State Mentoring Policies Key to Supporting Novice Teachers

The National Association of State Boards of Education has released a policy brief exploring state mentoring policies related to the support of novice teachers and the research on effective mentoring programs. Policy recommendations as well as state exemplar programs are offered.

The brief finds that although there is evidence that formal induction programs lasting at least three years increase teacher retention and student achievement, only five states require novice mentoring for three years.

Research indicates that clear formal mentoring program standards help guide district policy as well as frame the purpose for mentoring. Formal induction programs should include professional learning opportunities and a form of evaluation in addition to mentoring. All these components ought to work together to support novice teachers.

Strong formal mentoring policies not only help states and districts retain and develop teachers, they also help students. Students who had teachers that received three years of formal mentoring saw significant achievement gains, according to the U.S. Department of Education. The average student moved from the 50th percentile up 4 percentile points in reading and 8 points in math.

Policy recommendations include the following:

Strong state policies should require at least three years of formal mentoring.

Time should be allocated for novice teachers and their mentors to meet. According to a National Center for Education Statistics report, only 36 percent of novice teachers who met with their mentors a “few times per year” reported that it improved their instruction. When mentors and mentees met weekly, however, that figure increased to 88 percent.

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