Teacher Workforce

Overview

Teacher Workforce

Many efforts to improve U.S. education today focus squarely on the “talent strategy” – how to get more great teachers into the pipeline and keep them in the classroom.

Many efforts to improve U.S. education today focus squarely on the “talent strategy” – how to get more great teachers into the pipeline and keep them in the classroom. Citing evidence that some teachers are consistently more effective than others at spurring student learning, reformers have prodded the field in recent years to stop regarding teachers as interchangeable.The upshot is that the national conversation has shifted from a focus on “teacher quality,” often defined as formal educational credentials,  to “teacher effectiveness” – whether teachers are successful at improving their students’ performance, often as measured on standardized tests.

Supporters of the shift in emphasis cite research suggesting that individual teachers have a greater influence over how much students actually learn than any other factor within schools. According to a prominent study by three economists, for example, teacher quality directly accounts for nearly 7.5 percent of the variation in achievement among individual students, and that number actually might range as high as 20 percent.

So if teachers have a greater impact on student achievement than any other factor within schools, how is the nation doing at recruiting, training, and retaining the best teachers? How can we evaluate if teachers are effective? Should teachers be paid for performance? Should experience count? How can teaching be transformed into a more prestigious profession? Those are some of the questions explored in the publications, news stories, and other information assembled in this Topics section.

Experiments are under way to change how teachers are prepared—both in colleges of education and through a growing array of alternative routes into the field. The scrutiny of teachers already in the classroom is also intensifying. A related issue is how to get the most talented teachers into hard-to-staff schools and whether higher pay should be part of the equation.

Reevaluating Evaluations

Prompted in part by the federal Race to the Top grant competition, growing numbers of states and school districts are finding ways to incorporate measures of teacher effectiveness into personnel decisions, including performance evaluations, the awarding of tenure, and the level of individual teachers’ pay.  With teachers complaining that evaluation systems don’t provide guidance on how to improve, and administrators arguing that current processes make it too tough to shed poor performers, the push to reform teacher evaluations has gained unprecedented momentum. Many state legislatures have passed provisions that break with past practice by incorporating student performance into teacher ratings.  Washington, D.C., is among the districts that have overhauled their teacher-evaluation systems, while significant change is underway in such places as Chicago; Hillsborough County, Fla.; Los Angeles; Memphis, Tenn.; New Haven, Conn.; and elsewhere.

Still, not everyone agrees that student performance should be a dominant element of evaluation systems. Many educators and others are deeply concerned about anointing standardized test scores as the predominant yardstick for measuring student gains. Critics see evaluation systems based too heavily on growth in student test scores as prescriptions for low morale, high teacher turnover, and even cheating by educators.

Fresh Looks at Preparation

Yet to some educators and analysts, all the angst about the current teaching corps is misplaced. Do a better job of recruiting and training educators before they teach their first class, they argue, and the qualms about quality will diminish, if not evaporate.

Studies have shown that U.S. schools of education typically enroll students with less impressive academic profiles than their counterparts in countries that fare better on international tests of K-12 students. A 2010 report from McKinsey & Company, for example, showed that all teacher recruits in Finland, Singapore, and South Korea – where teacher-preparation programs are more selective than their U.S. counterparts – came from the top one-third of high school graduates, based on GPA, national exams, and/or education school screening tests. In the United States, the same can be said for only about a quarter of new teachers.

Concerns about teacher-training programs—and of the students they attract—have long been a feature of the education landscape. Consider this statement from an article in the Journal of Educational Sociology in 1946:  “One of the weaknesses attributed to teachers colleges is the low caliber of their students.” Or this one, from the same journal five years later: “Was it not ‘common knowledge’ that teachers colleges overemphasized instructional methods while discounting the importance of mastery of subject matter?”    

Sixty years later, criticism of teacher preparation has not abated. In a high-profile 2005 report, former Teachers College President Arthur Levine called for sweeping changes, including making five years of university-level training the floor for novice teachers. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan declared in 2009 that “America’s university-based teacher-preparation programs need revolutionary change—not evolutionary tinkering.”

Attempts in recent decades to improve the caliber of teaching recruits and upgrade their preparation have included the Holmes Group, a consortium of leaders from 250 universities who vowed in 1986 to undertake reforms; the development of alternative routes to certification at the local, state, and national levels; and the creation of residency-style programs that give students extensive experience in schools similar to those in which they aspire to teach. In a move to ratchet up pressure on preparation programs, some states have begun to require schools of education to track the success of their graduates, spurred in part by federal incentives. Louisiana, North Carolina and Tennessee are among those that track graduates in attempt to make connections between teachers’ training and their classroom success.

Alternate Routes

Preparation programs not based at universities, meanwhile, have attracted admirers and detractors. The most famous alternative route to the classroom is Teach For America, which for the past 20 years has been recruiting strong students from highly selective universities to teach for two years in disadvantaged schools around the nation. Districts are partnering with TFA and other nonprofit organizations such as The New Teacher Project to bring high-achieving recruits into the profession. And in places like Boston, Chicago, and New York City, school districts and charter organizations themselves are helping train new teachers and the principals who lead them.

Amid all the debate over teacher policies, demographic changes are at work in the nation’s teaching corps. For better or worse, classroom teachers’ average years of experience has been falling in recent years. Younger teachers are posing fresh challenges to long-established tenets of collective-bargaining contracts, including job protections and benefits skewed in favor of veteran teachers. That shift is just one of many factors that will make the teacher-policy arena as especially eventful one to watch in the months and years to come.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

What Do Teachers Really Think About School Discipline Reform?

Not long ago, a student who got into a fight at school would likely face an automatic suspension. Now, in schools across the country, that student might be back in class the next day.

That change is part of an expansive effort to rethink the way public schools respond to misbehavior. In many schools, punitive measures like suspension and expulsion are being replaced with alternative strategies that aim to keep students in the classroom and address underlying issues like trauma and stress.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

How a Reporter Enlisted Teachers to Expose Hazards in Philly Schools

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Barbara Laker isn’t an education reporter. She doesn’t have a long list of teachers’ phone numbers in her contacts. So, it’s amazing that she was able to find and convince 24 teachers and other school employees from 19 elementary schools to swab pipes, drinking fountains and suspicious patches of black on classroom walls.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Teacher Evaluation: The Only Constant Is Change, Experts Say

If there’s been one constant over the last decade in terms of teacher evaluation policies in the United States, it’s been change.

First, performance reviews incorporating student test scores became – mostly – the law of the land. Then, the academic standards educators and their pupils are measured against — mostly – changed. And then, in many places, those standards changed again.

So, has the implementation of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which did away with mandates on how states measure teacher quality, calmed the roiling waters?

Webinar

Trauma in the Classroom: What Reporters Need to Know

Attention is growing to the detrimental impact stress and trauma have on children’s learning and development. In response, some schools are rethinking everything from student discipline and support services to teacher training. The shift has also given birth to a whole new set of terms and practices for education reporters to understand and break down for their audiences.

Latest News

Teachers In Chicago Charter School Network Go On Strike

Unionized teachers from one of the largest charter school networks in Chicago headed to the picket lines Tuesday. Acero teachers and support staff from 15 campuses with more than 7,000 students are going on strike after months of failed negotiations with charter network officials.

This is the first charter school teachers strike in the nation. The action is being taken by the United Educators for Justice, the union that represents Acero teachers and staff. The group joined forces with the Chicago Teachers Union earlier this year.

