Track I—The Beginning Teacher Program
The primary purpose of Track I is to generate usable and reliable data that will support making a decision to retain a probationary teacher and eventually move her to a tenured or continuing contract position. The procedures, processes, and relationships established and supported within Track I should also help new staff develop professionally and personally, promote an environment that will encourage teachers and administrators to understand the importance and usefulness of evaluation, and support the practice of reflection and professional learning. These latter purposes take on added importance if the district does not already have in place quality induction and mentoring programs.
If an induction program is in place and the district assigns mentors to new teachers, then the evaluation committee should ensure that the Track I evaluation program acknowledges and supports existing induction and mentoring programs. The district should review and coordinate all three programs—induction, mentoring, and evaluation—to prevent overlapping responsibilities or work. Although Track I includes a summative evaluation component separate from the other two programs, all other functions of these programs are complementary, and the designs of all three programs should reflect this idea.
Track I is designed for all teachers new to the school district. This would automatically include all teachers who are just starting their teaching careers. Each state or local district usually has its own labels for this group (e.g., probationary teachers, nontenured teachers, initial licensure teachers). Involvement in this track would be determined by the length of the required probationary period determined by state statutes (generally between two and four years). Each district must also determine how it will handle newly hired experienced teachers. In most states, tenured teachers moving from one district to another or from another state lose their tenure. Consequently, they join the district as nontenured teachers. Most schools require all newly hired veterans to go through the beginning teacher programs for at least the first two years. This required involvement, local educators believe, helps veterans learn