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NCTQ Publishes ESEA Recommendations

The National Council on Teacher Quality, a Washington-based advocacy group famous for generating lots of controversial reports, has stepped into the fray again with a list of ESEA reauthorization proposals focused on the law's teacher-quality elements.

Before we dig into the recs, I should note that many Hill watchers don't put a lot of hope in getting a large-scale ESEA reauthorization bill done anytime soon. House Republican leaders, for instance, have indicated that they want to reserve teacher-quality discussions for this fall and work on smaller-scale bills in the meantime.

But that's not stopping NCTQ, whose recommendations are sure to produce some impassioned dialogue in the field. Among other things, it says the feds should:

• Require states to link teachers to students and to assessment results as a condition of receiving Title I funds.

• Transform the Title II State Teacher Quality grant into a competitive-grant program contingent on states' setting a definition of a "highly effective" teacher and evaluating all teachers each year, based partly on student achievement (not necessarily measured by tests, though). Results should be used to improve teaching quality, with a set time for dismissing those teachers who don't improve.

• Require Title II dollars to be spent validating and implementing the evaluation systems with fidelity (rather than being spent on their current purpose, mainly workshops and class-size reductions).

• Revise the "highly qualified" teacher provisions to require much more rigorous or thorough content tests for teachers of all grade levels.

• Do away with the HOUSSE option for veteran teachers to become highly qualified. (HOUSSE is an alternate, state-set way for veteran teachers to demonstrate subject-matter competency without taking a test or completing additional coursework. It can also be used by rural or special education teachers, who must demonstrate subject-matter competency in multiple subjects.)

• Require the development of a teacher-quality index showing factors such as percentage of teachers on emergency credentials, percentage of teachers who failed licensure tests at least once, and other factors to ensure better distribution of talent.

• Remove barriers to alternative routes.

• Revise and strengthen the teacher-preparation accountability requirements in the Higher Education Act to prioritize value-added data (a la Louisiana, Florida, and Tennessee) and report better information on licensure test scores.

The group also passes on a couple of other hot topics. It says that making changes to the Title I salary-comparability rules could introduce perverse incentives for districts to move teachers around. And it says that it is too early to invest more heavily in teacher-performance assessments now being piloted by about 20 states.

Other groups have recently weighed in with TQ proposals, notably the National Education Association and the Education Trust/Center for American Progress, but NCTQ's are probably the most specific so far.

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