Seminar

72nd EWA National Seminar
Baltimore • May 6-8, 2019

EWA’s National Seminar is the largest annual gathering of journalists on the education beat. This year’s event in Baltimore, hosted by John Hopkins University’s School of Education, will explore an array of timely topics of interest to journalists from across the country, with a thematic focus on student success, safety, and well-being.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Walkouts, Shortages, and Scandals: Reporters Describe ‘How I Did the (Teacher) Story’

There’s no one way to get a great data story on the education beat. You can start with a hunch, dig for data, and then humanize the story with on-the-ground reporting. Or you can start with the people and work back to the data.

Stellar journalists described both of these approaches at a recent Education Writers Association event, in a session called “How I Did the (Teacher) Story.”

Blog: The Educated Reporter

In Chicago, Some Aspiring Teachers Get ‘Residency’-Style Training

The eighth grade classroom of English language arts teacher Natalie Mitchell is full of books by black writers. Titles like Natalie Y. Moore’s “The South Side,” and LeAlan Jones and Lloyd Newman’s “Our America: Life and Death on the South Side of Chicago,” are prominently displayed.

Mitchell’s literary choices here at the University of Chicago Charter School, Woodlawn campus, underscore a key element of her teaching: her own experience growing up on Chicago’s south side.

Latest News

Kathy Hoffman Wins Arizona Schools’ Chief Race

A Democrat will be Arizona’s superintendent of public instruction for the first time since 1995.

The latest vote tallies showed Monday that Democrat Kathy Hoffman has a 54,000-vote lead over Republican Frank Riggs in the race to be the state’s top education official.

With Monday’s results, there are only about 175,000 votes left to be counted, most of those from Maricopa County. And the latest vote tallies from the state’s largest counties have been breaking heavily in Hoffman’s favor.

Latest News

How Many Teachers Ran for Office in 2018?

Even before the election, pundits were calling 2018 “the year of the teacher.” 

The Christian Science Monitor and the Associated Press both said an unprecedented number of educators sought political office this year. “The teacher strikes pushed a record number of educators to run for office,” wrote Vox, in an article noting that “more than 1,000 teachers will be on the ballots across the country.”

Latest News

Disappointment Largely Prevails for Teacher Caucus in Oklahoma

For politically active teachers and parents, the defeat of gubernatorial candidate Drew Edmondson was the night’s biggest disappointment.

There were other disappointments, too. Two sitting lawmakers who are former educators lost re-election: Rep. Karen Gaddis, D-Tulsa, and Rep. Donnie Condit, D-McAlester.

Latest News

Accuracy Question Plagues Midterm 2018 Education Coverage

While we wait for the results of today’s voting, let’s take a few minutes to consider media coverage of education issues leading up to Election Day 2018.

No doubt, there has been a lot of midterm-focused education coverage in the past few weeks and months – much of it quite interesting and useful.

But it hasn’t been as accurate as it should have been at times — in particular when it comes to writing about the “record number” of educators running for office, which has become something of the dominant narrative in the last few weeks.

Latest News

What Education Wonks Are Watching on Election Day

Tomorrow is Election Day, in case you haven’t been conscious lately. While education may not be a top issue driving people to the polls (according to one POLITICO/Morning Consult poll) and may have been far overshadowed by health care on the campaign trail, it has been a talker in many state and federal races.

Latest News

Okla. Candidates Differ on Teacher Pay in First Year

Republican Kevin Stitt wants a teacher pay increase included in next year’s state education budget, while Democrat Drew Edmondson is willing to hold off for at least a year on another salary increase for educators, the gubernatorial candidates said Wednesday.

In its proposed Fiscal Year 2020 budget, the state Board of Education included $440 million in new annual spending for the school funding formula, school counselors, alternative education programs and other support services.

The department’s proposed budget does not include an increase in teacher pay.

Latest News

Teacher Residencies Train Few Teachers. California May Change That.

Sending would-be educators into schools for a year of intense, hands-on training alongside their academic coursework is a concept that’s excited a lot of people who want to improve how teachers learn to teach.

But enthusiasm for these teacher residency programs has largely outstripped their ability to expand, especially because many charge little or no tuition.

Latest News

Texas Teachers Frustrated Over Education Funding Aim to Be a Force in Tuesday’s Elections

Teachers say they are more than frustrated about rising health care costs, stagnant state funding for education and what they see as constant attacks on their profession.

They’re angry. And they’re organized.

Across the country, educators have been building momentum toward improving education funding through walkouts and political rallies. In places like Oklahoma and West Virginia they’ve successfully pressured legislators for better salaries and funding and even voted some officials out of office.

Latest News

The Idaho Governor’s Race: What You Need to Know

As retiring Gov. Butch Otter’s successor of choice, Brad Little touts his experience and seeks to assure voters that the state is heading in the right direction. Paulette Jordan decries what she considers a failed Little-Otter administration.

This recurring theme plays out on many issues — particularly education. During an Oct. 15 televised debate, for example, Little and Jordan spent several tense and chippy minutes sparring over Idaho’s place in national education rankings.

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How to Make the Classroom Part of the Story

Visiting a classroom while reporting on education issues is a core part of understanding how instruction takes place. But it can also be a missed opportunity, without careful thought and planning.

If reporters don’t ask for a lesson plan in advance, for instance, stick around after students leave to speak with the teacher, or even make plans for a return visit, they risk failing to make the most of this on-the-ground reporting.

Latest News

Union Report Exclusive: Internal Report Shows NEA Losses of 17,000 Members and 87,000 Fee Payers Since Janus Decision

The National Education Association is feeling the first effects of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Janus ruling, which ended the practice of public-sector unions charging fees to nonmembers. New membership numbers obtained by Union Report show that NEA now stands at 3,001,570 total members — a decline of 17,000 since the last report in April. This erased much of the membership increase the union saw in 2017.

Latest News

Opinion: Why Are We Still Teaching Reading the Wrong Way?

Our children aren’t being taught to read in ways that line up with what scientists have discovered about how people actually learn.

It’s a problem that has been hiding in plain sight for decades. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, more than six in 10 fourth graders aren’t proficient readers. It has been this way since testing began. A third of kids can’t read at a basic level.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

What You Missed at the #ewaTEACH18 Seminar in Chicago

Journalists from across the Great Lakes region and the U.S. gathered in Chicago Oct. 18-19 to learn more about the teaching profession during a time of transition for the field, and to get story ideas and inspiration.

The event explored the recent surge of teacher activism across the country and the growing mismatch between teacher diversity and student diversity. Reporters also explored teacher prep, teacher evaluation, and dived into data on teacher pensions, salaries, and absenteeism. 

Latest News

Teachers Running for Office Face Tough Choice: Go Negative or Not?

With an unprecedented number of teachers running for state office during this contentious election season, many candidates will need to make a tough choice: Knowing that their students are watching, are they willing to go negative in their campaign advertisements?

For many teachers running for state legislature, their students are never far from their minds. Many say they decided to run in the first place because they wanted to improve the quality of public education for their students.

Key Coverage

Teachers in America: No Matter Where They Work, They Feel Disrespect

It’s shortly after dawn when Edward Lawson, one of America’s 3.2 million public school teachers, pulls his car into the parking lot of Thomas Elementary in Racine, Wisconsin. He cuts the engine, pulls out his cell phone and calls his principal. They begin to pray.

Lawson is a full-time substitute based at a school with full-time problems: only 1 in 10 students is proficient in reading and math.

Latest News

High Salaries, But High Turnover in D.C. Public Schools, Study Finds

Imagine if each year a company lost about a quarter of its staff, and after five years over half the employees were new. That’s what’s happening with teachers in public schools in D.C., according to a new report commissioned by D.C.’s State Board of Education. This puts D.C.’s rate of teacher attrition far above the national average. And national studies have shown that teacher churn not only costs billions — it also affects student performance.

