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: Massachusetts requires that all new teachers receive mentoring. Within the first two weeks of school, school districts are directed to assign mentors for a period of one year. Districts are also required to provide release time for both mentors and beginning teachers to "engage in regular classroom observations and other mentoring activities." The district's mentoring program steering committee is responsible for evaluating the effectiveness of the mentoring program annually by analyzing records, survey instruments, and data collected on the programs.
Mentor Selection Criteria: Massachusetts recommends that mentors have an evaluation rating of proficient or above based on the state's evaluation system in its guidelines for induction programs. Mentors are required to have three full years of experience and to successfully participate in mentor training. The state recommends, but does not require, that the subject matter and grade level of the mentor match that of the new teacher. Whenever possible, content, grade and location are given priority, with subject matter receiving foremost consideration.
Mentor compensation is not required, but it is recommended in some form, such as tuition waivers, release time for professional development, or a reduced teaching schedule.
603 CMR 7.02 and 7.12 Guidelines for Induction Programs (2015) http://www.doe.mass.edu/educators/mentor/guidelines.pdf
Set more specific parameters.
Massachusetts is commended on its strong new teacher mentoring and induction policies. While still leaving districts with flexibility, the state should set specific guidelines on the frequency and amount of time mentors and new teachers should meet.
Massachusetts was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced 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.