TNTP, a national nonprofit committed to ending the injustice of educational inequality, has released a new report that seeks to help first year teachers become better teachers. TNTP was created by teachers in 1997, so the TNTP team has a vested interested in creating cohorts of new teachers who have the critical dispositions that they need to succeed.
Over the last two years, TNTP has radically evolved the way it trains and evaluates new teachers, becoming an organization that certifies teachers based mainly on their actual performance in the classroom. The experience gained during those two years means that TNTP can now share what it has learned in its latest report entitled, “Leap Year: Assessing and Supporting Effective First-Year Teachers.”
Leap Year explores a simple idea: The first year is the most important year of a teacher’s career, and it should be treated that way. Right now, most schools and preparation programs treat teachers’ first year like a warm-up. Instead, it should be seen as a critical window of opportunity to help teachers develop essential skills and make thoughtful decisions about whether they can make a successful career teaching.
TNTP has put this philosophy into practice in 15 programs across the country with the Assessment of Classroom Effectiveness (ACE), a multiple-measures evaluation system designed specifically to ensure that first-year teachers in the TNTP Teaching Fellows and TNTP Academy programs meet a high standard of effectiveness.
Leap Year explains the development of ACE and what its first year taught TNTP about evaluating and supporting the growth of approximately 1,000 new teachers. Here are some of the key conclusions:
- New teachers perform at different levels and improve at different rates. Contrary to conventional wisdom, first-year teacher performance is not uniform. Some start strong, while others struggle. Many improve as they gain experience, but some do not.
- Teachers’ initial performance predicts their future performance. In particular, teachers who struggled from the start rarely came close to becoming effective, even in their second year.
- A few core skills appear to be important to first-year teachers’ success. TNTP found that first-year teachers who are purposeful, responsive and focused on student understanding develop more quickly.
The report goes on to make the following conclusions based on the experience of ACE and similar programs of the last two years:
- Certification should be linked to a teacher’s actual performance in the classroom, not just coursework and seat time. Nothing better indicates a teacher’s future success than his or her first-year performance.
- Teacher preparation programs should stop certifying teachers who are unlikely to become effective, which only does a disservice to those teachers and their students.
- Schools need to help first-year teachers focus on the skills that matter most for their future success, providing regular useful feedback along the way.
To learn more, please download Leap Year from TNTP’s website: