Superintendent's Memo #290-09

State seal, Commonwealth of Virginia

COMMONWEALTH of VIRGINIA
Department of Education

October 16, 2009

TO: Division Superintendents

FROM: Patricia I. Wright, Superintendent of Public Instruction

SUBJECT: Consolidated Data Collection to Apply for Funding to Support Mentors for New Teachers

The Virginia Department of Education consolidated the collection of new teacher information for school divisions applying for funds for the following three programs: Hard-to-Staff Schools Mentor Teacher Program, the Mentor Teacher Program, and the Career Switcher Teacher Program. Funds have been appropriated by the General Assembly for the 2009-2010 school year to provide grants to school divisions to support mentors for new teachers with zero years of teaching experience.

For 2009-2010, funds for school divisions will be allocated on a per-teacher basis that will be determined based on the requests for new teacher grants submitted by each school division. Grant funds will be retroactive to July 1, 2009, and will be awarded subject to available state funding. The grant funds will be awarded directly to school divisions applying for and meeting the requirements of the following three programs:

Hard-to-Staff Schools Mentor Teacher Program
This program provides funds to support mentors for new teachers with no teaching experience assigned to hard-to-staff schools. In order to qualify as hard-to-staff, a school must meet at least four of the following eight criteria.

  1. Accredited with warning;
  2. Average daily attendance is two percentage points below the statewide average;
  3. Percent of special education students exceeds 150 percent of the statewide average;
  4. Percent of limited English proficient students exceeds 150 percent of the statewide average;
  5. Percent of teachers with provisional licenses exceeds 150 percent of the statewide average;
  6. Percent of special education teachers with conditional licenses exceeds 150 percent of the statewide average;
  7. Percent of inexperienced teachers hired to total teachers exceeds 150 percent of the statewide average; and
  8. School has one or more inexperienced teachers in a critical shortage area.

State funding for the Hard-to-Staff Mentor Teacher Program will be provided based on a state share calculated per teacher with zero years of teaching experience in a hard-to-staff school. The state share payments to school divisions will be based on the composite index. In the event that available state funding is not sufficient to cover calculated division payments for the program, payments to school divisions may be prorated.

Mentor Teacher Program
Funds were allocated by the General Assembly to provide grants to school divisions providing mentors for new teachers with zero years of teaching experience. A local resource commitment of 50 percent is required for the Mentor Teacher Program.

Career Switcher Program (Mentor Support)
The funds for the Career Switcher Program are to support mentors assigned to individuals who have completed Level I of a Career Switcher Program and who have zero years of teaching experience. These teachers are completing Level II of their program during the 2009-2010 school year.

Participation in these funding opportunities is voluntary. However, it is noted that Section 22.1-303 of the Code of Virginia requires that,

"School boards shall provide each probationary teacher, except probationary teachers who have prior successful teaching experience, as determined by the local school board in a school division, a mentor teacher, as described by Board guidelines developed pursuant to Section 22.1-305.1, during the first year of the probationary period, to assist such probationary teacher in achieving excellence in instruction."

The Board of Education's Guidelines for Mentor Teacher Programs for Beginning and Experienced Teachers may be accessed at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/teaching/career_resources/mentor/program_creation_guidelines.pdf. School divisions should collaborate with institutions of higher education in the continued development and implementation of mentor teacher programs. Participating divisions should implement projects that reflect scientific, evidence-based research, and best practices.

For the 2009-2010 school year, the New Teachers Program Data Collection (NTPDC) application, accessible from the Department of Education's Single Sign-on for Web System (SSWS) site, https://p1pe.doe.virginia.gov/ssws/login.page.do, will be used to collect data from Virginia public school divisions for new teachers with zero years of teaching experience who qualify for one of these three programs. If a division has schools identified as hard-to-staff, the list of the schools will appear in the drop-down box for the Hard-to-Staff Program within the NTPDC application.

Each school division has a SSWS account manager who can provide the designated program coordinator access to this application. Instructions for entering and submitting the data are available online as part of the SSWS-NTPDC application.

Each school year, there will be a single data collection in the fall to submit the names of new teachers with zero years of teaching experience who are mentored through one of the three programs. If funds remain available for mentors for the Career Switcher Program after the fall collection and the distribution of funds, there will be a second data collection in the spring of the school year for the Career Switcher Teacher Program only, and the school divisions will be advised accordingly. Please note that a new teacher's name can be submitted for only one of the three new teachers programs.

For the 2009-2010 fall data collection, data may be submitted via the SSWS-NTPDC application from October 16, 2009, through November 6, 2009. Once you have completed and verified your data submission, print the New Teachers Program Verification Report and corresponding affidavit page, and fax both the verification report and signed affidavit page to Mr. Brian Mason, teacher education and licensure project specialist, at (804)786-6759, no later than Friday, November 6, 2009. It is imperative that all divisions meet this deadline as calculations for the distribution of funds will be based on this data. At the end of the school year, divisions will be required to submit data and an evaluation through the SSWS for the Mentor Teacher Program and the Hard-to-Staff Schools Report to determine the impact of the mentor teacher programs.

If you have questions regarding the Hard-to-Staff Schools Mentor Teacher Program or the Mentor Teacher Program, please contact Dr. JoAnne Y. Carver, director of teacher education, via e-mail at JoAnne.Carver@doe.virginia.gov or telephone (804) 371-2475. For information regarding the Career Switcher Program, please contact Dr. James Lanham, director of licensure, via e-mail at James.Lanham@doe.virginia.gov or telephone (804) 371-2471. Technical questions regarding the NTPDC application and data submission may be directed to Brian Mason, project specialist for teacher education and licensure, via e-mail at Brian.Mason@doe.virginia.gov or telephone (804) 225-2823.

PIW/psp