Latest News

Are Students Suffering Through Bad Teaching and Simplistic Classwork?

America’s public school classrooms are full of students who aren’t being challenged.

That’s the claim of a new report by TNTP, the nonprofit advocacy and consulting group, looking at student work and real-life teaching. Students are “planning their futures on the belief that doing well in school creates opportunities — that showing up, doing the work, and meeting their teachers’ expectations will prepare them for what’s next,” it says. “Unfortunately, it’s a myth.”

Latest News

Abrams, Kemp Draw Contrasts in Plans for Public Schools

In less than six weeks, Georgians will elect a new governor. Both major candidates — Republican Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams — say they’d make public education a priority.

They even agree on a few issues. Both have pledged to fully fund schools through the state’s Quality Basic Education (QBE) formula. They both want to beef up reading programs, reduce testing and pay teachers more.

But they also disagree on plenty.

Latest News

How Puerto Rico’s Educators See Their Schools a Year After Hurricane Maria

One year ago, Hurricane Maria ripped through Puerto Rico. For the educators, students, and parents who remain on the island, nothing has been the same since.

In sheer practical terms, they are grappling with lingering storm damage, shifts in school assignments after hundreds of buildings were closed in the wake of the hurricane, and the implications of a system-wide reorganization.

Latest News

Idaho Teachers’ Union Endorses GOP Candidate for Re-election Bid to Congress

For the second time this year, the state’s largest teachers’ union has thrown its support behind a prominent Republican candidate.

On Wednesday, the Idaho Education Association endorsed U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson in the Nov. 6 election.

In announcing the endorsement, the IEA touted the 20-year incumbent’s work on the House Appropriations Committee.

Seminar

Seminar on the Teaching Profession
Chicago • October 18-19, 2018

From state capitols to the U.S. Supreme Court, teachers are making headlines. Perennial issues like teacher preparation, compensation, and evaluation continue to be debated while a new wave of teacher activism and growing attention to workforce diversity are providing fresh angles for compelling coverage.

Member Stories

July 6 – July 12
Here's what we're reading by EWA members this week

Aditi Malhotra of The Teacher Project profiles a young refugee in Chicago struggling to finish school while supporting family back home.

A debate in New York City about high school admissions raises questions about how to define merit and fairness, writes Stacy Teicher Khadaroo and Harry Bruinius of The Christian Science Monitor.

Key Coverage

Next up for Men of Color? A Place at the Front of the Classroom.

Principal Damon Smith remembers a time when his students at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School in Massachusetts had a black principal, black assistant principal, black mayor, black governor, and black president – all at the same time. But he sees a need for black men to push open the door to the next frontier: the kindergarten classroom.

“We need more practitioners of color, particularly black male teachers, in our classes K-12.” he explains in his office on a recent afternoon. “President Obama is just a step. It shows you what is possible.” 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Teacher Residencies: The Future of Teacher Prep?
The hands-on approach is growing but whether it can deliver on promises remains to be seen.

Stubborn achievement gaps, troubling rates of teacher turnover, and a student population that is increasingly more black and brown than its teachers.

These are just a few of the realities that have prompted a rethinking of how teachers are prepared and trained in the United States today, with many questioning the traditional, college-based teacher prep programs that are the typical gateway to the classroom.

Member Stories

June 29-July 5
Here's what we're reading by EWA members this week

Sally Ho of the Associated Press explains where and why prominent charter school supporters are wading into state elections.

A lawsuit filed on behalf of Detroit students ends in disappointment for its supporters, reports Lori Higgins of the Detroit Free Press. 

For EdSource, Theresa Harrington examines why teachers in Oakland are preparing to strike.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Making a Diverse Teacher Workforce a Reality

Diversifying the teacher workforce — an issue of growing concern to education leaders and policymakers — is difficult to achieve because of leaks in the pipeline and after teachers of color reach the classroom, a panel of experts told reporters at a recent conference. The challenges start in teacher-prep programs and extend through certification, hiring, placement, retention and leadership, the speakers said at a recent Education Writers Association event.

Member Stories

June 22-June 28
Here's what we're reading by EWA members this week

Eva-Marie Ayala of The Dallas Morning News examines the relationship between a shelter for immigrant children and a charter school that wants to educate them.

For migrant teachers in Dallas, performance evaluations could mean the difference between staying in the U.S. and facing deportation, writes Mario Koran for The 74.

Member Stories

June 15-June 21
Here's what we're reading by EWA members this week

Emmanuel Felton of The Hechinger Report investigates charter schools where the student population is significantly whiter than neighboring district schools.

A lawsuit alleges that school districts across the country are excluding immigrant students. Zoë Kirsch of The Teacher Project explores the issue for Naples Daily News.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Understanding ‘Janus:’ The High Court Case That Could Shake Up Teachers’ Unions

The U.S. Supreme Court is on the cusp of a decision that could reshape teachers’ unions, putting new pressure on them to convince educators that paid membership is worthwhile.

At issue is a case over whether public employees, including teachers, who choose not to join unions can be required to pay agency fees. (Those fees typically cover the costs of collective bargaining.)

Key Coverage

Betrayed: Chicago Schools Fail To Protect Students From Sexual Abuse

They were top athletes and honor-roll students, children struggling to read and teenagers seeking guidance.

But then they became prey, among the many students raped or sexually abused during the last decade by trusted adults working in the Chicago Public Schools as district officials repeated obvious child-protection mistakes.

Their lives were upended, their futures clouded and their pain unacknowledged as a districtwide problem was kept under wraps. A Tribune analysis indicates that hundreds of students were harmed.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Five Questions to Ask After Court’s ‘Janus’ Ruling
Teachers' unions face uncertain future as decision looms

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling soon that could potentially deal a major blow to the size and strength of teachers’ unions.

The case, Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 31, pits public sector unions against employees who contend that requiring non-union workers to pay certain fees to the union violates their freedom of speech.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

What’s Behind the Spate of Teacher Strikes?

As a growing number of teachers across the country hold strikes to advocate for better pay and increased education funding, new questions are arising about the power of teachers’ unions, the role of social media, and what teachers are doing to continue their efforts beyond large-scale work demonstrations.

During a May 16 panel at the Education Writers Association’s annual conference, speakers sought to contextualize the teacher actions, what they mean, and what’s next.

EWA Radio

Lessons From the Oklahoma Teachers’ Strike
Educators’ walkouts fuel push for better pay, statewide education funding (EWA Radio: Episode 165)

image of teachers rally in front of OK state capitol 2018.

After nine days on the picket lines, Oklahoma teachers are back to work this week. Like their counterparts in West Virginia and Kentucky who also went on strike this spring,  teachers in the Sooner State were seeking more than bigger paychecks; they also aimed to draw attention to funding shortfalls for public schools statewide. Ben Felder of The Oklahoman shares his experiences as a local reporter covering what quickly swelled into a national story.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

The Teacher Strikes: What Reporters Need to Know

Teachers in Oklahoma and Kentucky are on the picket lines this week, pushing for better compensation for themselves and more money for schools in their respective states.

These strikes come just weeks after West Virginia’s schools were shuttered statewide for almost two weeks in March, eventually sparking the legislature there to award teachers pay raises.

Such work stoppages are historically rare, but the teachers involved say they were necessary to force resolutions to months - or even years - of stalled negotiations.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Covering Teens: Lessons from the “Raising Kings” Journalists

Getting heartfelt, personally revealing comments from teenage boys is difficult enough for parents. So reporters Kavitha Cardoza and Cory Turner had to take a few creative risks to get good audio for their National Public Radio series on an all-boys public high school in Washington D.C. last year.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Does Trump’s Education Budget Even Matter?
Big cuts to popular programs, boosting school choice proposed

President Trump’s proposed federal budget, unveiled Monday, calls for major cuts to existing education programs and a huge increase for school choice initiatives. The first question stemming from his blueprint is this: How seriously will Congress take his administration’s plan, even with Republicans controlling both chambers?

