How NTC’s Teacher Mentor Program Increases Student Learning

By: Ali Callicoatte Picucci, PhD, Vice President of Impact and Improvement

The bottom line at NTC is clear—we develop teacher leaders who can close the achievement gap by improving student learning in high-needs schools. For us, this is about social justice and drives our organization. This mission has an ever-ascending bar for success. In 2012, we took the steps to test what we believed intuitively—that NTC’s robust and focused induction support improves student learning.

We did not engage in this work without hesitation. We knew the pressures of being under a microscope and having our work dissected. To walk the talk of “be better, faster” that we champion in the field with teachers, we knew that the i3 validation study was a golden opportunity to test and analyze our program. NTC was fortunate to conduct this study with four partners, who throughout the course of five years, remained deeply committed to this work: Broward County Public Schools (FL), Chicago Public Schools (IL), Grant Wood Area Education Agency (IA), and evaluation partner, SRI, International.

On behalf of these partners we worked with in the i3 validation study, I’m thrilled to share that we have evidence demonstrating that 2 years of NTC’s model of induction support increases student achievement.

#1 Students of NTC-supported teachers gain up to five months of additional learning in reading and math (that’s over half a school year).

These results are statistically significant. We are going to allow ourselves to hang our hats on these results—for a short time. And then we’re going to keep working to see how we can get these results in more districts and schools across the nation.

More specifically, students of teachers trained by NTC achieve 2-4 months of additional learning in reading and 2-5 months of additional learning in math over the course of one year compared to students whose teachers received traditional mentoring.

#2: Teachers need high-quality, instructionally-focused feedback on their practice to improve.

The NTC model builds the capacity of teachers through coaching cycles focused on:

  1. Planning lessons to meet the diverse needs of all students;
  2. Providing consistent job-embedded, instructionally-focused feedback;
  3. Analyzing student work to understand if we hit the mark; and
  4. Driving adaptation through a growth mindset that we can all get better at getting better.

Our philosophy is that we improve student learning by providing consistent and instructionally-focused coaching to teachers that weaves together rigorous academic standards and social-emotional competencies. All of the components above are critical. However, at end of the day, our approach lies in one simple strategy – providing effective feedback at every level.

NTC’s expertise lies in the art and science of sharing strong, clear, and actionable feedback to new teachers with the goal of improving their practice. We work to ensure that new teachers are on a strong, solid path to excellence from the start which ultimately helps students improve—supporting teachers supports students. We work to achieve this by providing new teachers with quality, trained mentors as they are the experts in the field whose work will guide and advance teacher practice and student learning. At the heart of the support is a laser focus on developing the skills and knowledge mentors need to deliver effective, instructionally-focused feedback.

#3 We have more work to do—we’re innovating, adapting, and delivering more tailored supports

We’re excited about the results of the study and we are taking these great results to further our work with teachers and students across the country. For mentors and teachers who do this hard work everyday, it was no surprise to learn providing consistent, instructionally-focused support requires intense attention among competing priorities.

Now that we’ve identified the components of our model that really drive achievement for teachers and students, we’re moving forward with professional learning approaches that we know accelerate results for teachers and students.

We are deepening and expanding our work with districts and teachers to:

  • Further teachers’ knowledge of rigorous state standards to plan and deliver standards-aligned lessons;
  • Build an understanding of how social emotional competencies impact  academic success;
  • Create optimal learning environments where students feel safe, engaged, and build the skills to persist with difficult content; and
  • Offer content development supports and services that span the PK-12 human capital chain, including specific pathways for early childhood teachers, instructional coaches, and school leaders.

We’re incredibly thankful to our partners, mentors and districts and we continue this work.

Be sure to sign up for our newsletter for more information on our future efforts as we continue to partner with districts across the country and work help students and teacher get better, faster.

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