Ohio Takes Big Step Towards Improving Teacher Quality

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There's good news from Ohio this week. A collaboration of all 51 colleges of education, the State Department of Education, and the Board of Education has decided to invest the resources and cooperation needed to determine what works in teacher preparation. The Ohio Partnership for Accountability is undertaking a five-year, $10 million "value-added" analysis that will look at the English and math scores of students in order to determine how effective their teachers' preparation was. The advantage of using this method, pioneered by the University of Tennessee professor William Sanders, is that Ohio will be able to determine what works and what doesn't.

What's amazing about this project is the courage of all parties involved. Submitting oneself to an honest-to-goodness test of efficacy always involves the possibility for failure. Nevertheless, both the Ohio Partnership for Accountability and the state's two big teachers unions (OFT and OEA) have decided that it's worth the risk to learn what makes an effective teacher that can improve student achievement.

As Thomas Lasley, dean of the University of Dayton's School of Education and co-chair of the partnership said, "What a group of us deans said was, 'We're willing to take the challenge.' "We've got tons of graduates but no mechanism to assess the relative effectiveness of those teachers." Such candor is remarkable, refreshing, and rare.