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: Montana's rules of accreditation require each school board to develop mentoring and induction programs to "assist licensed staff in meeting teaching standards." The state has created a teacher-mentor program development template containing best practice information and tools for establishing a teacher mentor program. Suggestions from the state for best practice mentor programs include release time for the mentor and the new teacher to meet at least once a week and an annual evaluation of the program. However, the design of the induction program is left to individual schools.
Mentor Selection Criteria: Montana recommends that mentors have at least three years of teaching experience and "a proven track record of positive effect on student achievement." The state also recommends that mentors are paired with new teachers who work in the same school and teach the same subject, so that they can provide ongoing professional development. Montana recommends that programs compensate mentors between $200 and $1,000 per year.
Teacher Mentor Program Development Template http://opi.mt.gov/Programs/SpecialEd/Mentor.html Administrative Rules of Montana 10.55.701(5)b
Set more specific parameters.
To ensure that all teachers receive high-quality mentoring, the state should set minimum standards for how long the program lasts for a new teacher and the method of program performance evaluation. Montana should make its guidance regarding mentoring frequency, mentor selection criteria that includes effectiveness, and mentor compensation requirements that districts must adhere to in order to ensure a high quality mentoring experience.
Montana 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.