Five main issues the CTPP’s partnership with CPS addresses:
1) Improving Teacher Retention
Students do not reap the full benefits of teachers’ strong academic and pedagogical training if teachers do not remain in the classroom. Recent research found that approximately 20 percent of CPS new teachers turn over each year. Moreover, in the typical CPS school, over 50 percent of teachers leave their classrooms within four years. These high turnover rates disrupt student learning and strain scarce resources. The cost to recruit, hire, and train a replacement teacher is over $17,000.
The CTPP develops a close connection between high-need schools and university faculty and administration to create a sustainable network of schools from which to continue supporting new and experienced teachers after completion of the grant.
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2) Addressing Racial Discrepancy
One source of disconnection between teachers and their teaching environments is the racial discrepancy between the teaching force and the student population in urban public schools. In Chicago, African American and Latino students are 86 percent of the CPS student population, but only 49 percent of CPS teachers are African American or Latino teachers. Only 23 percent of teacher candidates at partner universities are African American or Latino. The growing population of English-language learners also poses challenges for teachers who are English-only speakers and their effectiveness in communicating with students and their caregivers.
These findings imply both a need for teacher training in differentiating instruction for diverse learners and a need to recruit, prepare, and develop many more teachers of color who are more committed to teaching and remaining in high-need urban schools serving children of color.
The CTPP increases efforts to recruit and train minority teachers – and – teachers sensitive to minority and urban contexts.
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3) Assessing Teacher Effectiveness
Much has been written about the importance of effective teachers in the classroom as the primary influence on student achievement. But developing valid and reliable measures of effectiveness has been elusive.
A prominent feature in the CTPP Evaluation Plan involves longitudinal analysis of the effect of teaching by CTPP program graduates on student learning using CPS student achievement data.
The Evaluation Team uses data from the CPS Value-Added Student Achievement System and from the CPS Teacher Assessment data system for CTPP teachers in CPS partner schools. The Evaluation Team also investigates teacher effectiveness in terms of data related to Teacher Qualifications, including members of underrepresented groups; teaching high-need academic subject areas; teaching in high-need areas (SPED, ELL); and teaching in high-need schools.
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4) Increasing Student Achievement
The five-year CPS cohort graduation rate for the Class of 2008 was 54.3 percent. In the 2007-08 school year, only 67.8 percent of elementary students overall met or exceeded standards on statewide exams; and only 27.9 percent of eleventh graders met or exceeded standards. Although the 2007 Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) showed that 71 percent of Chicago eighth graders were meeting or exceeding standards in math, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NEAP) for that year showed that only 13 percent of Chicago’s eighth graders were proficient in math.
Additionally, each year CPS fails to make the annual yearly progress benchmark for students with limited English proficiency in the area of reading.
By providing well-prepared teachers, the CTPP helps CPS accomplish its mission of providing quality education for all children.
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5) Improving Content Knowledge
Researchers agree that content knowledge is a key factor affecting teacher quality. The vast majority of CPS elementary teachers employed in recent years were not well prepared to teach mathematics, science, or reading to K-8 students. Only 1% of K-8 teachers had earned a degree in math or math education, 3% in a field of science, and 2% in reading. In 2007-2008, 84 (17 percent) K-8 schools had no teachers with mathematics endorsements, 62 (13 percent) had no teachers with science endorsements, and 159 (33 percent) had no teachers with reading endorsements.
The need for content-knowledgeable elementary teachers is particularly urgent, given the new CPS middle grades specialization policy. Slated for full implementation in the fall of 2011, this policy mandates that only content-endorsed teachers may teach language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies in the middle grades.
Teacher preparation programs in Chicago must be able to grant more endorsements each year to meet CPS needs.
The CTPP closely examines the coursework required for these endorsements, recruits and selects strong candidates, and provides those candidates with a well balanced curriculum of appropriate scope, depth, and rigor.