For Immediate Release: March 15, 2018

Contact: Michael Spaeth, michael.spaeth@nasbe.org, 703-684-4002

States Can Support Novice Teachers through Strong Mentoring Policies

Alexandria, VA — Teachers face many challenges in the first years of their careers. Without support and guidance from experienced, highly qualified teacher mentors, the demands of the classroom can overwhelm novice teachers. It comes as no surprise then that one-third of teachers leave the profession within their first five years. A new NASBE policy update draws on research, state examples, and the author’s own experience to suggest ways states can better support novice teachers while combating high turnover.

Sixth-grade teacher Jordan Koch writes that in her first year of teaching in Nebraska, she was assigned a mentor who did not receive leave from the classroom for one-on-one coaching, did not have formal training in the role, and did not undergo rigorous screening.

“Luckily, I was also selected into a university program that paired me with a different sort of mentor,” Koch writes. “A past educator with mentor training under her belt, she devoted five hours a week to providing me with new teaching and management strategies, helping with lesson plans, and teaching my class while I observed other master teachers, among other things. Not only did she help me grow professionally, she provided support during stressful, emotionally difficult times. My mentor made me a better teacher and servant of children.”

Evidence suggests that formal induction programs lasting at least three years increase teacher retention and student achievement. Yet of the 26 states with policies for novice-teacher mentoring, only 5 require three or more years. Placement, mentor selection criteria, and requirements for mentor training and support should be reflected in mentoring policies. In addition, dedicated state funding and time to meet should be allocated for novice teachers and their mentors.

State boards of education can influence the design of districts’ mentoring programs. Several states have implemented promising policies:  

  • The Alaska Statewide Mentor Project provides first- and second-year teachers with full-time mentorship from retired teachers. Mentors are rigorously selected and meet face to face with their mentees six times per year and connect virtually each week. They also use formative assessments to track teachers’ needs and provide tailored mentorship.
  • Kansas’s state board approved new-teacher mentoring guidelines that cover mentor selection criteria, mentor training requirements, mentor-mentee communication principles, and measures of program effectiveness.
  • Massachusetts requires classroom release time for novice teachers and mentors to allow for master teacher observations, which are to be frequent, short, and targeted. Regulations outline criteria for mentor selection, assignment, and roles and responsibilities.
  • North Carolina created novice teacher mentoring standards closely aligned to the state’s professional teaching standards. The state also developed a rubric to assess mentors as developing, proficient, accomplished, or distinguished.

Read and share the NASBE policy update “State Mentoring Policies Key to Supporting Novice Teachers.”

NASBE is the only national organization giving voice and adding value to the nation’s state boards of education. A nonprofit organization founded in 1958, NASBE works to strengthen state leadership in educational policymaking, promote excellence in the education of all students, advocate equality of access to educational opportunity, and ensure continued citizen support for public education. Learn more at www.nasbe.org.

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