Not long ago, I did a story pointing out that some states have passed laws that basically prohibit the linking of student- and teacher-data systems. New York and California are the high-profile examples. Presumably, these data could inform a variety of different initiatives, both low- and high-stakes: performance-based pay, teacher evaluations, tenure decisions, professional development, and the determination of which teacher colleges produce the strongest graduates. Now, it looks as though dismantling these firewalls might be a prerequisite for qualifying for "Race to the Top" discretionary funds, reports my colleague Michele McNeil over at Campaign K-12. Education Secretary Arne Duncan ...


The New Teacher Project had a really interesting study out not long ago on teacher evaluation that found that pretty much all teachers get high ratings on local evaluation instruments. This is something of a portent for things to come, since one of the stimulus assurances will probably deal with this piece of data. See my write-up of the TNTP study for additional details and some feedback from teachers, union officials, and so forth. One interesting element in the report that I didn't include in my story has to do with where these records are kept. Of the 12 districts ...


Columbus has inked a new teacher contract with a pay program that's designed to move highly effective teachers into challenging schools, according to this story (hat tip to Emmy over at Flypaper.) After reviewing student growth data, a principal's recommendation and an application, the district superintendent will invite select teachers to work in hard-to-staff schools and receive a $4,000 annual pay bonus. The story says that the new contract also ties bonuses under a separate performance-pay initiative to the value-added data. I'm a little surprised to see that the local union approved this plan, since the pay raises it ...


The Obama administration just ran into its first major roadblock in its attempts to more than quadruple the $97 million Teacher Incentive Fund program: Soccer-mom-turned-Senator Patty Murray, of Washington.


How about that headline for alphabet soup? I've been getting a lot of mail on two recent blog items about the hiring of teachers in difficult times, and some of the concerns that unions have. Some of the comments are worth additional discussion, so I'm going to share them here. In this item, I asked someone to explain the logic of laying off veterans and hiring Teach For America types. A couple of people, including commentator "Chris" below, directed me to this story out of North Carolina. The story says that Superintendent Peter Gorman plans to cut about 400 teachers ...


Alabama teachers must be cheering. The Yellowhammer State is the latest to discard some of its norm-referenced testing, according to the Birmingham News. I wrote a longer story last month about this trend. Interestingly, though, I found that while states were starting to pare standardized tests that didn't count toward NCLB, districts seem to be hanging on to their "benchmark" tests—tests that they use to determine whether kids are on track to passing the end-of-year NCLB tests. Tell us what's happening with testing in your district. Are you seeing cuts or is testing being preserved?...


Andy Rotherham has the scoop on an e-mail that the NEA reportedly sent out to its affiliates. Here's a sampling: "In all of the independent studies, more than 80 percent of TFA recruits have left teaching by year 4, just as they are beginning to become effective, costing districts about $20k apiece to replace them and adding to the high turnover rates in urban districts—which itself negatively affects school performance. The only studies that have found TFA recruits to be as effective as other teachers (including the recent Urban Institute North Carolina study they are touting—which was conducted...


So reports The New York Times in this article. The cuts apparently mean that young professionals who took out loans expecting them to be forgiven as they completed their first four or five years of teaching are basically stuck with them. The article also suggests that the Obama administration's move to end lender subsidies and to originate most student loans in-house could effectively shut down these types of teacher-loan programs. As I read this story, I couldn't help but wonder about the federal TEACH grants, which I wrote about here. Although called "grants," some experts say they really ought to ...


Which of these two teacher-related stories is more bizarre: this gag one from the satirical paper The Onion, or this real-life one about Mary Kay Letourneau, who went to prison for the statutory rape of a student (whom she later married) hosting "Hot for Teacher" night at a Seattle nightclub?...


Over the last decade, the teacher practice of using "formative assessments" has become a huge topic of interest. Though called assessments, in practice they're more like exercises teachers use to gather immediate feedback on whether a student is responding to an instructional technique, with reference to a particular curricular objective. Proponents say the practice has a strong research base showing it can dramatically improve student achievement. (And now that testing companies are labeling a lot of products as "formative," it's a big moneymaking endeavor, too.) But recently, some experts have suggested that it may be time to take a closer ...


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