Over the weekend, Randi Weingarten supported national content standards in a big Washington Post op-ed. Andy Rotherham offers a commentary on it here. The American Federation of Teachers has supported national standards for some time but never quite this vocally. And it's interesting that Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has intimated lately that he wants to move in this direction, too. Like most other policymakers who have endorsed national standards, Weingarten doesn't mention anything about a national assessment. A national test that could be used for accountability is controversial but it seems like a topic that for pragmatic reasons needs ...


From Guest Blogger Liana Heitin Last year, the superintendent of public instruction in Arizona, Tom Horne, implemented a host of regulations concerning the instruction of English-language learners. Students not proficient in English were to have four hours a day of direct English instruction: an hour each of grammar, reading, vocabulary, and conversation. During this time, they would remain in a self-contained classroom with a "highly qualified" teacher and other students at their proficiency level. In order to institute these new requirements, schools with a high number of ELLs (mostly urban schools) had to find and train ELL teachers, create new ...


Earlier this week, education leaders from the District of Columbia honored 20 new teachers who successfully earned advanced certification through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. That figure is quadruple what it was last year. Both D.C. Chancellor Michelle Rhee and Randi Weingarten, the head of the American Federation of Teachers, were in attendance. (It's reassuring to know that the two women can actually be in the same room together without spontaneously combusting.) Both made what sounded like conciliatory remarks about the D.C. contract situation. "Regardless of all the issues we may have, hopefully we can find ...


From Guest Blogger Liana Heitin In Curriculum Matters, Kathleen Kennedy Manzo points out that reading coaches, many of whom were hired with now-depleted Reading First funds, are being dropped from school budgets. It’s hard to say exactly how big a role coaches play in increasing student achievement, but they’re given much credit in places like Warren County, Ky., where reading scores have shot up. Teachers there receive "spot training" on a daily basis, during which coaches observe small-group reading instruction and jump in when help is needed. As noted in this Herald-Tribune story, coaches assist instruction in a ...


This just in from my intrepid colleagues at Politics K-12: The conference agreement on the stimulus will include $200 million for the Teacher Incentive Fund, a federal performance pay initiative. Looks like the Obama administration, which supported the extra funding for TIF, managed to carry the day on this one. In the grand scheme of the multibillion-dollar stimulus, $200 million is chump change. But that's not the case in the world of performance-based teacher pay, where the figure amounts to more than twice what TIF got in the last appropriations cycle. One of the challenges of performance-based pay is how ...


I think Liana's on to something when she suggests below that the economic downturn could benefit alternative certification, as newly laid-off professionals seek stable jobs and think about changing careers. Consider alternate-route provider American Board for the Certification of Teacher Excellence, which saw record enrollments in January with 496 teachers-to-be signing on. In most months, the figure hovers at about 200. ABCTE did offer a discount on its program, which typically costs $850, but its leaders think there's more to it than that. “The downturn in the economy could end up being a blessing in disguise for school districts looking ...


Despite massive teacher layoffs in California and Florida, there are some areas of the country where teaching is still considered a recession-proof profession— and, consequently, an attractive option for people hit by corporate downsizing. According to the Omaha World-Herald, Omaha Public Schools usually have 400-500 teaching positions open in the fall, and district officials are expecting just as many for the 2009-10 school year. North Carolina anticipates needing to fill 11,000 positions over the summer. As Wendy Boyer, the V.P. for workforce development at Omaha’s chamber of commerce, said, "There's always going to be a need for ...


It sounds like the KIPP unionization in New York City has gotten a little rocky, per this New York Times article, with teachers that elected to join the union saying they've since felt intimidated by administrators and haven't had the same access to them. Alexander Russo has an interesting response here in which he suggests that if this deal turns sour, it's as much a risk for the unions, who are trying to establish credibility in the charter movement, as for the school's administration and for KIPP, which risk coming off as anti-labor. What do you think?...


My apologies for not posting yesterday, but I return with exciting news to make up for it: A new guestblogger, Liana Heitin, will be helping me out on blogging duties and making sure that not a morsel of teacher-policy news falls through the cracks! Some of our readers will know Liana from her work at sister publication Teacher Magazine but she also brings some great on-the-ground experience, too: she was a Teach for America teacher in Phoenix before turning to edu-journalism. Why not take this opportunity to add Teacher Beat to your RSS feed so you won't miss any of ...


Mathematica has a big new report out using a rigorous, experimental design that shows that students taught by teachers who came through alternative routes in general did as well on reading and math standardized tests as those taught by traditionally certified teachers. The study also found no correlation between the number of hours of coursework and student achievement. One of the reasons this is a big deal is that most of the studies of alternative certification have focused on the "elite" programs like Teach For American and the New Teacher Project; this looks at a bunch of regular, state-run programs. ...


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