Teachers

Overview

Teachers

Coverage of teachers and the teaching profession is central to the education beat, but it requires an understanding of some complex issues — preparation, licensure, compensation, recruitment and retention, professional development, and unionism. 

Coverage of teachers and the teaching profession is central to the education beat, but it requires an understanding of some complex issues — preparation, licensure, compensation, recruitment and retention, professional development, and unionism. 

It’s a formidable topic that yields important stories: Research shows that among school-related factors, teachers matter most for student achievement, leading to persistent pushes to improve teacher quality. Teachers and their unions are also a powerful political force with considerable influence on education policy, funding, and, during the pandemic, whether and when schools would reopen. 

In recent years, big shifts have occurred in policy, such as the push and pull of high-stakes accountability measures. In addition, across-the-board pay raises have taken place in response to historic statewide work stoppages.

There are also perennial challenges, such as teacher supply. Many school districts struggle to find enough teachers in certain subject areas, and enrollment in teacher preparation programs has steadily declined across the country over the last decade. School districts are also worried about retaining teachers: 8% leave the profession annually, and another 8% change schools. Teachers most often cite dissatisfaction as a main reason for quitting.

Turnover rates are higher among teachers of color. The teaching corps is overwhelmingly white, yet it serves an increasingly diverse population of students by race and ethnicity. This reality has sparked increased efforts to diversify the teaching ranks, as well as to rethink the training and support for educators already in classrooms.

Reporters can explore rich questions, such as: How can policymakers make the teaching profession more attractive — and sustainable — to a diverse group of qualified candidates? What new strategies are emerging to improve or reimagine teacher preparation? How should teachers be evaluated? What is the future of teacher compensation, and what do reporters need to know to better understand and contextualize teacher pay? How can districts rethink staffing models to better support high-quality instruction?

Updated June 2021.

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Data/Research: Teachers

To better understand issues facing the teaching profession, it’s important to stay abreast of the latest data and research.

Data on the Teacher Workforce

The National Center for Education Statistics collects in-depth data every couple years on teacher background, training, pay, professional development, class sizes and other issues. 

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History and Background: Teachers

The Evolution of the Workforce

The teaching profession was once dominated by men, many of whom considered the job a stepping stone to a more prestigious career. That began to change in the 1800s, when education reformers such as Horace Mann pushed for taxpayer money to fund public schools for all children, regardless of family income. State-funded “normal schools” to train teachers were also established, and women began to be recruited to fill the ranks.

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The Teacher Pipeline

In the traditional path to the classroom, an aspiring teacher enrolls in a teacher-preparation program run by a college or university and earns their bachelor’s or master’s degree in education. At some point during the program, the candidate spends some time student-teaching to get real-world experience. Upon graduation, the individual takes an exam to demonstrate their readiness to teach.

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Teacher Diversity

Increasing the racial and ethnic diversity of teachers is an issue of growing concern in public education. Today, 80% of teachers are white, while more than half of those who attend public schools are students of color.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Talking To Teachers: Story Ideas For Reporters

For education reporters looking for story ideas, talking to teachers is a smart place to start. That was the key takeaway from the “Performance and Perceptions: Taking the Pulse of the Profession” session at EWA’s recent seminar on the teaching profession, held last month in Detroit.

Tom Nehil and Beth Hawkins of the MinnPost speak with EWA members in Detroit on Oct. 21, 2014. (EWA/Emily Richmond)
Blog: The Educated Reporter

Using Teacher Data to Drive Education Reporting

In the Minneapolis Public Schools, nearly two-thirds of the district’s enrollment are students of color. Additionally, 65 percent of the district’s more than 35,000 students qualify for free and reduced-price meals. Beth Hawkins, a reporter for the MinnPost, had a hunch that the best-paid local teachers were working in the wealthiest schools, teaching white students. But this was just a guess, and her colleague at the nonprofit news site, data editor Tom Nehil, wanted to see the numbers. 

Author Elizabeth Green speaks to EWA members in Detroit on Oct. 21, 2014. (Emily Richmond/EWA)
Blog: The Educated Reporter

What It Takes to Build Great Teachers

If 49 multiplied by 5 is 245, why would a student think the answer is 405? And who is more likely to know this – a mathematician or an elementary math teacher?

Elizabeth Green, the author of “Building a Better Teacher: How Teaching Works (And How to Teach It to Everyone), posed this question to a roomful of education reporters at EWA’s October seminar in Detroit.  

Dana Goldstein speaks with Greg Toppo in Detroit on Oct. 20, 2014. (Michael Marriott/EWA)
Blog: The Educated Reporter

‘The Teacher Wars’: Everything Old Is New Again

Education might seem more incendiary and political than ever before, but author Dana Goldstein argues that today’s biggest policy fights aren’t exactly new battles.

“We’ve been fighting about teachers for 175 years,” said Goldstein at EWA’s October seminar on teaching, held in Detroit. At the event, Goldstein discussed her new book, The Teacher Wars, published in September.

