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March 21, 2005

New Teacher Center wins $1.5 million contract to participate in federal study of support programs

By Jennifer McNulty

The highly regarded New Teacher Center at UCSC has been awarded a $1.5 million contract to participate in the federal government’s first major evaluation of programs that school districts offer novice teachers.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES) selected Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., to carry out the $10.3 million, five-year evaluation study. The study will examine the effects of two programs, the NTC Induction Model and ETS PATHWISE.

The New Teacher Center (NTC) has supported beginning teachers since 1988, and now works across the country with school districts interested in intensive induction models. In response to the national policy emphasis on teacher quality, most school districts provide support for new teachers.

However, program quality varies, and there is little research to guide districts in improving their efforts. This timely and important IES study will inform districts in making decisions on how best to allocate professional development dollars.

“We know that teacher quality is the single most important variable in student performance, and we also know that the first two years of teaching are the most challenging,” says NTC executive director Ellen Moir. “Our NTC induction model has been shown to cut new teacher dropout rates by half, and we are beginning to show significant impact on student learning. Participating in the IES study is an opportunity to validate our results and increase our understanding of induction efforts.”

The NTC induction model pairs beginning teachers with carefully selected and highly trained experienced teachers released full-time from their classroom duties. Without the split demands of classroom teaching and after-school mentoring, these veteran teachers become skillful “teachers of teachers” who work weekly with novices in their classrooms. Mentors receive ongoing professional development along with a set of mentoring tools and protocols that focus their work with beginning teachers on student learning and classroom practice. The mentors carefully assess the novices’ professional needs and then tailor their work accordingly, using the NTC induction materials.

The IES study will select 20 urban school districts to participate. Ten sites will be assigned to implement the NTC induction model, and 10 sites will implement ETS PATHWISE. Two veteran teachers will be selected in each district to work full-time with first-year teachers at 10 elementary school sites, while a control group of beginning teachers will receive support through the district’s preexisting induction program. NTC project director Jan Miles will lead a team of NTC outreach coordinators to provide professional development for the mentors and to work onsite in the 10 districts to guide implementation through June 2006.

Mathematica researchers will track the effectiveness of each program on teacher retention, classroom practice, and student achievement.

“The NTC is committed to ensuring that all new teachers enter schools with the support they need and deserve,” noted NTC associate director Janet Gless. “This work is critical, not just to retain new teachers, but to develop outstanding teachers and help our schools become learning communities where students and teachers, alike, are successful.”


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