Week of January 12, 2015

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 This week had plenty of national education news with re-energized talk of the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind. That focus on the Capitol Hill left us with a shorter list of teacher quality news items.

District Matters
In Los Angeles, California’s Public Employment Review Board tentatively ordered LAUSD to repeal a key element of its evaluation system that could tie teacher pay to student performance. The ruling found that the observation portion of the evaluation system was implemented unilaterally, without the consent of the union. (For details on state bargaining rules, see our State Influence website.) The district has until February 22nd to appeal; the current evaluation system can continue until a final decision is made. The Los Angeles Daily News has more details.
Get out your sparkly shoes; awards season has definitely begun. In addition to the Golden Globes, this week included the “Oscars for Teachers” in Washington, DC.Education Week quotes author Amanda Ripley as telling recipients "Great teachers are not just born ... It's that work that never stops that makes them exceptional." There’s still time to nominate teachers for two upcoming awards: NYC teachers can be recommended for a Big Apple Award and Tony officials are looking for a theater teacher who has made a “monumental impact” for a special award.
State Matters
In New York, few parents are requesting teacher evaluation results. Many districts report that no parents have requested teacher evaluations. Carolyn Thompson with theAssociated Press reports that reasons range from parents not knowing they can make a request to not believing that evaluation results provide useful information.
In Other Ed News

teacher retention.PNGAnyone following education policy over the past several years has most likely read a headline along these lines: “Disgruntled New Teachers Leave the Profession in Droves.” Despite recent education policy stories that have reported new teachers leaving the profession in significant numbers, as well as two recent reportsthat relied on 10-year-old data, the picture since 2007 has been decidedly rosier: Fully 70 percent of beginning teachers stay in the profession for at least five years according to the The Center for American Progress. To know why, read here. 

People who are engaged with their jobs miss less work. Given the importance of teacher attendance, the news that a majority of teachers are not engaged with their work is disheartening. According to Gallup, teachers across the country who are not engaged in their work miss 2.3 million more workdays than teachers who are engaged. The organization’s survey found that only about 30 percent of teachers are engaged, which they define as “involved with, enthusiastic about and committed to their work”.
Do snow days make you happy (sledding!) or frustrated (traffic!)? If you were an economics researcher, you might see an opportunity to show how absences affect student learning. By separating school closures from absences that occur when school is in session, John Goodman has shown the huge effect of missed school days. Goodman finds that snow days do not generally affect standardized test scores. On the other hand, absences because of sickness or other reasons account for approximately one-fourth of the math achievement gap when controlling for income. The effect of a single missed day is greater for poor students, who also tend to miss more school.