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 ...


The education committee chairman puts the union on notice that he believes it has shifted its position favorably toward a federal performance-pay initiative and contract waivers on teacher distribution.


Here's a story that could be a portent of things to come: Georgia is starting to cancel pay bonuses for teachers who have earned advanced certification through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. The story does a good job of laying out the various issues, including the recent debates about the effects of the credential on student achievement. But there's another, broader issue lurking in all of this. When compensation bonuses—whether the National Education Association-friendly national-board certification or some other measure based on test scores—are layered on top of an existing salary schedule, rather than integrated...


In this blog item, colleague Sean Cavanagh noted that the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association are on opposite ends of the "21st-century skills" debate. (NEA is one of the partnership's founding members; AFT challenges the effort, per this letter.) This is a curious split, and it's even curiouser when you consider that AFT was initially on board with the notion of 21st-century skills. In early reports from the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, or P21, the main advocacy body promoting such skills, AFT Secretary-Treasurer Antonia Cortese was listed as a P21 board member. Now, she's on ...


Roundup of last week's major teacher-quality stories.


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