Week of November 24, 2014

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Whether you’re home drawing hand turkeys or out-and-about celebrating with friends and family, we wish you well this Thanksgiving.

*Stay tuned! Next week we’ll be releasing our latest paper on teacher pay, Smart Money: What teachers make, how long it takes and what it buys them. We’ll link to it here and you can find it on our website (www.nctq.org) and twitter (@nctq) with the hashtag #teacherpay.

District Matters
36 New Orleans schools in the Louisiana Recovery School District are eligible to transfer back under local control of the Orleans Parish School Board, but charter school boards governing 15 of the schools have already voted to stay with the state Recovery School District. As the Times-Picayune reports, this is the fourth year that charters reaching certain academic benchmarks have been allowed to move out of the state-controlled district, but so far not a single school has taken this option. 
Worried that students will struggle on Florida's new standardized tests, the Orange County School District has agreed that its teachers won't be judged on those results for the next two years. That means no teacher would end up with a poor evaluation because of how students fared on the new Florida Standards Assessment or other new exams set to debut this spring. The move essentially skirts the goal of Florida's 2011 law that changed the way teachers were to be evaluated, paid and promoted. That law said teacher quality should be judged by multiple measures including student academic growth as measured by tests. 
Teacher Prep
While many state licensing tests have cuts scores set so low as to render the tests near useless as a means of judging key knowledge, new data from New York licensing tests shows that New York may be may be setting the bar a bit higher in three of its required licensing tests.EdWeek’s Stephen Sawchuk has the skinny on the New York data from the edTPA, the Educating All Students exam and the Academic Literacy Skills test. Whereas state licensing pass rates usually go no lower than 90 percent, these tests have 81, 77 and 68 percent passing, respectively.

State Matters
Speaking of New York, the number of teacher certifications in the Empire State dropped by about 20 percent in the 2013-2014 school year compared to the previous two years. As reported by the New York Times, this is due to a drop in the number of candidates passing the new battery of certification tests which includes the portfolio-based Teacher Performance Assessment (edTPA). Results also have implications for teacher preparation programs: programs that persistently fail to maintain at least an 80 percent passing rate risk losing their accreditation.?
The Ohio legislature is considering whether or not to do away with the minimum payscale for teachers. The Ohio House Education committee passed a bill that eliminates the state’s specific salary schedule and instead shifts the responsibility of developing a salary schedule to school districts, NPR reports. Supporters and opponents of the bill both believe the added flexibility could result in more performance pay for teachers, but ultimately this decision would be up to the districts.
In Other Ed News
In this month’s edition of The Atlantic, Sarah Carr takes a look at “How strict is too strict?” and the evolution of thinking around so-called “no excuses” approaches to school discipline.

Researchers and educators alike can greatly benefit from strong, collaborative partnerships. Anew site, funded by the William T Grant Foundation, seeks to provide best practices on “everything from funding to structuring relationships,” according to Sara Sparks in Edweek.