Teacher Development in Need of Overhaul

The New Teacher Project (TNTP), a national nonprofit aimed at ending the injustice of educational inequality, has released a new publication that examines teacher training and development.

The Mirage: Confronting the Hard Truth About Our Quest for Teacher Development, suggests that it is time to start a new conversation about improving teacher, what great teaching is and how teachers can get there. To that end, they surveyed more than 10,000 teachers and 500 school leaders and they interviewed more than 100 staff members who were involved in teacher development. What the team found was very different from what they expected to find.

After two years of analyzing teacher development in three large school districts and one charter school network, TNTP found that: school systems are spending much more than most people realize on teacher improvement; most teachers do not seem to be improving substantially from year to year and have not yet mastered critical skills; no evidence was found that a certain type or amount of professional development consistently helps teachers improve; and school systems have not taught teachers to understand how to improve, or even that they have room to improve.

Further findings included the surprising fact that districts which were studied spend an average of almost $18,000 per teacher on teacher improvement annually. Yet, over several years, 2 out of 10 teachers found their scores had declined. Five out of 10 teachers saw their scores remain roughly the same, and just 3 in 10 exhibited substantial improvement.

Another unfortunate finding was that teachers who had been in the profession for ten years or more rated below effective on core instructional skills such as developing critical thinking skills, engaging students in lessons, and checking for understanding. In classrooms of above-average teachers, 72% and 67% of students were proficient in math and reading. In the classrooms of average teachers, only 63% and 53% of students rated as proficient.

One puzzling discovery was that teachers who improved over time did not report that they spent more time on their development or any other particular activity, and they were no more satisfied with the development activities they experienced.

Also, there was no school in the study group which had a noticeable concentration of “improvers”, nor was there a particular school level or subject area where improvers seemed to cluster. One factor that was consistent in relationship to teacher growth was the alignment between teachers’ perceptions of their own instructional effectiveness and their formal evaluation ratings.

The fourth school system studied was a midsize charter management organization (CMO) which encompassed several cities. The CMO seemed to the team to be supporting teachers to make greater improvements over time based on observation scores and overall evaluation ratings. The mean growth rate in both areas for the CMO teachers was greater than teachers with comparable experience in the other districts.

Students in the CMO were getting consistently better results, but in the CMO, as in the other districts, there was not any discernible formula of teacher supports that could be linked to teacher growth. There were differences at an institutional level, such as “a more disciplined and coherent system for organizing themselves around teacher development, and a network-wide culture of high expectations and continuous growth.”

– See more at: http://www.educationnews.org/k-12-schools/teacher-development-in-need-of-overhaul-report-says/#sthash.mOwm5SZr.dpuf

Common Core Is Premier Education Issue in GOP Presidential Debate

Thought education might never come up during the Republican presidential debates on Thursday night? You weren’t alone.

Thank goodness for the Common Core State Standards.

After just the briefest mention of education during the 5pm “undercard” debate, the subject finally exploded onto the scene about an hour into the primetime show, featuring the 10 highest polling GOP presidential candidates. Fox News moderator Bret Baier asked former Florida governor Jeb Bush whether he agreed with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan that most of the criticism of common core is due to “a fringe group of critics.”

If You’re a Teacher, You Can Be a Public Speaker

This is the first of a two-part series.

You’ve signed up to present at a conference. Maybe you’ve agreed to lead a professional-learning session at the start of your school year. Perhaps you’ve decided to overhaul your tried-and-true PowerPoints before starting the new school year. Congratulations! You are about to level up your presentations.

Are you nervous? That’s OK—it just means you care! Giving a great presentation takes thoughtfulness, time, and practice. Accomplished educator and a dear friend Megan Allen posted some great tips a few weeks ago to help jumpstart your journey.

Districts Redefine Role of Principal Supervisors

Until last summer, the superintendent of schools in Omaha, Neb., was theoretically responsible for supervising, coaching, and evaluating the district’s 87 principals and school leaders.

The reality was different. In any given year, principal evaluations could be conducted by the assistant superintendent of curriculum, one in charge of finance, or another in charge of human resources.

“You just distributed principals to other district leaders, but there was no coordinated focus and aligned effort not only on evaluation but on how you supported them,” said Superintendent Mark A. Evans.

Educators Work to Stave Off ‘Summer Melt’

Switching his college choice in late June has made the summer hectic for Christopher M. Triplett, a recent graduate of Lindblom Math and Science Academy on the South Side of Chicago.

On his own financially and the first in his family to go to college, Christopher has relied on his school counselor, Karen M. Fitzpatrick, to make sure everything gets done so he can attend Virginia State University in the fall. He had to submit his financial-aid documents three times and had trouble logging into the online housing system for the Petersburg, Va., college. But, with his counselor’s help, Christopher said he is “99 percent” sure he will report to VSU in August.

“I’m ready to go. I’m focused. I know what I need to do,” he said.

Low-income and first-generation college students, in particular, can lose momentum when they leave the support system of high school. They are at risk of a phenomenon that educators call the “summer melt”—when students who leave high school with college plans never make it to campus in the fall.