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.

Member Stories

Sept. 14 – 20
Here's what we're reading by EWA members this week

One year after Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, students and educators are still grappling with the physical and emotional damage left by the storm, reports Education Week’s Andrew Ujifusa.

In Memphis, a decision to halt an investigation into improper grade changing is raising questions about whether anyone will be held accountable, writes Chalkbeat’s Laura Faith Kebede.

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.

Member Stories

Sept. 7 – 13
Here's what we're reading by EWA members this week

In a new radio documentary, APM Reports’ Emily Hanford looks at why teaching reading has become so controversial — and ineffective — in many U.S. classrooms. 

At a time of federal “zero tolerance” policies on immigration, students from immigrant families in the Washington, D.C., area are struggling to stay focused on their academics, reports Jenny Abamu of WAMU. 

Latest News

Exactly How Teachers Came to Be So Underpaid in America

Hope Brown can make $60 donating plasma from her blood cells twice in one week, and a little more if she sells some of her clothes at a consignment store. It’s usually just enough to cover an electric bill or a car payment. This financial juggling is now a part of her everyday life—something she never expected almost two decades ago when she earned a master’s degree in secondary education and became a high school history teacher. Brown often works from 5 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Latest News

Why Aren’t Kids Being Taught to Read?

It was 2015 and Jack Silva, the chief academic officer for the public schools in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, had a problem: Only 56 percent of third-graders in his district had scored proficient on the state reading test.

Latest News

Does Teacher Diversity Matter for Students’ Learning?

As students have returned to school, they have been greeted by teachers who, more likely than not, are white women. That means many students will be continuing to see teachers who are a different gender than they are, and a different skin color.

Does it matter? Yes, according to a significant body of research: Students tend to benefit from having teachers who look like them, especially nonwhite students.

Latest News

Teacher Strikes Are Heating Up in More States

The momentum from the historic wave of statewide teacher strikes last spring seems set to continue this school year.

After thousands of teachers in a half-dozen states walked out of their classrooms to protest issues like low pay and cuts to school funding—to varying degrees of success—some onlookers are predicting this school year will see continued activism.

Latest News

Texas Expects Thousands More Special Education Students. But Where Are The Teachers?

Thousands of additional children will soon be eligible for special education services after state officials eliminated an illegal cap that artificially tamped down Texas special education rolls for a decade.

But even if the state fully funds the estimated $3 billion cost of providing that extra instruction, educators say one big question remains: Where will schools find up to 9,000 new special education teachers?

Member Stories

August 31 – September 6
Here's what we're reading by EWA members this week

The National Education Association is hoping a crash course in campaigning will help educators running for public office, reports Education Week’s Sarah Schwartz.

For the Tampa Bay Times, Claire McNeill examines why some students of color feel isolated at Florida’s flagship university.

In Washington state, Katie Gillespie of The Columbian asks teachers on the picket lines what keeps them going despite frustrations with the job.

Latest News

Arizona Lawmakers Cut Education Budgets. Then Teachers Got Angry.

Red shirts and blouses had emerged as the official uniform of teacher uprisings against low pay that were spreading from West Virginia to Oklahoma and Kentucky under the rallying cry “Red for Ed.” Just one week earlier, a Facebook post by Noah Karvelis, a 23-year-old teacher in Phoenix, lit the spark in Arizona, asking teachers to wear red on March 7 to demand more money for the state’s chronically underfunded public schools.

Member Stories

August 24 – August 30
Here's what we're reading by EWA members this week

To address chronic absenteeism, schools are experimenting with punishments and rewards, reports The Wall Street Journal’s Tawnell Hobbs.

As The Oregonian’s Bethany Barnes reports, the reopening of a historic middle school is shedding light on Portland’s complicated history of educating black children.

For the Associated Press, Sally Ho examines Bill Gates’ investments in education reform, new and old.

