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: West Virginia requires that all new teachers receive mentoring. Counties are required to implement "a comprehensive system of support for improving professional practice" that includes a mentoring program. County plans must describe how they "will provide the strong school-based support and supervision that will assist beginning teachers in developing instructional and management strategies, procedural and policy expertise, and other professional practices they need to be successful in the classroom and perform at the accomplished level." There is little detail as to what counties must provide to new teachers in order to meet that goal.
Mentor Selection Criteria: West Virginia mandates that counties must have a plan for selecting mentors "based on demonstrated superior performance and competence."
West Virginia Code 18A-3C-1 and 3 HB 4236 (2012) West Virginia State Board of Education Comprehensive System of Support for Improving Professional Practice Implementation Guidelines June 2012 Framework for Induction http://wvde.state.wv.us/coachingforlearning/framework.html
Set more specific parameters.
While still leaving districts with flexibility, West Virginia should articulate minimum guidelines for a high-quality induction experience. The state should specify how long the program lasts for a new teacher, set guidelines on the frequency and amount of time mentors and new teachers should meet, and articulate a timeline by which mentors are assigned to new teachers, ideally soon after the commencing of teaching. The state should also specify a method of performance evaluation.
Select high-quality mentors.
While still leaving districts with flexibility, West Virginia should clarify 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.
West Virginia confirmed that all new teachers receive a mentor, but that the state does not dictate frequency or duration of meetings between mentors and new teachers. Decisions are made at the local level to determine who is best suited for participation as a mentor and the number of times they meet. The state provided that is does not collect student performance outcomes from this process and will not in the future.
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.