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America’s Leaky Pipeline for Teachers of Color: Getting More Teachers of Color into the Classroom

September 3, 2014 Comments off

America’s Leaky Pipeline for Teachers of Color: Getting More Teachers of Color into the Classroom
Source: Center for American Progress

If you spend time in almost any major school district in America today, you will notice that the students often do not look much like the teachers. In fact, in some areas, the students don’t look anything like their teachers. There is a significant demographic gap in the largely white teaching profession and an increasingly diverse student population.

To prepare American students for lives of high achievement, America’s schools need a teaching corps that is not only highly effective but also racially and ethnically diverse. Progress has been made in recent decades in attracting people of color to the teaching profession. But major barriers—including a scarcity of high-quality, teacher-training programs targeted at teachers of color; the educational debt students of color must shoulder; and the general lack of esteem in our society for teaching—stand in the way of producing an optimal pool of teachers. Without vigorous policy innovations and public investment, the demographic gap will only widen to the detriment of children’s education.

This report will describe how the shortcomings of today’s education system and the underachievement of many of today’s students of color shrink the future supply of teachers of color. Furthermore, it will offer policy recommendations through which federal and state education agencies and local school districts can address this critical problem.

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Facts for Features: Back to School: 2014-2015

July 31, 2014 Comments off

Facts for Features: Back to School: 2014-2015
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

By August, summertime will be winding down and vacations will be coming to an end, signaling that back-to-school time is near. It’s a time that many children eagerly anticipate — catching up with old friends and making new ones, and settling into a new daily routine. Parents and children alike scan newspapers and websites looking for sales on a multitude of school supplies and the latest clothing fads and essentials. This edition of Facts for Features highlights the many statistics associated with the return to classrooms by our nation’s students and teachers.

Mid- and Late-Career Teachers Struggle With Paltry Incomes

July 28, 2014 Comments off

Mid- and Late-Career Teachers Struggle With Paltry Incomes
Source: Center for American Progress

Low teacher pay is not news. Over the years, all sorts of observers have argued that skimpy teacher salaries keep highly qualified individuals out of the profession. One recent study found that a major difference between the education system in the United States and those in other nations with high-performing students is that the United States offers much lower pay to educators.

But for the most part, the conversation around teacher pay has examined entry-level teachers. The goal of this issue brief was to learn more about the salaries of mid- and late-career teachers and see if wages were high enough to attract and keep the nation’s most talented individuals. This research relied on a variety of databases, the results of which are deeply troubling. Our findings include:

  • Mid- and late-career teacher base salaries are painfully low in many states. In Colorado, teachers with a graduate degree and 10 years of experience make less than a trucker in the state. In Oklahoma, teachers with 15 years of experience and a master’s degree make less than sheet metal workers. And teachers in Georgia with 10 years of experience and a graduate degree make less than a flight attendant in the state. (See Appendix for state-by-state data on teacher salaries. We relied on “base teacher” salaries for our data, which typically does not include summer jobs or other forms of additional income.)
  • Teachers with 10 years of experience who are family breadwinners often qualify for a number of federally funded benefit programs designed for families needing financial support. We found that mid-career teachers who head families of four or more in multiple states such as Arizona and North Dakota qualify for several benefit programs, including the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the School Breakfast and Lunch Program. What’s more, teachers have fewer opportunities to grow their salaries compared to other professions.
  • To supplement their minimal salaries, large percentages of teachers work second jobs. We found that in 11 states, more than 20 percent of teachers rely on the financial support of a second job, and in some states such Maine, that number is as high as 25 percent. In these 11 states, the average base salary for a teacher with 10 years of experience and a bachelor’s degree is merely $39,673—less than a carpenter’s national average salary. (Note that teachers typically have summers off, and the data on teachers who work second jobs do not include any income that a teacher may have earned over the summer.)

New Report Examines Teacher-Evaluation Plans

May 28, 2014 Comments off

New Report Examines Teacher-Evaluation Plans
Source: Center for American Progress

Today, the Center for American Progress released a new report examining the status of new education-evaluation plans being implemented across the nation as part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or ESEA, waivers.

In 2011, the Department of Education provided states with an opportunity for flexibility from certain requirements under ESEA, currently known as the No Child Left Behind, or NCLB, Act. The flexibility process requires states to develop and implement new educator-evaluation systems to help identify effective teachers, as well as those who can benefit from additional supports to improve their instructional practice. While some states required districts to adopt state-designed evaluation systems, other states gave school districts discretion in designing their own teacher-evaluation systems. Inevitably, one of the challenges those states that offered discretion now face is tracking and monitoring the variety of district teacher-evaluation plans. The capacity for a state department of education to effectively monitor these systems depends largely on the size of the state and the number of districts within that state.

