The question of what to do with bad teachers has stymied America’s education system of late, sparking chaotic protests in state capitals and vitriolic debate in a recent congressional hearing, the Huffington Post reports. It has also stoked the movement known as ‘education reform,’ which has zeroed in on teacher quality by urging school districts to sort the star teachers from the duds, and reward or punish them accordingly. The idea is that America’s schools would be able to increase their students’ test scores if only they had better teachers. Since 2007, this wave of education reformers — in particular Democrats for Education Reform, a group backed by President Barack Obama and hedge fund donors — has clashed with teachers unions in their pursuit of making the field of education as discerning in its personnel choices as, say, that of finance. Good teachers should be promoted and retained, reformers contend, instead of being treated like identical pieces on an assembly line, who are rewarded with tenure for their staying power or seniority. But what to do with the underperformers?  Different states have answered this question differently, with some instituting evaluation systems that give teachers who rank low on test scores and in classroom observations a probationary period of a few years to improve before booting them from the profession…

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staff and wire services reports