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The Process of Developing a State-Wide Teacher

Mentoring & Induction Program for Illinois Part #1


INDEX:

Some Background on the Process in Illinois - 1985 - 1997

The Teacher Induction Advisory Group (Phase 1) and Their Recommendations - 1997

The Teacher Induction Advisory Group (Phase 2), Recommendations for ISBE Rules & Regulations - 1998


Some Background on the Process in Illinois - 1985 - 1997

In 1986 the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) commissioned a state-wide survey that looked at induction and mentoring support of new teachers in the various Illinois school districts and across each of the United States. That survey was done by Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois, and found that support for new teachers was "sporadic" in Illinois school districts. The report also recommended a coordinated state-wide program for Illinois to address the needs of Illinois' beginning teachers.

In September 1987 ISBE did sponsor an induction/mentoring conference which was held at the University of Illinois at Chicago campus. The conference proceedings were published and were titled "The First Years of Teaching: Background Papers and a Proposal. The final recommendations were written by Dr. Gary Griffin, then of the University of Illinois at Chicago. Though no state-wide action was to follow, this discussion led to provision in SB 730 of state funding for a three year "pilot" of a few mentoring programs. One of the pilots supported several staff development and mentoring efforts in School District 300 in Carpentersville and Dundee, Illinois. These pilots all ended after three years when the state funding expired.

In 1991 the Illinois Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (IACTE) received a grant from the North Central Regional Educational Lab. Under this project Nancy Quisenberry conducted another state-wide study and developed another state plan which was submitted to ISBE. As a result, ISBE was again discussing a mentoring program approach that would use both assistance and assessment of new teachers. That conversation did not lead to any additional on-going state role in mandating or supporting local district mentoring programs.

In 1995 The ISBE convened a "Future Search Conference" to rethink the state system of support for professional development of teachers and administrators. This work was begun, in part, due to concurrent work to write the Illinois Academic Learning Standards for students and to awareness of the need to support professional growth of teachers who would implement student standards. Several committees and a task force worked for about two years to look at best practices in the field of professional development and to define a Framework for Professional Development in Illinois. This Framework was adopted by the ISBE in late 1996 and incorporates the INTASC* beginning teacher standards, the NBPTS* for veteran teachers, and NCATE* standards for university and college teacher education programs. (see notes for explanation of INTASC, NBPTS, and NCATE.)

On October 6, 1995 a "Coalition on Induction Activities", made up of representatives from 7 Illinois professional organizations, sponsored a state-wide conference on Beginning Teacher Induction, held at Northern Illinois University, which attracted 200 participants from all stake holder groups. On January 8, 1996 this coalition published their own "Induction Recommendations" which were circulated state-wide and delivered to the State Board of Education to inform policy making and state decisions.


The Teacher Induction Advisory Group (Phase 1) and Their Recommendations - 1997

In April 1997 the ISBE convened seven Advisory Groups to develop each of the components of the Framework including standards for preservice teacher education, for an initial certificate, for a standard certificate and renewal, for induction and mentoring, for on-going professional development, and standards for teachers, administrators, and pupil service providers. These advisory groups also were to develop recommendations for legislation and some tentative guidelines for district implementation of the various standards. The author of this web site, Barry Sweeny, served on the Teacher Induction Advisory Group (TIAG). The chair person of this phase of the TIAG's work was Dr. Mary Weck, of Downer's Grove District 99.

The Teacher Induction Advisory Group reviewed the professional literature, the experiences of a number of expert practitioners and researchers in mentoring who were on the Advisory Board and others who were not, the "Induction Recommendations" of the "Coalition", and a large number of other sources and standards. By late fall 1997 the Teacher Induction Advisory Group, along with the other advisory groups, sent their general recommendations to the Illinois State Board of Education. These reports were summarized and published as recommendations in a volume titled "Preparing Teachers for the Twenty First Century".

