It’s all about the feedback: Lessons Learned from the Federal i3 Grant Results

By: Ali Callicoatte Picucci, PhD, NTC Vice President of Impact and Improvement

In June 2017, we released exciting, statistically significant results that showed students of NTC-supported teachers gain up to five months of additional learning in reading and math (that’s over half a school year!). More importantly, these results were found in schools with high needs students, for example 90% students of color and 86% low income.

NTC and our SRI International partner continue to explore the results. This blog is the first in our series on what we’ve learned from the i3 results and how these findings have impacted NTC’s program work.

While there are several key program factors that lead to improved learning for high-needs students, one particularly stands out:

Providing effective, instructionally-focused feedback.

Teachers seek a deep understanding of their own performance and progress. We see this every day working with educators in districts across the country. But, even more than general evaluation ratings, teachers want to ensure that the feedback itself is “rigorous, tied to a clear vision for instruction and viewed … as credible.”

Not only must this feedback be of high quality, but it also must be consistent. Educators must have frequent, up-to-date information to best understand how their instructional practice can best meet their students’ skills and needs.  

NTC believes, and other research supports,  that any practice or skill requires frequent, ongoing support to yield improvement. Our model promotes frequent, instructionally-focused feedback, with an average of 30+ hours spent with their mentors over the course of a year. Teachers have reported that the ideal coaching experience is when mentors:

  • provide specific instructionally-focused feedback that can be applied in the classroom immediately, and
  • are well trained at providing feedback (but, notably, is NOT the same person who completes their evaluation).

NTC’s model and expertise lies in the art and science of providing strong, instructionally-focused, and actionable feedback to teachers with the goal of improving their practice. Our human capital investment is in the district’s mentors and coaches. They are the experts in the field whose work will guide and advance teacher practice and student learning.

We will continue to share additional lessons learned from our i3 results in this blog series as we further examine the effectiveness of our program, especially the impact of teacher observation and feedback through our SEED and i3 Scale-Up grant work (exploratory results coming next spring).

Thank you to each and every mentor and teacher who was involved in this work. These results were made possible because of the amazing dedication and hard work each member brought to the table every day.

Be sure to sign up for our newsletter for more information on our future efforts as we continue to partner with districts across the country and work help students and educators get better, faster.

1 Jacob, A., & McGovern, K. (2015). The Mirage: Confronting the hard truth about our quest for teacher development. The New Teacher Project.

2 Teachers Know Best: Teachers’ Views on Professional Development. 2015. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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