Teacher Training Earns High Marks

The Long Beach Unified School District Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment (BTSA) program recently earned a rave review by the state. The LBUSD new teacher induction program met performance standards in 83 of 85 categories, a remarkably high level of performance on the standard review conducted every five years for each BTSA program in the state. "The results of this review speak for themselves," said Cathy Hicks, BTSA director in the San Dieguito Union High School District and leader of the team reviewing LBUSD’s program. "You have an exceptional program here. You have set the bar very high for other districts to follow." Reviewers were impressed with the thoroughness of the program and the high rate of retention of new teachers here. More than 90 percent of teachers who progress through BTSA here remain in the profession five years after beginning teaching, compared to a nationwide rate of approximately 50 percent. LBUSD provides beginning teachers and other teachers new to the district with comprehensive support during their first years in local classrooms. Support includes a site coordinator at each school. Implementation includes: • A coach who provides one-on-one mentoring and support to each new teacher on a regular basis, • Help with classroom management, lesson planning, and assessment and instructional strategies, • Release time for new teachers to observe exemplary teachers with their coaches, • Assessment for professional growth, with opportunities for professional development, and • Seminars to assist with professional clear credential requirements. LBUSD also was praised for the personal touch and responsiveness of support efforts coordinated by BTSA director Pat Kishi. "New teachers here love their coaches, and the overwhelming majority of the matches are going well," Hicks said. "When the matches don’t go well, they are immediately taken care of and new coaches are assigned. That’s highly unusual in a district of this size." Hicks noted districtwide understanding and support of the BTSA program among administrators, teachers and classified staff, also unusual in a large district. "When the reviewers would talk among themselves, they would say, ‘I wish I had been a new teacher in this program,’" Hicks said. Hicks emphasized that approximately 20 of the 85 areas reviewed are typically difficult for most districts of any size to meet. LBUSD met all of them. "Long Beach just sailed through those items," Hicks said. "I’m going to be talking to you to get more details about how you did that."