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Lessons Learned:New Teachers Talk AboutTheir Jobs, Challengesand Long-Range PlansIssue No. 2Working Without a Net:How New ...
Lessons Learned:New Teachers Talk AboutTheir Jobs, Challengesand Long-Range PlansIssue No. 2Working Without a Net:How New ...
Table of ContentsIntroduction and background . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ....
Table of Contents                             (continued)Finding Five: Aspirations and exit plansThe alternate route teach...
Introduction and backgroundIn the early 1980s, throughout most of the        dispute over exactly what constitutes an “al-...
field. It has developed 11 different categories                          In “Working Without a Net” we hope to con-in hope...
1. A random sample of 577 traditionally                                  Teachers Project/Baltimore (TNTP) andtrained firs...
A special group                                                          For the rest of this report, we chose to com-We r...
About Troops to Teachers                            About the New Teacher ProjectTroops to Teachers was originally establi...
Summary and implications“Working Without a Net” summarizes the ex-                            • More likely to give fair o...
point: Even when we compare these new alt-          have spent years preparing for the classroomroute teachers with new tr...
Lessons Learned, the NCCTQ/Public Agenda survey of first-year teachers, consists ofthree reports:• Issue No 1: They’re Not...
Finding One: Idealism and a strong desire to helpNearly all new teachers—regardless of their                     high-need...
2. New alt-route teachers are farmore likely to say that wanting tohelp underprivileged children wasone of the most import...
Finding Two: Day one in the classroom…the most difficult classes and needingmore supportAlthough they come to their jobs w...
3. Alt-routes are much more likely to feel that they are assignedthe hardest-to-reach students  As a first-year teacher, d...
5. For new alt-routes, lackof administrative support anddiscipline problems are themajor drawbacks of teaching;Among new t...
Finding Three: Doing a tough jobwith minimal backupNew alt-route teachers report a variety of con-                 to stea...
Finding Four: Less satisfied with their preparationand cooperating teachersMany different kinds of alternate route pro-   ...
8. A vast majority of all teachers are comfortable teachingthe subject, but new alt-route teachers are less likely to sayt...
11. Alt-route teachers                                      12. Alt-route teachers areare less likely to say they         ...
Finding Five: Aspirations and exit plansThis study asked new teachers from these                           more likely to ...
14. Most alt-routes do plan to                                            15. New alt-routes and                          ...
Finding Six: Agreement on waysto improve teachersAsked for their advice on how to improve                            Regar...
Finding Seven: The subtle story on moneyIn states and districts nationwide, there are                        as the chief ...
Lessons Learned 2: New Teachers Talk About Their Jobs, Challenges and Long-Range Plans
Lessons Learned 2: New Teachers Talk About Their Jobs, Challenges and Long-Range Plans
Lessons Learned 2: New Teachers Talk About Their Jobs, Challenges and Long-Range Plans
Lessons Learned 2: New Teachers Talk About Their Jobs, Challenges and Long-Range Plans
Lessons Learned 2: New Teachers Talk About Their Jobs, Challenges and Long-Range Plans
Lessons Learned 2: New Teachers Talk About Their Jobs, Challenges and Long-Range Plans
Lessons Learned 2: New Teachers Talk About Their Jobs, Challenges and Long-Range Plans
Lessons Learned 2: New Teachers Talk About Their Jobs, Challenges and Long-Range Plans
Lessons Learned 2: New Teachers Talk About Their Jobs, Challenges and Long-Range Plans
Lessons Learned 2: New Teachers Talk About Their Jobs, Challenges and Long-Range Plans
Lessons Learned 2: New Teachers Talk About Their Jobs, Challenges and Long-Range Plans
Lessons Learned 2: New Teachers Talk About Their Jobs, Challenges and Long-Range Plans
Lessons Learned 2: New Teachers Talk About Their Jobs, Challenges and Long-Range Plans
Lessons Learned 2: New Teachers Talk About Their Jobs, Challenges and Long-Range Plans
Lessons Learned 2: New Teachers Talk About Their Jobs, Challenges and Long-Range Plans
Lessons Learned 2: New Teachers Talk About Their Jobs, Challenges and Long-Range Plans
Lessons Learned 2: New Teachers Talk About Their Jobs, Challenges and Long-Range Plans
Lessons Learned 2: New Teachers Talk About Their Jobs, Challenges and Long-Range Plans
Lessons Learned 2: New Teachers Talk About Their Jobs, Challenges and Long-Range Plans
Lessons Learned 2: New Teachers Talk About Their Jobs, Challenges and Long-Range Plans
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  1. 1. Lessons Learned:New Teachers Talk AboutTheir Jobs, Challengesand Long-Range PlansIssue No. 2Working Without a Net:How New Teachers from Three ProminentAlternate Route Programs Describe TheirFirst Year on the JobA Report from the National Comprehensive Centerfor Teacher Quality and Public Agenda PUBLIC AGENDAQuestionnaire design and analysis in cooperationwith REL Midwest at Learning Point Associates
  2. 2. Lessons Learned:New Teachers Talk AboutTheir Jobs, Challengesand Long-Range PlansIssue No. 2Working Without a Net:How New Teachers from Three ProminentAlternate Route Programs Describe TheirFirst Year on the JobBased on research conducted and reported by Jonathan Rochkind,Amber Ott, John Immerwahr, John Doble and Jean JohnsonA Report from the National Comprehensive Centerfor Teacher Quality and Public AgendaQuestionnaire design and analysis in cooperationwith REL Midwest at Learning Point AssociatesThis report is available for free download at publicagenda.org.© 2007 National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality and Public Agenda.Unauthorized duplication of this report is a violation of copyright.
