Two new reports tackle critical--and often overlooked--components of improving teacher effectiveness: Patrick McGuinn has a new paper out for the Center for American Progress looking at states' implementation of teacher evaluation legislation and policies. New Leaders has a new report on how great principals build teams of great teachers in their schools, by developing teachers, managing talent effectively, and creating good working conditions for teachers....


Yesterday, I shared some concerns about the Early Learning Challenge Round 2 "competition" currently underway. But, as I mentioned at the end of the post, my concerns around ELC Round 2 aren't just about this "competition, but also reflect deeper concerns about the extension of the Race to the Top brand--in both ELC and RTT-D--to programs that are in fact very different than the original Race to the Top. As I mentioned yesterday, the ELC Round 2 seems to operate with no expectation that applicants would have made progress on the goals in their applications over the past year. That's ...


Today is the extended deadline for districts in Hurricane Sandy-affected areas to submit their applications for the Race to the Top District competition. Race to the Top District is the big RTT competition this year, but let's not forget that there's another RTT "competition" going on at the same time--the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Competition, or what I like to think of as the "we feel bad that Illinois didn't win last time, and congressional Democrats really wanted us to allocate Race to the Top Funds to early childhood again this year competition." I'm putting "competition" in ...


I'm no defender of the "steps and lanes" systems currently used in virtually all U.S. public school districts--their myriad failings have been well-documented. That said, I'm not sure I'd agree with Mike McShane that the craziest thing here is that gym teachers get paid more than math teachers. I know that it's easy to pick on gym teachers; and I certainly had some who lived up the stereotypes. But I'm not sure we should blithely assume gym teachers should necessarily be paid less than math and science teachers. Presumably, schools employ gym teachers, and states and schools mandate that ...


My fellow Ed Week blogger Stephen Sawchuck highlights some interesting new research suggesting that student tracking in middle and high schools may create biases in value-added measures that make them weaker predictors teacher effectiveness in high school than in the elementary grades. I highlighted Kirabo Jackson, who conducted one of the studies, here last year. Lots of important questions and issues here, which Stephen lays out. I'd simply add that this research underscores why it's so important that our thinking about teacher evaluation and use of value-added measures not focus solely on teachers as the unit analysis, but must also ...


Killer quote from Peg Tyre capping off the Atlantic's dialogue on teaching writing (based around Tyre's original article here): I suggest to you that these young people needed more from their teachers than inspiration and a safe space. All students should have a chance to write poetry in school. But all students need the opportunity to gain the basic skills that will allow them to move forward in school and make a decent life for themselves and their children. Shame on us if we fail to provide that. This isn't just about writing but about what we want from schools ...


As someone who was born in the late 1970s and grew up listening to "Free to Be...You and Me" a lot, I'm loving this Slate series celebrating the 40th anniversary of the album and delving into the history of its production and impacts. Like the author, I'm curious what a Free to Be for today would look like, particularly in a world where girls take for granted that they can (and must) pursue a variety of professional careers, but boys trail girls in reading, writing, and college completion in part because social norms lead some boys to reject reading ...


If you missed Paul Gionfriddo's heartbreaking Washington Post piece about how our nation's broken approach to mental health has failed his son (who suffers from schizophrenia), go read it now. Any one who's had personal experience with mental health issues--either their own or a friend or family member's--knows that our nation's approach to mental health is deeply flawed, sometimes with tragic consequences. And it's difficult to deny that these failures have consequences for public schools. I often lose patience with broad stroke arguments that "poverty" or "parents" create insurmountable obstacles to improving school performance. But it's impossible to deny that ...


Al Roth, one of this year's two Nobel Prize winners in economics, is best known for his work designing matching mechanisms for situations where normal markets aren't feasible. That's relevant to education, because cities and school systems that have moved toward more portfolio-like models that give parents access to a wider range of charter and district choices are increasingly looking towards Roth's mechanism as a potential solution for making these choice systems work better for families and schools alike (ameliorating the problems mentioned here). As more cities move in this direction, expect to see these matching mechanisms playing a bigger ...


I appreciate what Mike Petrilli's trying to do in starting a conversation about the choices middle-class parents who settle in urban areas make around public education for their kids. Education policy debates tend to focus on issues of social justice for underserved low-income kids--as they should. But we also know that the long-term well-being of our cities depends on creating communities that can attract, retain, and support middle- and working-class families, as well as singles, young couples, the extraordinarily wealthy and very poor--and that is largely contingent on having a stock of urban schools to which middle class families are ...


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