Source: Flickr/Ginny (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Blog: The Educated Reporter

Education and the Election: What Happened and What It Means

The midterm election results have big implications for education, from Republicans’ success in retaking the U.S. Senate to new governors coming in and a slew of education ballot measures, most of which were defeated.

The widely watched race for California’s schools superintendent came down to the wire, with incumbent Tom Torlakson edging out challenger Marshall Tuck — a former charter schools administrator: 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Are Students Learning Lessons of Midterm Elections?

Today is a day off from school for millions of students as campuses in some districts and states — including Michigan and New York — are converted into polling stations for the midterm elections. To Peter Levine, the director of the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, that’s a missed opportunity to demonstrate democracy in action.

EWA Radio

Principal Turnover: What’s Happening in Denver?
EWA Radio, Episode 13

Why are so many principals in Denver leaving their jobs? And what is the local school district doing to try and stem the churn? EWA Radio speaks with Katharine Schimel of Chalkbeat Colorado about her story looking into the high rate of principal turnover, and what it means for student learning and campus climate in the Mile High City.

Dean Deborah Loewenberg Ball, University of Michigan School of Education, speaks to EWA members in Detroit on Oct. 21, 2014. (Emily Richmond)
Blog: The Educated Reporter

Teaching Math: More Than Mastering the Numbers

Deborah Loewenberg Ball began her career as an elementary school teacher, working for 15 years with a diverse population of students. But math stumped her.

“That troubled me,” Ball said Oct. 21 during her keynote presentation at the EWA seminar on teaching held in Detroit. “I would work really hard on how could I make the math make sense to the students, … but on Fridays they would know how to do things and on Monday they would have forgotten.”

Report

U.S. Teachers Offer Split Decision on Common Core

In a new Gallup survey of teachers, U.S. public school teachers are closely split in their overall reaction to the Common Core State Standards: 41% view the program positively and 44% negatively. Even in terms of strong reactions, teachers’ attitudes are divided, with 15% saying their perceptions of the initiative are “very positive” and 16% saying “very negative.”

Left to right: Stephen Sawchuk, Education Week; Jim Cibulka, CAEP; Segun Eubanks, NEA; Kate Walsh, NCTQ at the Detroit Center, Oct. 21, 2014. (Source: NEA Media)
Blog: The Educated Reporter

Raising the Bar For Teacher Colleges

As the nation centers its attention on the Common Core State Standards battle brewing across the states, a lesser known overhaul is underway for America’s teachers-to-be.

Teacher Carmen Perry, left, talks with EWA members at the International Academy for Young Women, a single-gender public school, on Oct. 20, 2014. (Emily Richmond/EWA)
Blog: The Educated Reporter

The Teaching Profession: What Reporters Need to Know

The stakes have arguably never been higher for public school teachers, who are facing not only an increasingly challenging student population but also new demands for accountability and performance. What lies ahead for the nation’s largest profession, with the rollout of new academic standards and new assessments to gauge how effectively students are being taught?

Teaching Across Cultural Differences: Equity in Instruction and Classrooms
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Teaching Across Cultural Differences: Equity in Instruction and Classrooms
EWA Seminar on Teaching

How are cultural and racial biases influencing classroom instruction and student learning? What does this mean for teachers and students, particularly in high-minority, urban school settings? What should education reporters know about cultural bias as it relates to their reporting on students, teachers, and schools?

Speaker:
Associate Professor Dorinda Carter Andrews, Michigan State University

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Covering Teachers: What Reporters Need to Know

The agenda is up for our next journalists-only seminar – The Push to Upgrade the Teaching Profession: What Reporters Need to Know. As you’ll notice, we’re spotlighting the work of some of the nation’s top education writers. Among them: 

  • Dana Goldstein, journalist for The Marshall Project, and author of the New York Times’ bestseller “The Teacher Wars: The History of America’s Most Embattled Profession.”

Marc Tucker
Blog: The Educated Reporter

Five Questions For… NCEE’s Marc Tucker
On School Accountability, Teachers, and the Common Core

Marc Tucker, president and chief executive of the National Center on Education and the Economy, recently unveiled a proposed accountability plan for public schools that includes significantly reducing the number of tests students take, and building extensive professional development time for teachers into every school day. He spoke with EWA.

Report

Teacher Attrition and Mobility: Results from the 2012-13 Teacher Follow-up Survey
NCES

This First Look report provides some selected findings from the 2012-13 Teacher Follow-up Survey (TFS) along with data tables and methodological information. The TFS is a follow-up of a sample of the elementary and secondary school teachers who participated in the previous year’s Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS). The TFS sample includes teachers who leave teaching in the year after the SASS data collection and those who continue to teach either in the same school as last year or in a different school.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Follow-Up Friday: Catch Up with EWA Radio

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for EWA Radio, the podcast I co-host with my EWA colleague Mikhail Zinshteyn. In case you missed the most recent episodes, you can catch the replays. (I’ve been told we make a fine accompaniment to walking the dog, moderate-paced elliptical trainer activity and even the occasional lunchtime Greek yogurt consumption.)