  3. 3. Table of ContentsIntroduction and background . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5Summary and implications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12Finding One: Idealism and a strong desire to helpNearly all new teachers are idealistic and believe that good teacherscan help all children learn, even those from disadvantagedbackgrounds. But new teachers from Teach for America, Troops toTeachers and the New Teachers Project/Baltimore were even morelikely to say this. These new alt-route teachers were also more likelyto say that wanting to help underprivileged youngsters was their mainreason for becoming teachers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15Finding Two: Day one in the classroom…the most difficultclasses and needing more supportThe majority of the alt-route teachers surveyed here say theybelieve that as a new teacher they have been assigned to teach thehardest-to-reach students. They are also more likely than traditionallytrained teachers to see lack of support by administrators as the majordrawback of teaching . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17Finding Three: Doing a tough job with minimal backupThe new alt-route teachers surveyed here are more likely thantraditionally trained teachers to give their administrators low ratingsfor their instructional leadership and support on discipline issues.They are also more likely to give their fellow teachers lower marksfor supporting and advising them . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20Finding Four: Less satisfied with their preparation andcooperating teachersThe vast majority of new teachers feel comfortable with their subjectmatter, but there is a substantial difference between the alt-routesand the traditionally trained when it comes to how they view theirreadiness for the classroom and the kind of guidance they receivedfrom their cooperating teacher during their preparation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21
  4. 4. Table of Contents (continued)Finding Five: Aspirations and exit plansThe alternate route teachers surveyed here are less likely to say thatteaching is their lifelong career goal and more likely to plan on leavingclassroom teaching in the next two years. Surprisingly, however,nearly half of the alternate route teachers say they are consideringanother job in education. All in all, nearly two-thirds of the teachersfrom the three alt-route programs voice a long-term interest inworking in education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24Finding Six: Agreement on ways to improve teachersDespite their differing experiences as new teachers, both alt-routesand traditionally trained teachers back similar ideas for improvingteacher quality . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26Finding Seven: The subtle story on moneyAll new teachers agree that it is possible to make a decent living asa new teacher, and a majority see raising salaries as a way to improveteachers’ performance, though other ideas were seen as considerablymore effective. The alt-route teachers from the three programs weinterviewed were somewhat more likely to think that not beingrewarded for superior performance was a problem, yet as withthe traditionally trained teachers, performance pay was towardthe bottom of the list as a way to improve the profession . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27Methodology. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30Full survey results . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .34Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .44 WORKING WITHOUT A NET 6
  5. 5. Introduction and backgroundIn the early 1980s, throughout most of the dispute over exactly what constitutes an “al-United States, attending a traditional school ternate” path to teaching. Some experts haveof education was the only option open to criticized the philosophy and courses offeredsomeone who wanted to be a certified pub- in traditional education schools; they see alter-lic school classroom teacher. At that time, ac- nate (or alternative) routes as a way to bringcording to statistics gathered by the National into the field highly qualified individuals withCenter for Education Information, just eight fresh ideas.4 The National Center for Alterna-states offered an alternate route for training tive Certification,5 as the name suggests, hasand certifying classroom teachers. Today, been an advocate for a broad array of alternatenearly every state offers an “alternate route” programs. According to its studies, nearly halfoption, and more than 100 different programs of those completing alternate certification pro-are operating nationwide to prepare teachers grams say they would not have entered teach-for the classroom and as a strategy to address ing had these new avenues not been available toteacher shortages by offering additional routes them.6 But Chester E. Finn Jr., president of theto the teaching profession.1 Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, has voiced concern that the alternate certification move-These programs often attract college students ment has been “co-opted and compromised”7who want to teach but have not completed by entry into the field of many traditionaleducation courses during their undergraduate schools of education. His foundation recentlyyears. They also attract experienced profes- issued a report criticizing many alternate certi-sionals from business, military and other sec- fication programs for lack of selectivity and tootors who are drawn to teaching as a second many conventional education course require-career. Today, programs such as Teach for ments.8 The National Center for AlternativeAmerica, Troops to Teachers and the New Certification has also noted the diversity in theTeachers Project, along with dozens of oth-ers, are visible and important players in the 1 See, for example: National Center for Alternative Certifica-field of teacher recruitment and training. tion (teach-now.org/myresults.cfm) and “Alternative TeacherMore than half of public school principals Certification,” Education Week Research Center (edweek. org/re/issues/alternative-teacher-certification).report hiring or working with teachers from 2 “Reality Check 2006,” Public Agenda.alternative route programs; most (55 percent) 3 Elia Powers, “The State of Alternative Teacher Certification,”say that, based on their experience, teachers Inside Higher Education, September 18, 2007.coming from an alternate route are as good as 4 See, for example: Fred M. Hess, “Tear Down This Wall: Thethose from traditional education programs.2 Case for a Radical Overhaul of Teacher Certification,” Pro-According to the National Center for Alterna- gressive Policy Institute: policy report, November 27, 2001.tive Certification, about 60,000 new teachers 5 Visit their website at teach-now.org.completed some sort of alternative training in 6 C. Emily Feistritzer, “Profile of Alternate Route Teachers,” National Center for Education Information, 2005.2005–2006.3 7 Elia Powers, “The State of Alternative Teacher Certification,” Inside Higher Education, September 18, 2007.How do you define “alternate”? 8 Kate Walsh and Sandi Jacobs, “Alternative Certification Isn’tEven so, there is a healthy policy debate about Alternative,” Thomas B. Fordham Institute, September 2007. Available for download at edexcellence.net/foundation/pub-the merits and drawbacks of both traditional lication/publication.cfm?id=375.teacher education and certification versusthe newer alternatives, along with a growing WORKING WITHOUT A NET 7
