Back in 2006, at the American Federation of Teachers' convention in Boston, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy made an appearance and absolutely electrified the delegates. AFT delegates are, generally speaking, a much quieter bunch than National Education Association delegates, but on this occasion, they leapt to their feet, swarmed the stage, and took pictures. With all the hullabaloo, I couldn't see anything except Kennedy's shock of white hair from where I sat in the press gallery. It took a good 20 minutes or so to get things settled down to the point where Kennedy could actually make his address. There's no ...

Colleague Mary Ann Zehr has a great blog item up about the Obama administration's push for using test scores for teacher-evaluation and -compensation purposes. Several academics are raising concerns about the idea, especially for teachers of English-language learners, she reports. Content exams, especially those given in English rather than in native languages, are not good measures of these students' abilities, they write. This is not a trivial issue, when you consider that perhaps only a third of teachers explicitly teach reading/English-language arts or math. What do you do in all the other content areas? What do you do for ...

Union members object to cost-cutting proposals by the financially beleaguered school district.

In sharply worded comments, the nation's largest union made clear it will oppose many of the core elements of the $4.35 billion fund.

An internal AFT newsletter suggests that AFT officials feel the Race to the Top's criteria are "overly prescriptive."

We're evidently headed to a lot of wrangling on this topic, given the focus on student-teacher data in the Race to the Top proposed criteria. So, once again Teacher Beat provides you with a cheat sheet to help you make sense of it. First off, we must start by assuming, as the federal government does, that it is appropriate to consider student achievement at least to some degree in evaluating teachers. (I fully realize there are people and groups out there who vociferously disagree. If you are one of them, I invite you to leave a comment below to tell ...

That's the subtext of this must-read blog item by colleague Mary Ann Zehr over at Learning the Language. Zehr profiles this GAO report, which found that many teacher training programs devote at least one course to techniques for working with students with disabilities, but far fewer—about one in five&mdash devote similar attention to English-language learners. One hopes that will change in the future, perhaps spurred by new reporting requirements in the Higher Education Act that require programs to set goals for increasing the number of teachers trained to work with SWDs and ELLs....

from guest blogger Lesli A. Maxwell California's budget is busted and school districts have had to let teachers go, but that's not keeping a new organization from pledging to deliver a bevy of new teacher talent to the state's public schools over the next 11 years. Today, an informal network of folks who oversee 70 separate alternative teacher certification programs around the state are launching a formal membership organization that aims to find top-notch professional people who want a second career in the classroom. Called the California Teacher Corps, the organization has one particularly lofty goal: grooming 100,000 new ...

The Gates Foundation has advanced five districts' teacher-effectiveness plans, part of the foundation's commitment to putting $500 million into researching the question of how to measure and promote effective teaching.

This morning I was perusing the comments that have been filed to date on the proposed guidelines on the Race to the Top grants, and was surprised to discover one from an administrator in Washoe County, Nev., who pointed to a section of the state code that appears to put it out of contention for RTTT funds. NRS 386.650 states that information in the state's longitudinal database ... "must be used for the purpose of improving the achievement of pupils and improving classroom instruction but must not be used for the purpose of evaluating an individual teacher or paraprofessional." I ...

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