StudentsFirst, the advocacy group led by former D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, recently released its Policy Agenda. The agenda, called "A Challenge to States and Districts: Policies That Put Children First," lays out three policy priorities for elevating the teaching profession, empowering parents, and getting the greatest return on investment for the taxpayer's dollar.
Unfortunately, we found that the StudentsFirst Policy Agenda puts professional learning last.
While the Policy Agenda mentions the importance of professional development in its introductory statement, it fails to provide any guidance on developing policies that promote effective professional learning based on students' learning needs. We respectfully recommend that StudentsFirst consider adding the following three items to their policy priorities on teaching:
- Require that professional development offered to educators is based on students' learning needs as identified by formative and summative assessment data.
- Require that states, districts, and schools evaluate the impact of professional development on teacher practice and student learning.
- Require that professional learning take place in collaborative team environments during the teachers' workday where the knowledge, skills, and practices of the best teachers are transferred to all teachers within the school.
By adding these three policy solutions to its agenda, StudentsFirst will get closer to its objective of transforming public education for all children.
M. René Islas
Policy Advisor, Learning Forward