  6. 6. field. It has developed 11 different categories In “Working Without a Net” we hope to con-in hopes of providing a classification system of tribute to the growing body of work in thisthe many different types of programs now in area by gathering detailed observations andexistence.9 Researchers at Mathematica Policy experiences of new teachers coming fromResearch and Phi Lambda Theta, among oth- three alternate paths—Teach for America,ers, have also explored the degree to which al- Troops to Teachers and the New Teacher Proj-ternate teacher training and certification have ect—and comparing their perspective withan impact on student learning and on the pro- those coming into the field from traditionalfession itself.10 In short, alternate routes are an education schools. This exploratory study isinnovation that is being debated and tested as a joint project of the National Comprehen-public education’s experience with it continues sive Center for Teacher Quality (NCCTQ)to expand.11 and Public Agenda, a nonprofit, nonparti- san research organization that has conductedCertification = minimal skills, numerous opinion studies on public educa-but not much more tion. The research is distinctive in that itAmong educators, attitudes about traditional focuses on the experiences of teachers intraining versus alternate routes are mixed. On their very first year on the job; that is, thethe one hand, very few principals (18 percent) teachers completed questionnaires for us justand superintendents (12 percent) believe that months after completing their pre-servicetraditional certification provides full assurance training but with some real-life teaching ex-that an individual has what it takes to be a good perience under their belts. Because of this, weclassroom teacher. Most say it guarantees only could ask them specific questions regarding“a minimum of skills” or “very little.”12 On their preparation and the support they are re-the other hand, relatively few teachers, princi- ceiving now that they have taken on full-timepals or superintendents view alternate routes teaching responsibilities.as a pivotal breakthrough for improving thefield. Majorities say better mentoring and pro- The limitations of this researchfessional development once the teacher is in We believe that what we heard from our newthe school are more effective ways to improve teachers from these three alternate route pro-teaching, although in reality, these approaches grams offers important signals for the field.can easily exist alongside either traditional or Their views and experiences attest to thealternate training paths.13 strength and promise of the “alt route” move- ment but also raise questions about the support and mentoring they receive. And although9 See “Classification of State Alternate Routes” by the there are intriguing differences between the National Center for Alternative Certification (teach-now.org/ classification.cfm). views of these alt-routes and those of the tra-10 See “Alternative Teacher Certification,” Education Week: ditionally trained, the study also raises ques- Research Center (edweek.org/re/issues/alternative-teacher- tions about the number of new teachers left to certification), for an overview of the key studies and links to research and organizations. tackle tough assignments and solve problems11 While the merits of alternate certification programs continue with minimal support—regardless of how to be debated in the education community, some also defend they entered the field. traditional routes to teaching. See, for example: Linda Dar- ling-Hammond, “The Research and Rhetoric on Teacher Certification: A Response to ‘Teacher Certification Recon- Even so, it is essential to emphasize the limi- sidered,’” National Commission on Teaching and America’s tations of the research and its specific char- Future, October 15, 2001. acteristics. Our report is essentially based on12 More than half of principals (54 percent) and superintendents (56 percent) say that teacher certification guarantees “only a two separate surveys using virtually identical minimum of skills,” and roughly 3 in 10 (27 percent of princi- questionnaires. The questionnaires were ad- pals; 30 percent of superintendents) say that it “guarantees very little.” “Reality Check 2006,” Public Agenda. ministered to:13 “Reality Check 2006,” Public Agenda, or “Stand by Me,” Public Agenda, 2003. WORKING WITHOUT A NET 8
  7. 7. 1. A random sample of 577 traditionally Teachers Project/Baltimore (TNTP) andtrained first-year teachers working in public Troops to Teachers (TTT).14 This is not a ran-schools nationwide. Respondents were asked dom sample survey, but rather a survey of 224about their training, and our “traditional” respondents culled from lists provided by thesesample includes those who told us that they organizations. At the current time, it is nothave a major or minor in education or an practical to conduct a random sample surveyM.A. or M.A.T. from a school of education. of new teachers coming into the profession through alternate route programs nationwide.2. Lists of first-year teachers from three prom-inent and well-respected alternate route pro- However, like other organizations that havegrams: Teach for America (TFA), the New examined alt-route programs, notably the National Center for Alternative Certification14 Since Troops to Teachers participants can attend either a tra- and researchers at SRI International for the ditional school of education or an alternative program, TTT Carnegie Corporation of New York,15 Public respondents were screened to include only those saying they Agenda has focused its research on selected are completing an alternate certification path.15 C. Emily Feistritzer, “Profile of Alternate Route Teachers,” programs, in this case, three programs that are National Center for Education Information, 2005 and an well established and often cited as leaders in SRI study described in Carnegie report, Anne Grosso de the field. Leon, “Alternative Path to Teacher Certification,” Carnegie Reporter (Spring 2005).Intro 1. Most alt-routes are teaching in high-needs schools Approximately what percentage of students in your school are eligible for the free or reduced-price lunch program? Alternate route Traditionally trained 82% 51% or more 46% 51% or more 11% 26–50% 26% 26–50% 3% 25% or under 21% 25% or under 4% Don’t know 6% Don’t knowIntro 2. Most alt-routes are teaching in secondary schools Percentage of alt-routes teaching in: Alternate route Traditionally trained 64% Secondary schools 34% Secondary schools 31% Elementary schools 60% Elementary schools 4% Someplace else 6% Someplace elseNote: Question wording in charts may be slightly edited for space. Full question wording is available in the Selected Survey Results at theend of the report. Percentages may not equal 100 percent due to rounding or the omission of answer categories. WORKING WITHOUT A NET 9
  8. 8. A special group For the rest of this report, we chose to com-We recognize that results from this study may pare only the alternate route sample that arenot apply to the many diverse alternate pro- in high-needs schools (184 responses) with onlygrams that now exist throughout the country. the traditionally trained teachers in high-needsThey are a varied group, and new adapta- schools (274 responses). Based on our analysis,tions and offshoots seem to be appearing every 1 in 5 of the alt-route teachers in the group sur-year.16 However, the three programs surveyed veyed here attended an elite college or univer-here are frequently cited and discussed as es- sity compared with only 1 percent of the tradi-pecially prominent in the field. Over the years, tionally trained teachers in the sample.17Teach for America alone has supplied nearly17,000 teachers to public schools nationwide, We have included short descriptions of eachand at least as a starting point, we believe the of the three alternate route organizationsexperiences and views of teachers in these below, along with contact information forthree programs do provide important food for them.18 We would like to take this opportunitythought. However, since our alt-route group is to thank these organizations for their coop-not a traditional random sample, it is important eration. They were interested in hearing moreto point out some of their key characteristics. from their participants now at work in publicTwo-thirds of teachers (67 percent) in this alt- schools and gracious enough to help us ad-route group are teaching in middle school or minister our survey to them.high school. The vast majority (82 percent) arealso teaching in high-needs schools, which we The study also included focus groups or one-have defined as schools where more than half on-one interviews with new alt-route teachersof students receive free or reduced-price lunch. and new and student teachers from traditional programs. In addition, researchers inter- viewed a small group of experts on alternate16 Indeed, some say that traditional programs are just as varied; see, for example, Linda Darling-Hammond, Barnett Berry routes as background to developing the survey and Amy Thoreson, “Does Teacher Certification Matter? and survey sample. Needless to say, conduct- Evaluating the Evidence,” Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Spring 2001. ing a study of this kind presents a number of methodological challenges, and researchers17 Elite schools are defined as those listed in the top 25 national took some time