Under the ESEA waiver-granting process, states agreed to certain reforms, such as developing or adopting college- and career-ready standards and teacher-accountability plans that include student-achievement data as a condition of being let out of certain requirements of NCLB. The waiver plans submitted by states seeking flexibility under ESEA are comprehensive and detailed, and implementation of those plans is well underway in the states that received waivers.

As the reforms begin to take hold, it is worth tracking just how states are implementing or adapting their waiver plans. In the report released today, the Center for American Progress reviewed state ESEA waiver plans as they relate to the implementation and monitoring of evaluation and support systems for teachers.

Evaluating Teachers with Classroom Observations: Lessons Learned in Four Districts

May 19, 2014 Comments off

Evaluating Teachers with Classroom Observations: Lessons Learned in Four Districts
Source: Brookings Institution

The federal government has spurred the creation of a new generation of teacher evaluation systems at the state level through more than $4 billion in Race to the Top funding to 19 states and No Child Left Behind (NCLB) accountability waivers to 43 states. A majority of states have passed laws requiring the adoption of teacher evaluation systems that incorporate student achievement data, but only a handful of states had fully implemented new teacher evaluation systems as of the 2012-13 school year.

As the majority of states continue to design and implement new evaluation systems, the time is right to ask how existing teacher evaluation systems are performing and in what practical ways they might be improved. This report helps to answer those questions by examining the actual design and performance of new teacher evaluation systems in four urban school districts that are at the forefront of the effort to meaningfully evaluate teachers.

Although the design of teacher evaluation systems varies dramatically across districts, the two largest components of these systems are invariably classroom observations and student test score gains. An early insight from this examination of district teacher evaluation data is that nearly all the opportunities for improvement to teacher evaluation systems are in the area of classroom observations rather than in test score gains.

Class size and academic results, with a focus on children from culturally, linguistically and economically disenfranchised communities

May 7, 2014 Comments off

Class size and academic results, with a focus on children from culturally, linguistically and economically disenfranchised communities (PDF)
Source: Evidence Base

The question of class size continues to attract the attention of educational policymakers and researchers alike. Australian politicians and their advisers, policy makers and p olitical commentators agree that much of Australia’s increased expenditure on education in the last 30 years has been ‘ wasted ’ on efforts to reduce class sizes . They conclude that funding is therefore not the problem in Australian education , arguing that e xtra funding has not led to improved academic results. Many scholars have found serious methodological issues with the existing reviews that make claims for the lack of educational and economic utility in reducing class sizes in schools. Significantly , the research supporting the current policy advice to both state and federal ministers of education is highly selective, and based on limited studies originating from the USA. This comprehensive review of 112 papers from 1979 – 2014 assesses whether these conclu sions about the effect of smaller class sizes still hold. The review draws on a wider range of studies, starting with Australian research , but also includes similar education systems such as England, Canada , New Zealand and non – English speaking countries of Europe . The review a ssesses the different measures of class size and how they affect the results, and also whether other variables such as teaching methods are taken into account. Findings suggest that smaller class sizes in the first four years of school can have an important and lasting impact on student achievement, especially for children from culturally, linguistically and economically disenfranchised communities. This is particularly true when smaller classes are combined with appropriate teacher pedagog ies suited to reduced student numbers . Suggested policy recommendations involve targeted funding for specific lessons and schools, combined with professional development of teachers . These measures may help to address the inequality of schooling and amelio rate the damage done by poverty, violence, inadequate child care and other factors to our children’s learning outcomes.

How States Use Student Learning Objectives in Teacher Evaluation Systems: A Review of State Websites

March 18, 2014 Comments off

How States Use Student Learning Objectives in Teacher Evaluation Systems: A Review of State Websites
Source: Institute of Education Sciences

This report provides an overview of how states define and apply student learning objectives (SLOs) in evaluation systems. The research team conducted a systematic scan of state policies by searching state education agency websites of the 50 states and Washington, D.C. to identify tools, guidance, policies, regulations, and other documents related to the use of SLOs in teacher evaluation systems. The researchers reviewed each relevant document to code the requirements, components, and uses of SLOs, which are summarized in a brief report and a series of searchable tables. The report and tables were produced in response to research questions posed by the Northeast Educator Effectiveness Research Alliance (NEERA), one of eight research alliances working with REL Northeast & Islands.

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