A State ( NC ) Grooms Its Best Students to Be Good Teachers

Image Source: The New York Times

In 1993, when Mr. Williams graduated from high school in Goldsboro, N.C., with an A average and a 1,320 on his SATs, he had many options, but he chose the North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program. The idea is simple: the state pays top academic students to attend a public college, and in return they spend at least four years teaching in a public school.

In the 20 years since the first fellows began teaching, the program has flourished. High school seniors selected for the program average about 1,200 on the SATs compared with a state average of 1,000.

It is not enough for the smartest to become teachers; they have to stay teaching. Research has shown that experienced teachers perform far better than beginners. A Carolina Institute for Public Policy study by Gary T. Henry, Charles Thompson and Kevin Bastian in 2010 found that of a dozen training programs in the state, Teach for America had the best test results, with the Teaching Fellows Program second.

There is, however, a large difference in retention. Teach for America requires only a two-year commitment. After five years, 7 percent of the Teach for America participants were still at work in North Carolina, versus 73 percent of the fellows. Sixty percent of the fellows who started teaching 20 years ago still work in North Carolina public schools.


Q: If this is a model with proven success, shouldn’t it be on that more school districts should follow and shouldn’t our our leaders make better decisions on where our tax dollars should be spent?

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