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ODU Professor Owings' Study Featured in Washington Post

A study co-authored by Professor William Owings of Old Dominion University's Darden College of Education has been featured in The Washington Post.

Owings co-wrote a study on the effectiveness of the U.S. government's Troops to Teachers program, an initiative aimed at steering military personnel to launch a career in the classroom by offering financial incentives.

In its June 4 edition, The Post reported that Owings' study found that Florida students taught by Troops to Teachers graduates make greater gains in reading than peers taught by teachers with similar classroom experience. In math, students in Troops to Teachers classrooms outperformed those in other classes, even when the other teachers had more years under their belt.

"Honestly, at first, we thought a military officer dealing with today's fifth-graders and seventh-graders was not going to be very effective," Owings told The Post. "We found out that is totally untrue. We have come to believe that you're looking at life experience … that has a lot of crossover into good classroom skills."

Owings has collaborated on Troops to Teacher effectiveness research with these faculty members at ODU's Darden College of Education: John Nunnery, Stephen Myran, David Blackburn and Shana Pribesh.

Troops to Teachers has placed about 11,500 teachers nationwide in the past 15 years. The Obama administration hopes the program will draw more men and minorities into schools and fill demand in the fields of science, math and special education.

Troops to Teachers, which was launched in 1994 as the military was downsizing, offers participants up to $5,000 for courses needed to become a teacher, as well as a bonus of up to $5,000. In return for the financial support, candidates agree to teach at least three years in a school district where many students live in poverty.

Rep. Tom Petri, R-Wis., one of the program's creators, wants to expand the scope of the program to bring it into more schools, seeing it as a particularly valuable tool for soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Currently, Troops to Teachers receives $14.4 million a year in funding from the Department of Education, but is operated by the Department of Defense.

This article was posted on: June 4, 2009

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