EWA Radio

Illinois Lawmakers Use Influence on Teacher Licensing
EWA Radio, Episode 10

Chicago Tribune investigation turns up instances of lawmakers intervening in teacher licensing decisions on behalf of their friends and donors. Tribune education reporter Diane Rado speaks with EWA’s Emily Richmond and Mikhail Zinshteyn about her ongoing coverage of licensing issues, and what it means for local students and schools.

Report

Mid- and Late-Career Teachers Struggle With Paltry Incomes

Low teacher pay is not news. Over the years, all sorts of observers have argued that skimpy teacher salaries keep highly qualified individuals out of the profession. One recent study found that a major difference between the education system in the United States and those in other nations with high-performing students is that the United States offers much lower pay to educators.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Atlanta Cheating Scandal: New Yorker Magazine Gets Personal

The July 21 issue of The New Yorker takes us deep inside the Atlanta cheating scandal, and through the lucid reporting of Rachel Aviv, we get to know some of the teachers and school administrators implicated. We learn not only how and why they say they cheated, but also about the toxic, high-pressure environment they contend was created by Superintendent Beverly Hall’s overwhelming emphasis on improving student test scores.

Nearly half of all teachers leave the profession within their five years on the job. (Credit: Flickr/www.audio-luci-store.it)
Blog: The Educated Reporter

The High Cost of Teacher Turnover

With the Vergara v. California lawsuit shining a spotlight on teacher tenure, it’s easy to forget that for many places, tenure isn’t the issue. The bigger problem is too many new teachers just don’t stay.

Report

Assessing and Evaluating Teacher Prep Programs

Effective teaching has long been an issue of national concern, but in recent years focus on the effectiveness of programs to produce high-quality teachers has sharpened. Long-standing achievement gaps persist despite large-scale legislative changes at the federal and state levels, and American students
continue to show poorer performance on international tests compared to peers in other developed nations. These and other factors have resulted in the creation of new accreditation standards for teacher education programs. These

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Obama Administration Announces Teacher Initiative

The U.S. Department of Education on Monday announced a new initiative to increase the number of high-quality teachers working in low-income and predominantly minority schools.

According to the Obama administration, Latino students are three times as likely as white students to attend schools where more than 20 percent of the teachers are in their first year of teaching.  

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Report: Nation’s Teacher Prep Programs Falling Short

If you’re wondering just how contentious a new set of rankings for the nation’s teacher preparation programs really are, consider this: the advocacy group that compiled them had to offer cash rewards to students for basic information such as syllabi when colleges and universities declined to provided them.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Rethinking Rookies: Why Are More New Teachers Quitting Early?

For decades teaching was considered a stable profession, with many individuals spending their entire careers at the front of the classroom. But the reality of a young teachers entering the teaching profession right out of school and only leaving when they retire is no more.

The subject of new teachers, and how long they’re staying in the profession, was the focus of a panel discussion at EWA’s 67th National Seminar in Nashville last month.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Will California Ruling on Teacher Tenure Help Latino Students?

A California judge on Tuesday issued a preliminary decision finding that the state’s teacher tenure laws disproportionately hurt disadvantaged and minority students.

Los Angeles Judge Rolf M. Treu went as far as to write that the situation “shocks the conscience” and violated students’ civil rights. The lawsuit alleged that tenure and layoff policies hurt students by making it harder to get rid of bad teachers.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

New Study Raises Questions on Teacher Absenteeism

You’d think it would be clear when a teacher is absent from class, but the response to this week’s big report from the National Council on Teacher Quality has shown that not every district agrees on the definitions for excused absences, and that efforts to curtail them are having little effect. The report also exposes the debate over what impact these teacher absences have on student learning. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

In Minnesota School, Teachers Take Charge

Avalon School in St. Paul, Minn. doesn’t have a defined leader, but it’s easy to see who is in charge.

Instead of having a traditional principal, the charter school is governed by a cooperative of the teaching staff that oversees decisions such as curriculum, budgets and training.

Teachers share administrative roles and work as a group to make decisions.

Lyndsey Layton (right) of The Washington Post interviews Randi Weingarten at the 67th National Seminar.
Blog: The Educated Reporter

Weingarten Talks Teachers, Politics and Common Core

When Randi Weingarten gets depressed about the state of public education, she told attendees of EWA’s 67th National Seminar, she calls up memories of her students at the “We the People” competition in upstate New York a couple of decades ago.

Report

Performance Screens for School Improvement: The Case of Teacher Tenure Reform in New York City

Tenure reforms in NYC led to a substantial drop in the percent of eligible teachers approved for tenure – from 94 percent during academic years 2007-08 and 2008-09, the two years prior to the introduction of the policy, to 89 percent in the first year of the policy (2009-10) and to an average of 56 percent during the three subsequent years.
The vast majority of eligible teachers who were not approved for tenure had their probationary period extended. The proportion of teachers denied tenure changed only slightly, from two to three percent, following reform.

