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February 23, 2004

State grants New Teacher Center $889,000 for San Jose partnership

By Jennifer McNulty

Students in San Jose’s East Side Union High School District will benefit from the expertise of the UCSC New Teacher Center, thanks to a new grant that will increase communication among teachers and help improve their classroom skills.

The three-year, $888,977 grant from the California Postsecondary Education Commission (CPEC) will help the district align its middle school, junior high school, and high school curricula in mathematics and English.

Students in the school district entering high school have been handicapped by inadequate preparation in math and English.

In collaboration with the district, the New Teacher Center (NTC) will help teachers improve their skills and communication by offering innovative summer laboratories for teachers and ongoing mentoring support during the academic year. The project is expected to serve 136 teachers and will have an impact on more than 4,000 students.

“Curriculum alignment bolsters student success, and teachers from different schools and different grades need opportunities to interact and work together,” said NTC director Ellen Moir. “Our summer activities will get them started, and we will continue working with teachers throughout the school year, providing mentors and ongoing professional support activities.”

The NTC is a national leader in the area of new teacher professional development. Its mentor-based model of support has a strong track record of helping teachers improve their classroom effectiveness, which contributes greatly to job satisfaction and career longevity, and is vital to student success.

“The quality of the teacher is the single most important factor in determining student success,” said Robert Moore, executive director of the commission. “We are extremely pleased to be involved in the development and implementation of professional development activities that enable students to have more highly qualified teachers.”

The UCSC grant was announced as part of the $14 million Improving Teacher Quality State Grants Program of the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The program focused on districts with a high percentage of students from low-income families or that have many noncredentialed teachers. With six feeder middle schools, the East Side Union High School District encompasses two elementary districts, Alum Rock and Franklin McKinley, and the high school district.

Since 1984, CPEC has been administering federal funds to improve teachers’ professional development. The commission, which advises the governor and legislature on higher education policy and fiscal issues, focuses on providing Californians with opportunities to pursue postsecondary education.

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