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Updated March 14, 1998
Missouri - In 1985 Missouri adopted the "Excellence in Education Act" which, among other things mandated that by September 1988 school districts must have begun to provide assistance to beginning teachers through several means including a mentor teacher. An important distinction, however, is that while providing a mentor is required, no mentoring program is required! This, of course means that a wide variety of approaches have been used. The law required that at least 1% of the funding the state provides to schools must be spent on professional development. Many school districts did use these funds to create mentoring programs of one type or another, or to provide mentors, but many of these efforts have not accomplished all that could be desired. Many districts spent all of that 1% on staff training and none on mentoring as there was no financial support specifically provided to school districts for mentoring. Progress on providing mentoring in Missouri has been slow.
The Missouri State Department of Education program provided voluntary guide lines to districts for their programs. These are contained in a 48 page manual. See Professional Development Advisory Committee (1988). Draft Manual. Also beginning teachers had to follow a "professional development plan" developed with their mentors during their first two years. During that same time the university that prepared the new teacher was to help the district provide support. In addition to assistance, evaluation of the new teacher was required using a state assessment instrument.
In October 1994 the author of this web site, Barry Sweeny, was engaged by the Missouri NEA to conduct a round-the-state series of one day mentor training workshops to provide Missouri educators with access to best practices in mentoring. That series revealed that many mentoring programs were created in a vacuum and, even when mentor trainings had been held in districts, that mentors received little guidance for their work. This author found many mentors "hungry" for direction and specific guidance for their work. I have concluded that a major need exists in Missouri for information about best practices in induction and mentoring.
In the Spring 1997 issue of the NSDC Journal of Staff Development an article appeared which provides some insight into the state of mentoring in Missouri. The article "Beginning Teachers Identify Gaps in Their Induction Programs" by Gayle Wilkinson describes a 1995 study of Missouri induction and states that "seven years after Missouri mandated induction for its new teachers...a survey of 201 beginning teachers" reveals that there is still a considerable "disparity between the induction programs and the teachers' preferences for assistance." Further Gayle found that "Mentoring programs were designed around what administrators thought would be helpful for new teachers. Many mentoring programs (apparently) were not based on adequate understandings of the development of new teachers or of adult learning." See Wilkinson, GA. (1997) "Beginning Teachers Identify Gaps in Their Induction Programs", Journal of Staff Development. 18 (2),48-51.
As of 1998 legislation has been proposed to specifically provide mentoring/induction programs.
A state contact person is Bob Bell at 314-751-0051.
If you are aware of incorrect statements in this material OR if you can add authoritative new information concerning mentoring and induction in the various United States, please contact Barry Sweeny with that information. His e-mail is
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