The National Governors Association just announced that it has selected six states to participate in a "policy academy" to create new methods for compensating teachers. Such methods could include performance-based pay, but also higher pay for teachers who: take on tough assignments; teach in shortage fields such as math and science; and assume "master" teacher roles. They would include a new type of alternative pay I haven't heard about before: "Retention" pay, a one-time boost for teachers that make it through the challenging early years of their teaching careers. A statement from the NGA says that the academy will pair ...


Here we go again. The Washington Teachers' Union/American Federation of Teachers is, apparently, running another poll about the contract D.C. Chancellor Michelle Rhee proposed last summer, and about the AFT's counterproposal. And, just as it was last summer, the union is being accused of push-polling. Without seeing the poll questions, it's hard to comment on this account of the poll. But, I have to say that I'm starting to really feel for the D.C. teachers that are stuck in limbo in the meantime. The clock is ticking......


My extremely talented colleagues are giving Teacher Beat a run for its money! Sean Cavanagh and Debra Viadero have must-read items about teachers up at their respective Ed Week blogs. Over at the brand-new and already very popular Inside School Research, Debbie looks at an updated study of Teach For America teachers with a comparison group. This study's methodology was questioned when it first came out, so its researchers incorporated a bunch of new data and re-ran the analysis. I won't spoil the results, but I will say that it's good news for TFA. Over at Curriculum Matters, Sean Cavanagh ...


From guest blogger Liana Heitin The National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future just released a study indicating that half of our nation’s teachers could retire in the next 10 years and calling for districts to restructure their hiring practices. Check out the article I wrote about it for teachermagazine.org here. Predictions about en masse retirements come up every so often, and I tend to be wary when they are apocalyptic in scope. (NCTAF head Tom Carroll even warns of a “retirement tsunami.”) As Sam Dillon notes in The New York Times, the Department of Education made ...


The Washington Post has this story up about the new teacher-evaluation system that D.C. Chancellor Michelle Rhee and her team are devising. The story does a good job talking about the benefits and perils of a "value added" system that uses test-score growth to estimate teacher effectiveness, a model I've written about before. But it doesn't elaborate on one of the most interesting pieces Rhee has proposed: to use a system of "impartial master teachers" to observe and evaluate teachers' practices, rather than a principal. At a recent Washington event, Rhee gave a few more details about how this ...


Elizabeth Green over at Gotham Schools has a great item about a Queens charter school whose leaders say its union didn't give it the heads-up that charter schools are likely to have their funding cut in the state budget. Here's her kicker: "Most charter schools in New York City are not represented by teachers unions. ... But the union has fought to bring charter schools teachers into its fold. Their slow but steady inclusion has put the union in the tricky position of on the one hand lobbying for limits on charter schools, while, on the other hand, representing some charter ...


Andy Rotherham has a thoughtful post on the teacher-evaluation reporting proposal that the Education Department will soon be opening for public comment. Rotherham's worry, and it's a legitimate one, is that this new reporting requirement in and of itself won't have much of an effect: "Federal policymakers have tried that approach on a range of issues from higher education to teacher education to all manner of K-12 issues and it’s had little effect. The states are pretty good at gaming the data ... Besides, is the problem really a lack of information about the problems per se? I don’t ...


Chalk one up for the American Federation of Teachers. Just as things have gotten a bit dicey in AFT's bid to unionize charter schools in New York City, three Chicago charter schools—the Wrightwood, Northtown Academy and Ralph Ellison campuses of the Civitas Schools’ Chicago International Charter Schools—have served notice to state and district officials that they will unionize. Three-quarters of the teaching staff at the campuses signed authorization cards to be represented by the Chicago Alliance of Charters Teachers and Staff, an affiliate of the Illinois chapter of the AFT. The state law allows this "card-check" method of...


From Guest Blogger Liana Heitin For those who know a little about the Teacher Advancement Program but have had trouble discerning the nuances of the initiative (like me), take a look at Stephen’s recent article, which gives the best explanation I have seen. As poignantly noted, when people hear TAP, they often translate “performance pay”—yet the crux of the model is in the word “advancement.” For some teachers, the open-door policy and constant accountability that enforce the culture of advancement are too much to bear, so they leave—or self-select out. Could this be the answer to President ...


From Guest Blogger Liana Heitin In this climate of rampant layoffs, most people are concentrated on finding ways to keep teachers in the classroom. Yet (and it seems hardly controversial to point out) not all teachers should stay. The St. Petersburg Times reports that when budget cuts are not an issue, firing a teacher can be more than a little difficult. Ron Matus of The Times tells the story of Roy Sachse, a tenured P.E. teacher in Florida with a history of inappropriate behavior. In one 18-month period, Sachse reportedly sent a note to a female student asking her ...


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