This month, twenty-five education advocacy organizations released a “statement of principles” addressed to Sens. Harkin and Enzi and Reps. Kline and Miller. The statement focused on the role of teacher quality in the reauthorization of ESEA and urged the congressmen to “make every effort possible to spur states and school districts to advance new policies that help ensure every child has a skilled, knowledgeable, and effective teacher and every school has an effective leader.”
The authors claim that research overwhelmingly shows that the only way to close achievement gaps and transform public education is to focus on building and retaining a high-quality teaching and school administrator force. They lament that “all too often, these [school] systems accept mediocrity as the fullest extent of a teacher’s potential.”
The principles laid out in the document are:
1. All states and districts should begin moving immediately to create teacher evaluation systems comprised of multiple measures that are part of a single statewide assessment of teacher effectiveness. The most “predominant” factor should be a value-added model of student growth.
2. States should only have five years to develop these systems.
3. Once the systems are implemented, they should be used to tailor professional development and other supports and serve as the basis for “human resources decisions.”
4. States must monitor and publicly report within-district and between-district inequities by patterns of access to teachers with high evaluations.
5. States and school districts should develop and implement plans to ensure all high-needs schools have their fair share of highly effective teachers, and principals should have autonomy in all hiring decisions.
In the meantime, the authors suggest several steps for equalizing the distribution of high-quality teachers. States and districts should use the information available to them now to start determining the equity of distribution, including information such as the percentage of certified teachers, percentage of teachers beyond their first year of teaching, and percentage of high school classes being taught by an in-field teacher.
To read the statement and view the list of signatories, please visit http://www.edweek.org/media/finaleseaprioritiesteacherquality-blog.pdf