The OECD has released the latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) results. Visit our collection of resources to help you interpret them in context.
Last week The New Teacher Project (TNTP) released a report entitled The Irreplaceables-Understanding the Real Retention Crisis in America’s Urban Schools which continues the theme espoused in their previous report The Widget Effect, that public school districts treat all teachers the same and hold them to low expectations, particularly in urban districts, with disastrous results for students. To be clear, neither I nor any of my colleagues in the Learning First Alliance (LFA) believe that low expectations for teacher performance should be tolerated nor do we believe that current practices and policies should be perpetuated if they contribute to supporting mediocrity in the classroom. However, we do believe that most teachers who are appropriately supported by strong instructional leadership and collaborative school culture can improve their practice in a way that benefits the students they serve.
Without digging into the data used to identify those teachers labeled “irreplaceable” and those labeled “struggling” in the report or the variables that exist within the districts and schools surveyed, I find the remedies to retaining the “irreplaceables” less than new or eye-opening. The report’s findings essentially said that teachers whose students achieved well (i.e. irreplaceables) in well managed schools stayed in their jobs longer….big surprise. The key supports provided by ...
There’s a saying: When you have a hammer, everything suddenly becomes a nail. It is not surprising that student surveys, as a tool analogous to the hammer, are suddenly viewed through the lens of usefulness when applied to teacher evaluations.
Student surveys provide valuable feedback for teachers that contribute to professional development and can result in improved classroom practices. Over the years, the classroom-level cycle of feedback and adjustment can produce improved student performance results. It already happens in some places; imagine the possible impact if such a process were adopted system-wide. But when it comes to teacher evaluations, implementation is – as always - fraught with unforeseen consequences. The errors of the policy-making community, when in a rush, are plentiful, and in this instance, threaten to undermine the already established usefulness of student feedback when it comes to developing highly effective teachers. ...
Remember the Super Committee? Formally known as the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, it was a bipartisan congressional committee established by the Budget Control Act of 2011 tasked with identifying $1.2 trillion in federal budgetary savings (through spending cuts, revenue increases and program reforms) over ten years.
If you remember the Super Committee, you also remember that it failed. And the consequence of that failure is looming on the horizon: Sequestration.
Sequestration refers to the across-the-board budget cuts of approximately nine percent that are scheduled to take effect on January 2, 2013. It is a blunt instrument, applying budget cuts to all discretionary spending programs, from defense to education and medical research to housing, regardless of program effectiveness or return on investment.
The most widely discussed aspect of sequestration is cuts to defense spending. Almost immediately after the Super Committee failed, talks began among some lawmakers as to how sequestration could be reformed to ...
At a recent reception in the august Mansfield Room in the the U.S. Capitol celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), Ron Thorpe, the new President and CEO of NBPTS, compared the Board certification that almost every physician earns in order to practice medicine to the status and importance of Board certification for teachers in K-12 classrooms. He specifically asked if we’d be willing to send our child (or grandchild) into surgery if the physician doing the work wasn’t Board certified in his or her field. Of course, none of us is willing to send a loved one into the operating theatre under the care of a surgeon who is not Board certified, so why should we be willing to send our children to schools with teachers who may or may not be skilled in their practice?
The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards was established twenty-five years ago with support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and under the leadership of then North Carolina governor, James Hunt. The Carnegie Forum on Education and the ...
Policymakers, researchers, practitioners and the general public all seem to agree: Improving teacher quality is one of the most promising strategies for improving education outcomes in our nation. But to date, most policies on teacher quality revolve around teacher evaluation – identifying weak performers and helping them improve (and getting them out of the profession if they don’t). And most seem to rely on one of two tools for measuring quality: Observations by school administration (some of whom have little time for, and training in, this particular activity) or standardized test scores (which are of questionable value in assessing educator performance).
Often ignored in the teacher quality conversation are those first entering the classroom. How can we be confident that they are able to teach effectively starting their first day as a teacher of record?
Recognizing the need for a new standard for determining teacher readiness, the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE) and Stanford University have partnered to ...
Consider a community in which people cannot own property. Where housing consists of trailers or old manufactured homes packed closely together, with options for food and shopping very limited. Where a large population of feral animals poses a consistent threat. With high crime rates, high alcoholism, high gang activity. Would you want to live – or teach – there?