thinking through sampling universities or liberal arts colleges identified by the U.S. News & World Report 2008 College Rankings. and definitional issues connected with the sur-18 Note: Information about these three alt-route programs is vey. These issues are discussed in more detail drawn from their own literature. starting on on page 30.About Teach for America In the short run, corps members work relent-Teach for America is the national corps of out- lessly to ensure that more students growingstanding recent college graduates and profes- up today in the country’s lowest-income com-sionals of all academic majors, career interests munities are given the educational opportu-and professional backgrounds who commit nities they deserve. In the long run, alumnitwo years to teach in urban and rural public are a powerful force of leaders working fromschools and become leaders in the effort to inside education and from every other sectorexpand educational opportunity. Since 1990, to effect the fundamental changes needed toTFA has become the nation’s largest provider ensure that all children have an equal chanceof teachers for low-income communities. in life.The organization’s mission is to build the Teach for Americamovement to eliminate educational inequity 315 West 36th Streetby enlisting our nation’s most promising fu- 7th Floorture leaders in the effort. New York, NY 10018 800.832.1230 WORKING WITHOUT A NET 10
  9. 9. About Troops to Teachers About the New Teacher ProjectTroops to Teachers was originally established The New Teacher Project is a national non-in 1994 as a Department of Defense program. profit organization dedicated to increasing theThe National Defense Authorization Act for number of outstanding individuals who be-fiscal year (FY) 2000 transferred the respon- come public school teachers and to creatingsibility for program oversight and funding to environments for all educators that maximizethe U.S. Department of Education, but its their impact on student achievement. TNTPoperation was maintained by the Department strives to accomplish these goals by creatingof Defense. The No Child Left Behind Act of innovative teacher recruitment and hiring2001 provides for the continuation of TTT programs, identifying the policy obstacles thatthrough FY 2008. Under this program, eligi- school districts face to hiring the best teach-ble military personnel have the opportunity to ers possible, partnering with school districts topursue a second career in public education. optimize their teacher hiring and school staff- ing functions and developing new and betterThe goal of this legislation is to help improve ways to prepare and certify teachers for high-American education by providing motivated, need schools.experienced and dedicated personnel for thenation’s classrooms. Since 1997, TNTP has recruited, trained, placed and/or certified approximately 28,000The three main objectives of the program high-quality teachers, worked with over 200are to: school districts, and established more than 55 programs or initiatives in 26 states. TNTP has• Help relieve teacher shortages, especially also published two major studies on teacher in the areas of mathematics, the sciences hiring and school staffing in urban areas: and special education. The retention rate is Missed Opportunities: How We Keep High- 85 percent after five years of teaching, while Quality Teachers Out of Urban Classrooms 85 percent of the candidates are males and (2003) and Unintended Consequences: The 43 percent are persons of color; Case for Reforming the Staffing Rules in Ur- ban Teachers Union Contracts (2005). Among• Provide positive role models for the nation’s others, TNTP’s clients include the school dis- public school students; and tricts of Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Memphis, Miami, New York, Oakland, Phila-• Assist military personnel to successfully tran- delphia and Washington, DC and the states sition to teaching as a second career. of Louisiana, Texas and Virginia. For more information, please visit tntp.org..Eligible veterans may receive either a stipendof not more than $5,000 to assist in attain- The New Teacher Projecting teacher certification or a $10,000 incen- 304 Park Avenue Southtive grant bonus for participants who teach for 11th Floorthree years in a high-needs school. Funding New York, NY 10010supplements any other GI Bill and other De- 212.590.2484partment of Veterans Affairs benefits.DANTES-TTT6490 Saufley Field RoadPensacola, FL 32509-5243800.231.6242 WORKING WITHOUT A NET 11
  10. 10. Summary and implications“Working Without a Net” summarizes the ex- • More likely to give fair or poor ratings toperiences of new alt-route teachers who come administrators for providing strong instruc-from Teach for America, Troops to Teachers tional leadership or for supporting them onand the New Teachers Project/Baltimore as discipline issues;they take over their own classrooms in publicschools around the country. The results paint • More likely to give fair or poor ratings to col-a fascinating but unsettling picture of their leagues and mentors for giving them supportinitiation into the field. Nearly all, the data and good advice;show, are highly idealistic and motivated, andthey have high expectations for their students • Less likely to say that their cooperatingand colleagues. teacher was a good role model;Contrary to conventional wisdom, most are • Less likely to give their cooperating teachernot planning a hasty exit from the field of high marks for providing good advice andpublic education. Although just 16 percent guidance in important areas;say they want to remain classroom teachers,nearly half (48 percent) say they are interested • Less likely to say they had enough time work-in leaving the classroom for another job in ed- ing with a real teacher before having theirucation, meaning that nearly two-thirds from own classroom; andthese three programs express an intent to stayin the field.19 • More likely to say they plan to leave the pro- fession within the next year or two.Overall, however, the experiences of teachersfrom these alt-route programs, as they them- It is hard to look at the results without think-selves describe them, are more negative than ing that the idealism and enthusiasm of toothose of their traditionally trained peers. Part many of these new alt-route teachers are be-of the difference undoubtedly stems from their ing squandered rather than nurtured. Basedmore challenging work environments. Yet even on their own evaluations, too many are beingwhen we compare these new alt-route teach- asked to tackle some of teaching’s toughest as-ers with new traditionally trained teachers signments, and they do not believe they arealso working in high-needs schools, there is a getting the level of support, mentoring or en-strong and recurrent pattern of more negative couragement they need.responses. For example, these new alt-routeteachers are: What’s behind these differences? This study cannot provide definitive answers• More likely to believe they have been assigned about all alt-route programs or all alt-route to teach the hardest-to-reach students; teachers everywhere. Some may be receiv- ing more support and a warmer welcome to the teaching profession than the results here19 Since Teach for America teachers constitute roughly half the alt-route sample, the relatively low number planning to stay suggest. Even more important, this study does in the classroom may reflect the specific goals of that pro- not provide a full explanation of why the ex- gram. Teach for America asks for a two-year commitment and believes that even though many participants move on to periences of our alt-route respondents are so other careers, public schools, the participants and society in different. It is important to reiterate one key general benefit from their teaching experience. WORKING WITHOUT A NET 12
