My colleague Scott Cech has a great story up about the issue of formative assessment, the classroom-based, typically nonstandardized exercises that help teachers adjust their instruction and are not used for summative or high-stakes purposes. The research on the practice is strong, but most teachers haven't been trained about how to implement it. That's a big obstacle for states and districts that want to benefit from formative assessment.Some experts, as Scott reports, say formative assessment must be seamlessly integrated into instruction, which means that teachers need help constructing assessments that reflect the local curriculum. So what are the options ...


According to a new Center on Education Policy analysis, Maryland schools entering the "restructuring" phase of school improvement under NCLB are increasingly choosing the option to replace teachers and staff. In the past, most schools in restructuring appointed a "turnaround specialist" to improve the school. But the state has closed that option, and there's little evidence of its success, the report says. The report has already generated some lively commentary over at Eduwonkette (including "Skoolboy," who calls replacing staff the "neutron bomb" theory of school reform.) School leaders in Maryland have implemented this differently. Some have required all staff members ...


Michael DiMaggio will join the NEA Foundation as its director of development. He comes to the 40-year-old NEA Foundation from the Council of Chief State School Officers, where he spent seven years creating their corporate partner programs and oversaw the organization’s development efforts. At the CCSSO, he worked on an initiative that provides support and technical assistance to state education agency officials in low-performing, high- poverty schools and alternative education high schools. DiMaggio was once a special education teacher and high school athletic coach, according to a release from the foundation. The NEA Foundation gives out grants to teachers, ...


In a conference call on this survey, Joel Klein, the chancellor of the New York City schools, said he supported "front-loading" compensation for new teachers and offering more pay based on teacher bonuses. "So much [of teacher compensation] ends up in defined-benefit pension plans,” he said. “I think a lot of teachers are not going to be around to accrue long-term pensions.” Salary front-loading and performance pay? Hmm. Sounds a lot like the contract that District of Columbia schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee is trying to put into place, with its green-tier proposal that would allow new teachers to make almost $70,000...


I had a bunch of stories due last week and neglected my blogging duties. So I owe my co-blogger Vaishali a big-shout out and thank you for holding down the fort in my absence! Not long ago, I wrote a story about a volume on state and federal accountability policies edited by Bruce Fuller at the University of California. The study I focused on found, using survey data from three state samples, that in the wake of standards-based reform, teachers are changing how they are instructing. But they are doing so autonomously and not always in uniform, aligned ways. Of ...


Teacher advocates have long argued that it is unfair to judge a teacher by student test scores alone, especially those in classrooms with challenging environments. This week, the state commissioner of education agreed with that perspective when he reinstated a teacher who was fired over a teacher rating system based on student test scores. According to this story in the Dallas Morning News, Sharon Toussaint was one of eight teachers fired from Kimball High School under a recent reorganization to address chronically low test scores. Toussaint petitioned Texas Education Agency Commissioner Robert Scott to be reinstated. In his ruling, Scott ...


American Federation of Teachers locals have partnered with districts on pioneering reform efforts, including peer review and assistance in Toledo, Ohio, and charter schools in New York City. Now, locals working on reform plans could get financial support from the national union, which today announced the creation of a $1 million fund to support such efforts. The announcement of the AFT Innovation Fund comes just as the national teachers' unions have come under criticism from both Democrats and Republicans as standing in the way of reform. In addition to the $1 million seed money, the AFT will seek more funding ...


Has Obama actually converted the NEA into a fan of charter schools? Maybe not quite, but when did you last hear an NEA president say something like this about charter schools: “Those of us in the education community can learn from charter school success stories and failures. The key is to identify what is working that can be sustained and reproduced on a broad scale so that as many students as possible can benefit.” That's a quote from Dennis Van Roekel, the NEA president, and it came in a statement issued right after Obama's speech in Dayton, Ohio, where he ...


Democrats have often been criticized for being in cahoots with the teacher unions on education policy, and each time Sen. Barack Obama voices support for charter schools or merit pay-- ideas that the national teacher unions aren't terribly fond of-- there's a lot of back-and-forth on how he's breaking away from the unions. Today, in his speech at a school in Dayton, Ohio, the Democratic presidential candidate-- who has received the endorsement of both the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers -- called for more charter schools, merit pay, and for replacing bad teachers. "We must give ...


Sen. John McCain's swipe against Barack Obama and teacher unions at the Republican National Convention Thursday has provoked a suitably angry response from the National Education Association and its new president. In his speech, about which you can read more on our Campaign K-12 blog, McCain said Obama, his Democrat rival, "wants our schools to answer to unions and entrenched bureaucrats. I want schools to answer to parents and students." Dennis Van Roekel, the president of the 3.2 million-member NEA, which had 40 delegates at the convention, in a statement Friday called McCain "completely out of touch" with the ...


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