Report

Genuine Progress, Greater Challenges
A Decade Of Teacher Effectiveness Reforms

This report by Bellwether Education Partners examines how the teacher quality movement took hold and propelled policy changes in dozens of states. Here are excerpts from its executive summary:

The perception of teachers as widgets began to change in the late 1990s and early aughts as new organizations launched and policymakers and philanthropists began to concentrate on teacher effectiveness. Under the Obama administration, the pace of change quickened. …

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Talking to Teachers: New Voices, New Views

When education reporters are looking for the teacher’s point of view, the default approach is to call the union spokesperson for comment. But increasingly teachers are taking advantage of grassroots opportunities to express their views, to connect with each other, and to influence policy decisions in their districts and states.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

New Survey: Teachers Say Their Voices Aren’t Being Heard

When it comes to having their voices heard, teachers overwhelmingly say they aren’t being listened to on matters of education policy at the state or national level.

At the school level, however, 69 percent of teachers said their opinions carried weight, according to the third edition of the “Primary Sources”  survey by Scholastic and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which was published Tuesday.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Beyond Teachers: Who Else Is Your District Employing?

Credit: Flickr/ecastro

You may know that teachers make up roughly half of the education staff in school districts, but who are the other employees on the rolls? To provide a clearer picture, I broke down data from the U.S. Department of Education on district staffing to visualize this often-overlooked slice of the workforce.

Key Coverage

A Longer School Day In Chicago, But With What Missing?

For decades, children in Chicago had one of the shortest elementary school days in the country, and students were in class fewer days than their peers not only nationally but also in much of the developed world. Rahm Emanuel vowed in his successful 2011 mayoral campaign both to rectify the situation and to give Chicago’s kids a well-rounded education during their additional school hours.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Closing the Gaps: Improving Outcomes and Opportunities for English Language Learners

This week, we’re revisiting some of the top sessions from EWA’s 66th National Seminar held at Stanford University. We asked journalists who attended to contribute posts, and today’s guest blogger is Trevon Milliard of the Las Vegas Review-JournalStream any session from National Seminar in your browser, or subscribe via RSS or iTunes.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Urban School Reform: Beyond Stars and Scandals

This week, we’re revisiting some of the top sessions from EWA’s 66th National Seminar held at Stanford University. We asked journalists who attended to contribute posts, and today’s guest blogger is Kyla Calvert of San Diego Public RadioStream any session from National Seminar in your browser, or subscribe via RSS or iTunes.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

More Than Scores: Assessing the Future of Teacher Evaluations

I’m at the University of Chicago for the next few days for our EWA seminar for journalists looking at the current — and future — landscape for teacher evaluations. We’ll be posting content from the sessions, but in the meantime you can get up to speed with a handy backgrounder over on EdMedia Commons. You can also check out some recent posts I’ve written on this and related topics:

Blog: The Educated Reporter

More Than Scores: Assessing the Future of Teacher Evaluations

Teacher evaluations are here to stay. But what is their purpose and what are teachers doing to make them their own? Next month, EWA will hold a journalists-only seminar to examine how new collaborations and methodologies are bringing greater depth to the evaluation process, and how that information is being used to improve both the teaching profession and student learning.

Webinar

Q&A with Arne Duncan
37 minutes

Across the country, tens of millions of students are back in class for a new school year. But while the ritual of hitting the books is the same, changes are occurring in everything from K-12 curricula to how college students earn their degrees. If you’re writing about these shifts in our nation’s schools and universities, this free, journalists-only event will give you better context for your coverage.

Panelists:

  • Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education
  • Emily Richmond, EWA Public Editor (Moderator)
Story Lab

Story Lab: Spending by Teachers’ Unions

Teachers’ unions can be powerful forces – in addition to contract negotiations, the unions can have an impact on school board decisions on everything from zoning changes to classroom technology purchases to budget cuts. But in many cases the greatest influence of unions – specifically, where they choose to spend their money – happens behind the scenes.

How I Did the Story: Beat Reporting in a Medium Newsroom
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How I Did the Story: Beat Reporting in a Medium Newsroom

Benjamin Herold of Education Week talks about the coverage he did for WHYY and the Philadelphia Public School Notebook in 2012, a particularly tumultuous year for the city’s school system. Herold’s coverage was awarded first prize in the beat reporting category, medium newsroom, in EWA’s 2012 National Awards for Education Reporting. Recorded at EWA’s 66th National Seminar, May 4, 2013 at Stanford University.

How I Did the Story: Reporting From a Turnaround School in “Following Trevista”
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How I Did the Story: Reporting From a Turnaround School in “Following Trevista”

Jenny Brundin of Colorado Public Radio talks about following a group of teachers, administrators and students going through a turnaround effort at a failing school in Denver. “Trevista” was awarded first prize, Single-Topic News, Series or Feature in Broadcast in EWA’s 2012 National Awards for Education Reporting. Recorded at EWA’s 66th National Seminar, May 4, 2013, at Stanford University.