  11. 11. point: Even when we compare these new alt- have spent years preparing for the classroomroute teachers with new traditionally trained or perhaps attended less prestigious under-teachers working in similar high-needs envi- graduate programs?ronments, the alt-routes are more likely to saythey are not getting strong support. • Do some of the differences stem from the simple fact that many alt-routes have a short-Our goal in conducting this study was to hear er training period? Are there similar differ-from the teachers themselves, and on that ba- ences among the different types of tradition-sis, what we heard raises questions and sug- al teacher training programs?gests areas for further discussion. Here aresome that may be important: Readers will undoubtedly suggest other hy- potheses and bring other insights to the data.• Are new alt-routes more likely to teach in the NCCTQ is already sharing this data set with most dysfunctional high-needs schools, while other researchers and will continue to ana- traditionally trained teachers typically teach lyze and probe the results in the coming year. in better-run high-needs schools or work We hope this study will spur additional re- with less troubled students? Are traditionally search, and we would be pleased to consult with trained teachers coming out of local edu- others and share what we have learned in doing cation schools better positioned to choose this work. teaching positions in high-needs schools with more effective leadership? Despite the small scale of this study and its limitations, we believe the results illuminate• Are new alt-route teachers more likely to be an important dilemma and challenge for the placed in schools farther from home? When field. The plight of new teachers wrestling teachers are assigned to positions in parts of with difficult assignments with limited guid- the country that are new to them, do they ance and minimal mentorship is more pro- experience more difficult transitions? Do nounced among the alt-routes, but significant traditionally trained teachers coming out of numbers of new traditionally trained teachers local education schools have better networks find themselves in the same predicament. So of support? our question is: Are we willing to create a sys- tem that gives new teachers the support that• Do alt-routes bring a different set of expec- will help them succeed regardless of the route tations to teaching? Are they more likely to they take to teaching? Or, to use the words of be critical of their schools, colleagues and one of the new teachers interviewed for the administrators because of their educational project, will we continue to treat many of them background or previous experience in the like “independent contractor[s]” expected to military or other types of work? “just manage [their] little society in the class- room”? Their situation deserves a thoughtful• Do they often encounter a less welcoming response and genuine answers. atmosphere or perhaps some level of resent- ment from teachers and administrators who WORKING WITHOUT A NET 13
  12. 12. Lessons Learned, the NCCTQ/Public Agenda survey of first-year teachers, consists ofthree reports:• Issue No 1: They’re Not Little Kids Anymore compares the views of first-year teachers in high school with those of teachers in elementary schools, high-needs schools and other schools. The report, issued October 2007, is available at publicagenda.org/ LessonsLearned1 and at ncctq.org/publications/LessonsLearned1.pdf.• Issue No 2: Working Without a Net reports on the views and experiences of new teachers from three prominent alternate route programs, Teach for America, Troops to Teachers and the New Teachers Project/Baltimore and compares their views with the nationwide sample of first-year traditionally trained teachers.• Issue No. 3: Here’s Where I Need Help, which is to be released at a later date, will describe three areas where many new teachers believe they could use more guidance and advice—the challenge of working with diverse classrooms, helping gifted and special- needs students and communicating and working with parents.Following the release of the reports, the entire data set will be housed at the National Com-prehensive Center for Teacher Quality and available to its analysts and other researchersexploring teachers training, recruitment and support issues. All three Lessons Learnedreports will be available online from both NCCTQ and Public Agenda. WORKING WITHOUT A NET 14
  13. 13. Finding One: Idealism and a strong desire to helpNearly all new teachers—regardless of their high-needs schools.20 One alt-route teacherpath into the profession—voice a strong be- interviewed for the project voiced what was alief in the ability of teachers to make a dif- long-standing concern: “I was living in Mountference in children’s lives, and they offer a Laurel, New Jersey, at the time, which is a hop,number of idealistic reasons for their decision skip and a jump away from Camden. The ideato enter the field. The vast majority are com- that I could be going to this great school, andmitted to the view that all students can learn. yet down the road a couple more miles wereFully three-quarters (75 percent) of tradition- all of these failing schools where the kids aren’tally trained new teachers support the idea that getting an education, really bothered me.”good teachers can help all students learn, evenpoor or disadvantaged ones whose families As might be expected, traditionally trainedare not involved in their education. An even teachers who are not working in high-needshigher number (86 percent) of the new alt- schools are less likely to say that helping un-route teachers surveyed here say they support derprivileged students was their major reasonthis view. for teaching. For this group, the most common reason for entering the profession is the desireIn fact, the new teachers from the alternate to teach a subject they love.21route programs studied here were especiallylikely to say that being able to help under- 20 Since a much higher percentage of alternate route teachersprivileged children was their main reason for are placed in high-needs schools, we tried to control for anyentering the profession. Over 7 in 10 of the differences based upon school environment by comparing the views of alternate route teachers working in high-needsteachers from Teach for America, Troops to schools with those of traditionally trained teachers in high-Teachers and the New Teachers Project/Bal- needs schools. We use the phrase traditionally trained teachers to refer only to those working in schools where more than halftimore give this as their top reason for becom- of the students receive free or reduced-priced lunches.ing teachers, compared with 44 percent of the 21 For data showing reasons for teaching, please see Full Surveytraditionally trained new teachers working in Results on p. 34.1. A vast majority of new teachers say that good teachers can helpall children learn, even disadvantaged ones Which comes closest to your view? Alternate route Traditionally trained 75% Good teachers can lead all 86% Good teachers can lead all students to learn, even students to learn, even those from poor families or those from poor families or who have uninvolved parents who have uninvolved parents 7% It is too hard even for good 7% It is too hard even for good teachers to overcome these teachers to overcome these barriers barriers 17% Don’t know 7% Don’t know 1% Not sure (volunteered) WORKING WITHOUT A NET 15
  14. 14. 2. New alt-route teachers are farmore likely to say that wanting tohelp underprivileged children wasone of the most important factorsfor entering teaching Would you say that this was one of the most important factors, a major factor, a minor factor or not a factor at all? Alternate route and in a high-needs school Traditionally trained and in a high-needs school Percent who say “one of the most important factors”: The idea of putting underprivileged kids 71% on the path to success 44% Teaching a subject that you love and 33% getting kids excited 43% about it Having a teacher who really inspired you as 26% a student 27% The practical job benefits such as summers off, more 9% time with family 17% and job security Having a parent or family member who 5% was a teacher 4% 0 20 40 60 80 100 WORKING WITHOUT A NET 16
