3]

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.[4] 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.[5]

[1] There are a number of good sources describing the more systematic induction models used in high-performing countries. To examine the role of induction (and other factors) for developing quality in the teaching force in 25 countries, see: McKenzie, P., & Santiago, P. (2005). Attracting, developing, and retaining effective teachers: Teachers matter. Paris, France: Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development.; For shorter synopses, consult: Olson, L. (2007). Teaching policy to improve student learning: Lessons from abroad. Advertising Supplement to Education Week, sponsored by The Aspen Institute. Retrieved from; To review work that examines reasons why seven countries perform better than the United States on the TIMSS, which includes induction models in its analysis, see: Wang, A. H., Coleman, A. B., Coley, R. J., & Phelps, R. P. (2003). Preparing teachers around the world. Educational Testing Service. Retrieved from
[2] A California study found that a good induction program, including mentoring, was generally more effective in keeping teachers on the job than better pay. See: Reed, D., Rueben, K. S., & Barbour, E. (2006). Retention of new teachers in California. San Francisco, CA: Public Policy Institute of California. Retrieved from; Domestically, evidence of the impact of teacher induction in improving the retention and performance of first-year teachers is growing. See: Isenberg, E., Glazerman, S., Bleeker, M., Johnson, A., Lugo-Gil, J., Grider, M., ... & Britton, E. (2009). Impacts of comprehensive teacher induction: Results from the second year of a randomized controlled study (NCEE 2009-4072). National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance. Retrieved from; For a further review of the research on new teacher induction, see: Rogers, M., Lopez, A., Lash, A., Schaffner, M., Shields, P., & Wagner, M. (2004). Review of research on the impact of beginning teacher induction on teacher quality and retention. Retrieved from; The issue of high turnover in teachers' early years particularly plagues schools that serve poor children and children of color. Much of the focus of concern about this issue has been on urban schools, but rural schools that serve poor communities also suffer from high turnover of new teachers. Research on the uneven distribution of teachers (in terms of teacher quality) suggests that, indeed, a good portion of the so-called "achievement gap" may be attributable to what might be thought of as a "teaching gap," reported by many including: Feng, L., & Sass, T. R. (2016). Teacher quality and teacher mobility. Education Finance and Policy. Retrieved from; Sass, T. R., Hannaway, J., Xu, Z., Figlio, D. N., & Feng, L. (2012). Value added of teachers in high-poverty schools and lower poverty schools. Journal of Urban Economics, 72(2), 104-122. Retrieved from; Clotfelter, C. T., Ladd, H. F., & Vigdor, J. (2005). Who teaches whom? Race and the distribution of novice teachers. Economics of Education Review, 24(4), 377-392. Retrieved from; For examples of how these inequities play out in Illinois, see: White, B. R., Presley, J. B., & DeAngelis, K. J. (2008). Leveling Up: Narrowing the teacher academic capital gap in Illinois. Illinois Education Research Council. Retrieved from
[3] Goldring, R., Taie, S., and Riddles, M. (2014). Teacher attrition and mobility: Results from the 2012-13 Teacher Follow-up Survey (NCES 2014-077). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved from
[4] For evidence of the importance of high quality mentors, see: Carver, C. L., & Feiman-Nemser, S. (2009). Using policy to improve teacher induction: Critical elements and missing pieces. Educational Policy, 23(2), 295-328.; Jackson, C. K., & Bruegmann, E. (2009). Teaching students and teaching each other: The importance of peer learning for teachers. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 1(4), 85-108.; See also: Wong, H. K. (2004). Induction programs that keep new teachers teaching and improving. NASSP Bulletin, 88(638), 41-58. Retrieved from
[5] Descriptive qualitative papers provide some information on the nature of mentoring and other induction activities and may improve understanding of the causal mechanisms by which induction may lead to improved teacher practices and better retention. A report from the Alliance for Excellent Education presents four case studies on induction models that it found to be effective. See: Alliance for Excellent Education. (2010). Tapping the potential: Retaining and developing high-quality new teachers. Retrieved from