Project Lift Grades Teach for America - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Project Lift Grades Teach for America

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

Project Lift has reviewed how money was spent for the program and it is giving its partners grades.

Last year Project Lift spent about $11 million to improve education for students in the nine most struggling schools that make up Project Lift. Project Lift is looking for Return on Investment. It spent $400,000 last year for Teach For America (TFA).

The money paid for recruiting, retaining, and supporting TFA teachers.

Project Lift gives the Teach for America Program a "B" for their efforts in trying to close the achievement gap.  Project Lift teamed up with Teach for America to place teachers in struggling schools to make a difference.

Last year research showed there was a high number of first year Teach For America teachers who needed extra support from coaches. And that may have gotten in the way of academic achievement.

"In schools where we saw those significant numbers," Project Lift Executive Director Denise Watts said.  "Principals often said additional support was needed to ensure their first year was a smooth year."

Project Lift has reviewed the efforts and leaders say the partnership has strengths but also some weaknesses.  One weakness is too many new teachers needed support this past year to instruct their students.  As a result, this year Project Lift will have a reduction in Teach for America teachers going to Project Lift schools. Last year there were 32 first year TFA teachers in Project Lift school, this year five.

Recently released test scores show students did benefit from having a TFA teacher in the classroom, but other scores show improvement is needed.

"It's also showing places," Teach For America Exec. Director Tim Hurley said. "Where our teachers didn't do well, so its saying how do we increase our return on investment there."

TFA will be working more closely with principals so teachers will know what is expected of them and TFA will be recruiting more in North Carolina. TFA wants teachers to spend longer teaching in Charlotte Mecklenburg schools instead of leaving after two years.

"The theory is Hey," Hurley said. "You coming out of NC, you have ties - if you start teaching here, you are more likely to stay for a long period of time."

Overall Project Lift is pleased with Teach For America and believes it is getting their money's worth. Leaders say it will continue to work on the partnership so Teach For America can get an "A".

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