  15. 15. Finding Two: Day one in the classroom…the most difficult classes and needingmore supportAlthough they come to their jobs with enthu- pline problems at the very top of the lists ofsiasm and idealism, large numbers of the al- the drawbacks to teaching; these issues are ofternate route teachers we surveyed voice con- lesser concern among the traditionally trainedcerns about their first teaching assignments, teachers. As one alt-route teacher told us: “Forand many see problems such as lack of support me, the worst thing is the administration andby administrators and discipline issues with the lack of support. I’ll have kids [who] getstudents as the major drawbacks of teaching. in fights. I’ll send them to the administration,Traditionally trained teachers working in high- and they’re back in class in 10 minutes.” Moreneeds schools and at the secondary level22 re- than half (54 percent) of new alt-routes inport similar problems to some degree, but the high-needs schools say “lack of support fromissues are more pronounced among the alter- administrators” is a major drawback to teach-nate route teachers in the survey. For example, ing, compared with just 1 in 5 (20 percent)alt-route teachers are much more likely than new teachers who are traditionally trained.traditionally trained teachers to say that they Another of our first-year alt-route teachershave been assigned classes with some of the said: “Teachers have to go it alone, especiallyhardest-to-reach students in the school, while in the city. You cannot send a student out ofthe more experienced teachers are assigned less your room. You have to deal with the behaviorchallenging classes. One new alt-route teacher problem and fill out forms. You know what? Iput it this way: “I think that in a lot of other think it’s part of the job. You’re kind of likeprofessions, first-year people are mentored and an independent contractor. You’ve just got toeased into it. You start them with easy assign- manage your little society in the classroom.”ments. I think in education, the older teachershave paid their dues, and therefore they teach Despite the differing experiences of new alt-fewer classes, get the honors classes. If you’re a route and new traditionally trained teachers,first-year teacher, you are just muscle almost. I they share many concerns about their jobs.know that’s what we’re here for.” Traditionally More than 4 in 10 of each group see “testingtrained teachers—even in high-needs schools— and not enough freedom to be creative” as aare much less likely to feel that their schools have major drawback. As one novice teacher in a tra-assigned them to the toughest classes. Although ditional program told us, “I think it’s absolutelymajorities of all groups surveyed say that it is a matter of testing, taking away too much time.“wrong” to place “inexperienced teachers with The entire plan and scheduling timeline, atthe hardest-to-reach students,” the numbers least for English, is catered towards crammingquestioning this practice are highest among the as much in as possible before the standardizednew alternate route teachers—8 in 10 among test occurs. You are penalized severely if youthe new alt-routes compared with about 7 in 10 are not on track, if they come into your class-among the traditionally trained group. room and if you’re not on the exact page of what you’re supposed to be on.” On the otherThe alt-route group is also more likely to place hand, neither group sees low pay and limitedlack of support from administrators and disci- potential for career growth as the chief draw- back to teaching, and very low numbers voice concerns about the lack of prestige in teaching22 Please see “Lessons Learned Issue No. 1: They’re Not Little Kids Anymore: The Special Challenges of New Teachers in or about their personal safety in their school. High Schools and Middle Schools,” Public Agenda, 2007. WORKING WITHOUT A NET 17
  16. 16. 3. Alt-routes are much more likely to feel that they are assignedthe hardest-to-reach students As a first-year teacher, do you: Alternate route and in a high-needs school Traditionally trained and in a high-needs school As a first-year teacher, do 64% Tend to have the you: 41% Tend to have the hardest-to-reach students hardest-to-reach students Alternate route and in a high-needs school Traditionally trained and in a high-needs school 34% This is not the case for you 56% This is not the case for you in your school in your school 64% 2% Don’t to have the Tend know 41% 3 Don’tto have the Tend know hardest-to-reach students hardest-to-reach students 34% This is not the case for you 56% This is not the case for you in your school in your school 2% Don’t know 3% Don’t know4. Alt-routes are seniority more likely where they teach and they end practice kids Sometimes, teachers with who are easier to reach. Doalso have more say over you think that: to think that this up working withisAlternate route and in a high-needs school unacceptable Traditionally trained and in a high-needs school 80% 68% Sometimes, teachers with seniority have more say over where they teach and they end up working with kids who are easier to reach. Do you think that: Alternate route and in a high-needs school 26 % Traditionally trained and in a high-needs school 16% 80% 68% This is reasonable This is wrong This is reasonable This is wrong because veteran because it because veteran teachers have because it leaves inexperienced 26 teachers have earned this%benefit leaves inexperienced teachers with the 16 earned this benefit % by putting in teachers with the hardest-to-reach by putting in their time hardest-to-reach students their time students This is reasonable This is wrong This is reasonable This is wrong because veteran because it because veteran because it teachers have leaves inexperienced teachers have leaves inexperienced earned this benefit teachers with the earned this benefit teachers with the by putting in hardest-to-reach by putting in hardest-to-reach their time students their time students 80 80 70 70 60 60 50 50 40 40 30 30 80 80 20 20 70 70 10 10 60 60 0 0 50 50 40 40 30 30 20 20 10 10 0 0 WORKING WITHOUT A NET 18
  17. 17. 5. For new alt-routes, lackof administrative support anddiscipline problems are themajor drawbacks of teaching;Among new traditionally trainedteachers, testing and lack offreedom to be creative topsthe list Based on your personal experience, please tell us whether each of the following is a major drawback, a minor drawback or not a drawback for you. Alternate route and in a high-needs school Traditionally trained and in a high-needs school Percent who say “major drawback”: There’s a lack 54% of support from administrators 20% Too many kids 47% with discipline and behavior issues 41% There is so much testing and not 41% enough freedom 46% to be creative Teachers do not get 40% rewarded for superior effort and performance 24% Low salary and not 39% 0 20 40 60 80 100 much opportunity for growth 37% Too many unmotivated 38% students just going through the motions 38% There is so little 16% prestige associated with being a teacher 14% Too many threats 11% to personal safety 4% WORKING WITHOUT A NET 19
  18. 18. Finding Three: Doing a tough jobwith minimal backupNew alt-route teachers report a variety of con- to steal an overhead light bulb from someonecerns about administrative functions in their else’s overhead to get mine to work. It’s justschools as well as concerns about the commit- kind of like a lack of resources and not havingment and collegiality of their fellow teachers. an administration that’s supportive.” AnotherEven when we compare the experiences and striking difference is the alt-routes’ judgmentsjudgments of the new alt-routes with those of about the kind of help and feedback they cannew traditionally trained teachers working in count on from other, presumably more experi-similar schools, the contrasts are remarkable. enced teaching staff. One new alt-route teacherNew alt-routes in high-needs schools are about described her colleagues as outright demoral-twice as likely as the traditionally trained group izing rather than supportive and encouraging:to give administrators fair or poor marks for “The days where I feel most like I don’t wantinstructional leadership (64 percent vs. 32 per- to go to work, it’s because of the other teach-cent), support on discipline problems (59 per- ers in the building. It’s not even the administra-cent vs. 29 percent) and providing resources tion. It’s the other teachers in the building wholike textbooks and well-equipped classes (48 have such a poor attitude toward the students.percent vs. 24 percent). One alt-route teacher I can handle my students any day of the week.commented: “I buy all my cases of paper, be- But I can’t handle you guys. Grow up and takecause we have no paper at our school. I had some responsibility.”6. Alt-routes are considerably 7. Alt-routes are also lessmore likely to say school leaders likely to feel supported bydon’t provide strong support fellow teachers How would you rate the administration in your Now that you are in the classroom, please tell me school when it comes to the following? how you would rate the support you feel you are getting from other teachers or mentors in the Alternate route and in a high-needs school following areas: Traditionally trained and in a high-needs school Alternate route and in a high-needs school Percent who say “fair” or “poor”: Traditionally trained and in a high-needs school Percent who say “fair” or “poor”: Providing instructional 64% leadership and guidance 32% Working with special- 59% needs students 31% Supporting you in 59% handling discipline Working and problems 29% communicating 52% with parents 31% Providing adequate resources like textbooks 48% Creating strong lesson and well-equipped 24% plans and teaching 41% classrooms techniques 26% Handling students who are disruptive 45% or unmotivated 30% 0 20 40 60 80 100 WORKING WITHOUT A NET 20
