At the Center for American Progress, Raegen T. Miller, a policy expert (and former teachers'-union leader, natch) has an interesting paper up about "value-added" measures of teacher effectiveness. He has two major points: The term value-added itself, which comes from economics, is objectionable to some teachers. It probably needs to be changed reflect that teachers contribute to their practices in ways other than boosting test scores, and that the test scores themselves pick up factors outside of a teacher's control, he writes. He suggests the term "context adjusted achievement test effects" as an alternative. Second, systems that seek to incorporate ...


The Teacher Incentive Fund is poised to receive a large boost under a spending bill that is nearing completion.


Detroit schools' emergency financial manager Robert Bobb and teachers' union leader Keith Johnson have agreed to a tentative contract for the district that contains a lot of New Haven-like reforms. Given that, you'd be forgiven for wondering why the American Federation of Teachers isn't promoting the heck out of it. Well, as this Detroit Free Press story explains, it's not clear whether or not the union membership will actually ratify it. And that comes down to plain ol' bread and butter issues, not the new reform proposals. Given the district's dire financial straights, teachers wouldn't get raises for the next ...


Colleague Anthony Rebora, over at Education Week's Teacher Magazine, is live-blogging the National Staff Development Council's annual conference. He has a really great post up about the definition of professional development in the No Child Left Behind law. Be sure to check it out, because although this may seem wonky, it is probably going to raise its head during the reauthorization process. Lawmakers tried to put a stop to poor quality "one-shot workshops" for teachers almost a decade ago when they wrote the NCLB law. The professional development funded through NCLB's Title I, Title II, and right on down the ...


A few weeks back, I mused whether we'd see more state and local action to review seniority provisions, since it seemed like states were doing a lot on evaluation and pay, but not the related issue of seniority. Somehow I missed the action in Arizona. A state law that recently took effect there prohibits seniority or tenure from being considered when teachers are laid off and also does away with "recall rights." It would also give districts flexibility to select which teachers' salaries to reduce, rather than applying a general salary reduction. It isn't clear from the local news coverage ...


U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan shares his thoughts about federal teacher policy, including a $3 billion federal funding stream for supporting teacher quality, and teacher involvement in the shaping of performance-pay plans.


A Washington superior court judge has backed Chancellor Michelle Rhee in a dispute with the Washington Teachers' Union over layoffs. The union sought a preliminary injunction that would essentially have required Rhee to reinstate teachers who were laid off supposedly due to budget cuts while other legal claims worked their way through the District of Columbia school system. In essence, the union said that Rhee hired hundreds of young teachers over the summer, more than the district could pay for, thus forcing a later need to make cuts. Because of a series of administrative rulings in the late 1990s, layoffs ...


Betsy Hammond at the Oregonian turns in a great story about how the state legislature plans to take up a measure to overturn a 1923 law that prohibits teachers from wearing religious clothing or symbols, such as yarmulkes, crosses or headscarves, in the classroom. I'll admit to not knowing that this was prohibited in Oregon, much less anywhere else in the United States. But as it turns out, two other states also disallow teachers from wearing such symbols in the classroom, Hammond writes. Clearly, the lines between freedom of expression and freedom of religion are thin and difficult to negotiate ...


I'm a bit behind in writing up this report on teacher evaluation. But as this topic is likely to be on the national scene for a while, I expect you won't hold it against me. The report, from the Hope Street Group, was put together with input from teachers, not just policy folks, an important thing to keep in mind as these new systems are developed. It has a great overview of the different issues at play, and ultimately, it recommends that both objective measures (value-added data, student work, teacher-generated growth goals a la Teach For America) and observational measures ...


U.S. Secretary of Arne Duncan has been praising Louisiana's model for using "value-added" data to gauge the strengths of its various education programs, but it looks like a bunch of other states are coming on board, too. First, we heard that Texas had plans to do something similar, also using value-added data. And now there's this story from Ron Matus in the St. Petersburg Times that says that Florida is using data from the state test to gauge whether at least 50 percent of each training program's graduates are helping their students to grow a year or more on ...


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