*Please note: Due to technical difficulties during recording, the audio in the first half of this video is distorted. There is nothing wrong with your speakers.

Innovation Showcase: Grading Goes 2.0
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Innovation Showcase: Grading Goes 2.0

These interactive sessions feature reporters, analysts and educators spotlighting efforts under way to harness the power of innovation to spark new approaches to K-12 and higher education. In this session, Mark Shermis, University of Akron, is interviewed by Molly Bloom, WKSU, about the debate over computerized grading of student essays. Recorded May 4, 2013 at EWA’s 66th National Seminar at Stanford University.

Innovation Showcase: Lesson Plans Go Open Source
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Innovation Showcase: Lesson Plans Go Open Source

These interactive sessions feature reporters, analysts and educators spotlighting efforts under way to harness the power of innovation to spark new approaches to K-12 and higher education. Learn about experimental tools, offerings and practices being made possible by emerging digital technologies, and gather new ideas for covering innovation on your own beat.

In this session, Wanda Longoria, Northside Independent School District (San Antonio, TX), is interviewed by Kelsey Sheehy, U.S. News & World Report, about new ways for teachers to share lessons online.

Report

Technology Counts 2013: Building the Digital District

Technology Counts 2013—the 16th edition of Education Week’s annual report on educational technology—tackles how school districts are working to incorporate more multimedia into classrooms, upgrade online professional development, and do a better job using data to improve student achievement.

Arthur Levine: Lessons Learned About Teacher Education
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Arthur Levine: Lessons Learned About Teacher Education

Arthur Levine, president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, delivers the keynote address at EWA’s Oct. 26, 2012 seminar, “Ready to Teach: Rethinking Routes to the Classroom.”

Recorded at the University of Minnesota.

Tomorrow’s Teacher: Closing Remarks
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Tomorrow’s Teacher: Closing Remarks

Greg Toppo of USA Today closes out the Tomorrow’s Teachers session at EWA’s 65th National Seminar.

This presentation was a part of “Tomorrow’s Teacher: Paths to Prestige and Effectiveness,” a session held May 18, 2012 at EWA’s 65th National Seminar at the University of Pennsylvania.

Building a True Profession
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Building a True Profession

Speaker: Ron Thorpe, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards

This presentation was a part of “Tomorrow’s Teacher: Paths to Prestige and Effectiveness,” a session held May 18, 2012 at EWA’s 65th National Seminar at the University of Pennsylvania.

Program description

Education Utopia: Unions Leading the Way
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Education Utopia: Unions Leading the Way

Speaker: Rebecca Pringle, secretary-treasurer, National Education Association

This presentation was a part of “Tomorrow’s Teacher: Paths to Prestige and Effectiveness,” a session held May 18, 2012 at EWA’s 65th National Seminar at the University of Pennsylvania.

It is (Mostly) About Improvement
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It is (Mostly) About Improvement

Speaker: Anthony Bryk, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

This presentation was a part of “Tomorrow’s Teacher: Paths to Prestige and Effectiveness,” a session held May 18, 2012 at EWA’s 65th National Seminar at the University of Pennsylvania.

Program description

That Class Coulda’ Broke Me But…
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That Class Coulda’ Broke Me But…

Speaker: Denise Khaalis, South Pointe High School, S.C.

This presentation was a part of “Tomorrow’s Teacher: Paths to Prestige and Effectiveness,” a session held May 18, 2012 at EWA’s 65th National Seminar at the University of Pennsylvania.

Program description

Extending the Reach of Excellent Teachers
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Extending the Reach of Excellent Teachers

Speaker: Bryan Hassel, Public Impact

This presentation was a part of “Tomorrow’s Teacher: Paths to Prestige and Effectiveness,” a session held May 18, 2012 at EWA’s 65th National Seminar at the University of Pennsylvania.

Program description

The Myth of the Super Teacher
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The Myth of the Super Teacher

Speaker: Roxanna Elden, Hialeah High School teacher

This presentation was a part of “Tomorrow’s Teacher: Paths to Prestige and Effectiveness,” a session held May 18, 2012 at EWA’s 65th National Seminar at the University of Pennsylvania.

Program description

You Can’t Get There From Here
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You Can’t Get There From Here

Speaker: Ted Mitchell, NewSchools Venture Fund

This presentation was a part of “Tomorrow’s Teacher: Paths to Prestige and Effectiveness,” a session held May 18, 2012 at EWA’s 65th National Seminar at the University of Pennsylvania.

Program description

Great Teachers Aren’t Born, They’re Taught
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Great Teachers Aren’t Born, They’re Taught

Speaker: Deborah Loewenberg Ball, University of Michigan

This presentation was a part of “Tomorrow’s Teacher: Paths to Prestige and Effectiveness,” a session held May 18, 2012 at EWA’s 65th National Seminar at the University of Pennsylvania.

