The National Association of State Boards of Education’s fall issue of its journal, The State Education Standard explores the many ways policymakers can ensure that those who teach and lead our children in public schools are better prepared and better supported to do their jobs well.
Research shows that teacher quality makes the biggest difference of all the in-school factors that influence student learning. Teachers want to improve, and good principals want to prepare their teachers for any classroom challenge and support their professional development. But, as the authors in the Standard suggest, raising the level of teaching in every classroom isn’t easy, nor is it an exact science. We are still learning what works, but it is clear state policymakers have a vital role in identifying, developing, evaluating, and supporting effective school leaders.
Two states, West Virginia and Massachusetts, are taking the lead to retool and rethink teacher preparation. Buoyed by a directive from the governor, the West Virginia State Board of Education is changing requirements for teacher preparation and certification. As past-president Gayle Manchin can attest, such planning is best started around a table big enough to fit a lot of stakeholders. The Massachusetts state board baked improving teacher preparation programs right into their most recent strategic plan. Now, the state’s educator preparation programs must demonstrate need for their programs and provide evidence of their effectiveness.
Researcher Brenda Turnbull highlights the lessons of six school districts across the country taking on the critical challenge of ensuring their schools have a supply of effective principals. All six districts are participating in The Wallace Foundation’s Principal Pipeline Initiative. Denver teacher Lori Nazareno details the sequence of events that led Denver Public Schools to its commitment to fully implement a district-wide teacher leader program by 2018.
Evaluation can be a key tool in building up education leaders. But many states are missing the mark. Drew Gitomer of Rutgers University argues state policymakers should look at evaluation systems with fresh eyes–seeing the connection between policy and practice–so that these systems become real engines of instructional improvement. Patrick McGuinn assesses lessons learned in the teacher evaluation reforms carried out in six “early adopter” Race to the Top states.
Other highlights in this issue include a federal education update on ESEA, an interview with 2010 National Teacher of the Year Sarah Brown Wessling, and a preview of a NASBE study group survey on principal development policies.
Read the full September 2015 issue of The State Education Standard here: