The edu-policy community spends a lot of time discussing the relative merits of different routes into the teaching profession. This story from The Los Angeles Times raises what to me seems like an important and understudied question: How do alternative routes like Teach For America and the New Teacher Project affect the composition, culture, and norms of a school's workforce, especially when that workforce is made up traditionally trained veterans? The story paints a somewhat disturbing picture of Compton's (Calif.) experience negotiating this divide, including a fair amount of vitriol between supporters of the various routes both at school sites ...


The Gates Foundation has a must-read letter up for teacher-policy folks. Check it out. My colleague Erik Robelen has reported on the basic contours of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's new approach to education reform here and here. But there are some really interesting tidbits to cull out from this letter. For one, it's clear that Gates is going to go whole hog on the teacher-quality issue, particularly on the teacher-effectiveness front. In the letter, Gates writes: "Whenever I talk to teachers, it is clear that they want to be great, but they need better tools so they can measure ...


According to this story in The Los Angeles Times, the district has decided to keep all its teachers on the payroll for the time being. Earlier this month, it looked like up to 2,300 teachers could lose their jobs mid-year. But $500 to $600 million will continue to need to be cut from next year's budget, which means jobs are still going to be on the line. Officials are hoping that 2,000 early retirements will naturally help lower the number of teachers in jeopardy of the pink slip. The story explores a couple of interesting scenarios that suggest ...


An Ohio philanthropic group says schools should have a freer hand in awarding tenure to good teachers and firing bad ones. The Ohio Grantmakers Association, a group representing more than 200 private and corporate foundations that give more than $300 million to schools in the state each year, made its recommendations to the governor and legislature yesterday. The report calls for strengthening state law to require teachers seeking tenure to demonstrate their skills, based partly on student performance. And whereas current law on dismissing teachers focuses on immoral conduct, the report recommends that the terms for dismissing teachers be made ...


Maybe it's a little early to read the tea leaves, but we here at Teacher Beat think there might be a lot more attention at the federal level to teacher quality. Why? Well, the confirmation hearing for Arne Duncan focused nearly exclusively on teaching, while the economic-stimulus package has oodles of new funding for teachers. The last seven years have been mostly a punching bag for the "highly qualified" teacher requirements of the No Child law. Few people would argue those provisions were perfect, but from a conceptual standpoint, Congress made a monumental decision to set a federal teaching standard. ...


Team R & R over at the Center for American Progress has an article that explores some of the themes Teacher Beat wrote about in this post with respect to the cost-effectiveness and impact on student achievement of laying off teachers by seniority level rather than effectiveness. Eduwonk (and possible Duncan appointee?) Andy Rotherham picks up the thread here. We suspect there will be more chatter about this if the financial situation doesn't improve and districts are forced to cull more teaching positions. Stay tuned....


There is plenty of speculation over whether teacher-accountability systems should include evaluations from students. Students, the argument in favor of the idea goes, are the best and most logical judges of teacher effectiveness since they are actually in the learning environment. If that is true, high school teachers in Providence, R.I., just got a failing mark from their students. A student-sponsored survey in the district found that high schoolers are generally not happy with their teachers. The survey collected information from nearly 1,700 students, or about 21 percent of the city's public high schoolers. Common complaints included: Teachers ...


The fine folks over at the National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research have an interesting study up on the use of student test-score data in tenure decisions. Of late, some economists who study the teacher workforce, such as Thomas Kane at Harvard and Eric Hanushek at Stanford, have argued that it might make more sense to see how teachers are doing on the job and then set policies to transition out ineffective teachers, rather than attempt to prescreen teacher-candidates for effectiveness. Most districts do the latter but not the former, and that process hasn't proved very ...


Over the inaugural weekend, I did some reporting for another Education Week blog, Politics K-12. And, of course, I had my eye out for interesting teacher-related events. So make sure to check out details about the National Education Association's participation in the Inaugural Parade; read about the lesson the school director of the KIPP Academy of Opportunity, in Los Angeles, taught in front of the Lincoln Memorial on Martin Luther King Jr. Day; and attend a reception for Linda Darling-Hammond, whose academic career has focused on scholarly work on teacher preparation and professional development....


Here's an idea for retaining teachers who might want to move out of their jobs to administrative positions or other professions in order to make more money. A commission created by Alabama Gov. Bob Riley has recommended a system in which teachers can advance in their careers and get higher pay without leaving the classroom. Teachers could move from "apprentice teacher" to "classroom teacher" to "professional teacher" to "master teacher" and then "learning designer," all by meeting certain education and experience requirements. Each designation, the commission's report says, would provide teachers with different opportunities. For instance, a master teacher might ...


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