Supporting New Teachers: South Carolina

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.

Analysis of South Carolina's policies

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. 


Recommendations for South Carolina

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.

State response to our analysis

South Carolina recognized the factual accuracy of 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