Compensation of Supervising Teachers for Teacher Education Majors
In Spring 1997, Governor Racicot formed a Montana Commission on Teaching, under the auspices of the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future, to review teacher certification and professional development. The Commission met for 18 months and published a report, Quality Teaching, Quality Schools: Strengthening Montana's Most Important Profession. The Commission recommended "that cooperating teachers who supervise student teachers and other students in field experiences receive compensation enhancements (e.g. tuition waivers) for each student mentored, in addition to any stipend currently provided by university and college teacher education programs in Montana."
Responding to the Commission's report and complaints from the Billings school district, OCHE initiated a review of the policy 806.1 on compensation for supervising teachers in Spring 1999. Education deans and academic officers discovered substantial differences between the five campuses engaged in providing teacher education field experiences and the school districts with which they work. They recommended revision of 806.1 to permit a minimum monetary stipend for all supervising teachers and to encourage individual campuses to develop plans for additional compensation that would be responsive to the professional development needs of the teachers.
Since then, complaints from Billings have been joined by complaints from Great Falls. Deans report that some superintendents threaten not to allow teachers in their districts to supervise student field experiences without a $600 stipend per event. Representative Raser of Missoula proposed HB 297 requiring payment of a $500 stipend to each supervising teacher, which bill carries an appropriation of $700,000.
To assess the feasibility of HB 297, OCHE staff collected data from each campus on the average number of students placed in field experiences annually. Campuses reported placing some 886 students annually or 1772 students per biennium, for a biennial cost of $886,000.
Under the provisions of policy 806.1, campuses of the Montana University System with teacher education programs will report their respective plans for compensating supervising (mentor) teachers in the next academic year to the Deputy Commissioner for Academic and Student Affairs. The Deputy will brief the Board of Regents at their March meeting on the Montana University System's plan for compensating supervising (mentor) teachers in the next academic year. Below are the reports of the campuses, and at the end of each, the estimated cost of the implementation of Representative Raser's proposal.
Montana State University - Bozeman: On average, Montana State University-Bozeman places 221 student teachers per year in cooperating schools. The university pays cooperating teachers a stipend of $100 per semester and pro-rates the amount if more than one supervising teacher is involved. Biennial cost under Raser bill, $252,000.
Montana State University - Billings: The minimum honorarium paid by the College of Education and Human Services to the cooperating teacher is $100.00. Another option involves a course voucher. To be eligible for the voucher the cooperating teacher must take a Mentor Teacher Supervising class, which s/he pays for. Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are awarded for this class. After the cooperating teacher has successfully completed the mentoring class, s/he becomes eligible for the 3-credit voucher option. Teachers accepting a sophomore practicum student are entitled to 1-credit voucher, and those accepting a junior field placement student receive a 2-credit voucher. The vouchers may only be used for continuing education credits and not for courses in a master’s degree program. MSU-Billings places approximately 240 students per year in the public schools for a biennial cost of $240,000 under the Raser plan.
At the end year, the cooperating teacher, library-media specialists, guidance counselors, and school administrators receive a thank you letter for their services along with a 20% bookstore discount certificate and library privileges for one year at the Mike and Maureen Mansfield Library. The President hosts an “Annual Teacher Buffet Dinner Reception” for cooperating teachers, library-media specialists, guidance counselors, school administrators and one guest. Two free tickets to either a UM Basketball game or a UM Drama Production are given to guests as they arrive. The campus sends 800 – 850 invitations, and 400 – 450 guests attend the event.
Beginning with the 2000 Annual Teacher Reception, the School of Education has identified schools that work closely with the various education programs and presented a “Partnership” plaque to the school administration and teachers at this event. The university gives administrators a free golf pass for their assistance in placing pre-service teachers.
Western Montana College of the University of Montana: Western Montana currently pay teachers $10/week for mentoring a student teacher. Some students stay in one classroom for 15 weeks maximum so the teacher gets $150. Other students have split experiences, so the stipends are pro rated. Western Montana College places about 110 student teachers per year in the public schools, for a biennial cost of $110,000 under the Raser proposal.
Under the provisions of revised policy 806.1, the Regents afforded the campuses the latitude to enhance compensation to supervising teachers in ways that would be responsive to their professional development needs and interests. To date, MSU-Billings and the University of Montana-Missoula have taken advantage of that flexibility to improve their compensation of supervising teachers. Failure to address this issue on the part of the other campuses may have given rise to some of the current complaints and problems that teacher education programs are confronting in two of the larger school districts in Montana.