Tennessee

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Updated April 2, 1998


Tennessee - One of the early reforms that is relevant to mentoring was the State of Tennessee Career Ladder, which was begun by the Comprehensive Educational Reform Act in 1984. This program was a state-wide effort to recognize excellent teaching, create incentives for teacher growth, create career stages, and to utilize excellent teachers in new roles such as staff development leader and new teacher mentor. As a state-wide initiative, the Career Ladder took on many of the issues of egalitarianism and school culture which have plagued most innovations that try to change teacher roles. The opportunity to earn several thousand dollars a year more, to work an extra month or two on curriculum and other teacher concerns, or to help a beginning teacher by mentoring made acceptance of this plan much easier. See Furtwengler, C. (1985). "Tennessee's Career Ladder Plan: They Said It Couldn't Be Done", Educational Leadership, November, ASCD.

The mentor role in the Career Ladder called for assistance and assessment of beginning teachers through their fourth year, but the assessment was not tied to certification decisions. The Tennessee program did not provide money to support school mentoring programs.

A couple of articles describe other major mentoring programs in Tennessee which were not state-mandated. A 1987 study of mentoring teams in the University of Tennessee teacher education program found that such a team mentoring method led to improved overall performance of the teachers-in-training. See Brenner, S. and Cagle, L. (1987). The Mentoring Team Approach: A New Concept in Undergraduate Teacher Education". in "Teacher Education and Special Education, 10:1 (winter), 26-30.

In 1988 a study at the University of Memphis analyzed the replacement of a traditional student teaching model with an internship and clinical supervision by mentors. The study found some differences in the effects of the two approaches but no one approach was seen as superior to another approach.

Also in 1988 the State of Tennessee did adopt requirements for a Beginning Teacher Program (BTP). This program led to a number of pilot programs being supported, but there was no state-wide funding available.

In 1991 the state reported that it was still "developing a Beginning Teacher Program". The intent of the BTP was to focus on mentoring support for first year teachers only and it included higher education and principal support in addition to that provided by mentors. The support/mentoring team was to conduct frequent observations and coaching so that there would be "continuous formative evaluations" for the beginning teacher. The principal was responsible for the summative evaluation of the new teacher and that evaluation informed decisions about both contract renewal and granting of state teacher certification.

As late as 1995 however, no state wide funding had yet been made available.

The state contact in Tennessee is


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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