Blog: The Educated Reporter

At High Tech High, Focus Goes Beyond the Classroom
Personalization, 'authentic' work, equity & collaboration billed as hallmarks

Walking onto a High Tech High campus is like entering a workshop. Our tour guide, sophomore Caroline Egler, pointed out classrooms that supposedly housed physics or humanities, but most students weren’t in those rooms. They were in the hallways working on projects, huddled around computers together, or even working at desks standing eight feet tall so they towered above the floor. It was chaotic, but not out of control.

Students seemed to be working with purpose, even if it was not immediately obvious what they were doing.

EWA Radio

This Reporter Found School District’s Secret ‘Blacklist’
Qualified teachers say they were unfairly kept out of Tucson Public Schools' classrooms (EWA Radio: Episode 156)

backlisted image

For decades, rumors swirled that the Tucson, Arizona, school district had a secret roster of former employees on a “do not hire” list, even though they never had faced serious disciplinary measures. Arizona Daily Star education reporter Hank Stephenson put some mysterious pieces together and brought the list to light. Among the clues: an off-hand comment Stephenson heard by a trustee at the close of a school board meeting.

Webinar

Pedal to the Metal: Speeding Up Stalled Records Requests

Pedal to the Metal: Speeding Up Stalled Records Requests

You file a freedom of information request with your local school district concerning financial data or a personnel investigation, but months later, there’s still no answer. What are the next steps, especially if your newsroom’s budget can’t stretch to cover the costs of suing for access? A veteran journalist and an expert on records requests offer strategies for success in making inquiries at the federal, state and local levels.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Child Care Educators: Underpaid and Underappreciated, Analysts Say

Patricia Twymon set her jaw and spoke slowly and firmly.

“The misperception is that I am a babysitter,” Twymon told a room full of education journalists. “I am not a babysitter. I am an educator, I am a professional, and I should be treated as such.”

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Learning or Teaching? Experimental High Schools Put Students First

The secret to student success may well be hidden in the buzzwords frequently used today to describe efforts to transform high school.

Personalized learning. Student-centered learning. Competency-based learning, and so on.

“There’s a common denominator in all these labels, and that common denominator is learning,” said Caroline Hendrie, the executive director of Education Writers Association at a recent seminar for journalists in San Diego.

Seminar

71st EWA National Seminar
Los Angeles • May 16-18, 2018

EWA 71st National Seminar Los Angeles graphic

EWA’s National Seminar is the largest annual gathering of journalists on the education beat. This multiday conference provides participants with top-notch training delivered through dozens of interactive sessions on covering education from early childhood through graduate school. Featuring prominent speakers, engaging campus visits, and plentiful networking opportunities, this must-attend conference provides participants with deeper understanding of the latest developments in education, a lengthy list of story ideas, and a toolbox of sharpened journalistic skills.

EWA Radio

The Tax Bill: What Education Reporters Need to Know
Public schools and universities on edge over Republican plan for overhaul

The tax legislation congressional Republicans are rushing to complete has potentially big stakes for education. Critics suggest it will translate into a big financial hit for public schools and universities, as the rules for education-related deductions, revenue-raising bond measures and more are potentially tightened. Andrew Ujifusa of Education Week and Eric Kelderman of The Chronicle of Higher Education offer a primer on the House and Senate versions of the tax-code overhaul, including key differences lawmakers still must hammer out.

Key Coverage

Inside Silicon Valley’s Big-Money Push to Remake American Education

On a chilly winter morning in a tiny pocket of Silicon Valley known as North Fair Oaks, Everest Public High School is buzzing with energy. Out front, a tall, skinny teen jumps out of a black Porsche SUV; moments later, three young women in matching black hoodies stream out of the front seat of a Toyota pickup that’s filled with trowels, buckets, and a ladder.

EWA Radio

After the Storms: Uncertain Futures for Puerto Rico’s Students
EWA Radio: Episode 144

The public education system in Puerto Rico was already struggling before two historic hurricanes — Irma and Maria — wreaked havoc on this U.S. territory. Reporter Andrew Ujifusa and photographer Swikar Patel of Education Week discuss their recent reporting trip to Puerto Rico, where they met students and teachers who have lost their homes — as well as their schools — and are now struggling to get the basic essentials, like food and shelter.

EWA Radio

What Students With Dyslexia Need — But Aren’t Getting — From Schools
EWA Radio: Episode 143

A new radio documentary by APM Reports concludes that American schools are failing to use proven methods for helping dyslexic students learn to read — techniques that could also benefit their classmates. Emily Hanford, a correspondent and senior producer for APM Reports, discusses why school districts are often resistant to identifying students as dyslexic, and how long-standing debates over how best to teach reading have kept some schools from adopting best practices.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Why Is the Portland School District Suing an Education Reporter?

Beth Slovic, a longtime education journalist in Portland, Oregon, was making dinner for her family when she noticed a bearded guy on a bicycle pulling up outside her house.

Slovic thought maybe one of her neighbors had ordered takeout. Instead, the man, a process server, came to her front door: Portland Public Schools was suing to block her public-information request for employee records.

Key Coverage

Certification Rules and Tests are Keeping Would-be Teachers of Color Out of America’s Classrooms. Here’s How.

Becoming a certified teacher in America usually means navigating a maze of university classes and certification tests — and paying for them.

The goal is a high-quality teaching force, and an array of powerful advocates have been pushing to “raise the bar” further. But the rules likely come with a hefty cost: a less diverse profession.

EWA Radio

When Students Talk Back, These Teachers Listen
EWA Radio: Episode 139

What do teachers learn from their most challenging students — the interrupters, the ones who push back or whose difficult home lives spill over into the classroom? Sarah Carr, the editor of The Teacher Project at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, discusses a new podcast partnership with The Atlantic, featuring candid conversations with educators and students, as each recall pivotal moments in their relationships.

Key Coverage

Benefit of the Doubt
How Portland Public Schools Helped An Educator Evade Sexual Misconduct Allegations

Something broke inside 17-year-old Rose Soto when Marshall High teacher Mitch Whitehurst called attention to her pants.

“You know why they’re so great?” Whitehurst said as he walked behind her up an empty stairway, according to an account she would tell police and school officials. “It’s because of the zipper in the back. You just unzip them and boom we’re on it.”

The 2001 remark capped a year of unrelenting sexual advances from the Portland educator who’d tapped her to be his student aide, she told police.

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News Roundup: Increasing Calls for Ethnic Diversity in Teacher Workforce

Photo Credit: Innovation_School

Concern is mounting about the relative lack of racial and ethnic diversity in the teaching force – whether in K-12 or higher education.

About 82 percent of U.S. public school teachers at the K-12 level are white and while 25 percent of public school students, or 1 in 4, is Hispanic, according to the most recent figures available from the National Center for Education Statistics.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Rethinking High School: What Do Students Need?

Students at the MC2 STEM High School in Cleveland don’t sit through lectures all day. They learn through projects, like designing and building above-ground gardens, calculating the powers of a comic book superhero or constructing a recording studio to record a song.