  19. 19. Finding Four: Less satisfied with their preparationand cooperating teachersMany different kinds of alternate route pro- versus the most negative ones, but the surveygrams are operating today, and even though shows a similar pattern. Less than a quarterour study is confined to three programs, partic- (22 percent) of alt-routes in high-needs schoolsipants in them actually receive training at a va- said their cooperating teachers gave them “ex-riety of institutions and programs nationwide. cellent” feedback on managing the classroom,As a group, however, the alt-route teachers compared with over half (56 percent) of tradi-surveyed here say they could have used more tionally trained teachers in high-needs schools.time working with a classroom teacher during Just over half of the alt-routes said their coop-their preparation period. And while most alt- erating teacher was a positive role model, com-routes give reasonable marks to the teachers pared with 88 percent among the traditionallythey worked with prior to full-time teaching, trained teachers. In addition, 16 percent of thetheir ratings are consistently less positive than alt-routes said they did not spend any time atthe ratings traditionally trained teachers give. all with a cooperating teacher.It is, of course, reasonable to ask whether alt-route teachers may be applying a different set Note that the alt-route teachers are somewhatof standards when they make their judgments, less confident about the impact they are hav-but focus groups and one-on-one interviews ing on their students. While more than 9 insuggest that in some cases, at least, the train- 10 traditionally trained teachers in high-needsing differences are indisputable. For example, schools say they are confident their students areone student teacher in a traditional education responding to their teaching most days, onlyschool program was enormously enthusiastic 74 percent of the alt-route teachers say this.about her cooperating teacher: “My cooperat- Whatever self-questioning they may engageing teacher is great. He’s in his late 30s, and in, however, the vast majority of alt-routes arehe’s really smart. The kids love him, and he confident that at least they offer more to theirloves being there. He’s very willing to help me. students than do other teachers in their school.He’s helped me put together lesson plans. He’s One alt-route teacher told us: “I’m teaching allwilling to talk. I’m really excited for him to be of ninth-grade algebra at my school. I didn’tmy cooperating teacher. He’s probably the best take a math class since high school. I was aperson that I’ve observed so far.” Meanwhile, a Spanish and anthropology major, and now Inew teacher in an alternate route program de- am an algebra teacher. The students think I’mscribed a far more dispiriting situation with the a great teacher. They’re like, ‘She’s here everymore experienced teacher she worked with: day. She doesn’t send the kids out all the time.’“She was supposed to teach math and science, I could be doing who even knows what in mybut she said, ‘They can’t do science anyway, classroom, but I know I’m way better thanso I’m just going to do math. I’m not going some of the other teachers who are watchingto waste my time. I don’t have time to plan. soap operas in class. I’m glad my students haveI can’t do this. I can’t do that.’ Her attitude is a teacher who is there and who cares. But I’mthat the kids are not worth it.” These two com- sorry, I’m not highly qualified. I don’t knowments may exemplify the most positive views what I’m doing. I really don’t.” WORKING WITHOUT A NET 21
  20. 20. 8. A vast majority of all teachers are comfortable teachingthe subject, but new alt-route teachers are less likely to saythey were prepared for the classroom Percent who say they are “almost always” Percent who say they were prepared for their comfortable with the subject they teach: first year of teaching: 81% 82% 80% 50% Alternate route Traditionally trained Alternate route Traditionally trained and in a and in a and in a and in a high-needs school high-needs school high-needs school high-needs school9. New alt-route teachers are less likely to say their cooperating 100teacher was a positive role model 80 60 Overall, would you say your cooperating teacher was a: 40 20 Alternate route and in a high-needs school Traditionally trained and in a high-needs school 0 53% Positive role model who inspired 88% Positive role model who inspired you as a teacher you as a teacher 11% Negative role model who 1% Negative role model who did not share an inspiration did not share an inspiration for teaching for teaching 36% Not really a role model one way 10% Not really a role model one way or the other or the other10. Over half of new alt-routes say they did not have enough timeworking with a classroom teacher during their training As part of your teacher preparation, how much time did you spend working with an actual public school teacher in a classroom environment? Alternate route and in a high-needs school Traditionally trained and in a high-needs school 29% Enough time 71% Enough time 2% Too much time 4% Too much time 54% Too little time 20% Too little time 16% No time 4% No time 1% Don’t know WORKING WITHOUT A NET 22
  21. 21. 11. Alt-route teachers 12. Alt-route teachers areare less likely to say they a little less likely to say thatreceived excellent mentoring their students are learningand feedback from their Percent who agree that most days you feel reallycooperating teacher confident that your students are learning and responding to your teaching: How would you describe the mentoring and 94% feedback you received from your cooperating teacher when it came to each of the following? 74% Alternate route and in a high-needs school Traditionally trained and in a high-needs school Percent who say “excellent”: Alternate route and Traditionally trained and Managing the 22% in a high-needs school in a high-needs school classroom 56% Handling students who are discipline 19% problems 44% Helping struggling students overcome 15% their learning problems 41% Providing personalized 13% instruction to students 41% Working with special- 10% needs students 29% Keeping gifted 6% students challenged 25% 0 20 40 60 100 80 100 80 60 40 20 0 WORKING WITHOUT A NET 23
  22. 22. Finding Five: Aspirations and exit plansThis study asked new teachers from these more likely to consider teaching a lifelongthree alternate route programs about their career and are nearly three times as likely tolong-term career plans. Teach for America, say that teaching is exactly what they have al-specifically asks for a two-year commitment ways wanted to do. Interestingly, although theto classroom teaching. TFA’s mission centers majority of the alt-route group plans to leaveon the idea that young graduates from the na- classroom teaching within five years, nearlytion’s most prestigious colleges and universi- half say they are looking at moving into otherties can and should be asked to take on the positions in education.task of teaching in high-needs schools. It be-lieves that the presence of these gifted young Regardless of the route they take into teach-people in hard-to-staff schools is an asset for ing, new teachers in high-needs schools areboth the students they teach and their personal likely to see teaching as a very demandinggrowth. From TFA’s perspective, even though job that may cause burnout. Nearly half ofmany of their teachers eventually move into alt-route teachers and 44 percent of the tradi-other spheres, these individuals gain a deeper tional teachers in high-needs schools say theyunderstanding of the challenges facing public strongly agree that teaching is “so demanding,schools and the importance of supporting and it’s a wonder that more people don’t burn out.”improving them. One alt-route interviewed offered a glimpse of why this is so: “I don’t think I’ll stay in edu-Since TFA teachers constitute about half of cation