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Teachers for a New Era Award

Research News, May 2003

That the University of Virginia has won one of the first four Teachers for a New Era (TNE) grants presents it with a remarkable challenge: to produce demonstrably excellent K-12 teachers in the United States, and to prove their excellence by pointing to measurable growth and achievement on the part of the children they teach. The funding agencies of Teachers for a New Era are the Carnegie Foundation and also the Ford and Annenberg Foundations. The directions they fund point to research findings that the most important variable relating to how well a child learns in school is the quality of the child’s teacher. But there is no consensus, they say, on how great teachers should be trained.

TNE conceives of teacher preparation as the responsibility of the University community as a whole, particularly the College of Arts & Sciences and the Curry School of Education, in partnership with the local school divisions. Activities funded by the grant will include new courses in both schools, a seminar on Evidence and Education to be hosted by Provost Gene Block that will bring together faculty from both University involvement in the “induction” of new teachers, and a series of innovative studies measuring teachers’ performance.

“We can show how a great research university ought to train new teachers,” says Victor Luftig, U.Va’s director of the TNE program. “If we can make this exciting and manageable for research faculty, and if we can enact real partnerships with the local school divisions, then the grant gives us the chance to show our peers in higher education how teacher preparation ought to be carried out.” Luftig points to Sandra Cohen and Robert McNergney in the Curry School, Karen Ryan and George Hornberger in Arts & Sciences, and the two local assistant superintendents, Arletta Dimberg and Pamela Moran, as having already contributed towards the development of that new model. “We are just getting started,” Luftig promises.

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