The NewSchools Venture Fund, an education "venture capitalist" effort, has put $1.2 million into the New Teacher Center, a California-based group that has taken the lead in supporting intensive teacher-induction programs. This must be good news for the NTC, which became an independent nonprofit organization in July—right before a report came out implying that intensive mentoring may not be all it's cracked up to be. NewSchools Venture Fund's other education-related investments include the New Teacher Project, Teach for America, and New Leaders for New Schools....


I checked in with the president of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education today to get some feedback on what her members thought about Education Secretary Arne Duncan's speech on teacher colleges. Overall, she said, her members were disappointed in the tenor of the speech and hope for a more balanced address at the next, when he addresses educators at Teachers College, in New York City, on Oct. 22. "I think that in one sense, Arne used the [UVA] speech to review some of the perennial criticisms of teacher education. I'm hoping he'll use the speech at Teachers ...


Rhode Island announces that it will beef up the test it uses to admit candidates to schools of education.


Education Secretary Arne Duncan had some pretty tough words for teacher colleges at a speech he gave at the Curry School of Education, in Charlottesville, Va., on Friday: "In far too many universities, education schools are the neglected stepchild. Often they don't attract the best students or faculty. The programs are heavy on educational theory—and light on developing core area knowledge and clinical training under the supervision of master teachers. "Generally, not enough attention is paid to what works to boost student learning—and student-teachers are not trained in how to use data to improve their instruction and drive...


Over at sister publication Teacher Magazine, Elizabeth Rich has a great article up about how teachers can use social-networking technologies to connect and interact with colleagues, and get new ideas for curricula and activities. I wrote generally about social networking for teachers last year, in this story. But Elizabeth's story goes more in depth to the subject-specific implications—in this case, for English teachers. She profiles Laura Abercrombie, a Florida teacher who initially felt bewildered when she joined a social network looking for resources on how to teach Thoreau. But ultimately, Abercrombie came to embrace the online community and found...


I've really been swamped of late, but wanted to bring your attention to a handful of great teacher stories that you should be sure to check out this weekend if you haven't seen them already. • The AFT announces its first grants under its $3.3. million Innovation Fund, including efforts to expand peer-assistance and -review programs, overhaul evaluation systems, create innovative contracts a la Green Dot, and even incorporate student achievement in compensation systems. • Harvard University Teacher expert Susan Moore Johnson and a colleague put forth a new pay model, similar to the Teacher Advancement Program but with a few ...


New Haven, Conn., is said to be close to finalizing a collective bargaining pact ... but you'll have to take teachers' union and city officials' word that it's innovative, because the details won't be released until teachers vote to approve the new contract. According to the news story linked above, the agreement will align to officials' goals to close achievement gaps in six years. Part of those goals included some discussion of increased teacher accountability based on student outcomes, and hiring flexibility, but there is no word yet as to whether any language in the contract supports those ideas. It's interesting ...


I've finally had a chance to take a look at Washington, D.C's new teacher-evaluation system, known as IMPACT, which generated a lot of buzz for being among the first in the nation to incorporate student test scores as part of the teacher rating. (Race to the Top, anyone?) To be fair, IMPACT is not all about test scores: the evaluation system also includes other pieces, such as scores on a "Teaching and Learning Framework," an extensive set of observational measures similar to Charlotte Danielson's Framework for Teaching, or the rubrics used by the New Teacher Center or the Teacher ...


Although it got a bit lost in all the commotion about this hearing, the Education Department made an important teacher-preparation announcement last week. The agency awarded $43 million in grants to improve preparation programs at 28 institutions. They're the first grants awarded under the retooled Title II of the Higher Education Act (not to be confused with Title II of No Child Left Behind, which also deals with teacher-quality issues). Congress made some significant changes to the program during the 2008 renewal of the HEA. Now, it's funding only partnerships between districts and universities that are designed to respond more ...


Over at Politics K-12, Alyson Klein notes that the Obama administration seems to favor competitive grants, rather than formula grants, in its approach to education funding. It's a smart observation, and although I'm reading the tea leaves a bit here, I wouldn't be surprised to see the administration try to advance more such competitive grants during the upcoming reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The big issue at work here is that in shifting from formula to competitive grants, you go from grants where everyone gets a slice of the pie to ones where there are definite winners ...


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