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Social Capitalists: The New Teacher Project

43 entrepreneurs who are changing the world
Social Capitalist 2007 Winner

The New Teacher Project

Ariela Rozman, president
New York, New York

Teachers matter. That simple conviction is behind the wide-ranging work of The New Teacher Project (TNTP), a national non-profit organization dedicated to improving teacher quality in low-performing schools. In recognition of the growing body of research showing that teacher quality –- not class size, not curriculum, not facilities -– is the single most important school-based factor influencing student achievement, TNTP collaborates with school districts and states to recruit, select, train and hire exceptional teachers. This year, its clients include school districts in Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Memphis, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Oakland, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., among others.

Formed in 1997, TNTP seeks to close the achievement gap between minority and non-minority students and to reverse the pattern of low student achievement in urban public schools. The 140-person organization strives to accomplish these goals by providing a spectrum of solutions that help schools address their teacher human capital challenges, from the recruitment and training of excellent new teachers to the identification and removal of policy barriers that impede effective teacher-hiring. A revenue-generating organization, TNTP relies primarily on a fee-for-service business model to sustain its operations. This model has enabled the organization to innovate and expand while relying minimally on external funding and remaining consistently cash-flow positive.

The New Teacher Project's direct impact is most apparent in the sheer number of teachers it has helped provide to high-poverty schools. In partnership with more than 200 school districts in 26 states, the organization has recruited, trained, placed and/or hired a total of approximately 28,000 new teachers since its inception. TNTP estimates that these teachers have positively affected educational quality for as many as 3.8 million students -- 890,000 in 2007 alone.

The majority of these teachers have entered through TNTP’s highly selective Teaching Fellows™ programs. Operating in 15 cities, these rigorous programs recruit and train accomplished career changers and high-achieving graduates to become teachers. In 2007, they attracted more than 35,000 applicants and had an average acceptance rate of only 15% -- statistically comparable to some of the nation's most prestigious universities. Teaching Fellows work where they are needed most; the vast majority teach in schools federally designated as the lowest income schools and 84% are eligible to teach high-need subjects like math, science and special education. In 2007, approximately 3,000 new Teaching Fellows entered schools nationwide.

The New Teacher Project is also recognized for its incisive research of teacher quality issues in education. This includes two national studies of urban teacher hiring policies, Missed Opportunities (2003) and Unintended Consequences (2005). These studies showed that seemingly benign bureaucratic rules can have severely negative repercussions on the ability of schools to hire qualified teachers that are a good fit for school instructional teams. Relying on a non-ideological, data-driven approach that has since become a hallmark of its research, TNTP leveraged its findings to drive groundbreaking policy reforms that benefited schools throughout California and in New York City. Three subsequent studies of school staffing policies in Chicago, Milwaukee and Portland, Oregon, spurred other local reforms in the fall of 2007.

Earlier in 2007, The New Teacher Project's vision and impact were validated by the unprecedented selection of its founder, Michelle Rhee, to serve as Chancellor of the Washington, D.C., public schools. Since Rhee's transition out of the organization, TNTP's impact has only increased. Over the next five years, it intends to realize a fundamental shift in the way quality teachers are generated, trained, and matched to schools. TNTP will continue to employ its multi-pronged approach to the challenge of increasing teacher quality, not only dramatically expanding the supply of high-quality teachers, but also dismantling the flawed policies that keep the best out of the schools that need them most.