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Wisconsin - Beginning in the 1984-85 school year the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction sponsored some beginning teacher programs in a pilot approach. These pilots used a state-developed performance assessment instrument with the beginning teachers. Following that the Wisconsin DPI evaluated the pilot programs and developed a set of Beginning Teacher Program guide lines for districts to follow.
By 1988 it was clear that, despite what had been learned in the pilots, there would be no state funding for the BTP, and, therefore, no state-wide implementation. Since then the Wisconsin approach has been voluntary. Most programs take a fairly professional and developmental approach, focusing mentoring and induction on providing support and assistance to new teachers. There is, of course, no required assessment instrument but districts can choose to use the performance assessment instrument that used in the state pilots.
Wisconsin's lack of a state-wide induction approach means that there is a wide diversity of approaches, from district level programs to partnerships which rely heavily on university- based assistance and in which mentors and novice teachers must each take a three credit hour course. Currently Wisconsin does provide some money to support pilot school mentoring programs.
In 1992 the state published a "Report of the State Superintendent's Advisory Committee on Beginning Teacher Assistance Programs". This is available from the WDPI as document 9282. This document describes the variety of mentoring and induction program approaches used across the state.
During the next few years many of the stake holders in new teacher induction kept up an on-going discussion which raised many of the key issues involved in the support and assessment of novice teachers, but broad agreement was not attained. Finally. in 1995 the state published a document which showed that a state-wide approach was being considered. That document was "Restructuring Teacher Education & Licensing in Wisconsin: A Final Task Force Report". This is available from the WDPI in Madison, Wisconsin. This work, however, did not lead to dramatic restructuring and change because the advocates for effective mentoring practices refused to compromise on the principle of separation of mentoring of novice teachers from their evaluation. That "conversation" continued until 1997 when it became focused through the work of three "work groups" created by the Governor in October 1995, with a specific charge to draft proposals that could lead to legislation.
In May 1997 the state published the recommendations of these three groups in a "sequel" called "Restructuring Teacher Education & Licensing in Wisconsin: A Final Report of the Work Groups on Teacher Assessment, License Stages, and License Categories". This is bulletin #97306 and can be seen on the WDPI web site listed below. The proposals include establishing a 3 stage licensing system beginning with an "Initial Educator License" for 5 years. During that period beginning teachers would receive support from a mentor and assessment feed back relative to the state teaching standards from a team of 3 educators, including a different experienced educator (not the mentor), the principal, and a higher education teacher educator. This committee decides the eligibility of the novice teacher for the professional license, the next stage in the proposed system. The novice teacher would also set improvement goals relative to the standards in a professional development plan, and maintain a portfolio as evidence of professional growth and participation. In this proposal, the districts must provide the mentoring support and assessment, as well as support seminars, mentor training, appropriate released time to conduct mentoring, and/or compensation to mentors if no released time is provided. It is also recommended that mentors only work with 1 novice at a time, that they be assigned to novices within close proximity, and that the mentoring role should include observation, consultation, help with the PD plan, and guidance to help the novice become a reflective practitioner.
The recommendations made in this document include a budget of $3.6 million which is expected to fund training, a $200 stipend, and released time for about 3000 mentors across the state. During October to December 1997, twelve hearings were held around the state seeking input on this "Final Report" and its recommendations. It remains to be seen what will come of all this work.
Another interesting development is the state DPI sponsored conference "Mentoring and Mentor Programs for Beginning Teachers in Wisconsin: Past Accomplishments, Current Status, Future Directions", which is scheduled for March 25, 1998 in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. This program features:
Conference registration and a fee of $25 is due by March 10, 1998 to Kathryn Lind, whose address is below. Request a conference brochure for use in registering for the breakout sessions. It's great to see the Wisconsin DPI assume the initiative and create the forum where Wisconsin educators can have a conversation about what has been learned in mentoring. Such a discussion can help others build on the success of experienced mentoring programs and mentors and can increase the opportunity that best practices will be used across the state in the support of novice teachers.
The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Teacher Induction Program is one of the better known Wisconsin programs. This program describes itself as the "oldest continually operating induction program in the USA". For a description of one of this program, see Varah, L., Theune, W. & Parker, L. (1986). "Beginning Teachers: Sink or Swim", Journal of Teacher Education. 37:1 (fall), 30-35. This paper describes the 7 goals of the program, selection and duties of the mentor, orientation, and a 1984-85 study of 24 new teachers in the UW-W TI Program who reported positive results from working within the UWW TI Program..
Tom Ganser, Director of the Office of Field Experiences at UW-W, has written a number of articles about his own and other mentoring programs. Of particular note is Ganser, T., & Koskela, R. (1997). "A Comparison of Six Wisconsin Mentoring Programs for Beginning Teachers". The NASSP Bulletin. V.81 (591), October, Pages 71-80. National Assn. of Secondary School Principals. Reston, Va. Tom's studies of mentoring and induction programs describe the 6 programs approaches and some of their effects. This and others of his writing have documented the value of mentoring support and varied approaches to induction programming. He can be reached at 414-472-1123 or at <>.
For information about the state's approach and plans for induction of new teachers you can contact Kathryn M. Lind at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction web site at <http://www.dpi.state.wi.us>, or at the Division of Learning Support, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, 125 S. Webster St. PO Box 7841, Madison, WI 53707-7841, 608-266-1879, or 1788.
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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