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: Colorado requires that all new teachers participate in an induction program and receive mentoring. The induction program lasts for no more than three years.
Districts are required to develop methods to evaluate and assess the induction program. The district must establish the "primary role of the mentor as teacher, coach, advocate, support, guide and nurturer of new teachers." Induction programs should provide both mentors and new teachers with opportunities for professional growth and development. The state requires each induction program to conduct a self-evaluation every five years.
Mentor Selection Criteria: Colorado mandates that districts are responsible for developing policies to address the "standards for selection, training and release of mentors." Mentors are required to have "demonstrated excellence in practice as measured by the district educator effectiveness system." The state also provides guidelines for assignment of mentors, including similar teaching assignments and close proximity. Compensation of mentors is left to the discretion of the districts.
Code of Colorado Regulations 301-37-2260.5-R-13.00; 14.00 Colorado Revised Statutes 22-60.5-204 Induction Program Guidelines http://www.cde.state.co.us/sites/default/files/documents/cdeprof/cdeprofsvc/iheprograms/downloads/teachersspinductionguidelines.pdf
Set more specific parameters.
Colorado should set a timeline by which mentors are assigned to new teachers, ideally soon after the commencing of teaching, to offer support during those critical first weeks of school. To ensure that all teachers receive high-quality mentoring, the state should also set guidelines on the frequency and amount of time mentors and new teachers should meet.
Colorado 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.