Program description

The Teaching Force: Transforming Before Our Eyes
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The Teaching Force: Transforming Before Our Eyes

Speaker: Richard Ingersoll, University of Pennsylvania

This presentation was a part of “Tomorrow’s Teacher: Paths to Prestige and Effectiveness,” a session held May 18, 2012 at EWA’s 65th National Seminar at the University of Pennsylvania.

Program description

Tomorrow’s Teacher: Opening Remarks
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Tomorrow’s Teacher: Opening Remarks

Greg Toppo of USA Today introduces the Tomorrow’s Teacher session

This presentation was a part of “Tomorrow’s Teacher: Paths to Prestige and Effectiveness,” a session held May 18, 2012 at EWA’s 65th National Seminar at the University of Pennsylvania.

Program description

Organization

The National Education Association

The National Education Association is the nation’s largest teachers’ union with nearly 3 million members. Its members work at every level of education, from preschool through postsecondary, but the bulk of its members work in K-12 education.

Organization

The National Council on Teacher Quality

The National Council on Teacher Quality is a nonpartisan research group that advocates for reforms with the goal of ensuring that each student has an effective teacher. Among other things, they gather information about policies affecting teacher preparation, compensation, evaluations and other issues on a state-by-state basis.

Report

States’ Perspectives on Waivers: Relief from NCLB, Concern about Long-term Solutions, by Jennifer McMurrer and Nanami Yoshioka at the Center on Education Policy

This report describes states’ early experiences in applying for flexibility from key requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as NCLB waivers, and their plans for implementing the new systems outlined in their applications. Findings from the 38 survey states indicate states believe that the waivers address several of the problems they see with the NCLB accountability requirements, however, many state officials are concerned about what will happen to the programs and policies in their waiver plans if ESEA is reauthorized.

Key Coverage

Colleges Overproducing Elementary Teachers, Data Find

Data, while imprecise, suggest that some states are producing far more new teachers at the elementary level than will be able to find jobs in their respective states—even as districts struggle to find enough recruits in other certification fields.

For some observers, the imbalances reflect a failure of teacher colleges—by far, the largest source of new teachers—and their regulatory agencies to cap the number of entrants.

Key Coverage

How a Labor Dispute in NYC Led to $450 Million in Lost Funds

For New York City, that means that it will not receive $250 million in aid, money that city officials said would result in midyear cuts and could affect school funding for school staff, technology and after school and arts programs. The absence of an evaluation means that the city will also not be able to claim up to another $200 million in state and federal grant money.

Key Coverage

To Lock Classroom Doors or Not?

Behind a locked classroom door, a Los Angeles third-grade teacher purportedly committed lewd acts against students. The charges spurred demands for classrooms to remain open during the school day. But after the shooting deaths of 20 first-graders in Connecticut last month, calls were made to keep classrooms locked. The intent of both efforts is to keep students safe. But as school districts nationwide examine their security measures following the Newtown, Conn., massacre, the question of locked versus unlocked classroom doors is in debate.

Should teachers and administrators use their secured doors as a shield from an outside danger?

Report

Ensuring Fair and Reliable Measures of Effective Teaching

This non-technical research brief for policymakers and practitioners summarizes recent analyses from the Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) project on identifying effective teaching while accounting for differences among teachers’ students, on combining measures into composites, and on assuring reliable classroom observations. (Editor’s note: The study was part of a three-year, $50 million project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that included dozens of researchers and over 3,000 teachers who volunteered.

Key Coverage

Louisiana’s educators enter a new world with evaluations and their consequences

Teachers in Louisiana have all but lost the tenure rules that once protected their jobs. Beginning this year, all 50,000 of them will be evaluated and ranked on an annual basis, often with test scores factoring in heavily. Soon, consistently “ineffective” teachers will no longer be welcome in the classroom. This, depending on one’s point of view, is either the latest assault on Louisiana’s educators or an urgent step toward modernizing the teaching profession and lifting the state out of academic mediocrity.

Key Coverage

Feds: Teachers Embroiled in Test-Taking Fraud

For 15 years, teachers in three Southern states paid Clarence Mumford Sr. — himself a longtime educator — to send someone else to take the tests in their place, authorities said. Each time, Mumford received a fee of between $1,500 and $3,000 to send one of his test ringers with fake identification to the Praxis exam. In return, his customers got a passing grade and began their careers as cheaters, according to federal prosecutors in Memphis. Authorities say the scheme affected hundreds — if not thousands — of public school students who ended up being taught by unqualified instructors.

Key Coverage

Teachers Unions Notch Big wins on state education votes

Teachers unions won several big victories in both red and blue states Tuesday, overturning laws that would have eliminated tenure in Idaho and South Dakota, defeating a threat to union political work in California, and ousting a state schools chief in Indiana who sought to fundamentally remake public education.

Key Coverage

San Jose Unified, teachers reach breakthrough evaluation, pay plan

The superintendent of San Jose Unified and leaders of the district’s teachers union have agreed on an innovative evaluation and compensation system that, if implemented, would be significantly different from any in California. With education groups in Sacramento and legislators still bruised over a grueling, failed effort to revise the state’s teacher evaluation law last summer, the San Jose plan offers hope that a progressive compromise on divisive issues is possible.

