A final 500 students are set to graduate from North Carolina universities this spring and become teachers in the state’s classrooms, as the last class of N.C. Teaching Fellows.
The nearly 30-year-old program offered scholarships in exchange for a four-year commitment to teaching in a public school. It was eliminated by the state legislature in 2011, but students in the program were allowed to continue.
A new report from the Public School Forum of North Carolina tries to put some numbers around the impact the program has had on the state.
▪ $253.1 million in scholarships offered.
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▪ 8,523 teaching fellows have graduated and gone to the classroom.
▪ 79 percent of them remained teachers for at least a year after their commitment.
▪ 64 percent were still teaching six years after their commitment ended.
▪ 4,632 teaching fellows remain teaching in a North Carolina school.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Ann Clark has cited the ending of the N.C. Teaching Fellows program as a reason she is worried that the state won’t be able to find enough teachers in the coming years. She described filling classrooms as the No. 1 thing that keeps her up at night.
The Public School Forum report offered a few ideas for filling in the gaps. These included a more limited scholarship program targeting hard-to-fill teaching positions and increasing connections between teacher training programs at different campuses.