Alchesay High School in Whiteriver, Arizona (part of the White Mountain Apache Reservation) is located in such a community. Prior to the arrival of Principal Roy Sandoval in the summer of 2010, the school had the lowest math scores in the state, a 47% graduation rate, and a large population of 18-20 year-old students with less than five credits. There were 291 on-campus drug and alcohol incidents in the 2009 school year (SY2009), and “bootleggers” were selling alcohol to students from land adjoining the campus. There was great rancor and mistrust between teachers and administrators. ...
Last weekend I had pleasure of attending the Celebration of Teaching and Learning in New York City. As always, it was an inspiring event.
In reflecting on the overall themes of the weekend, one emerged very clearly: Children and schools are hurting because of the current economic climate. The economy worked its way into just about every plenary, breakout and lunchtime conversation that I was a part of.
Three other themes were nearly as ubiquitous. All three were also related to the context in which the Celebration found itself.
- Assessment and evaluation. Given the recent release of New York City public school teachers’ value-added evaluation rankings to the public – an action decried by everyone from Bill Gates to Teach For America Founder Wendy Kopp to Dennis Van Roekel and Randi Weingarten, the presidents of the nation’s two largest teachers unions – and the large number of NYC education professionals at the event, it is not surprising that assessment and evaluation were at ...
Last week I read two stories about large public education systems that have stuck with me for days. One story, on page one of The Washington Post, profiled the work of Chris Lloyd, the vice president of the Montgomery County Education Association (MCEA), the teachers’ union representing the 12,000 classroom professionals employed by Montgomery County, MD Public Schools. It detailed the positive progress a district can make when its professionals at all levels work together to support good teaching and counsel poor performers out of the profession. The second story, a posting on the blog Teacher in a Strange Land by Nadia Zananiri, an AP World History teacher in the Miami-Dade Public Schools, describes the tragic consequences of education policies that unfairly and inaccurately “rate” teachers using “value-added” data and publicly rank schools and the professionals who work in them by publishing those ratings in the popular press. Since both districts are large urban-suburban districts with a diverse student population, I’m puzzled by why the Florida district can’t learn from the Maryland district’s success.
For more than a decade, Montgomery County Public Schools has used a program called Peer Assistance and Review (PAAR) to evaluate, support, and improve classroom instruction. The program was developed in partnership with the MCEA, the principals’ organization, and central office administrators with the support of the school board and focuses on providing mentoring for new teachers and ongoing feedback to experienced teachers to insure that the students in the district are successful. When a teacher’s practice doesn’t improve after ...
Editor’s Note: Our guest blogger today is Susan Hildreth. Susan serves as the director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a position to which President Obama appointed her in January 2011.
Museums and libraries are an essential component of any vision of the future of learning. Helping these institutions to create engaging and empowering learning experiences is one of the primary goals of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).
The classic field trip to a museum is still a valuable tool for elementary school teachers. But the relationship museums and libraries now have with schools is much more collaborative than that of host and guest for an occasional visit. ...
A recent article in the San Diego Union-Tribune celebrated the Developing Reading Education with Arts Method (DREAM) program that is being implemented in ten school districts in San Diego’s North County. The program trains and supports third- and fourth-grade teachers in incorporating the arts (puppetry, miming, acting, dancing and more) into their lessons.
The results are, as quoted in the article, “astonishing.” Third-grade students whose teachers received a week-long summer training on integrating the arts into their teaching and weekly in-class coaching from arts professionals had an 87-point average increase on a standardized reading test (which is scored from 150 to 600). Students whose teachers received no arts training had just a 25-point average increase. While we know that standardized test scores are not always an accurate indicator of whether students are learning, this model is definitely one to consider as we look for ways to raise the reading levels of all students.
Three things stuck out to me as key lessons we can transfer from the DREAM experience to other educational endeavors:
1) A rich curriculum, including the arts, is important. We at the Learning First Alliance have long recognized the benefits of including the arts as part of a rich curriculum in our public schools, and we have lamented the narrowing of the curriculum in ...
A VISION FOR GREAT SCHOOLS
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