Latest News

Thousands Of Southwest Washington Teachers Strike

All summer, teachers and school administrators in southwest Washington have been in contract negotiations to avoid widespread strikes.

But now those strikes are happening. A regionwide teacher strike is disrupting the start of school for the more than 78,000 students in the area, and it’s unclear how long it could last.

Nearly every school district in Clark County has delayed the start of school and is on strike, with the exception of Woodland Public Schools where teachers bargained a 22.82 percent increase in base salary.

Member Stories

August 17 – August 23
Here's what we're reading by EWA members this week

As a new school year begins, The Oklahoman’s Ben Felder explores the impact of teacher walkouts and where Oklahoma schools go from here.

In Puerto Rico, students recently returned to schools where the effects of Hurricane Maria are still evident, reports Education Week’s Andrew Ujifusa.

Chalkbeat’s Caroline Bauman examines whether Tennessee has delivered on a promise to turn around its lowest-performing schools. 

Latest News

Uncertain Future For Chicago Teachers Union

Karen Lewis — the woman whose tell-it-like-it-is style catapulted the Chicago Teachers Union into prominence both in Chicago and nationally — is officially retiring at the end of the month, years after a 2014 brain cancer diagnosis led her to a less active role.

Now, her union must chart its future without Lewis’ powerful voice — and it comes at an especially challenging time. The union faces continued membership losses as well as financial difficulties. And  the year ahead holds a mayoral election, a union leadership election, and contract negotiations.

Latest News

Teachers Are Winning Public Support for Pay Raises, Survey Finds

This spring, thousands of teachers walked out of their classrooms in a half-dozen states, protesting low salaries and cuts to school funding. Their activism likely made a difference in boosting support for raising teacher salaries, shows a new poll from the journal Education Next.

EdNext surveyed a nationally representative sample of 4,601 adults during the first three weeks of May. The survey included representative oversamples of parents of school-age children and teachers.

Latest News

After the Walkout, Teachers Turned to Reading, Writing and Politics

Five days into a statewide teacher walkout, Sarah Carnes was scrolling through her social media feeds when she came across a Facebook post asking if a teacher in the Mustang area would be willing to run for an open state House seat in the upcoming election.

Carnes, who is an art teacher at Mustang High School, had spent the previous week with thousands of other educators at the state Capitol, demanding that lawmakers increase funding for schools, only to be told repeatedly that the level of increase being sought was not going to happen.

Latest News

Former ‘Teacher of the Year’ Wins Primary for Seat in U.S. Congress

In Waterbury, Conn., where she taught high school history, Jahana Hayes always told her students to never become resigned to the challenging conditions they grew up in. Hayes, who was raised amid drug addiction and became a mother before she graduated high school, understood firsthand her students’ struggles with poverty and broken homes.

Tuesday, she defied expectations, besting veteran politician Mary Glassman, a former first selectman in Simsbury, Conn. Hayes won with 62 percent of the vote.

Latest News

Back-to-School Shopping for Districts: Armed Guards, Cameras and Metal Detectors

Fortified by fences and patrolled by more armed personnel, schools will open their doors to students for the start of the new year with a heightened focus on security intended to ease fears about deadly campus shootings.

The massacre in Parkland, Fla., one of the most lethal in American history, unnerved school administrators across the country, who devoted the summer to reinforcing buildings and hiring security.

Latest News

‘The Lost Education of Horace Tate’ and Desegregation

For 25 years, the Emory University professor Vanessa Siddle Walker has studied and written about the segregated schooling of black children. In her latest book, The Lost Education of Horace Tate: Uncovering the Hidden Heroes Who Fought for Justice in Schools, Walker tells the little-known story of how black educators in the South—courageously and covertly—laid the groundwork for 1954’s Brown v. Board of Education and weathered its aftermath.

Latest News

Is Texas Ready To Copy Dallas’ Move To Boost Pay For The Best Teachers?

The state needs a dynamic way to boost teacher pay so Texas can recruit and retain the best educators.

