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Incentive program turns teachers into masters

Posted January 29, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

— A Wake County school is the first in North Carolina to try out a national program designed to attract better teachers with higher pay and more opportunities for professional development.

The key to the Teacher Advancement program is giving teachers time during the school day to meet and brainstorm about classroom strategies, said Jacquiline Grant, a teacher at Wilburn Elementary in Raleigh.

North Carolina Education Program gives teachers higher pay, support

Together, teachers seek methods that are "an improvement over the way we've taught in the past," Grant said.

TAP gives teachers time for "coming together in that collaborative piece and having staff development in-house and not having to go outside," Grant said.

Under TAP, educators train to specialize as master, career or mentor teachers and earn $5,000 to $9,000 more a year.

Master teachers, such as Grant, act as leaders among their colleagues, but are not responsible for as many extra tasks as administrators. Mentor teachers work closely with their colleagues, while career teachers pursue extra professional-development opportunities.

Wilburn students are already bearing fruit from the improved instruction methods teachers have learned, Grant said. Math teacher Stacy Torno employed a new teaching strategy for one lesson on fractions, Grant said, and all her fourth-graders scored a 3 – indicating proficiency – on a test of the material.

Principal Jennifer Carnes said TAP has also helped her faculty improve themselves as educators.

"Both the students and teachers have become more focused. Teachers are more focused on what they're doing and how exactly it's impacting student achievement," Carnes said.

Educators said such incentives are needed to draw better teachers. A recent study by the National Council on Teacher Quality gave North Carolina an overall C-minus for recruiting and retaining effective teachers and getting rid of ineffective ones.

The Milken Family Foundation created TAP in 1999 to address the nation's teacher shortage and lack of professional development and support.

Administrators found funding for teacher incentives by reallocating money that Wilburn Elementary gets from the federal Title I program, which goes toward high-poverty schools.


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  • whatelseisnew Jan 29, 2009

    19tarheel75 - your stats give me hope. Eventually there will only be 3000 brand new teachers for the entire state. At that point we can close the system.

  • 19tarheel75 Jan 29, 2009

    You know NOT of which you speak. There is and always will be a teacher shortage in general in N.C. More so for math and science teachers. In N.C. alone we lose through retirement, resentment and to private industry 10,000 teachers a year!!! In N.C. we only produce 3000 teachers in our colleges and universities. Do you think they all go into teaching-NO! So at the very least we go in the hole 7,000 teachers a year. Why do you think so many of our young teachers are from out of state.

    So before you start spouting inuendo as fact, check your facts!!

  • mjones3 Jan 29, 2009

    grimreaper......such a negative attitude. You obviously don't have children? My daughter is a senior in high school and is headed to college next year to become a middle school science teacher. It is her passion to work with children specifically in the middle school age group. All teachers can have a profound impact on a child; especially middle school aged ones that are at a very impressionalble point in there lives. I taught middle school for 1.5 years in a very impoverished inner city catholic school and learned a tremedous amount about how a teacher impacts his or her students. They are children; not punks!

  • seaturtlesrule Jan 29, 2009

    I can't believe that Wilson County is so close to Wake County...

    the school systems are eons apart! It's like comparing the 18th century to the 21st...very sad.

    Much help is needed here, Gov. Perdue!

  • grimreaper Jan 29, 2009

    "teacher shortage" as a generic catch-all is a bunch of bunk. There simply is no shortage of elementary school teachers. I know of at least two people that were teacher's assistants and finished their teaching degrees and could not get a position in Wake county.

    The only "shortages" are that they have difficulty getting math and science teachers for middle and high school. Really, who with those skills would want to teach a bunch of punks?

  • Frank Downtown Jan 29, 2009

    Teaching has got to be one of the hardest professions? How you can get thirty or more unruly kids, that are usually spoiled at home, to show self control and learn is a difficult task!

  • RickyRay Jan 29, 2009

    BELLA28 is right. Students will learn if they want to, and will not learn if they don't. The myth in popular circulation is that if some students don't learn, the teacher must be "bad." I don't mean to belittle the accomplishment of teacher in the story who taught a hard lesson, and all of her students were proficient, but if that approach is the magic bullet claimed in the story, why did the press release not tell about how every teacher in the system has already been instructed in the new technique? Either the administration knows that the "bad teacher" excuse is just that - an excuse - or the real problem is bad administrators for not passing miracles like this on. I think it is the former. It is time to quit blaming and abusing our teachers and start supporting them. Principles - let the teachers do their jobs.

    Congratulations to the teacher who connected so well with her class. May other teachers be given the same freedom. A principal's job is safe if a teacher can be blamed.

  • BELLA28 Jan 29, 2009

    A teacher can have all the credentials in the world, but if a child is uninterested, he will not learn. I remember, long ago, having classes where the teachers made it fun to learn, thus sparking my interest in what they had to say. I also remember other classes where the teachers would just stand at the front, spill out the lesson, and sit at their desk. No interaction and boring as ever. No, this is not the case for everyone. However, I do believe that more often than not, the issue is about HOW a lesson is delivered.

  • woodrowboyd2 Jan 29, 2009

    the key here is higher pay
    so that will mean higer taxs for all and it still be the same school as before.goverment taxing at its very best
    we are all loseing jobs the economy is bad and the teacher want a pay raise.

  • OhBella Jan 29, 2009

    Hmm...you can't expect a miracle as you can't change the children's home life and Wilburn was low in teacher satisfaction on the governor's survey. Instead of throwing their hands up it is nice to see that they are seeking new teaching methods. I just hope it is not a "fad" thing.