Monday, October 24, 2011

Teacher Quality Bonanza

DFER is out with two new reports on the critical topic of teacher quality.  Here's the summary:

Teacher Quality Bonanza

While a small number of cynics out there still argue that classroom teachers are not really an important ingredient in a child's overall education recipe, one of the most important developments in K-12 education policy in the last few years has been the recognition that decades-old teacher evaluations (where the best a child can hope for is a 'satisfactory' teacher over an 'unsatisfactory' teacher)  aren't up for the task of recognizing which teachers are hitting the ball out of the park with their students.

At DFER, we've long believed that the widespread irrelevance of excellence itself in the K-12 world has created a culture that has actively done damage to the lives of too many children who deserved much, much better from our nation's most important public institution.

But there have been a lot of positive developments in this area of late. There's obviously a long way to go, and surely some of what has been done to-date will need to be changed/enhanced/expanded, but we are clearly closer to a day where the link between teaching and learning is more clear in workplace evaluations for educators. (And we continue to hope and believe that this will usher in a new era where successful teachers are treated more like the community heroes that we believe they are.)

Today, Democrats for Education Reform is releasing two new papers that look at this issue a little more clearly. 

1. In IMPACT in Washington: Lessons From the First years, former Wall Street Journal reporter Barbara Martinez takes a look at the IMPACT teacher evaluation system in our nation's capital. Early results show that the system is doing pretty much what it was intended to do: recognizing and rewarding the most successful teachers, providing feedback and targeted professional development to help teachers improve, and dismissing the relative few who don't belong in classrooms. Read the full report here.

2. In Built to Succeed? Ranking New Statewide Teacher Evaluation Practices, Martinez joins Jocelyn Huber, DFER's teacher advocacy director, and Ron Tupa, DFER's director of state legislatures, in providing a pre-season "likelihood of success" ranking of 19 states that changed their teacher evaluation policies in the last few years. There are a lot of caveats attached to this type of project, since states tackled the problem in so many different ways, but we will obviously continue to monitor the practices in these states going forward. Read the full report here.

 Subscribe in a reader