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Equipping new teachers with the skills to unlock deep and durable learning for every student

Cece Zhou

Cece Zhou

Adina Lopatin

Adina Lopatin

Category: Learning by Scientific Design

As a first-year teacher, Chris M. is a new graduate of a teacher-preparation program. He’s had some practice teaching experiences and is eager to build relationships with his new students.

In his first few months on the job, he finds that his go-to instructional strategies are mostly engaging the same few students who always raise their hands. He can’t figure out how to effectively reach and engage the rest of his class. As a result, only a handful of students are thinking deeply about ambitious grade-level content.

A few students raising their hands

Experiences like Chris’s are far too common among early-career teachers. When new teachers enter the classroom underprepared to meet the diverse needs of all their students, it’s the students who suffer while their teachers take time to learn the ropes. And because students of color and students in low-income communities are more likely to be in the classroom of a new teacher, many of these students miss out on quality, rigorous instruction. 

At the same time, feelings of unpreparedness contribute to attrition rates among new teachers. A revolving door of early-career teachers negatively affects school culture, disrupts hiring, and erodes trust among families, all of which can have a detrimental impact on student experiences and learning. 

The stakes are high for ensuring that new teachers are set up for success.

“This is a pivotal time for our nation to rise up and ensure that every child has dedicated, prepared educators who are committed to their success,” shares Debbie Thomas, Dean of the College of Education at Grambling State University. “Certainly, this is an imperative that started long before the pandemic.”

Ensuring a smooth and successful transition from pre-service to in-service teaching so that new teachers are better prepared with knowledge and skills to enact equitable, evidence-based instructional practices is at the heart of what we’re seeking to make possible through the third cohort of our Learning by Scientific Design (LbSD) Network.

When school districts and educator-preparation programs (EPPs) serving the same communities work together to ensure a continuum of instructional support for new teachers, they’re more likely to identify and mitigate challenges that early-career teachers may face. This shared commitment contributes to a stronger local teacher workforce and leads to higher student achievement.

This is an effort that DFI has been supporting in Frederick County, Maryland, through our partnership with Frederick County Public Schools and Hood College. In the first year, our learning sessions and ongoing professional development grounded in learning science contributed to instructional growth among district and school leaders, college faculty, clinical supervisors, and mentor teachers who directly support aspiring and early-career teachers.

DFI staff standing and facilitating learning session with participants sitting at round tables

Now, we’re thrilled to be scaling district-EPP instructional partnership support through our LbSD Network. With four EPPs and their school and district partners in Louisiana, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia, we seek to support teams within EPPs and districts to co-create and implement a shared vision of equitable teaching practice and build coherence in the way they prepare and support novice teachers. 

Laurie Henry, Dean of the Seidel School of Education at Salisbury University, reflects: “This would provide the opportunity to deepen our relationship with the district and further enhance the expertise of our aspiring teacher candidates. It would help us better align our teacher preparation programs with the priorities of our partner school district.”

Since 2019, our LbSD Network has focused on redesigning clinical practice and coursework to be grounded in a scientific understanding of how students learn – with strong results across the 10 programs in our first two cohorts that collectively prepare 6,400 aspiring teachers annually. With our third cohort, we’re excited about the opportunity to grow the impact of this work by engaging school district partners.

The participants in the third cohort of our LbSD Network are:

  • Louisiana: Grambling State University, Lincoln Preparatory School, and Bienville Parish Schools

  • Maryland: Salisbury University and Worcester County Schools

  • North Carolina: Western Carolina University and Cherokee County Schools

  • Virginia: Virginia State University and Hopewell City Schools

Together, the EPPs prepare more than 2,000 teacher-candidates annually, of whom 33% identify as people of color, and the schools serve over 16,000 students. The EPPs and districts serve a broad range of rural, urban, and suburban communities.

Over the course of the next few years, we’re excited to partner with these EPPs and school districts to equip new teachers with the skills to unlock deep and durable learning for every student. 


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Learn more about the LbSD Network from past participants:

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