Date February 6, 2024
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New grant enables project to support early-career teachers in four Providence-area public schools

With an award from the Barr Foundation, Brown researchers will develop a pilot program to strengthen retention and training for recent Brown MAT graduates teaching in Providence, Central Falls and Pawtucket.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — With a $300,000 award from the Barr Foundation, scholars at Brown University will develop a pilot program to support graduates of the University’s master of arts in teaching program who are working in the Providence Public School District and neighboring urban communities.

With project leaders working in collaboration with four local secondary schools, the year-long grant will fund the development of a program to offer 20 early-career teachers — Brown MAT alumni working in schools in Providence, Central Falls and Pawtucket, Rhode Island — instructional coaching, professional development and training in culturally relevant teaching practices. All of those supports are aimed at helping teachers thrive and assisting them in meeting the needs of their students.

Katherine Rieser, director of Brown's MAT program, will lead the project. Rieser said that early-career teachers often express knowledge gaps in culturally relevant teaching practices, which can contribute to decisions to leave the profession early, further exacerbating a national teacher shortage.

“Our graduates are extremely well prepared to be excellent teachers, but many still struggle to navigate their first few years of the profession,” Rieser said. “If you’re a teacher in an urban context right now, there is a lot to deal with — the pressure of test scores, accountability and meeting standards, as well as the relatively low pay of the profession and high turnover rates.”

Building on the success of Brown’s MAT program and its strong partnerships with public schools in Rhode Island, Rieser’s team will work closely with leaders from four participating schools to develop and implement the program: Providence’s Hope High School and Paul Cuffee School; Pawtucket’s Blackstone Academy Charter School; and Central Falls High School.

The project team is currently gathering input from stakeholders, which will inform how the project is designed, Rieser said: “We will develop a set of supports that allow our teachers to build and sustain community, engage in professional learning and individually continue to grow as teachers in their first five years of the profession.”

Brown's one-year MAT is a small-scale, residency-based teacher training program through which degree candidates receive preparation for teaching careers in English, social studies, mathematics and science in grades 7 through 12. MAT students learn within the context of a single school while developing an understanding of the larger landscape of education and the cultural assets in Providence-area communities.  

The coordinators of the grant-funded project plan to work closely with researchers from the Annenberg Institute at Brown University to collect and analyze data on the program’s effectiveness.

“Both the creation of the program and the gathering of data are really exciting, because they’re about using Brown’s small program and research component to pilot a high-quality teacher induction run by a university-based education preparation provider,” Rieser said.