Ellen Moir honored for work preparing new teachers

Credit: Courtesy of the New Teacher Center

Ellen Moir is this year's recipient of the Brock International Prize in Education.

Ellen Moir has received a national award recognizing her success expanding quality training programs for new teachers through the nonprofit organization she founded, the Santa Cruz-based New Teacher Center. 

Moir is this year’s recipient of the $40,000 Brock International Prize in Education, given annually by the Brock Family Community Foundation of Oklahoma City to someone who has made “a significant impact on the practice or understanding of the field of education.” Previous recipients include Stanford School of Education Professor Linda Darling-Hammond, Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin, founders of KIPP charter schools, and Beverly Daniel Tatum, president of Spelman College in Atlanta.

Moir has been in the vanguard of training new teachers in California for more than a quarter century. As the director of teacher education at UC Santa Cruz, she founded the Santa Cruz New Teacher Project in 1988, an innovative support program that provided a model for the state’s Beginning Teachers and Support Assessment. BTSA (pronounced Bitsa) is a state-funded training and mentoring program that enables teachers with a preliminary teaching credential to qualify for a permanent or “clear” credential.

In 1998, Moir founded and became the CEO of the New Teacher Center, which trains districts’ full-time mentor teachers. In accordance with New Teacher Center  requirements, the mentors meet with new teachers one-on-one an hour to 90 minutes each week.

The center has offices in eight cities, including San Francisco, Los Angeles and Santa Cruz. Moir said the center guides teacher induction programs in 26 of the nation’s 200 largest school districts, with plans to grow to 60 of the largest districts by 2018. In 2012 it received a highly competitive grant from the federal Department of Education Investing in Innovation Fund to replicate programs in Chicago, Broward County, Fla., and rural Iowa.

“We have really influenced America in understanding the importance of new teacher development,” Moir said, pointing to data showing the  value of rigorous new teacher training programs. While nationwide more than half of new teachers quit the profession within six years, the retention rate by year six at the Santa Cruz New Teacher Center was 88 percent, according to the center.

And yet Moir is worried about the future of induction programs in California. Under the Local Control Funding Formula, districts will decide how much, if anything, to spend on BTSA programs. Good programs will survive, she said, but some districts may cut back their funding or charge teachers for the training. “One of the unintended consequences is that some new teachers are gong to be left on their own,” she said. “We may see inequities across the state.”

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One Response to “Ellen Moir honored for work preparing new teachers”

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  1. Paul on Apr 6, 2014 at 10:31 pm04/6/2014 10:31 pm

    • 000

    I’m happy for Ms. Moir and I applaud the work of the Santa Cruz NTP, but the reality of BTSA is quite different.

    1. Retention figures are phony. The CTC uses teacher self-reports, not employment records. Worse yet, only BTSA completers are surveyed. Trained teachers who exit the profession without finishing BTSA are simply not counted. This large group encompasses people who never land a teaching job, people laid off after one year, people hired after start of the school year, people employed less than full-time, some people on temporary contracts, people in (long-term) substitute status, and people who defer* BTSA.

    Even if California were equipped to gather comprehensive and objective teacher retention data today (whither CalTIDES?), what pre-BTSA retention figures would be available for comparison?

    2. Over the years, multiple reports have concluded that BTSA overlaps with preliminary teacher preparation. Although the law has been amended, BTSA participants don’t know that they have a right to contest duplicative requirements.

    3. BTSA is not timed to meet individual needs. For example, a program for a complete novice doesn’t make sense for a person who earned his or her preliminary credential through the intern model, after spending 1, 2 or 3 years as teacher of record, historically ineligible to participate in BTSA during those years because participation in two “funded programs” was forbidden.

    4. Although BTSA proponents harp about individualization and relevance, participants complain of time wasted checking off formal requirements. [Google “BTSA sucks”.]

    Item 4C on this month’s CTC agenda is a case in point: self-congratulatory prattle from the BTSA industry (i.e., teachers who exited the classroom for higher pay and lighter duties). It is telling that the CTC did not publish a single critical comment from a BTSA participant.

    * The law says BTSA is not a condition of employment. Of course, a preliminary credential is valid only for 5 years.

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