Teacher Quality News: Week of April 20

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      image by Joe Shlabotnik
Teacher Prep
Florida is taking a shot at adjusting the supply of teachers in hard-to-fill areas. The Sunshine State’s Department of Education has identified seven teacher shortage areas (some of which, like English, surprised us). To fill these gaps, reports Bay News 9, they’re offering a carrot to teacher prep programs: the programs will get bonus points in the approval process for increasing teacher production in these high needs areas.
Another state is making use of its power to approve - or not approve - teacher prep programs. Minnesota’s Board of Teaching has suspended the University of Minnesota Duluth’s ability to offer early childhood teacher prep - on the heels of suspending the institution’s secondary prep programs. According to Duluth News Tribune, this sanction comes after UMD made, but did not report, changes to its dual-licensure elementary and special education program. This suspension will lead to a thorough review of the institution’s prep programs. It’s unknown whether this change will trigger a loss of accreditation by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.
Meanwhile, Lawrence World-Journal shares that Kansas has postponed a vote on giving a coalition of 6 districts with special status as “innovative” districts more leeway in who becomes a teacher. The Kansas State Board of Education was set to vote on the proposal but asked the districts to revise it after receiving protests from schools of education and other advocates.
District Matters
After four meetings with a state mediator, the Los Angeles teachers union and school district have reached a tentative agreement. The new agreement includes a 10 percent raise for teachers over the next two years, the joint development of a new teacher evaluation system and new funds for class size reduction according to L.A. School Report. The Board of Education and UTLA members are set to vote on the proposed agreement in the coming days.
Retaining great teachers isn’t easy and the Nashville school district is preparing to take the issue head-on. “…. retention of the right teachers is the thing we can do right. We are not doing everything we can to make sure that happens,” Katie Cour, the district’s executive director of talent strategy, told The Tennessean. The new teacher retention program will start with the basics, including collecting data to understand why teachers leave and where they go, and then will build on innovative practices happening in schools around the district.
State Matters
Echoing a headline we covered last week about unequal access to high quality teachers in New York City’s renewal schools, the New York State Department of Education released an analysis of the distribution of effective teachers along with an updated teacher equity plan. The analysis finds that Black and Hispanic students are more likely to be assigned ineffective teachers. Chalkbeat New York summarizes the results from the perspective of New York City, noting the state’s analysis finds that New York City teachers are three times more likely to earn a highly effective rating than are teachers in other poor districts in the state.
The governor of Florida signed a bill that reduces the weight given to student test scores in teacher evaluations from 50 percent to 33 percent of the evaluation. In addition, the new law will delay the release of school accountability grades and teacher evaluations until the state’s new assessments are evaluated, reports the Miami Herald.
In Other Ed News
Last week the Senate Health, Education and Pensions committee unanimously passed a rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). According toEducation Week, the last time the committee cleared a rewrite of ESEA was in 2011. As currently written, the bill would maintain annual federal testing requirements, but allow states to create their own accountability measures. The bill, however, has many hurdles to overcome before becoming law. We’ll see what happens if and when the bill makes it to the Senate floor.