Week of January 19, 2015

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Federal Ed Policy 
For the first time in several months (years?), we can say it’s been a big week in federal education news. Congress is holding its first hearing on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), better known in recent years as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The presence or absence of an annual testing requirement for grades 3-8 is a hot topic of discussion that will impact the evaluation of teachers for years to come. 
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There was no mention of teachers in President Obama’s State of the Union address last night. Affordable child care and college access, including making community college free, were high on his list of priorities. If our crystal ball is correct, that means issues of quality, including teacher quality, at both bookends of the educational spectrum will surely surface soon.
Here are some of our most popular tweets from the State of the Union.
Teacher Prep
The Kentucky Center for Education and Workforce Statistics released new data on teacher preparation and retention for the Bluegrass State’s 28 public and independent colleges and universities. The report’s three sections cover everything from enrollment and graduation rates to time-to-employment, retention rates and maps indicating where recent cohorts were employed. You can find specific institution reports here.
The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is rolling out a two-part plan to evaluate teacher preparation programs. The first part consists of report cards which will evaluate programs based on graduating teacher candidates’ subject mastery, grade point averages, and the survey responses of new teachers and their principals. The second part requires teacher candidates to take more assessments in order to graduate from their programs - instead of the two currently required, candidates will now take between four and six high-stakes exams covering specific subject areas, depending on their program.
District Matters
The Los Angeles Unified School District announced a new salary proposal last week as contract negotiations continue. The district says it is doubling its last offer by giving a 4 percent annual pay raise, spurred in part by an increase in state funding to the district. Changes to the evaluation system are also being discussed. The LA School Report has more details.
State Matters
Last Wednesday, a judge in New York heard a case for dismissal of a lawsuit brought against the state by several families over teacher tenure policies. Similar to the Vergara case in California last year, the plaintiffs argue that tenure policies make it difficult to fire teachers for incompetence, leaving students in the hands of ineffective teachers. A decision is expected in a few weeks, Reuters reports.
“It’s all public information. Transparency is the way to go,” said one Pennsylvania district superintendent about an update to the Pennsylvania state school performance website, according to TribLive. Pennsylvania updated the state website on school performance to include fiscal data on salaries and spending, making it easier for the public to access information that had previously been spread across various websites or only available via request.
In Other Ed News
Check out Public Impact’s 3-page vignette on teacher recruiting which is accompanied by a video explaining what lessons Charlotte’s Project Leadership & Investment For Transformation (L.I.F.T) Opportunity Culture schools learned on how to recruit excellent teachers to their previously hard-to-staff schools. L.I.F.T. saw a significant increase in the quantity of applicants and quality of those applicants by starting recruitment early, using teachers to help spread the word about their unique roles, and using every means they could think of to communicate their exciting job openings. In addition, they offered what they called “a complete career package” in the form of career ad­vancement opportunities without leaving teaching, higher pay (as much as $23k above the salary schedule), and meaningful professional development specific to each teacher’s role.