This study examines the effects that different kinds of school improvement strategies have had on student achievement in Chicago Public Schools over the past fifteen years. The study found that elementary and middle schools that went through significant school reform strategies, similar to the federal School Improvement Grant “turnaround” model, made significant improvements in test scores compared with similar schools that did not. However, large improvements did not occur immediately in the first year and high schools that underwent certain reform efforts did not have fewer absences nor did they have a higher percentage of students on track to graduate by the end of ninth grade.
This study highlights the positive impact of organizational change on student achievement. These changes include starting school later in the day for middle and high school students; shifting from a system with separate elementary and middle schools to one with schools that serve students in kindergarten through eighth grade; and managing teacher assignments differently such as allowing teachers to teach the same grade level for multiple years or having teachers specialize in the subject where they are most effective.
This article examines how technology could expand the reach and impact that great teachers have through “time swapping.” “Time swapping” uses technology to capture a teacher’s effective instruction so that the teacher can impact more students without physically being in a room. This method allows more students to receive both the lecture and one-on-one attention of a great teacher. They examine policies affecting teachers—from professional development to compensation and class size restrictions— that require change in order for digital instruction to have a wider and more positive impact on student learning.
John Chubb looks at how local school district control prevents the widespread use of instructional technologies. He argues that the surest way to break down the system’s inherent resistance to technology is to shift control from the local district—oftentimes the school board—and put it in the hands of states. He then outlines ten steps toward making this happen, including establishing a K-12 online learning policy at the state level, creating a public market for K-12 online learning and ensuring that student learning serves as the foundation for online school accountability systems.
This site highlights the nine winning applications of the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant program. The grant program aims to increase the number and percentage of low-income and disadvantaged children in each age group of infants, toddlers and preschoolers who are enrolled in high-quality early learning programs; design and implement an integrated system of high-quality early learning programs and services; and ensure that any use of assessments conforms with the recommendations of the National Research Council's report on early childhood.
This study seeks to debunk the myth that traditionally collected measures such as class size, per-pupil expenditure and teachers with advanced degrees are correlated with school effectiveness. Instead, the authors find that frequent teacher feedback, the use of data to guide instruction, high-dosage tutoring, increased instructional time and high expectations increase student achievement. These interventions explain approximately 50 percent of the variation in school effectiveness and student learning in schools with similar demographics.
This primer aims to provide policymakers with information and recommendations to propel states’ progress toward using P–20W (from pre-K through college and into the workforce) data to prepare individuals for today’s economy. The primer recommends policymakers make the P–20W linkages possible by establishing P–20W governance structures and processes. They also recommend ensuring that data systems are both interoperable across the educational spectrum while also protecting personally identifiable information. Lastly, they recommend providing appropriate access to data and building the capacity of stakeholders to use the data.
The Center for American Progress and Education Sector teamed up to lay out recommendations for how to make sure that ESEA encourages great teachers in every state.
This report by the Education Trust outlines recommendations for crafting a federal accountability system that responds to local criticism of the current law, but also makes sure all schools are advancing.
This article offers a summary of the types of waivers to current NCLB language that the US Education Secretary has proposed offering to states pending congressional reauthorization of ESEA.
For this report, the GAO analyzed R2T applications for 20 states, interviewed state officials, visited 4 grantee states, analyzed states’ planned uses of grant funds, and interviewed Education officials. The summary examines actions states took to be competitive for R2T grants; how grantees plan to use their grants and whether non-grantees have chosen to move forward with their reform plans; what challenges, if any, have affected early implementation of states’ reform efforts; and USED’s efforts to support and oversee states’ use of R2T funds.
This blueprint, developed and released by the US Department of Education under Secretary Duncan and President Obama, recommends reforms to the current NCLB language or additions to ESEA within four areas: improving teacher and principal effectiveness; providing information to families to help them evaluate and improve their children’s schools, and to educators to help them improve their students’ learning; implementing college- and career-ready standards and aligned assessments; and turning around America’s lowest-performing schools.
In this “briefing book,” authors from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute identify the ten key issues that policymakers must resolve in order to get reauthorization across the finish line, and explore the major options under consideration for each one. The ten issues fall under the areas of standards and assessments, accountability, teacher quality, and flexibility and innovation
This report, updated annually by The College Board, presents detailed evidence of the private and public benefits of higher education. It also sheds light on the distribution of these benefits by examining both the increases and the persistent disparities in college participation and completion.
This summary, published by the US Department of Education, summarizes the impetus, statutory authority and funding for the Race to the Top Fund; outlines the timing of competitions and awards; and provides a summary of the application requirements and selection criteria used to make awards to states.
