NC Teaching Fellows Legacy of Effective Teachers
The final NC Teaching Fellows class will graduate in the spring of this year. Since its inception in 1986, it has helped trained thousands of teachers, the vast majority of whom have stayed teachers in North Carolina. The General Assembly ended the popular program in 2011.
The North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program, a teacher preparation and scholarship program that recruited top North Carolina high school students into teaching, is set to graduate its final class this spring. The Teaching Fellows Program was eliminated by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2011. The Public School Forum of North Carolina developed the concept for the program and provided administrative support for the Teaching Fellows Commission and the overall program since its inception in 1986. Today, the Public School Forum released a report on the program’s impact across the state.
According to the report, A Legacy of Inspired Educators – A Report on the North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program 1986-2015, the final class of nearly 500 Teaching Fellows will graduate in May and enter classrooms across North Carolina, joining the 4,632 Teaching Fellows who currently teach in the state’s 100 counties. Since it began, the program has graduated 8,523 Teaching Fellows, 79 percent of whom were employed in the public school system at least one year after completing their initial four-year teaching service requirement and 64 percent still in the public school system six or more years after completing the scholarship program’s service requirement.
“With declining enrollment in teacher preparation programs at our state’s colleges and universities and increasing numbers of teachers retiring, moving to other states or leaving the classroom altogether, the loss of this highly effective teacher recruitment effort will certainly be felt across North Carolina” said Keith Poston, President and Executive Director, Public School Forum of North Carolina. “Our hope is that this report, in addition to documenting the results of the state’s investment in the program, will be useful in efforts to create new programs that build on the success of the Teaching Fellows Program and help the state address the growing challenges in recruiting and retaining teachers in North Carolina.”
Studies of the initiative conducted in 1995 and 2012, and interviews conducted for the report with former Teaching Fellows, program officials, and education leaders and experts, point to a common conclusion: The North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program made a big difference — in the quality of students it attracted, in the education they received, and for the students and schools they served. The studies found that the NC Teaching Fellows Program
- Elevated the status of the teaching profession.
- Recruited top high school students throughout North Carolina.
- Prepared Fellows for teaching far beyond traditional teacher training.
- Helped those teacher candidates better understand their state and the deeper role they could play as teacher-leaders.
- Produced exceptional educators and leaders who have continued teaching in the state longer than other teachers.
- Shaped educators who continually strive to inspire their students and improve themselves, their schools, their communities and their state.
- Helped meet the demand for teachers in low-performing, high-poverty rural and urban schools, and for male and minority teachers.
- Would have been self-sustaining and self-funding had it not been for regular transfers from the Teaching Fellows Trust Fund to the NC
- General Fund. Since 2001, nearly $35 million was transferred from the Teaching Fellows Trust Fund to the General Fund.
The report also discusses what might have worked better, including incentivizing Teaching Fellows to teach in high-need schools or hard-to-staff subjects; utilizing program elements to improve the broader quality of teacher preparation programs; and collecting additional data on program effectiveness and Teaching Fellows themselves. The report also includes suggestions for leaders in education, government and business who are looking for ways to preserve and build on the best practices and lessons of the Teaching Fellows Program.