Education Insider: Teacher Quality

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) set the stage for unprecedented teacher evaluation state legislation. In less than three years, federal and state policymakers shifted the teacher and principal evaluation process from one based on credentials and certificates to one based, in significant part, on student academic achievement.The shift was sudden, controversial, and it has only just begun.

The legislation may have actually been the easy part. It set the framework for ongoing controversy regarding the composition of a teacher evaluation program. Just how much should be based on student academic progress? How much on peer evaluation and other factors? These discussions are proving to be quite difficult because they must not only produce practices that are valid and reliable, but the end result requires political and practitioner consensus. That is no small feat. Like a track runner who is improving her times, the initial gains are easy compared to incremental improvements necessary for elite competition; so too with teacher evaluation policies. The hard work is still to come, but the work may be quite rewarding.

  • A significant number of states have ushered in new teacher quality proposals changing everything from pay for performance to tenure to LIFO issues. We used this month's Insider to get a sense of what lays ahead for these reforms.
  • How much should student academic growth factor into a teacher's evaluation?
  • What is a district responsibility versus a state responsibility in these new teacher effectiveness systems?
  • Who are the major providers that come to Insider's minds with regard to professional development?
  • Should ESEA reauthorization include a requirement for educators to be evaluated based in significant part on student progress?
  • What state and/or school district has the most promising teacher effectiveness policies?
  • What are the most significant obstacles to implementing the emerging teacher evaluation polices?
  • What is the best way to reform Title II so funds support higher quality professional development for teachers and leaders?