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Mentor Teacher Credentials

Teacher in class with four kids

School districts that provide mentor teachers for teachers new to the profession or new to the district must meet best practice requirements to ensure mentoring is of high quality.

Carefully crafting a mentor program and choosing mentor teachers are important decisions for a district or charter school. Research from Ingersoll & Strong has shown that multi-year mentoring and induction programs for beginning classroom teachers lead to improvements in student performance, teacher effectiveness, and teacher retention.

Mentor Options

According to Texas Education Code (TEC) § 21.458, districts may assign a mentor to each beginning classroom teacher, defined as a teacher who has less than two years of teaching experience in the subject or grade level assigned. Implementing a mentor program is not required but highly recommended.

Districts have several mentoring options to choose from:

If the third option is chosen, a district may apply for the Mentor Program Allotment (MPA) through the Texas Education Agency (TEA). The MPA was created in 2019 under TEC § 48.114. Approved districts receive $1800 per mentee which can be used to pay for mentor stipends, scheduled release time, and mentor training.

Mentor Teacher Qualifications

If the district commits to implementing a mentor program, the basic requirements according to TEC § 21.458 are the mentor teacher must, to the extent practicable, teach in the same school and teach the same subject or grade level, as applicable, as the beginning classroom teacher.

Mentor teacher qualifications prescribed in the commissioner’s rules include:

  • Be a classroom teacher who teaches at least an average of four hours per day in an academic instructional setting or a career and technical instructional setting.
  • Hold the appropriate State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) certificate and meet the employment specifications regarding instructional duties. Note: Charter school mentor teachers don’t have to be certified, but they must meet the teacher qualifications of the employing charter school.
  • Complete a research-based mentor training program approved by the commissioner.
  • Complete mentor training provided by the district.
  • Have at least three complete years of teaching experience with a superior record of assisting students, as a whole, in achieving improvement in student performance — the master, exemplary, or recognized designations from the Teacher Incentive Allotment (TIA) can be used to fulfill this requirement.
  • Demonstrate interpersonal skills, instructional effectiveness, and leadership skills.
  • Agree to serve as a mentor teacher for at least one school year although the district must agree to assign the mentor to the beginning teacher for at least two years.
  • Begin mentoring no later than the 30th day of the beginning teacher’s employment.

If districts wish to employ mentor teachers who don’t meet this definition, they may seek a waiver from TEA.

Mentor Program Allotment (MPA)

Following are the assignment and training rules that must be met in order to apply for the MPA:

The assignment rules are:

  • No more than two beginning teachers may be assigned to a mentor who serves as the teacher of record for, on average, six hours per instructional day. Note: Teacher of record is defined as an educator who is employed by the school and who teaches in an academic instructional setting or a career and technical setting and is responsible for evaluating student achievement and assigning grades.
  • No more than four beginning teachers may be assigned to a mentor who serves as a teacher of record for, on average, less than six hours per instructional day.

The training requirements include:

  • Provide mentor training before the beginning of the school year to mentor teachers and any appropriate district and campus employees, such as principals, assistant principals, and instructional coaches, who work with a beginning teacher or supervise a beginning teacher.
  • Provide supplemental training that includes best mentorship practices to mentor teachers and appropriate district and campus employees throughout the year, minimally once per semester.
  • Provide training for a mentor assigned to a beginning teacher who is hired after the start of the school year by the 45th day of employment.

Additionally, mentor teachers are required to meet with the mentee at least 12 hours each semester. Observation hours can be counted toward the 12 hours. Topics that must be addressed include:

  • Context, policies, and practices of the school district to include campus-wide student culture routines, teacher evaluation systems, curriculum assessments and resources, and lesson planning policies and practices
  • Data-driven instructional practices
  • Specific instructional coaching cycles
  • Professional development
  • Professional expectations

Cycle 4 of the MPA is predicted to open for applications in late June 2023 for districts wanting to apply. Visit the TEA website to sign up for MPA email notifications.

Ongoing verification of the compliance of the mentor program requirements is required for the district to continue to receive MPA funds.

Mentoring an Internship Candidate

According to TAC § 228, in order to support a new educator and to increase educator retention, an educator preparation program (EPP) shall collaborate with the campus or district administrator to assign each candidate a mentor during their internship. The mentor requirements differ slightly from the MPA mentor requirements and include the following:

  • Be an educator assigned by the campus administrator and the EPP.
  • Have at least three years of teaching experience.
  • Be an accomplished educator as shown by student learning.
  • Complete mentor training that includes how to coach and mentor teacher candidates by an EPP within three weeks of being assigned to an intern.
  • Be certified in the category in which the internship candidate is seeking certification.
  • Guide, assist, and support the candidate during the internship in areas such as planning, classroom management, instruction, assessment, working with parents, obtaining materials, and district policies.
  • Report the candidate’s progress to the field supervisor.


Providing a quality mentor program and mentor teachers who are prepared to support beginning classroom teachers can help address the persistent teacher shortage, lack of preparation, and job dissatisfaction issues.

District mentoring resources can be found on the TEA website.

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Cheryl Hoover
Cheryl Hoover

Cheryl Hoover joined HR Services in 2018. She assists with staffing and HR reviews, training, and other HR projects. During Hoover’s public school career, she served as an executive director of curriculum and principal leadership, executive director of human resources, principal, assistant principal, teacher, and coach.

Hoover earned her bachelor’s degree from The University of Texas at Austin and obtained her master’s degree from Texas State University. She is a certified PHR.

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