Key Coverage

Teachers Gear Up For A New Kind Of Ninth Grade

Furr High School is gearing up to launch a new kind of ninth grade. It’s part of how Furr, which used to have a reputation for drop-outs and gang violence, is trying to transform high school, with the help of a $10 million grant. At one recent workshop, half a dozen ninth grade instructors brainstormed for the new ninth grade, thinking about how to give students more ownership in the curriculum and testing.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Finding — and Keeping — Teachers of Color

The nation’s public schools are serving increasingly diverse populations of students, yet the teachers in those schools are mostly white.

“It is absolutely right — we do not have parity,” said Richard Ingersoll, a professor of education and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, during the Education Writers Association’s annual conference in Washington, D.C.

He and other experts gathered for the EWA panel last month talked about a problem many school districts struggle with: How to recruit and retain teachers of color.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

As Pre-K Expands, Divide With Elementary Grades Threatens Success

With enrollment in public prekindergarten programs at a record high, there is a growing emphasis on building stronger connections between children’s early learning experiences and the K-12 system. But bridging the divide between a sector that lacks a coherent structure and the more rigid K-12 system is a challenge rife with logistical as well as philosophical dilemmas.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Observing Classrooms: What Does Good Teaching Look Like?

How do reporters know good teaching when they see it? How do they tactfully write about bad teaching? And how do they tease out what came before the moment they set foot in a particular classroom?

Pamela Grossman, dean of the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania, and Elizabeth Green, co-founder of Chalkbeat, helped a roomful of journalists at the Education Writers Association’s 70th Annual National Seminar in Washington, D.C., see classroom teaching in a whole different light.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Teachers Union Offers Support to Educators in Puerto Rico

Educators in Puerto Rico are getting support from the American Federation of Teachers in their efforts to thwart a plan to close schools as a way of helping the island deal with its financial crisis.

AFT president Randi Weingarten sent a letter in April to the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico urging them “not to make devastating funding cuts to the education system that serves the 379,000 students in Puerto Rico.” The federal fiscal board is overseeing Puerto Rico’s efforts to deal with bankruptcy and resolve its debt.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Details, Data and Voices: K-12 Reporters Tell ‘How I Did the Story’

A teacher shortage in Oklahoma. Data-driven analysis of the Detroit School Board election. Teen suicide. The impact of an influx of Central American youths on a high-poverty Oakland school. Four of this year’s Education Writers Association award finalists recently shared their stories and took questions from a packed room at the EWA National Seminar on how they did their work.

Rocking the Beat

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Risks and Rewards: Social Media as a Reporting Tool

Many education journalists are savvy enough to use social media as a way to attract readers to their stories. But if that is all they are doing with social media, they are not harnessing its full potential.

“Especially in our beat, it can be a really valuable — if potentially risky and dangerous tool — both for connecting with hard-to-reach sources and for generating story angles and ideas,” said Sarah Carr, who runs The Teacher Project, a fellowship program at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Trump Budget Signals Education Priorities

President Donald Trump’s first budget blueprint begins to flesh out the areas in which he sees an important federal role in education — most notably expanding school choice — and those he doesn’t. At the same time, it raises questions about the fate of big-ticket items, including aid to improve teacher quality and support after-school programs. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Senate Confirms Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary

After a bruising confirmation process and a Senate vote on Tuesday largely divided along party lines, Republican mega-donor and school choice advocate Betsy DeVos is the new U.S. secretary of education.

In her first public communication as secretary, DeVos signaled that school choice would be a paramount concern:

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Education Deans Share Ideas for Recruiting, Retaining Latino Teachers

Last summer, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics convened a meeting of education deans from Hispanic-serving institutions across the country to brainstorm ideas for getting more Latinos into the teaching profession. The group recently released a white paper with their recommendations — among them a challenge to recognize and remove implicit bias in education.

Report

To Attract Great Teachers, School Districts Must Improve Their Human Capital Systems
Center for American Progress

To succeed in today’s economy, organizations must capitalize on the skills, knowledge, abilities, and experience of their employees. Research shows that investments in human capital improve organizational performance—including team effectiveness, employee retention, and innovation—in both the private and public sectors. In other words, companies that attract and develop strong employees by prioritizing recruiting, investing in professional growth opportunities, and building positive workplace cultures tend to have greater efficiency and better outcomes.

Report

Time for Action Building the Educator Workforce Our Children Need Now
Center on Great Teachers and Leaders

States are now deeply engaged in developing plans for their federal education spending for the next several years. Decades of experience and education research indicate that states must strengthen and organize the educator workforce to implement change successfully. Now is the time to rethink systems and strategies and to focus funds and efforts on what matters most for learning: great teachers and leaders for every student and school. 

Report

Teacher Effectiveness in the Every Student Succeeds Act: A Discussion Guide
Center on Great Teachers and Leaders

Systemic challenges in the educator workforce require thoughtful and bold actions, and ESSA presents a unique opportunity for states to reaffirm, modify, or improve their vision of educator effectiveness. This GTL Center discussion guide focuses on one challenge that states face as part of this work: defining ineffective teacher in the absence of highly qualified teacher (HQT) requirements.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

As Feds Turn Focus on English-Language Learners, Teachers Struggle to Find Quality Materials

Craig Brock teaches high school science in Amarillo, Texas, where his freshman biology students are currently learning about the parts of a cell. But since many of them are refugee children who have only recently arrived in the U.S. and speak little or no English, Brock often has to get creative.

Usually that means creating PowerPoint presentations full of pictures and “just kind of pulling from here and there,” he said — the Internet, a third grade textbook or a preschool homeschool curriculum from Sam’s Club, for example.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

With More Freedom, Will States Raise Bar for ‘Effective’ Teaching?

When schools consultant Tequilla Banks considers how best to ensure America’s low-income and minority students have access to effective teaching, her personal history is a helpful guide. Growing up in Arkansas, Banks witnessed first-hand how educational accountability can work – or not work, as the case may be — when state governments call the shots.

What she saw left her thankful for federal government intervention.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

How Are Schools Teaching 9/11?

During a Sept. 11 memorial, the night sky is illuminated over the footprint where the World Trade Center's TWin Towers once stood. (Flickr/Jackie)

In 2007, while writing about military recruiting at high schools, I met a fresh-faced JROTC cadet who planned to enlist after graduation. His older brother was already serving in Afghanistan as part of the U.S. response to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. The student, who was a seventh grader when the hijacked airplanes struck, eventually joined the Army and followed his brother to war.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Back-to-School: You Need Stories, We’ve Got Ideas

Back-to-School: You Need Stories, We’ve Got Ideas

The boys (and girls) are back in town. For class, that is.

See how forced that lede was? Back-to-school reporting can take on a similar tinge of predictability, with journalists wondering how an occasion as locked in as the changing of the seasons can be written about with the freshness of spring.

Recently some of the beat’s heavy hitters dished with EWA’s Emily Richmond about ways newsrooms can take advantage of the first week of school to tell important stories and cover overlooked issues.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Where Are the Latino Teachers?

Source: Flickr/ Mundial Perspectives (CC BY 2.0)

When Edgar Ríos was one of 126 students in the first class of a new charter school in Chicago in 1999, almost all of his teachers were white.

They were good teachers, he says. His favorite, though, was a teacher “who could speak Spanish with my mother and father, so I didn’t have to translate.”

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Boston Charter Aims to Innovate, Extend Reach

English teacher Caroline Bartlett began her work with Match Public Charter School as a tutor, and was hired out of the organization's training corps. (Photo credit: Match Public Charter School)

In early May at Match Public Charter School in Boston, 18 freshmen are preparing to discuss themes from “Lord of the Flies.” Their English teacher is Ashley Davis, a 26-year-old native of Cincinnati who’s in her second year of teaching, but acts like a veteran.