But Texas leaders have fumbled on exactly what to do and how to get there.

On Wednesday, Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath once again pointed to Dallas as a model to follow, saying two key DISD efforts have turned around struggling schools by getting the most talented teachers to them — namely by paying them more.

Member Stories

July 27 – August 2
Here's what we're reading by EWA members this week

An analysis by the Palm Beach Post’s Andrew Marra uncovers significant salary declines for veteran teachers even as the cost of living has climbed.

Ryan McKinnon of the Herald Tribune examines child care in Florida, where providers are just scraping by while parents are breaking the bank.

Latest News

The Confounding State Of Child Care in Florida

Florida’s child care industry is a case study in market failure — providers are selling their services at fire-sale prices, but it is still too expensive for the consumers. Providers are just scraping by while parents are breaking the bank to pay for child care. Although the issue isn’t isolated to the Sunshine State, child care experts point to a multitude of Florida-specific factors.

Latest News

Failure Rate Soars on North Carolina Math Test For Teacher Licenses

Almost 2,400 North Carolina elementary school teachers have failed the math portion of their licensing exams, which puts their careers in jeopardy, since the state hired Pearson publishing company to give the exam in 2013, according to a report presented to the state Board of Education Wednesday.

Failure rates have spiked as schools around the state struggle to find teachers for the youngest children. Education officials are now echoing what frustrated teachers have been saying: The problem may lie with the exams rather than the educators.

Latest News

Washington State’s Colleges Lead the Nation in Training More Teachers of Color, Study Finds

At colleges and universities across the U.S., students training to become teachers are disproportionately whiter than the rest of the undergraduates on campus, new research has found.

But that’s not the case in Washington state, where teachers in training look more like the increasingly diverse studentsthey serve.

Why does this matter? For students of color, having a teacher who looks like them makes a big difference in their success in school.

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.

Latest News

With Successful Strikes Behind Them, Teachers Are Now Running for Office

Thousands of angry teachers across the country walked out of their classrooms this spring to protest low wages, cuts to school funding, and other changes to education policy. They scored some legislative victories, but many remained frustrated that the statehouse seems far removed from the schoolhouse when it comes to their priorities.

Now, scores of teachers are turning from the picket lines to the polls with a new mantra: If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

Latest News

One-Third of Parents Fear for Their Child’s Safety at School

After a year scarred by two mass shootings in high schools, 34 percent of parents fear for their child’s safety at school, a new poll finds, and just 27 percent are very confident or extremely confident about their school’s ability to deter a gunman.

Among a menu of safety proposals, parents are much more likely to favor armed police in schools and mental-health screenings than arming teachers and school staff.

Latest News

Teachers Unions Scramble to Save Themselves After Supreme Court’s Blow

The team of teachers pulled up to the school custodian’s house on a steamy summer day hoping to close the deal. They had been there twice with no luck, and Marsel Kovaci was proving to be a hard sell.

He was a union agency fee-payer, meaning he had declined to join the union but was still obligated to pay union fees — obligated, that is, until the Supreme Court declared otherwise last month. With a salary half that of a teacher, the janitor suddenly had a decision to make. So Mary Kruchinski, a representative of the New York State United Teachers, wasted no time.

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.

Latest News

After Janus, the Country’s Largest Public-Sector Union Takes Stock of Its Movement

In Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, a 5-4 Supreme Court majority ruled last week that despite laws requiring public-sector unions to represent all workers in a workplace, fees charged to non-members to support the costs of collective bargaining violate the First Amendment. For more than four decades, the Court has held it constitutional for unions to collect money from non-members to support the costs of negotiating contracts on their behalf.

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.

Latest News

The First Year Of Teaching Is Notoriously Tough. Denver Is Experimenting With A New Approach

A teacher’s first year in the classroom is often a sink-or-swim experience.

That was true for Kyle Jordan. A history major in college, Jordan underwent six weeks of training through an alternative teacher licensure program in Texas before being handed the keys to his own classroom at an alternative high school in Houston.