Report

Great Expectations: Teachers’ Views on Elevating the Teaching Profession

The findings paint a picture of a new generation of teachers who have high expectations for their students and a strong desire to build a profession based on high standards. And while they are strikingly similar to their more veteran colleagues when it comes to certain traditional working conditions issues like class size, we found them to be more open to performance-driven options for how they are evaluated and paid.

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How Teacher Performance Assessments Can Measure and Improve Teaching

Parents, practitioners, and policymakers agree that the key to improving public education in America is placing highly skilled and effective teachers in all classrooms. Yet the nation still lacks a practical set of standards and assessments that can guarantee that teachers, particularly new teachers, are well prepared and ready to teach.

Key Coverage

State Reported Inflated Rate of Teachers Lacking Credentials

The percentage of teachers and other certificated staff lacking proper credentials was actually 29 percent, not the 58 percent the state reported for the 2005-06 school year. The revelation, sparked by errors in state data identified by California Watch, means the state has been using an incorrect baseline as it measures progress at its lowest-performing schools.

Key Coverage

Districts rank 99.6 percent of teachers ‘effective’ or ‘highly effective’

But Lansing teachers have plenty of company, as an Education Trust-Midwest survey of large Michigan districts revealed that 87.75 percent of teachers were deemed “effective,” and 11.60 percent were ranked higher, as “highly effective.” Together, 99.36 percent of the educators were in the top categories. At the other end, just 0.65 percent of the teachers were deemed “ineffective” or “minimally effective,” according to the study, released today.

Key Coverage

Why Kids Should Grade Teachers

A decade ago, an economist at Harvard, Ronald Ferguson, wondered what would happen if teachers were evaluated by the people who see them every day—their students. The idea—as simple as it sounds, and as familiar as it is on college campuses—was revolutionary. And the results seemed to be, too: remarkable consistency from grade to grade, and across racial divides. Even among kindergarten students. A growing number of school systems are administering the surveys—and might be able to overcome teacher resistance in order to link results to salaries and promotions.

Key Coverage

Common Core Thrusts Librarians Into Leadership Role

Like most school librarians, Ms. Hearne has been trained both as a teacher and a librarian, a combination she thinks is perfectly suited to helping students and teachers as the Common Core State Standards presses them into inquiry-based modes of learning and teaching. She helps them find a range of reading materials in printed or online form and collaborates to develop challenging cross-disciplinary projects. And like colleagues around the country, Ms.

Key Coverage

Randi Weingarten At Democratic Convention: Teachers’ Union Leader Seeks Ways To Weather Criticism

The apologetic tone was not an emotional, spur-of-the-moment outburst, even if Weingarten is given to raising her voice and slapping her hand on her leg to emphasize a point. She appeared to recognize that if teachers’ unions are going to weather another round of criticism, brought on by a new Hollywood film, “Won’t Back Down,” in which the union is the bad guy, they will have to adopt a strategy that starts with conciliation.

Key Coverage

Teachers’ Unions Donate To Republican Candidates Against Abortion, LGBT & Immigration Rights

But while teachers’ union chiefs opine on the importance of social justice, tolerance, workers’ rights and abortion rights, similar scrutiny shows that in recent years, national and local affiliates of the National Education Association — the nation’s largest teachers’ union — have endorsed candidates who disagree on all those counts. Since 1989, five percent of campaign contributions by the NEA have gone to Republicans, according to public records.

Report

Boosting the Quality and Efficiency of Special Education

Today, Fordham is releasing a groundbreaking study that helps address those questions: Boosting the Quality and Efficiency of Special Education. Author Nate Levenson of the District Management Council uses the largest database of information on special education spending and staffing ever assembled to uncover significant variance in how districts staff for special education.

Key Coverage

More Teachers Green in the Classroom

The end result: a more than threefold increase in the sheer number of inexperienced teachers in U.S. schools. In the 1987-88 school year, Ingersoll estimates, there were about 65,000 first-year teachers; by 2007-08, the number had grown to more than 200,000. In the 1987-88 school year, he found, the biggest group of teachers had 15 years of experience. By the 2007-08 school year, the most recent data available, the biggest group of teachers had one year experience.

Key Coverage

National PTA Revises Policy on Charter Schools

“The National Parent Teacher Association has revamped its policy to make it clear that it supports giving entities other than local school boards the right to approve charter schools, a new position the group argues will increase its ability to shape policy within the diverse and growing sector of independent public schools.”

Key Coverage

Teachers Unions Give Broadly

What do the American Ireland Fund, the Rev. Al Sharpton and the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network have in common? All have received some of the more than $330 million that America’s two largest teachers unions spent in the past five years on outside causes, political campaigns, lobbying and issue education.