Davis will soon have her students explaining the biblical allusions in the 1954 novel and debating whether mankind is naturally good or evil.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Common Core Math: A Glimpse in the Classroom

The fourth grade students sit on a carpet, wriggling, shaking their hands, looking in all directions as a teacher uses the most basic of tools — a red sharpie and a big white pad — to deliver her lesson.

The day’s agenda: teaching the Common Core standard of finding “whole number quotients.” She writes an equation on the board, and the answer works out to be 100. But she’s not done.

Report

Examining the Validity of Ratings from a Classroom Observation Instrument for Use in a District’s Teacher Evaluation System
WestEd

This validation study examined principals’ evaluation ratings of teachers made on an instrument adapted from the Danielson Framework for Teaching and used in the Washoe County School District in Reno, Nevada in 2012/13. Principals used a four-point rating scale to rate teachers on 22 teaching components. The teaching components were expected to measure four different dimensions of teaching.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Investigative Reporting: Tracking Teacher Misconduct

Flickr/Donna Sullivan Thomson

National record-keeping on teacher misconduct is inconsistent and incomplete, allowing those accused of malpractice to move into teaching jobs in other school districts that are unaware of the charges. Even some convictions may slip through the cracks.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Getting High-Quality Teachers to Disadvantaged Students

Teacher Lisa Jones leads a lesson at Watkins Elementary School in Washington D.C. (Flickr/U.S. Department of Education)

How do you get the best teachers in front of the students who need them the most? It’s an issue getting increased attention, but a tough problem to solve.

An Obama administration official said he’s encouraged by state plans developed to “ensure equitable access to excellent educators,” as required in 2014 by the U.S. Department of Education.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Experts Say Teachers Are Being Taught Bad Science

Source: Nora Newcombe's presentation at EWA's National Seminar in Boston

Here’s a quick quiz. Rate the following statements on a scale from one to five, with one meaning you totally disagree and five meaning you wholeheartedly agree:

  • Beginners and experts essentially think in the same way.

  • Most people are either left-brained or right-brained.

  • Students learn more when information is tailored to their unique learning styles.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Missing Class: Using Data to Track Chronic Absenteeism

Fickr/dcJohn (CC BY 2.0)

For every savant who’s skilled enough to ditch class and still ace the course, many more who miss school fall way behind, increasing their odds of dropping out or performing poorly.

The implications are major: If a school has a high number of students repeatedly absent, there’s a good chance other troubles are afoot. Feeling uninspired in the classroom, poor family outreach, or struggles at students’ homes are just some of the root causes of absenteeism, experts say.

EWA Radio

Raising the Bar for Teacher Certification 
EWA Radio: Episode 71

(Flickr/Don Voaklander)

How fair are controversial new tests being used by some states to certify teachers? Who are the prospective classroom educators struggling the most with the often costly, time-consuming process? And how might this impact efforts to diversify nation’s predominantly white, female, teacher workforce?

Writer Peggy Barmore of The Hechinger Report discusses these issues with EWA public editor Emily Richmond.

Report

Listen to Us: Teacher Views and Voices

In the winter of 2015, the Center on Education Policy surveyed a nationally representative sample of public school teachers to learn their views on the teaching profession, state standards and assessments, testing, and teacher evaluations. 

The report, Listen to Us: Teacher Views and Voices, summarizes these survey findings, including responses indicating that public school teachers are concerned and frustrated with shifting policies, over emphasis on student testing, and their lack of voice in decision-making. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Angela Duckworth: Raising Test Scores Is Not a Sign of Grit

In the dozen years that Angela Duckworth has researched the concept of grit, she’s found new ways to test its validity, identified examples of it in popular culture, and worked to bust myths about its application in schools. But she hasn’t developed a just-add-water curriculum package that interested schools can use to develop the character trait in their students.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Behind the Pulitzer Prize-Winning Failure Factories Series

Kindergartner Tyree Parker sits at the front doors of Maximo Elementary as he waits for school to open. (Tampa Bay Times/Dirk Shadd)

Cara Fitzpatrick was in labor when her husband – and colleague at the Tampa Bay Times – asked her “So what can you tell me about segregation in Pinellas County?”

The paper had just decided to do a large-scale investigation into the district’s schools that were serving predominately low-income, black students. Two years later, Fitzpatrick’s son is walking and talking and she and the rest of the team have earned a Pulitzer Prize for their series Failure Factories.  

EWA Radio

Inside Tampa Bay Times’ Pulitzer Prize-Winning ‘Failure Factories’
EWA Radio: Episode 70

Kindergartner Tyree Parker sits at the front doors of Maximo Elementary as he waits for school to open. (Tampa Bay Times/Dirk Shadd)

Update: On May 2, “Failure Factories” won the $10,000 Hechinger Grand Prize in the EWA National Awards for Education Reporting.

The Pulitzer Prize for local reporting this year went to the Tampa Bay Times for an exhaustive investigation into how a handful of elementary schools in Pinellas County wound up deeply segregated by race, poverty, and opportunity.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

‘Lives in Limbo’: Supporting Undocumented Students

Yehimi Cambron, middle, shares her immigration story at the Center for American Progress event, "Harnessing the Talent of DACA and Unauthorized Students at the K-12 Level." She was joined by, from left, Richard Loeschner of Brentwood High School in New York, Frances Esparza of Boston Public Schools, Roberto Gonzales of Harvard University, and moderator Scott Sargrad of CAP. Photo by Natalie Gross/ EWA

When Yehimi Cambron crossed the U.S. border from Mexico with her parents, they told her she would not have documented legal status in this country. But as a third-grader, she had no concept of how that would affect her.

It wasn’t until she was 15 and denied a $50 prize in an art competition because she didn’t have a Social Security number that she grasped its meaning.

EWA Radio

Why President Obama Should Teach
EWA Radio: Episode 65

(Flickr/The White House)

When President Obama leaves office in January, there will be no shortage of big-name corporations and Ivy League universities clamoring for his skills. But in a recent essay for The New Yorker Magazine, contributor Cinque Henderson — a former writer for Aaron Sorkin’s “The Newsroom” — suggests President Obama consider teaching at a historically black college or university (HBCU), community college, or even an urban high school.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

A Global Lens on Teacher Quality

A classroom at the Turku University Teacher Training School in Littoinen, Finland. The country sets a high bar for entrance into the teaching profession. (Jari Sjölund/Flickr via Creative Commons)

High-achieving countries share some common practices when it comes to the recruitment, training and development of public-school teachers, according to experts at a recent Education Writers Association event.

A few years ago in Singapore, teachers in a high school English department posed a question: Would having students conduct live debates on an issue before they wrote persuasive essays about it result in more highly developed final papers?

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Teach For America Turns 25

Teach For America teacher and Penn State graduate Sergio Santiago reads a book to his students at a Washington, D.C. elementary school. (Flickr/PennState)

In the past quarter-century, Wendy Kopp’s idea for putting new college graduates to work in high-need public schools has grown from her undergraduate thesis project at Princeton into a $300 million organization responsible for recruiting, training, and supporting thousands of new teachers every year. Along the way, Teach For America has generated criticism even as it’s become a mainstay in many of the nation’s larger school districts. 

Report

Ensuring High-Quality Teacher Talent
Education First

As districts face the recurring problem of ensuring every student has access to a high-quality teacher, a growing number have begun to proactively form deep, mutually beneficial partnerships with teacher preparation programs to produce teacher candidates who match their specific needs. These partnerships, when done well, take significant time and resources on behalf of both parties, but have the ability to transform the work of both institutions.

Report

Half the People Working in Schools Aren’t Classroom Teachers—So What?

