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More attention needed for new teachers

WASHINGTON - Giving new teachers a good grounding in their job can make the difference between whether they stick with teaching or quit. But new research shows that many such introductory programs are underfunded or otherwise lacking.

About 93 percent of teachers who go through such introductory programs are still on the job after three years, according to a recent report from Recruiting New Teachers Inc., a nonprofit educational research group.

Saying the programs' quality levels ranged from "comprehensive to cursory," Elizabeth Fideler, vice president of Recruiting New Teachers and the co-author of the report added, "What new teachers experience is in stark contrast to the experiences of medical residents, law associates, and even rookie baseball players."

Funding for the 17 states that pay for new-teacher induction range from a low of $150,000 in Virginia, which has 1 million K-12 students, to a high of $80.2 million for California's two programs, which serve almost 6 million students. Other states leave funding to local districts.

Nationally, 9.3 percent leave before the end of their first year, the Education Department says.

More testing -more cheating?

More teachers may be inclined to cheat to boost their students' scores on high-stakes tests, educators say.

The Massachusetts Department of Education has been investigating between two- and three-dozen allegations of cheating on the latest round of state exams. The bulk were misunderstandings. But now school officials in Lawrence, Mass., are acknowledging teacher cheating problems with third-grade Iowa reading tests. At one elementary school, students on the 1997-98 test scored in the 95th percentile - 57 points higher than their peers did in 1998-99. Lawrence students on average score in the 40th percentile.

FairTest, a testing watchdog group, says cheating reports have increased around the country, particularly in Georgia, Texas, and Arizona.

College Students: Interested in writing for us?

We are always looking for college students to write for our "On Campus" column. To contribute a column, e-mail Kim Campbell at: campbellk@csps.com Or, write to The Christian Science Monitor, One Norway Street, Boston, MA, 02115.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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