Week of December 15, 2014

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Teacher Prep
The Missouri Supreme Court has declined to accept a case involving NCTQ’s efforts to acquire course syllabi from the University of Missouri, a decision that some open records advocates fear sets a dangerous precedent, reports the Columbia Daily Tribune. NCTQ brought the case to the state Supreme Court in mid-October, hoping to overturn an earlier ruling that University of Missouri course syllabi are closed records protected by federal copyright law. Missouri’s high court opted out in late November, upholding the Court of Appeals’ Western District’s decision. The Supreme Court doesn’t usually provide reasons for rejecting a case and didn’t provide one in this case. To read our take on this case, please read our monthly newsletter, TQB, tomorrow.
When Michigan officials suspended six teacher education programs at Lake Superior State University in 2012, citing falling licensing-test scores and other problems, the action prompted a period of deep soul-searching for the university’s top brass. And it made for some painful conversations with some of the school’s current teacher-candidates and incoming hopefuls. Thecrucial role that states play in auditing existing providers­—and the power they have to shut down the weakest — has been all but ignored in such discussions. In this article, Education Weekreviews states’ closure decisions vis-à-vis their own internal teacher-preparation standards.
Teach For America is facing recruitment challenges this year which could result in a smaller incoming corps next year. While the data mirrors a decline in traditional teacher prep program enrollment, many are speculating that a partial cause for this decline may be more the vocal criticisms of TFA over the past year. For the full letter text TFA sent to partner districts, see here.

District Matters
And it’s back to court for Denver Public Schools and the Denver Classroom Teachers Association. The union along with five teachers sued the district over its use of the mutual consent provision of Colorado’s 2010 evaluation law. A district judge dismissed the case in June, according to Chalkbeat Colorado, but the union has appealed that decision.
Nine school districts and 12 charter schools in New Mexico will receive funding from the state’s Public Education Department to implement performance pay pilot programs, reports theAlbuquerque Journal. Districts designed their own programs, which range from school-based bonuses to individually focused programs. State education officials will use the information gathered from these programs to help explore what a statewide performance pay system might look like.
State Matters
The 2014 State Teacher Policy Yearbookreleased last Wednesdaymade several appearances in the news this week. For a national take, read the Washington Post article which discusses how most of the country’s teacher preparation programs are not ensuring that newly minted K-12 teachers can help students meet tougher reading and math standards. Other news sources touched on the performance of specific states such as LouisianaPennsylvania,WyomingAlaskaNew York and Delaware. For more on the Yearbook, search our dashboard or download a report here.
The Illinois State Board of Education’s annual school report cards include statistics on teacher and administrator retention rates for the first time.  According to an analysis by the Daily Herald, the average teacher retention rate across the state was 85.6 percent, with ranges among school districts from 73.1 percent to 94.7 percent.
In Other Ed News
Nashville’s new Innovation Zone (iZone), created in 2011 to help low-performing, high-need schools, implemented Public Impact’s Opportunity Culture models in 2013–14. These concepts call for schools to extend the reach of excellent teachers by making them multi-classroom leaders for more pay (but within regular budgets) and providing enhanced time for collaboration and on-the-job learning at school. In addition, they added a year-long, paid apprentice teacher position. To see how it’s working, click here.