When we think of elementary and secondary schools, many of us picture students in classrooms taught by lone teachers, overseen by a principal. In reality, many adults work in schools other than teachers and principals. It may be surprising to learn that there are as many non-teaching adults as there are teachers in U.S. public schools. These adults play roles from supporting students with special needs to coaching teachers to community outreach to maintaining facilities.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Shopping for Holiday Stories? Hit the Mall

The mall can be a goldmine of story ideas - and sources - for education reporters during the holiday weeks when schools are closed. (Flickr/AmandaB3

With most schools closed until after the New Year, the holidays can be a dry spell on the education beat. But there’s no shortage of ideas for creative reporters who are willing to venture into less-familiar territory.

Organization

Teach Plus

Since 2009, Teach Plus has worked to recruit and prepare teachers to take on teacher-leadership roles in their schools, districts, and states.

EWA Radio

TGI Thursday! Idaho’s Four-Day Schools
EWA Radio: Episode 51

Faced with massive budget cuts in the wake of the recession, many Idaho school districts switched to a four-day weekly calendar. But more than seven years into the experiment, an investigation by Idaho Education News – lead by reporter Kevin Richert — found little evidence that the schedule change improved either student achievement or the fiscal outlook of cash-strapped districts.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Growing Minds, Changing Math Classes

Jo Boaler speakers to reporters during EWA's seminar on motivation held at Stanford University in November (Credit: Stanford University/Marc Franklin)

As the tune of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” plays out over the music video, the lyrics are a bit different:

“We will make mistakes…our method’s gonna break…not a piece of cake…we’re gonna shake it off, shake it off…”

It was in this video Stanford University Professor and author Jo Boaler says she was compelled to do something she didn’t want to do. “They made me rap,” she said. When her undergraduate students challenged whether she had a growth mindset about her rhyme skills, Boaler said to herself, “Oh my gosh. I’m gonna have to rap.”

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Have Warnings of Teacher ‘Shortages’ Been Exaggerated?

A Missouri school district facing a teacher shortage posted advertisements in neighboring Kansas. (Photo credit: KTNV.com)

Predicting teacher “shortages,” evidently, is much like forecasting the apocalypse. It’s best to go into the enterprise with a flexible time frame.

“There was always a ‘shortage’ of 2 million teachers, and it loomed a year or two ahead. It seemed to keep getting pushed further and further back,” said Steve Drummond, the senior education editor at NPR News, who has heard diagnoses of a shortage since the 1990s.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Forging New Paths to Teaching

Alternative routes to teacher certification have grown rapidly over the last three decades, with more programs popping up all over the country. At EWA’s recent seminar in Chicago, three leaders in the field of teacher preparation discussed the implications this widening path will have on traditional teachers’ colleges and what lessons they might glean from their newer counterparts.

Report

State Capacity to Support School Turnaround
Institute of Education Sciences National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance

More than 80 percent of states made turning around low-performing schools a high priority, but at least 50 percent found it very difficult to turn around low-performing schools. 38 states (76 percent) reported significant gaps in expertise for supporting school turnaround in 2012, and that number increased to 40 (80 percent) in 2013.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Education Post Poll: Parents Want Testing to Help Students

Public school parents generally support standardized testing but think there’s too much of it, according to a new from Education Post, a nonprofit communications firm led by former Obama administration education official Peter Cunningham. 

When asked how the test results should  be used, 65 percent of the responding parents said helping students should be the top priority. Only 21 percent wanted test results to be a tool for identifying ineffective teachers. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Fewer Black Teachers Spotlights ‘Diversity Gap’

Emily Banks from the U.S. Department of Education shadows teacher Lisa Jones at Watkins Elementary School in Washington D.C. for a 2014 event. The district is one of nine U.S. cities which experienced a sharp decline in African-American teachers between 2002 and 2012. (Flickr/U.S. Department of Education)

Nationally, the number of minority teachers is increasing, but it’s not keeping pace with student demographics, concludes a new report issued by a union-affiliated think tank. The gap in parity between minority teachers and minority students remains wide. And that’s particularly true for African-American kids in nine large urban districts, according to the researchers’ findings.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Teacher, Student Voices in Back-to-School Spotlight

It’s easy to get cynical about back-to-school stories – especially when you’ve been an education reporter for many years. But it’s important to remember that for many children and their families – one of the prime audiences for such reporting – this might be the first time they’ve gone through the experience.

Seminar

69th EWA National Seminar

The Education Writers Association, the national professional organization for journalists who cover education, is thrilled to announce that its annual conference will take place from Sunday, May 1, through Tuesday, May 3, 2016, in the historic city of Boston.

Co-hosted by Boston University’s College of Communication and School of Education, EWA’s 69th National Seminar will examine a wide array of timely topics in education — from early childhood through career — while expanding and sharpening participants’ skills in reporting and storytelling.

Boston, Massachusetts
Report

The Alarming Effect Of Racial Mismatch On Teacher Expectations

Researchers find evidence of systematic biases in teachers’ expectations for the educational attainment of black students. Specifically, non-black teachers have significantly lower educational expectations for black students than black teachers do when evaluating the same students. We cannot determine whether the black teachers are too optimistic, the non-black teachers are too pessimistic, or some combination of the two.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Miami Schools Look to Improve Spanish Instruction

Source: Flickr/ Enokson (CC BY 2.0)

Imagine taking an English class with a teacher who struggles with writing and grammar. 

That’s the type of instruction many students in Miami-Dade County Public Schools were getting in Spanish class, where teachers with Hispanic last names who spoke Spanish well enough to get by were being thrust into a role they weren’t trained for, according to recent articles by Christina Veiga of the Miami Herald. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Back-to-School: Story Ideas That Shine

Flickr/OddHarmonic

While it may seem that every back-to-school story has been written, the well is far from dry. Are you following the blogs teachers in your district write? Have you amassed the data sets you’ll need to write that deep dive explaining why so many local high school graduates land in remedial classes when they first enter college?

No? It’s OK. You’re not alone.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Grit? Motivation? Report Takes Stab at Defining Terms

Source: Flickr/U.S. Department of Education (CC BY 2.0)

Education writing is famous for its alphabet soup of acronyms and obscure terms, but it could just as well be faulted for trafficking buzzwords in search of clear definitions.

Ideas like grit, motivation, fitting in and learning from one’s mistakes, often summarized as noncognitive factors, are just some of the concepts floated more frequently these days. A new paper released this week seeks to provide clarity to this fast-growing discipline within the world of how students learn.

Report

Rethinking Teacher Preparation: Empowering Local Schools to Solve California’s Teacher Shortage and Better Develop Teachers
Bellwether Education Partners

After years of cuts to the teaching workforce, California districts are beginning to hire again. This positive change is offset, however, by the fact that teacher preparation programs are producing fewer graduates than the state’s schools and districts want to hire. As a growing number of districts face teacher shortages, or the prospect of them, California needs new strategies to improve both the supply and the quality of new teachers prepared in the state.

Report

Teacher Preparation Programs: Education Should Ensure States Identify Low-Performing Programs and Improve Information Sharing
United States Government Accountability Office

Among other things, GAO recommends that the Department of Education monitor states to ensure their compliance with requirements to assess whether any teacher preparation programs are low-performing and develop mechanisms to share information about TPP quality within the agency and with states.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Beyond NCLB: New Era in Federal Education Policy?