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.

Latest News

Group Finds Teachers At L.A.’s Lowest-Performing Schools Don’t Often Get Evaluated — And When They Do, Almost All Do Well

When a local advocacy group set out to see how closely teachers’ work was scrutinized in some of Los Angeles’ lowest-performing public schools, what they found alarmed them: Most of the teachers are not regularly evaluated and nearly all who are receive good ratings.

Parent Revolution’s analysis, based on public records, is ammunition for critics of the L.A. Unified School District.

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.

Latest News

Keeping Teachers In St. Louis Schools Is Tricky, So District Is Trying New Hiring Approach

On one school day last month, more than 30 Hamilton Elementary students sat cross-legged on the gym floor, laughing at an episode of the ’90s television show “Recess” that was being projected on the wall.

They were watching TV because they had no gym or art teachers that day, said substitute teacher Janet Burns, who was supervising them. Those teachers were absent.

Latest News

Oklahoma’s Teacher Candidates Surge To November After Success In Primary Elections

Seventy-one teachers in the Sooner State made it through Tuesday’s primary elections — either by besting their opponents outright or moving to a runoff.

The newcomers are seeking to unseat the very lawmakers who challenged their efforts to restore education funding during the teacher walkout this past spring that gripped the state capital for nine days.

Latest News

Anxiety Looms for Thousands of Migrant Teachers as Trump Administration Pushes ‘Zero Tolerance’ Enforcement of Visa Program

Pedro Terán knew what he was getting into.

Terán, 33, was living in Saltillo, Mexico, two years ago when his sister posted an ad on Facebook that said the Dallas Independent School District was looking for teachers. The district had sent recruiters to Monterrey, about an hour from Terán’s home, to find educators to help meet the demands of its mandatory bilingual programs.

Latest News

About a Quarter of D.C. Public Schools Teachers Lack Required Certification

About 1,000 teachers in D.C. Public Schools — a quarter of the educator workforce — lack certification the city requires to lead a classroom, according to District education leaders.

The Office of the State Superintendent of Education, which handles teacher certification, said it made the discovery during an internal investigation this winter.

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.

Member Stories

May 4 – May 10
Here's what we're reading by EWA members this week.

Education Week’s Andrew Ujifusa and Alex Harwin examine pronounced fluctuations in the number of desegregation cases reported by school districts.

In Charlotte, N.C., officials want more money to hire mental health workers because of increased demand in schools, Gwendolyn Glenn reports for WFAE.

 

Member Stories

April 27 – May 3
Here's what we're reading by EWA members this week.

In suburban Illinois, vocational training is getting fresh attention — and funding, writes Rafael Guerrero of The Courier News. 

Reporting for Colorado Public Radio, Jenny Brundin looks at allegations of misconduct and abuse against a teacher at a public school for the arts. 

 

Member Stories

April 20 – April 26
Here's what we're reading by EWA members this week.

Denver Post reporter Danika Worthington explains why Colorado teachers are walking out of class and rallying at the state capitol.

 

In DeKalb County, Ga., a school bus driver sickout is drawing complaints — and sympathy — from parents, Marlon A. Walker reports for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

 

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.

Member Stories

March 30 – April 5
Here's what we're reading by EWA members this week.

Moriah Balingit of The Washington Post shows how low pay and ballooning class sizes have left Oklahoma teachers in dire straits, fueling current calls for a strike.

 

Laura Pappano profiles the “privileged poor”— low-income first-generation students at elite colleges who must navigate the rocky transition across class lines — in an article for The Hechinger Report

 

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.

Member Stories

March 16 – March 22
Here's what we're reading by EWA members this week.

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s underdog success story plays out on the court and in the classroom, writes Erica L. Green for The New York Times

 

A new natural gas pipeline could be a boon for a struggling Ohio school district, reports Ashton Marra via State Impact Ohio. 

 

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.

Post

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.