These recommendations were presented in November 1997 at state-wide teleconference sites in events structured as town meetings to gain feed back about the proposals. During that same month the Illinois General Assembly passed school funding and reform bills which addressed a few professional development issues, certification and licensure, teacher preparation, assessment of teachers, and other components. HB 452 initiates a more standards-based three-tiered certification system which will begin in January 1999. The HB 452 requirements implement some aspects of the Framework described above, by creating a four year window with the "Initial Certificate", but the law did not define what needs to be done to ensure new teachers' success or professional development, or to support new teachers in preparing for the assessments needed to earn their Standard Certificate.


The Teacher Induction Advisory Group - Phase 2:

Recommendations for ISBE Rules & Regulations - 1998

As of the beginning of 1998 the only area sure to have mentoring are those teachers who enter the career via alternative certification routes, who are required to work under the support and guidance of a mentor. The alternate certificate requires:

Beginning in April 1998, the Teacher Induction Advisory Group (Phase 2) began meeting to develop recommendations to submit to ISBE for the rules and regulations to implement an induction period during the Initial Certificate period. Dr. Karen Peterson, of Governor's State University in University Park, Illinois, was named the group's chair person. Since a number of new members were added to the original 1997 TIAGroup, the group needed a few meetings to review its original work and to reach consensus about the process to use for the remaining work.

To ensure that the TIAGroup's recommendations would work well across the diverse settings in Illinois, it was decided to invite a sample of representatives from existing Illinois mentoring programs to describe the key features of their programs, answer some critical questions, and offer advice to the TIAGroup for its recommendations for a state-wide induction program. At a meeting on July 10, 1998 the TIAG received the input requested and heard presentations from a number of mentoring programs from around the state. These programs included wealthy and poor districts, larger cities, suburban, and rural districts, programs based on partnerships, and independent district level programs.

During the last two weeks of July and first three weeks of August 1998, subgroups of the TIAG met, each assigned one or two induction program components for which to write draft recommendations. Each group reviewed their own mentoring materials, the minutes of the TIAG and points of consensus, the presentations by Illinois programs, and a massive collection of research and writing on effective induction programming. Each group wrote a recommendation including a rationale for the component (ie. training), a set of indicators for quality induction programs and references to the literature from which the indicators were derived. These drafts were presented to the whole TIAG on August 21st and the group made suggestions for changes in the subgroups' work. Each of the subgroups revised their recommendations further and presented them to the TIAG again in September. A subcommitte of the TIAG was chosen as the final "writing team" and it was their responsibility to assemble all the parts of the recommendations. The recommendations were formated to include:

The final versions of the TIAG recommendations went to Mike Long at the State Board on October 15, 1998.

In addition to those people on the TIAG, there are a number of other well informed experts on new teacher induction and mentoring in Illinois. There are a number of strong mentoring/induction programs across the state, but there are also many programs which provide minimal assistance to new teachers and thousands of other beginning teachers who receive no support or guidance at all. The "sporadic" and diverse quality of programs found in the original 1986 study of Illinois appears to still be the rule.

It looks like there is the expertise and the will among Illinois educators to implement induction and mentoring support for new teachers state-wide. If the TIAG recommendations are adopted or incorporated into ISBE rules, we could see some demonstration programs and pilot programs as early as fall 1999. However, it remains to be seen if the State of Illinois will require and fund such an effort so that teacher induction programs and mentoring are high quality, challenging and supportive of new teacher professional growth, and effective at addressing the needs of new teachers and assuring their success and the success of their students.


*INTASC = Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium, a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers. More info is on the CCSSO web site.

NBPTS = The National Board of Professional Teaching Standards, a national level teacher certification system. More info is available on the NBPTS web site.

NCATE = The National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education has info on the NCATE web site.


An official contact for the ISBE is Michael Long, Division Administrator, Professional Development Redesign, ISBE, 100 N. First St. Springfield, Illinois, 27777, 217-782-2805.


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