Investing in New Teachers The importance of training and retaining beginning teachers

Public Education | by Natalie Blake

Providing each child in North Carolina with a quality public education depends on each child having a quality teacher. Of great concern is the fact that North Carolina’s public schools suffer from high rates of teacher turnover, particularly for beginning teachers in their first three years of the profession. In 2012-13, 14.3 percent of North Carolina teachers left their positions – a five-year high. Such elevated teacher turnover rates lead to a loss in teacher quality, school stability, and student achievement; they also have significant financial implications. If one accounts for the preparation, training, and recruitment of new teachers, teacher turnover costs the State as much as $84.5 million per year (approximately $12,000 per teacher). For all these reasons, supporting, developing, and retaining teachers in their first three years is essential to the future success of North Carolina’s children.

Over the years, the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation has invested in local, regional, and statewide programs that support new teachers. The Foundation is pleased to announce a new partnership with the North Carolina New Teacher Support Program (NC NTSP) through a one-year grant of $250,000. NC NTSP operates as a part of the University of North Carolina General Administration, whose UNC schools of education are the largest producers of North Carolina teachers.

NC NTSP serves teachers in their first three years who work in the State’s high priority schools as determined by poor student outcomes and high rates of teacher attrition. In 2013-14, the NC NTSP served 1,150 teachers in 118 schools in 28 school districts. The goal of the program is to improve the effectiveness of beginning teachers through intensive induction support aligned to each teacher’s individual needs, teaching assignment, and school environment. Data from the first full year of the program’s implementation are promising. Teachers participating in NC NTSP in the fall and spring of the 2012-13 school year showed statistically significant improvement across instructional dimensions. The mathematics and reading performance of students of NC NTSP teachers in grades K through 8 was significantly higher than the performance of students in similar classes. 84 percent of first-year teachers served by NC NTSP returned to teaching in NC, compared to 79 percent in similar schools.

ZSR believes the program is uniquely poised to contribute to beginning teacher effectiveness and lower attrition on a statewide scale. State leaders also acknowledged the promise of NC NTSP by allocating $1.2 million dollars in recurring funding for the program in the State budget. With this support and the partnership of participating school districts, NC NTSP can continue to expand its impact.

In Singapore, there is a saying, “teachers mold the future of the nation, by molding the people who will determine the future of the nation.” The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation believes this notion holds true for our State and for our country. As we consider our future, we must encourage our talented young people to enter the teaching profession, and we must value and support those teachers who have already committed themselves to molding our future. ZSR is thankful to the staff of the NC New Teacher Support Program for their dedication to serving new teachers, and to the teachers themselves, who hold North Carolina’s future in their hands. 

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