after these two years, honestly. But ifthe respondents, it is probably not surprising I do stay in, I would not mind teaching at athat nearly two-thirds of the alt-route group suburban school. I teach first grade. I feel likesay they plan to leave teaching within the next I’m in a war zone. I get bruises and scratchfive years, with one-third saying they plan marks. I get bites. Kids bite me in first grade.to leave in the next year or two. In contrast, Sometimes it’s so crazy.”the traditionally trained teachers are much13. New alt-routes do believe they are doing a better job thanother teachers in their school, as do first-year teachers fromtraditional programs Which of the following two statements comes closer to your own view? Alternate route and in a high-needs school Traditionally trained and in a high-needs school 84% I may be new to teaching, 84% I may be new to teaching, but compared to what other but compared to what other teachers are doing, my students teachers are doing, my students are probably lucky to have me are probably lucky to have me 16% I’m sometimes afraid that 12% I’m sometimes afraid that my students are paying a my students are paying a heavy price because of my heavy price because of my lack of experience lack of experience 4% Don’t know WORKING WITHOUT A NET 24
  23. 23. 14. Most alt-routes do plan to 15. New alt-routes and leave classroom teaching in a traditionally trained teachers few years in high-needs schools are likely to think that burnout is a major What is your best estimate for how many years Percent of alt-routes in high-needs schools you’ll be a classroom teacher? issue to: teachers who plan for Alternate route and in a high-needs school Traditionally trained and in a high-needs school Do you agree or disagree that Teach as a lifelong 16% teaching is so demanding, it’s a wonder that more people career choice don’t burn out? Next year or two 34% 48% Probably leave the classroom for another job in education 4% Alternate route and in a high-needs school 34% Change fields altogether 29% 2% Don’t know 3 to 5 years 12% 48% Strongly agree 6 to 10 years 9% 43% Somewhat agree 13% 7% Somewhat disagree More than 14% 10 years 69% Traditionally trained and in a high-needs school Not coming 13% back next year 1% 44% Strongly agree 40% Somewhat agree 0 20 11% Somewhat disagree 16. Most new alt-routes do not 3% Strongly disagree think of teaching as a lifelong career, although almost half say they are thinking of another job in education 17. Alt-routes are less likely toyour best estimate for how many years Percent of alt-routes in high-needs schools say they always wanted to teach a classroom teacher? who plan to: Do you agree or disagree that teaching is exactlynate route and in a high-needs school what you wanted—there is nothing you’d rathertionally trained and in a high-needs school 16% Teach as a lifelong be doing? career choice Strongly Somewhator two 34% 48% Probably leave the classroom for another job in education Alternate route and in a high-needs school 4% 34% Change fields altogether 29% 2% Don’t know Agree 18% 32% 49%s 12% Disagree 12% 35% 47% 9%ars Traditionally trained and in a high-needs school 13% 14% Agree 54% 34% 88% 69% Disagree 9% 12% 2%g 13%year 1% 0 20 40 60 80 100 WORKING WITHOUT A NET 25
  24. 24. Finding Six: Agreement on waysto improve teachersAsked for their advice on how to improve Regardless of how they came to be teachers,teaching, both new alt-route teachers and new nearly half in high-needs schools say making ittraditionally trained teachers look to similar easier to terminate unmotivated or incompe-kinds of reforms and improvements. Both tent teachers would be a “very effective” waygroups place smaller class size around the top to improve teaching overall. For both groups,of their reform wish lists, and there is substan- reducing certification requirements and rely-tial interest in beefing up preparation to teach ing more on alternate routes is near the bot-in ethnically diverse schools and classrooms. tom of the list for both groups.18. Similar reforms top both alt-route and traditionally trainedteachers’ list of ways to improve teaching How effective do you think each of the following proposals would be in terms of improving teacher quality? Alternatively trained and in a high-needs school Traditionally trained and in a high-needs school Percent who say “very effective”: Requiring teachers to pass 67% tough tests of their 23% Reducing class size 79% knowledge of the subjects 23% they are teaching Preparing teachers to adapt 64% Tying teacher rewards 19% or vary their instruction and sanctions to their to meet the needs of a 66% 12% students’ performance diverse classroom 58% 16% Increasing teacher salaries Eliminating teacher tenure 60% 16% Making it easier to Requiring teachers terminate unmotivated 48% to earn graduate degrees 14% or incompetent 45% in education 24% teachers Requiring new teachers to spend much more time Relying more heavily on 39% alternate certification 14% teaching in classrooms under the supervision 33% programs 6% of experienced teachers 0 20 40 Tying teachers’ salary Increasing professional 30% increases to their 11% development opportunities principals’ and colleagues’ for teachers 54% 14% assessments Requiring teachers at the 29% Reducing the regulations 9% secondary school level to and requirements for major in the subjects they 55% 8% teacher certification are teaching WORKING WITHOUT A NET 26
  25. 25. Finding Seven: The subtle story on moneyIn states and districts nationwide, there are as the chief disadvantage of teaching. Aboutimportant discussions about the role salary 4 in 10 do agree that low salary is a majorplays in attracting and retaining good teach- drawback to teaching, but other issues suchers, especially for high-needs, hard-to-staff as discipline problems and too much testingschools. Some districts have made substan- receive noticeably higher levels of dissatisfac-tial efforts to raise teacher salaries overall. In tion. Asked about ways to improve the pro-New York City, for example, a key component fession, about 6 in 10 of both groups recom-of Chancellor Joel Klein’s efforts to improve mend raising teacher salaries, but here again,schools has been a 43 percent increase in other ideas such as smaller classes and helpingteacher salaries.23 Other districts are experi- teachers handle diverse classrooms are seen asmenting with different forms of bonus or in- considerably more effective.centive pay, especially for teachers who workin more challenging schools or demonstrate There is one area where the views of the alt-exceptional skill in improving student learn- routes in our study do seem to diverge froming. Based on the results from this study, the the views of traditionally trained teachers torole money plays in the thinking and decision some extent. They are somewhat more likelymaking of new teachers is complex. In the to consider not being rewarded for “superiormain, traditionally trained teachers and the effort and performance” as a problem—40teachers from the three alternate route pro- percent of the alt-route teachers in our studygrams studied here have very similar views on view this as a major drawback of teaching,salary and merit pay, although there is one in- compared with just 24 percent of tradition-triguing exception. ally trained teachers. Yet for both groups, proposals to tie teacher “rewards and sanc-Overall, about 6 in 10 new teachers (regard- tions to their students’ performance” or “theirless of the path they took into the profession) principals’ and colleagues’ assessments” comesay it’s possible to earn a decent living on a out near the bottom of a list of 14 ideas forteacher’s salary. And neither group sees “low improving the profession. Moreover, the vastsalary and not much opportunity for growth” majority of both the alt-route group surveyed here (71 percent) and the traditionally trained23 Chancellor Klein recently offered these statistics at NCCTQ’s teachers (79 percent) say they would rather recent What Works Conference in Washington, D.C. Further work in a school where “administrators gave details are available at: “Mayor Bloomberg Announces Ten- tative Agreement with the United Federation of Teachers strong backing and support,” compared with Nearly One Year Before Expiration of Current Contract,” a school where they could earn more. PR-388-06, November 8 2006. Available at nyc.gov/html/ om/html/2006b/pr388-06.html. WORKING WITHOUT A NET 27

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