Screenshot of a tweet by @KristenRencher

Fifty years ago, the federal government enacted the landmark Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s war on poverty. The newest version of the ESEA, the No Child Left Behind Act, became law 13 years ago and has stayed in place ever since. On Thursday, a new version of the federal government’s most far-reaching K-12 education law moved closer to adoption. The U.S. Senate passed the Every Child Achieves Act, one week after the U.S. House of Representatives passed its own version, the Student Success Act.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Beyond the Rising Costs of Teacher Pensions

(Flickr/Christa Lohman)

Reporters are sometimes afraid of numbers. But when it comes to pensions, this can be a problem. It means that they often write an incomplete story,  giving voices to politicians who decry the size of teacher pensions. Or they’ll ignore pension stories entirely.

So it’s no surprise that the public often comes to erroneous conclusions—that teacher greed is the problem.

Multimedia

Falloff in Aspiring Teachers: Where and Why?
2015 EWA National Seminar

Falloff in Aspiring Teachers: Where and Why?

A data analysis by Education Week showed a decline in applicants to education schools in key states and Ed Week’s Stephen Sawchuk walks participants through it. ACT’s Steve Kappler unveils a disturbing new report on a dropoff in high school graduates aspiring to teach. Other speakers review the implications of their findings and sources.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

What Happens When Young People Don’t Want to Be Teachers?

A new teacher in a Denver, Colo. classroom. With fewer young people pursuing teaching careers, the Mile High City is one of a growing number of communities using residency programs to recruit and support new teachers. (Urban Teacher Residency United)

Why would young people today want to become teachers? Or perhaps more importantly, why wouldn’t they?

We all recognize teaching as an opportunity to change lives and remember the teachers who made a difference for us. But weigh that intrinsic satisfaction against low wages, little public respect and an ever-growing workload, and the minuses often win out. And now that a rebounding economy offers more professional options, our country faces a serious challenge to educating the next generation.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Student and Teacher Voices on Student-Centered Learning

From left: Stephanie Hernandez, Lesley Perez, Joshua Botterman and Jennifer Hayes at EWA's National Seminar in Chicago, April 21, 2015. (EWA/Emily Richmond)

If teachers and principals want students on center stage in their classrooms, they’ll first have to do a lot of work backstage. However, as a panel of teachers and students told attendees at EWA’s recent National Seminar in Chicago, the return on investment can be substantial.

When Revere High School, outside Boston, began moving to a more student-centered approach, the educators didn’t expect an overnight miracle.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Students, Teachers Thrive at U. of Chicago Charter School

Kindergarteners at the NKO campus of the UChicago Charter during a visit by EWA members in April 2015. (Beth Hawkins for EWA)

What’s most notable about the Chicago kindergarten class where assistant teacher Nichelle Bell is temporarily in charge is what is not happening. Teachers are not redirecting pupils, who are not off-task. Hands are not in other people’s spaces. Voices—those of children and adults—are not raised.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Report: Intensive Support for New Teachers Pays Off

A teacher in one of the Denver, Colo. schools  partnering with Urban Teacher Residencies United (UTRU) to provide intensive support to early career educators. (Photo credit: UTRU)

With an eye toward reducing turnover and improving student learning, districts nationwide are experimenting with “teacher residencies.” These programs, which provide intensive support to new teachers during the early years of their careers, are typically partnerships between schools of education and local districts. The idea is to better align the training with the on-the-job expectations.

Story Lab

Story Lab: Making Federal Data a Gold Mine for Your Reporting

Need a state or national statistic? There’s likely a federal data set for that. From fairly intuitive and interactive widgets to dense spreadsheets — and hundreds of data summaries in between — the U.S. Department of Education’s various research programs are a gold mine for reporters on the hunt for facts and figures.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Students, Teachers Don’t Study The Way Science Says They Should

Henry Roediger listens as Bror Saxberg answers a reporter's question at EWA's 68th National Seminar in Chicago. (Photo credit: Mikhail Zinshteyn/EWA)

Most students don’t study using methods backed by scientific research, panelists at the Education Writers Association’s deep dive on the science of learning told reporters in Chicago at the association’s 68th National Seminar.

“Why do people find learning so hard?” asked Henry Roediger, a psychology professor at Washington University in St. Louis, who participated in the April event.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

New Teachers Keep Teaching, Contrary to Conventional Wisdom

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan meets with teachers in Los Angeles on October 21, 2014. Photo credit: Flickr/U.S. Dept. of Education

Despite previous reports that new teachers are ditching their professions in record numbers, new federal data suggest that a grand majority of novice classroom instructors are showing up for work year after year.

Eighty-three percent of rookie teachers in 2007 continued to educate public school students half a decade later, according to the 2007–08 Beginning Teacher Longitudinal Study. Ten percent of teachers left the field after just one year.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Educators: Common Core Standards ‘Are the Floor’

From left: Educators Luann Tallman, Mark Sass, Merlinda Moldanado and Kristy Straley talk with moderator Liana Heiten of Education Week at the University of Colorado Boulder on February 26, 2015. (EWA/Emily Richmond)

For teacher Merlinda Maldonado’s sixth graders at Hill Middle School in Denver, it’s not necessarily about getting the answer right. It’s not about memorizing procedures, either. If Maldonado’s classroom is clicking, frustration can be a good thing.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Gov. Rauner: Put Money in Classrooms, Not Bureaucracy

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner speaks with attendees at the kickoff of EWA's 68th National Seminar in Chicago on April 20, 2015. (Stephanie Banchero)

In a wide-ranging speech on educational opportunity, teacher quality, school funding and accountability delivered at the kickoff of the Education Writers Association’s 68th National Seminar, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner shared with reporters his vision for the future of education in the Prairie State.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Report: Teacher Pension Debt Is Swamping States

The National Council on Teacher Quality has a new report out looking at teacher pension funds, which the advocacy group contends amount to a massive, underfunded liability for states. 

Teacher pension debt now stands at nearly a half-trillion dollars, up about $1 billion from two years ago. (You can read my take on NCTQ’s 2012 report here.)

Among the takeaways from this year’s report:

Report

Despite Reports to the Contrary, New Teachers Are Staying in Their Jobs Longer
Center for American Progress

Not only do our analyses show that since 2007, new teachers have been staying in the classroom at dramatically higher rates than is commonly understood, but they also show that teachers in high-poverty schools—defined here as those with more than 80 percent of students eligible for federally subsidized lunches—are staying at statistically similar rates as all beginning teachers. Teachers find high-poverty schools to be among the most challenging work environments, and they are somewhat more likely to leave teaching after working in a high-poverty school than in a lower-poverty school.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

From the Beat: Memorable Education Stories of 2014

Cadets celebrate graduation at West Point. A USA Today investigation of  congressional influence over the nomination process at elite military academies was one of the year's most memorable education stories. Flickr/U.S. Army (Creative Commons)

When you write a blog, the end of the year seems to require looking back and looking ahead. Today I’m going to tackle the former with a sampling of some of the year’s top stories from the K-12 and higher education beats. I’ll save the latter for early next week when the final sluggish clouds of 2014 have been swept away, and a bright new sky awaits us in 2015. (Yes, I’m an optimist.)

Blog: The Educated Reporter

From the Beat: Story Ideas For the Holiday Week

A cashier bags items in Gladstone, Missouri. It's not unusual for teachers to take part-time jobs like these to boost their retirement savings. (Creative Commons/Walmart)

For education beat reporters looking for story ideas next week, I wanted to offer a couple of suggestions.

First up: Do teachers in your district take on second jobs over the holidays to make ends meet, or to boost their Social Security retirement contributions?

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Webinar Wednesday: Are Teachers Making Use of Student Data?

As tools and data profiles of students become easier to use, are teachers sufficiently data literate to make sense of the information at their fingertips? Do teachers have the skills and access to data in useful formats, and are the school leaders and institutions responsible for their professional development providing them the training they need?