In 2018, Judge David Lee appointed WestEd to lead a comprehensive investigation into what it would take to guarantee the opportunity of a sound basic education to every North Carolina student. In December, WestEd released their report that highlights the importance of cohesive, statewide policy focused on providing high quality education for all children in North Carolina.
Then, in January 2020, Judge Lee signed a Consent Order Regarding the Need for Remedial, Systemic Actions for the Achievement of Leandro Compliance.
As the plaintiffs and the defendants in the Leandro case work to recommend short- and long-term strategies to address the critical needs identified in the consent order, it is essential to consider existing programs that ensure all children get a quality education.
One such program is NC New Teacher Support Program (NC NTSP). The program partners with 10 state universities who work with their local school districts to support and develop early career and lateral entry teachers.
NC NTSP is a comprehensive, university-based induction model offering a research-based curriculum and multiple services designed to increase student achievement by improving teacher effectiveness and promoting teacher retention. Supports are provided to teachers with three or fewer years of experience who enter the profession through a traditional educator preparation program (EPP) or alternative teacher preparation pathways.
An independent evaluation of NC NTSP found 90% of the teachers supported by NC NTSP returned to teaching in North Carolina, compared to 85% that were not enrolled in NC NTSP. Additionally, 82.6% of teachers served returned to their district, compared to 74.7% that were not served by NC NTSP. This is a significant point of discussion given that high-needs schools have higher rates of teacher turnover and are more likely to employ teachers with fewer than five years of experience.
What we have observed is that beginning teachers are nervous, anxious, and eager for a someone to show them the ropes. When novice educators work with their NC NTSP Instructional Coach, they receive one-on-one coaching from an accomplished educator who has a proven track record working with high-needs students in designated priority schools.
As part of the induction model, NC NTSP coaches lead professional development, provide ongoing support, and convey enthusiasm and passion for the education profession. Octavia Reynolds, a beginning teacher of Person County, believes that her coach is responsible for her success as a teacher.
“My coach has played a significant role in my growth as a teacher and has given me the tools that I need to be successful. She has helped me stay organized and has built my confidence,” she said.
In addition, over the course of the school year, NC NTSP Instructional Coaches provide weekly face-to-face support to beginning teachers coupled with virtual support between on-site interactions. Consequently, coaches frequently engage with broader audiences within the school community such as common planning and professional learning communities (PLC).
Beginning teacher Sonya Carroll from Scotland County said: “My NTSP coach sits in on PLC meetings periodically to ensure that I understand both school and district expectations. She then follows up after those meetings to offer assistance and support with data reports and provides feedback with best practices to move students forward.”
A timely but unique aspect of the NC NTSP induction program is that coaches provide comprehensive weekly observations, planning, and opportunities to help beginning teachers understand their classroom, school, and community context.
“My coach has impacted my instruction by helping me understand what an important role I play in the lives of my students. My instruction comes from a place of compassion and love,” said Reynolds.
Beginning teachers in high-needs schools benefit from having additional resources to support the students in their classroom and gain an appreciation of the communities in which they are located. A NC NTSP coach has experience in diverse school settings and a proven track record in increasing student achievement in high-need schools. A coach’s personal teaching experience partnered with a strong understanding of the beginning teacher’s growth and development allows them to individualize coaching strategies for teachers.
Additionally, the NC NTSP supports teacher retention by building professional skills through ongoing professional development that aligns to school initiatives and needs. The instructional coaches are highly skilled in facilitating differentiated and targeted professional development grounded in adult learning theory. Coaches spend their time with teachers building their professional skills and expertise and helping them see their professional pathways as leaders in education.
Cordilla Breiner from Lenoir County Schools is an alumna of the NC NTPS program and is in her fourth year of teaching. She attributes the support provided by her NC NTSP Instructional Coach as the reason why she now views herself as a teacher leader and advocate for the profession.
“With the encouragement and support of my coach, my leadership has quickly expanded beyond the classroom. This year, we have been co-presenters at various conferences throughout the state of North Carolina. Being able to transition from impacting only the ~90 students I teach each day to now also being able to include the impact we have made on the ~100 educators who have come to our sessions just this year, and their ~100 students each day, each year, I am motivated. Later this year, I will present nationally in Oakland, CA. I used to think the only way to be a leader in education was to be an administrator,” said Breiner.
The NC NTSP continues to thrive as a comprehensive teacher induction program that bridges the gap between pre-service preparation to in-service teaching practitioner. The three core services of individualized instructional coaching, institute, and professional offer teachers the skills they need to be impactful in their schools daily.
The program aligns not only to the needs of beginning teachers, but to the WestEd recommendations on teacher effectiveness, teacher retention, and student achievement. When teachers feel supported, they start planning for their professional future as educational leaders.
Editor’s note: Teachers Octavia Reynolds, Sonya Carrol, and Cordilla Breiner also contributed to this perspective.