Study Finds Special Educators Get Less Mentoring
While teacher mentoring has become nearly ubiquitous as an education reform, new research suggests state and district mentoring policies may leave gaps in support for special education teachers.
Mentoring, in which a new or struggling teacher is matched with an expert instructor for support and training, has won broad support from union leaders to governors; federal school improvement grants even recommend it as an intervention for improving low-performing schools. Nearly all states have a teacher mentoring program of some sort—most as part of induction for new teachers—but some, such as Alabama and Virginia, for any teacher who isn’t meeting state teaching standards.
Yet a study published in the current issue of the Education Policy Analysis Archives found that even within a state that requires mentoring for all new teachers, only 64.4 percent of special education teachers reported access to a mentor, compared with 85.6 percent of general education teachers. The quality and length of the mentoring relationships that were available differed from district to district for both general and special education teachers, and did not always meet state requirements, according to study author Leah Wasburn-Moses, an assistant professor of educational psychology at Miami...
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