Taking on teacher attrition

We once believed that teacher effectiveness dramatically increased for the first three to five years on the job and then plateaued. But recent research suggests that substantial growth in effectiveness can be seen for the first 12 years on the job, and likely longer. This suggests that teacher quality develops over time and that experience can influence effectiveness.
We also know that students who have highly effective teachers for three years in a row can score 50 percentile points higher on achievement tests than students who have less effective teachers three years in a row.

But academic gains are just one of the outcomes of high teacher effectiveness. Research showed that as teachers gained experience, their students’ absenteeism rates declined. Experienced teachers tend to be better at classroom management and motivating students, resulting in fewer conduct issues and higher attendance.

And then there are soft skills, such as the ability to collaborate and problem solve, think creatively, and be empathetic. These skills—which have been linked to higher employment, greater job satisfaction, and lower crime rates—are developed, not taught, and teachers are a huge part of that development.…Read More

Technology helps manage teacher quality initiatives

To meet the requirements of a new state law, 22 of Florida’s 67 school districts have adopted an online system called FASTe.

Across the country, states and school districts are grappling with how best to evaluate teachers and administrators in a way that is rigorous, yet fair—and gives them opportunities to grow professionally. That’s true in Florida, too, where the passage last year of Senate Bill 736, the Student Success Act, requires Florida school districts to revamp their evaluation systems for teachers and school leaders.

To meet the requirements of the new law, 22 of Florida’s 67 school districts have adopted an online system called FASTe, the Formative Action System for Teacher Effectiveness, from Winter Park, Fla.-based Performance Matters. The company was on hand at the Florida Educational Technology Conference to showcase its FASTe platform.

Performance Matters describes FASTe as “an easy-to-use online platform that connects student outcomes to educator actions.” Among the most recent Florida districts to purchase FASTe is Citrus County, which launched a pilot implementation in selected schools in December and plans to roll out the online platform across all 23 schools this fall.…Read More

$5 billion program would focus on teacher quality

The program is called RESPECT, an acronym for Recognizing Educational Success, Professional Excellence, and Collaborative Teaching.

The Obama administration is hoping that competition combined with cash will encourage states and school districts to improve the nation’s teaching corps.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Feb. 15 announced details of the administration’s proposed $5 billion program for a new Race to the Top-style competition, with states and districts competing for grant dollars to improve teacher quality, during a town hall meeting with teachers. Among the changes the administration is seeking: higher teaching salaries, compensation tied to performance, and more selective and improved teaching colleges.

The program was included in the budget proposal that President Barack Obama sent to Congress on Feb. 15. It is likely to face obstacles in the gridlocked Congress, however, where some Republicans have complained of federal overreach and overlapping programs in education.…Read More

Report: U.S. should model education system after other countries

Teacher quality is "only ... as good as the system that recruits, prepares, and compensates the nation’s teachers,” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

The U.S. must mirror the educational practices of top-performing countries if it is to regain its competitive advantage, according to a new report from the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE).

One of the major discrepancies between the U.S. and countries that are outperforming it educationally is the performance differences between students from high- and low-income families.

The NCEE hosted a May 24 symposium to discuss the findings of its report, called “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: An American Agenda for Education Reform.”…Read More

Are qualified teachers always effective teachers?

An effective teacher can alter a student's achievement by as much as 50 percentage points.
An effective teacher can alter a student's achievement by as much as 50 percentage points.

Under No Child Left Behind, schools are required to make sure every teacher is “highly qualified,” which—according to the law—means teachers must be certified in the subject areas they teach. But amid a growing consensus that “highly qualified” doesn’t necessarily mean “highly effective,” a movement is under way to reshape how the nation views successful teaching.

The effort is particularly relevant as learning in today’s schools undergoes a 21st-century transformation, some observers say—and they say true reform won’t occur until education leaders redefine what “highly qualified” teaching means.

In the typical instructional model of the past, the teacher was a “sage on the stage,” well versed in facts within a specific subject area and able to teach from a textbook. But now, 21st-century education demands a different kind of teacher, many stakeholders say—more of a mentor than a sage, and someone who can facilitate both individualized and collaborative learning.…Read More

Poor teachers may hamper good students: U.S. study

Researchers said an unusual genetic study supports the argument that good teachers make a difference and shows that poor teachers may do damage, even to gifted students, Reuters reports. The study, published in the journal Science, showed that effective teachers help kids with the best genes read better, while poor teachers brought down all the children in a classroom to the same mediocre level. The findings by behavioral geneticist Jeanette Taylor at Florida State University and colleagues could influence the debate in Congress, the White House and school districts across the United States about measuring the quality in schools. “In circumstances where the teachers are all excellent, the variability in student reading achievement may appear to be largely due to genetics. However, poor teaching impedes the ability of children to reach their potential,” Taylor and colleagues concluded…

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Superintendents say they need resources, flexibility to transform schools

Superintendents hope the federal government will make resources available to districts while also allowing for improvement programs developed within the district.
Finalists for the National Superintendent of the Year have a message for federal leaders: Give us the flexibility to make our own improvements.

School administrators aiming to transform the nation’s schools hope the federal government will make resources available to districts while also giving them the flexibility to implement their own improvement programs, said finalists in the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) National Superintendent of the Year competition.

The four finalists held a panel discussion Jan. 12 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., to examine what they think school leaders and the Obama administration can do to bring about change in public schools.

“We have the ability to transform ourselves,” said Washington County, Md., Public Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Molina Morgan. “I think the administration should give school systems tools, support, and guidance so they can transform themselves from the inside out. [The administration] should avoid having more federal oversight.”…Read More