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This year, Cox received the district’s Rookie Teacher of the Year Award for high schools. Keeping the focus on students is vital for any mentoring or induction program to succeed, says Julie Greenberg, a senior policy analyst at the National Council

on Teaching Quality in Washington, D.C. “If induction isn’t generating better [student] performance, then we’ve got to figure out something else to generJulie Greenberg ate performance gains,”

Greenberg says. “It’s not enough to just make [new] teachers happy. In some way, shape or form, you have to look at the performance of the kids.” RAVEN L. HILL is a writer based in Maryland. She specializes in education reporting and formerly worked at the Austin American-Statesman.

Getting support from the state and federal governments President Barack Obama has vowed to make improving teacher quality one of his administration’s hallmarks. School districts nationwide are hoping that funding from Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 will help them fulfill the President’s vow at the local level. Approximately $100 billion of the $787 billion stimulus funds are earmarked for public education “We’re delighted to have the President’s agenda pointed toward public schools in this way,” says Susan Holley, associate executive director of the Texas Association of School Administrators. Districts can submit proposals to the U.S. Department of Education to fund specific projects. The stimulus funds will only be available for, at most, three years. The U.S. Department of Education guidelines dictate that school district proposals for funding must address long-term reforms in one of the following areas: • rigorous college- and career-ready standards and high-quality assessments;

better data systems to track student performance;

improved teacher quality, distribution and effectiveness, or;

support and interventions for low-performing schools.

Texas legislators also are looking at ways to improve teacher quality. Several bills have been proposed during this legislative session that would provide annual stipends to teacher-mentors; create scholarships to encourage students to pursue math and science teaching careers; and improve teacher-mentor assignments and coaching. Ed Fuller, a researcher at The University of Texas, says the state should pursue increased stipends or forgivable loans to put more qualified teachers in the pipeline, and that districts should pursue stimulus funds for innovative teacher prep programs, such as urban teacher residencies.

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