Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Alternative Teacher Certification and Mentoring

I received a great comment from tweenteacher on my recent post on alternative certification. She makes a very strong point about the quality of the courses at her ed school and the fact that her on the job training is what really helped her succeed. This year during legislative committee hearings, I heard also heard that some of the courses teachers are forced to take have no value.

Another great point she makes is the need for strong mentoring. Her comments came on the same day that I received preliminary data from the ABCTE Alumni Survey conducted by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. It is not a bad story as 83.1% of our first year teachers received mentoring with an average of 48 minutes per week. Not horrible, but it still leaves 16.9% without a mentor and the some of the comments show that current mentoring is not done to any real standard.

From one of our ABCTE Teachers: "The mentoring that is required by the state is NOT formally set up in my current district. I have gone as far as the superintendent to verify policy and procedure, only to find there really isn't one. However, the State insists there is a formal program set up in EVERY district as a matter of law."

This disconnect is all too real. In the twisted world of education debates, some states tell us they don’t want to have alternative certification programs because they know districts are not doing mentoring. But if someone else asks, the state will point to the law and say that everyone is being mentored.

So instead of holding districts accountable for mentoring requirements so that all teachers benefit, the problem is ignored. And that forces states to keep out programs that could help with their teacher shortages.

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