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.
Mentoring for New Teachers: South Carolina requires that all new teachers receive mentoring. The state requires new teachers to participate in a mentoring program for at least the first year of employment to "inform, encourage, and support beginning teachers for the purpose of improving the quality of teaching in the state, raising the level of student achievement, and reducing the rate of attrition among our newest teachers." Mentors must also be assigned to new teachers "in a timely manner, before the teachers start teaching."
To foster the relationship between the mentor and new teacher, the state outlines a four-step formative assessment process, which includes classroom observation, collaboration and development of a professional growth plan. Adequate release time is mandated to allow for meeting time between the pair. A regular survey and evaluation process to assess the program's effectiveness is mandatory.
Mentor Selection Criteria: South Carolina requires that mentors have at least one year of teaching experience and participate in additional mentor training. Local district administration is responsible for selecting mentors and pairing them with new teachers. The district must use at least two of the three following criteria when matching a mentor to a new teacher: matching areas of certification (matching certification is required for special-area educators), matching or close grade levels, and/or close physical proximity. Districts determine mentor compensation; a stipend is one recommendation.
Sections 59-5-85 and 59-26-30(B)3 of the Code of Laws of South Carolina South Carolina Induction and Mentoring Program http://ed.sc.gov/scdoe/assets/file/programs-services/50/documents/IMGuidelines.pdf
Select high-quality mentors.
South Carolina is commended for the new teacher mentoring structures it has in place. While still leaving districts with flexibility, South Carolina 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.
South Carolina 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.