Thursday, August 2, 2012

With 50 percent of new teachers leaving the profession within the first five years, teacher retention is on the minds of lawmakers and school district and college administrators nationwide.

UNC Charlotte’s College of Education has been chosen by the UNC General Administration as one of four institutions to host a new program designed to improve teacher retention statewide. The N.C. New Teacher Support Program will benefit teachers from select, high-need schools across the state by placing experienced teachers in classrooms as coaches.

Program administrator Amanda Macon, director of the Office of Teacher Education Advising, Licensure and Recruitment, explained that UNC Charlotte’s College of Education has prioritized early teacher success and retention both through the Race to the Top initiative and the college-administered “First Three” program, which offers professional support for teachers in their first three years of service.

According to Macon, classroom visits and extensive, customized professional development opportunities will be components of the program, which aims to build the confidence and skills of early teachers, laying the groundwork for long, successful careers in the profession. More than 50 teachers will be served in the upcoming school year under the University’s purview. They will be visited regularly by support coaches, attend professional development, socialize with successful teachers and make connections with the community during the year.

Funding for the first three years of the program is provided through the President Obama’s Race to the Top education initiative. Schools were selected in all regions of North Carolina based on their rankings as determined by state performance measures.  West Mecklenburg High School, Martin Luther King Middle School, Reid Park Elementary and Sedgefield Elementary are among participating Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools. UNC Charlotte also will serve all schools that qualify in Regions 6 and 7, including Anson County Schools, Rowan-Salisbury Schools and Hickory City Schools.

UNC Charlotte will administer another crucial component of the program — the collection of data. The UNC General Administration will evaluate the data to determine the efficacy of the program.

The “First Three” program was designed by the Omicron Pi chapter of Kappa Delta Pi and conducted by Misty Hathcock, clinical assistant professor of education; Macon; and Bruce Taylor, associate professor of reading, language and literacy and director of the Center for Adolescent Literacies. The program recently received second- and third-year funding of $155,000 from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation.  The program was also recognized by the international convocation of Kappa Delta Pi with the group’s Professional Development Program Award.