Key Coverage

Teaching the Teachers

The Hechinger Report is investigating how professional-development funds are spent in the country’s largest school system—New York City—as well as in other districts around the nation to see what we can learn from schools, districts and countries that excel at ongoing teacher training.

Key Coverage

Big Study Links Good Teachers to Lasting Gain

Elementary- and middle-school teachers who help raise their students’ standardized-test scores seem to have a wide-ranging, lasting positive effect on those students’ lives beyond academics, including lower teenage-pregnancy rates and greater college matriculation and adult earnings, according to a new study that tracked 2.5 million students over 20 years.

Key Coverage

Teachers Are Put to the Test

Teacher evaluations for years were based on brief classroom observations by the principal. But now, prodded by President Barack Obama’s $4.35 billion Race to the Top program, at least 26 states have agreed to judge teachers based, in part, on results from their students’ performance on standardized tests.

Key Coverage

Teachers From Low-Performing Schools Face Stigma On Job Search

In a bizarre game of musical chairs, nearly 1,000 Los Angeles teachers — who are guaranteed jobs somewhere in the school system — have been hunting for a school that wants them. And hundreds of them have to counter a stigma that they are undesirable castoffs, because they previously worked at low-performing schools that are being restructured.

Report

Student Teaching Across the Nation

Student teaching serves as a capstone experience for nearly 200,000 teacher candidates each year. In an effort to understand how to get student teaching “right,” the National Center on Teacher Quality embarked on an ambitious effort to measure student teaching programs nationwide, assessing the degree to which they have the right pieces in place necessary for delivering a high quality program.

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What Studies Say About the Effectiveness of Teachers

As policymakers and school leaders seek new ways to measure and improve teacher effectiveness, it’s important for journalists and others to understand what is known about the topic so far, and what remains unsettled or unknown. This research brief does not synthesize all the studies in this highly technical field. But it does aim to improve the accuracy and clarity of reporting by exploring what the research says about timely questions surrounding the complex topic of teacher effectiveness.

Report

Speaking of Salaries: What It Will Take to Get Qualified, Effective Teachers in All Communities

The fact that well-qualified teachers are inequitably distributed to students in the United States has received growing public attention. By every measure of qualifications—certification, subject matter background, pedagogical training, selectivity of college attended, test scores, or experience—less-qualified teachers tend to be found in schools serving greater numbers of low-income and minority students.

Key Coverage

Evaluation of D.C. Teachers Is a Delicate Conversation

The District’s new teacher evaluation system is becoming a national model, even as unions and some experts question the wisdom of staking careers on it. And in the moment when school reform meets the teachers expected to carry it out, master educators observe teachers in class — and then have a conference that can end careers.

Key Coverage

U.S. Is Urged to Raise Teachers’ Status

To improve its public schools, the United States should raise the status of the teaching profession by recruiting more qualified candidates, training them better and paying them more, according to a new report on comparative educational systems.

Key Coverage

Evaluating New York Teachers, Perhaps the Numbers Do Lie

You would think the Department of Education would want to replicate Stacey Isaacson — a dedicated teacher who has degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia and works long hours every school day — and sprinkle Ms. Isaacsons all over town. Instead, the department’s accountability experts have developed a complex formula to calculate how much academic progress a teacher’s students make in a year — the teacher’s value-added score — and that formula indicates that Ms. Isaacson is one of the city’s worst teachers.

Key Coverage

Teachers Wonder, Why the Scorn?

Around the country, many teachers see demands to cut their income, benefits and say in how schools are run through collective bargaining as attacks not just on their livelihoods, but on their value to society.

Report

The Elusive Talent Strategy

“The root cause cause of the nation’s failing educational system is now widely recognized as the lack of well-prepared, high-performing teachers, especially in high-poverty areas. This is one area where federal policy, state policy, and public opinion coincide: making sure that every student has a great teacher is everyone’s top priority,” wrote Carnegie Corporation of New York officials in a Boston Globe op-ed. Carnegie issued a challenge calling for an excellent teacher for every student in every school.

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Evaluating Teachers: The Important Role of Value-Added

The evaluation of teachers based on the contribution they make to the learning of their students, value-added, is an increasingly popular but controversial education reform policy. We highlight and try to clarify four areas of confusion about value-added.

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Closing the Talent Gap: Attracting and Retaining Top Third Graduates to the Teaching Field

Improving teacher effectiveness to lift student achievement has become a major theme in U.S. education. Most efforts focus on improving the effectiveness of teachers already in the classroom or on retaining the best performers and dismissing the least effective. Attracting more young people with stronger academic backgrounds to teaching has received comparatively little attention.

Report

The Schools Teachers Leave: Teacher Mobility in Chicago Public Schools

This report reveals that about 100 Chicago schools suffer from chronically high rates of teacher turnover, losing a quarter or more of their teaching staff every year, and many of these schools serve predominantly low-income African American children. In the typical Chicago elementary school, 51 percent of the teachers working in 2002 had left four years later, while the typical high school had seen 54 percent leave by 2006.