The effects of mentoring standards as a policy instrument on the mentor-mentee relationship of beginning math and science teachers in high-poverty middle schools
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Induction and mentoring programs are often portrayed as commonsense policy solutions to lower teacher attrition, build beginning teacher capability and ultimately, raise student achievement. Mentoring standards however, have rarely been examined to see how their interpretation and implementation influence the relationship of mentor-mentee pairs in local contexts under a state voluntary induction and mentoring program. In this multi-cased qualitative study, I interviewed nine mentor-mentee pairs and conducted separate mentor and mentee focus groups as well as observing the mentor and mentee interact during an observational cycle in seven high poverty middle schools under Texas' Beginning Teacher Induction and Mentoring (BTIM) program. I also performed a content analysis of mentor training and support materials. Using Cohen and Moffitt's policy implementation framework I found that due to the lack of specificity and formalness of mentoring standards in BTIM-specific and non-specific documents, and the spottiness of mentor initial training, most mentors and mentees needed to rely on their capabilities and dispositions to define their roles. Consequently, it seemed that in the eyes of the mentors and mentees their relationship was informal; this was reflected in the roles that they assumed. Based on the study results, I recommend that mentoring standards for the mentor and mentee be more specific and formally defined. Indeed, there appears to be a need to formally conceptualize mentoring from its policy aims to its policy instruments within mentoring policy.