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Grant To Help N.Y.C. Teachers Earn Their Master's

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The DeWitt Wallace-Reader's Digest Foundation last week awarded a $1.2-million grant to Hunter College and Lehman College to help uncertified teachers in New York City's most disadvantaged schools earn their master's degrees.

The collaborative program, known as "Pathways to Teaching,'' is designed to stem the high attrition rate of novice teachers in the city's public schools, according to Maria Terrone, a Hunter College spokesman.

Approximately 25 percent of new teachers in the city left their jobs after their first year in 1990, Ms. Terrone said, a rate nearly 10 percent higher than figures from the previous four years.

The two colleges, part of the City University of New York system, are targeting teachers in so-called "SURR schools,'' or school under registration and review.

Schools earn that designation from the city if their students' standardized-test scores in reading and mathematics fall in the bottom quartile nationally for three consecutive years, and if their attendance rates are deemed inadequate, Ms. Terrone said.

Coordinators of the Pathways program hope to increase the number of minority teachers in New York schools and, in particular, within the SURR schools.

Hunter College will use its $600,000 grant to help approximately 30 currently uncertified minority teachers in these schools earn master's degrees.

Lehman College, meanwhile, will award scholarships to 25 teachers studying for a master's degree in elementary education or bilingual-elementary education.

As a result, "the whole education process will be enhanced'' in the SURR schools, according to Valerie Moss Washington, the director of Lehman's Pathways program.

Both colleges will also train veteran public-school teachers on sabbatical to serve as mentors to the new teachers. The mentors will advise the participants on how to teach more effectively, and help them prepare for the National Teacher's Examination.

Both schools have experience in operating mentor programs through the Teacher Opportunity Corps, a New York State initiative directed at helping schools retain minority teachers.

Since 1987, the Teacher Opportunity Corps program at Hunter has had a 98 percent retention rate for new teachers.--M.S.

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