When school isn't out for summer

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With more attention to summer learning loss, school districts are looking to summer school as a targeted intervention for struggling students. But with summer school staffing often resembling "teacher-welfare," according to Jeff Smink of the National Association for Summer Learning, districts need to rethink who is in front of the classroom.

Our Tr3 database will soon include data on summer school hiring practices in 125 districts, revealing dramatic variation in the processes districts use to fill summer vacancies. Of the 20 largest districts in the country, only Houston uses teacher evaluations as the primary criterion for selecting summer teachers, and only because the district just changed its policy. Tenure and seniority are primary hiring factors in New York and Chicago. In three Florida districts--Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade--union representatives are given the first shot at open summer positions.

Houston will fill summer school slots based on who is the most effective (as determined by the district's new value-added system) and give a 25 percent summer pay bump to particularly effective teachers.