The unequal distribution of effective teachers is cited as a major problem for the achievement gap, and also quite an entrenched one given that poor working conditions, seniority rules and other factors result in higher proportions of such teachers in low-income and minority schools. A little known provision in the NCLB law required states to have plans to address this situation. The U.S. Department of Education made a big stink about this in 2006. But the agency has been practically silent on the issue ever since, and its own monitoring reviews show that a lot of states aren't doing ...


Here's an interesting blurb out of North Dakota: the state is considering rolling back its requirements for substitute teachers due to a shortage. The state has some of the toughest requirements for substitute teachers out there, generally requiring them to hold a full teaching certificate and a full four-year college degree. Most states have pretty lax rules for substitutes, and the practice of putting long-term subs in classrooms and rotating them has been one of the ways states have gotten around the "highly qualified" rules in the NCLB law. North Dakota's proposal would allow Title I paraprofessionals with a 2-year ...


The Washington Teachers' Union and the American Federation of Teachers have submitted their counterproposal to District of Columbia Chancellor Michelle Rhee. There's probably a lot more in the actual proposal, which we apparently won't get to see anytime soon since that's a private matter between union and membership. But what stands out at least from this summary is the complete absence of the two-tiered pay proposal and any mention whatsoever of tenure. Though controversial, those ideas generated a lot of excitement about the contract, and they were apparently the reasons why private foundations were lining up with funding. Some of ...


The New York Times reports on the United Federation of Teachers, which is proposing to limit the number of positions on the Panel for Education, the 13-member body that approves standards, policies, objectives, and regulations for the 1 million-student school system. This panel, the story says, is viewed as a "rubber stamp" for N.Y.C. Mayor Bloomberg, so reducing the number of appointees would likely curtail (or at least delay) his ability to set policy. The move is also a precursor to the debate that will take place in Albany as lawmakers review the 2002 law that charged Bloomberg ...


The national teachers' unions weren't altogether thrilled by all the attention paid to teacher effectiveness in two reports released last week (see here and here for details). National Education Association Dennis Van Roekel, for instance, argued that the reports would have overemphasized standardized test scores. "What a teacher does with her students, how she relates to them, and how she translates her subject knowledge into effective teaching practice are all the central measures of quality teaching," he argued. AFT was equally unhappy with the reports, but the union's releases heavily promoted the "peer assistance and review" model of teacher evaluation ...


Professional development is one of the most difficult teacher issues to write about well. It sits right at the nexus of policy and practice, the research on PD is spotty, the common delivery methods ("spray 'n pray" workshops) are positively archaic, and the really good examples are so classroom-based that it's hard to talk about them in broad strokes. So I'm excited about a report coming out next week. It's expected to synthesize much of the research on staff development, draw from other countries that have had success developing teachers, and situate the U.S.'s current efforts in the ...


New York City appears poised to enter the melee over teacher layoffs that's shaking its sister mega-tropolis Los Angeles right now: N.Y.C. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has submitted a budget proposal calling for cuts of more than 15,000 teachers out of about 77,000. Not surprisingly, the United Federation of Teachers is preparing to fight tooth and nail to prevent that from happening. This afternoon, it's holding a demonstration in downtown Manhattan to protest the cuts. Yesterday, L.A. teachers did much the same thing, marching from the district headquarters to Pershing Square in downtown L.A. All ...


There's a lot of important teacher activity in Los Angeles these days. Don't miss this story about the local teachers' union threatening to boycott the district's use of "interim," or periodic assessments. But both The Los Angeles Times and the district attribute an increase in student achievement to the tests. There are lot of issues to tease out here, and without knowing more about how these assessments operate, it's hard to comment on them. On the one hand, I can understand how frustrating it must be for teachers to give these tests if they're not well timed to what's being ...


This morning, the Center for American Progress' Robin Chait releases a paper detailing the organization's vision for moving the federal teacher-quality agenda forward. Check it out here. Her basic idea is to use federal policy to help states create a teacher-effectiveness "framework." This would work by 1) providing funds to help states improve their data and testing infrastructure; 2) establishing state grants to increase the supply of teachers through enhanced alternative-certification programs; and 3) creating a new competitive district and state grant program, somewhat like the Teacher Incentive Fund, for states and districts to experiment with tenure reforms, differential pay ...


Alyson Klein reports on the Senate markup of the economic-stimulus bill here. Like the House version, the bill would add $100 million for Teacher Quality Enhancement grants, which go mainly to partnerships between districts and teacher colleges. But the bill does not put a dime toward the Teacher Incentive Fund, the federal performance-pay program, whereas the House put forward a preliminary $200 million figure. The House's bill hits the floor tomorrow. It looks as though Teacher Beat may have been wrong when we predicted that the Democrats are going to carry the torch forward on performance pay. Instead, expect a ...


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