January 15, 2020

What's New at NCTR?

NCTR has hired Dr. Thalia Nawi to be our new Chief of Strategy. Thalia joins NCTR after working for the last four years as a Senior Consultant with Education First Consulting. A former teacher, principal, state level policy advisor and founding program director of the Denver Teacher Residency, Thalia brings over two decades of experience to the team. Thalia holds a doctorate in Education Leadership from Harvard University, and will be leading the organization’s strategic growth. Welcome!


NCTR staff is just back from an exciting few days with partners at the California Residency Lab where we shared our work on financial sustainability, including a customized sustainability tool. The Residency Lab consists of 20 participating teacher residency partnerships, technical assistance providers, funders, advocacy organizations and strategic advisors. The lab was created by a multi-organizational partnership consisting of the State’s Commission on Teacher Credentialing, funders, and TA providers to provide support that will accelerate the progress of teacher residencies that received funding in 2018-19 to launch or grow bilingual education, STEM and special education residencies.

Partner Update

Nathan Kirsch, a graduate of the Memphis Teacher Residency, has been awarded a prestigious Milken Educator Award for the state of Tennessee. Only 40 teachers nationwide receive Milken awards, and there can be only one winner in each state. Winning teachers receive a $25,000 prize. Nate graduated from MTR in 2013-14 and is in his seventh year of teaching math at Whitehaven High School in Memphis. In addition to being an outstanding teacher, Nate has coached cross country and track, and spent several summers working at Bridge to Enter Mathematics in New York. Congratulations Nate!

Featured News

Can Cleaner Air Improve Student Performance?

Five years ago a natural gas leak in Los Angeles created a unique opportunity to study how the effect of cleaner air could impact student performance. A new working paper from New York University researcher Michael Gilraine found that cleaner air in school could result in an increase in student achievement on par with reducing class sizes by one third. The gas leak resulted in the installation of high-quality air filters in every classroom, office and common space in the 18 schools located within five miles. This unique event afforded Gilraine the opportunity to examine student test scores in the schools with the filters and compare them to scores from schools without the filters. He found that students in the schools with the cleaner air posted scores that were considerably higher–0.2 standard deviations in math and 0.18 standard deviations in English. Those gains are equivalent to the results of one 2011 study that found that when class sizes were cut by a third, standardized test performance increased by 0.22 standard deviations. Further, the clean air gains did not disappear over time.

There’s growing research that air quality can affect cognitive functioning, so it may not be terribly surprising that cleaning a school’s air would result in more learning. However, Gilraine cautions that more research is needed.

"This is kind of the first natural experiment to take a look at this,” Gilraine told Fast Company magazine. He acknowledges that the experiment should be replicated but that it “provides evidence that this could actually be quite a fruitful avenue for further research and a fruitful avenue that could raise student’s achievements, as well." 

Gilraine noted that the schools spent approximately $1,000 per classroom purchasing, installing and operating the filters.
In the News

California governor prop-oses nearly $1 billion to tackle teacher preparation, shortages

Among the proposals is $100 million to build on last year’s funding to launch and grow residencies, including $20,000 stipends for 5,000 new teachers.

American history textbooks differ across the country, in ways that are shaded by partisan politics
The New York Times
A side-by-side comparison of textbooks from the same publisher used in California and Texas reveal how politics shape what students learn about history.

Learning While Black: The Fight For Equity In San Francisco Schools

This on-going public radio series explores systemic inequities in San Francisco, and showcases the efforts of educators and community advocates to help Black youth thrive.

Please note that the articles and events in the NCTR E-Blast do not reflect the opinions of our organization, but rather represent information that we believe will be relevant to you and your programs.

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