Archive for December, 2013

New publication on the use of external providers in turnaround released

The Center on School Turnaround recently released a guidebook entitled The State Role in School Turnaround: Emerging Best Practices, edited by Lauren Morando Rhim and Sam Redding. The publication addresses a variety of issues related to school turnaround from how ESEA waivers impact turnaround and the role of state chiefs, to utilizing technology and turning around rural schools. I authored one of the (many) chapters and facilitated a workshop on this topic at the most recent CST/SIG convening this past September. The chapter is available as part of the compilation (click on publication title above) or individually (Navigating the Market: How State Education Agencies Help Districts Develop Productive Relationships with External Providers).

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Raising the bar for teachers

Many incoming teacher candidates will now be expected to take and pass a performance-based assessment, which requires the demonstration of planning, instructional and analytical skills. While states may choose to require the test for all teaching candidates, individual states will also determine the cut scores for passing. A state could set a high bar, which would force schools of education to step up to the plate and ensure teachers are adequately prepared to 1) teach content and 2) know how to teach. A state could also choose a low bar and little change would result – with the exception of placing undue stress on teacher candidates who study for a test that their universities don’t prepare them for.

There is a great deal of backlash against any type of performance-based pay system in education, yet there is little outcry against inadequate schools of education. Personally, I would be livid if I attended a 4-year college, paid $100k+ for a BA in education that would supposedly teach me to teach, accepted a job, and then once in the classroom realized that I had no idea how to actually teach. The quality of teachers is one of the biggest factors in a student’s performance, and our (underperforming and inadequate) schools of education hurt the entire education system. Until we significantly increase the expectations for teachers who enter the teaching profession, and ensure that training programs (university-based or alternative) teach true classroom management and instructional skills (in addition to content-specific knowledge), our potential for improving education stagnates.

As some states mandate this new assessment, we must pay attention to the cut scores states set, and how colleges of education alter their teaching training programs as a result of the increased pressure. It will also be useful to examine the results of candidates who were traditionally trained (university-based) or trained through alternative programs (TFA, urban teacher residencies, etc.).

NB. There are many good (and great schools of education) out there, just not enough of them.

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