This report examines the dimensions of four distinct gaps in education: (1) between the United States and other nations, (2) between black and Latino students and white students, (3) between students of different income levels, and (4) between similar students schooled in different systems or regions. The report finds that the underutilization of human potential as reflected in the achievement gap is extremely costly. Existing gaps impose the economic equivalent of a permanent national recession—one substantially larger than the deep recession the country is currently experiencing. For individuals, avoidable shortfalls in academic achievement impose heavy and often tragic consequences via lower earnings, poor health, and higher rates of incarceration.
Simultaneous pressures to reduce costs and increase student achievement have made cost-cutting essential as well as eliminating inefficient spending. This book includes chapters by scholars, consultants, journalists, and entrepreneurs in education who offer insights for school and district leaders in tight budget times.
This new policy brief lists fifteen concrete ways that states can “stretch the school dollar” in these difficult financial times. It argues that budget cuts alone, without concurrent reforms, could set our schools back years. But by addressing state mandates around teacher tenure, “last hired, first fired” policies, minimum class sizes, and more, states can free local leaders’ hands to make smart, courageous cuts and do more with less. In other words, this challenging climate is an opportunity to make some real changes in education.
This guide was developed to help states consider the various issues in developing a coherent college- and career-ready policy framework. The major recommendations in the report call on state policymakers to align standards with the demands of college and careers, ensure all students are enrolled in a college- and career-ready focus of study, provide high-quality curricula and teacher support materials, and build better assessments to measure student learning. This last section focuses on the design elements that should be present in a strong assessment system, across grade levels.
Based on interviews with ten executives from a range of EMOs and CMOs, this report finds that replicating successful charter schools has been tougher and more costly than expected for both for-profit and nonprofit charter management organizations (EMOs and CMOs). The report analyzes why this is so and offers strategies to help new management organizations shorten their learning curves and avoid problems encountered by pioneering management organizations.
This report analyzes 2009 and 2010 data on states' funding of pensions and retiree health care to show how states’ retirement systems—many of them already on shaky ground—were affected by the Great Recession. Key findings show that pension funding shortfalls accounted for $660 billion of the $1.26 trillion gap, and unfunded retiree health care costs accounted for the remaining $607 billion; states had only about $31 billion, or 5 percent, saved toward their obligations for retiree health care benefits; and state pension plans were 78 percent funded, declining from 84 percent in 2008.
This report explores the potential impact of policy initiatives designed to improve student access to great teachers. Current policy initiatives overlook the most obvious, immediate source of improved teaching effectiveness: the great teachers we already have. The top 25 percent of U.S. teachers—more than 800,000 of them—already achieve results that would enable all of our children to meet and exceed standards. Top-quartile teachers are so much better than their bottom-quartile peers, they could close our nation’s achievement gaps and raise our bar to internationally competitive levels in less than half a decade. The report projects the payoff of different strategies for giving more children access to great teachers, including recruitment of high-potential teachers, dismissal of ineffective teachers, retention of proven top-quartile teachers, and extension of top-teacher instruction to more children.
The first of these two publications provides a definition of blended learning and a typology of six types of blended learning models; discusses the potential of blended learning to drive productivity and personalize learning; examines the maturing technology used in blended learning models; and highlights policies that support the creation and growth of blended models. The second publication offers forty profiles of existing blended-learning programs. For each, the authors provide history and context, an overview of the operator and the blended program, and results (where available).
The Department of Education reviewed more than 1,000 empirical studies of online learning and conducted a meta-analysis of 45 studies that compare online or blended and face-to-face conditions. Researchers found only a small number of rigorous published studies contrasting online and face-to-face learning in K-12 education; they therefore drew their conclusions primarily from studies in other settings, including higher education. Researchers found that students in online learning conditions performed modestly better than students learning the same material through traditional face-to-face instruction. They saw a larger difference when comparing students learning face-to-face with those learning in blended environments.
This report aims to help educators and policymakers understand the essential elements of online learning so they can make informed decisions about implementing online and blended programs. It provides basic information on online learning terminology; the growth and costs of online learning; how teaching, learning, and curriculum differ in online environments; the technology necessary for online programs; research on the effectiveness of online learning; and emerging trends.
This publication, updated annually, reviews online learning policy in all 50 states. It includes detailed state policy profiles that capture recent changes to state law and policy. It also summarizes key numbers (including enrollment figures by state), issues, and trends across the country, and provides introductory sections on online learning background, categories, and definitions. The 2010 update includes sections on blended learning, competency-based learning, and mobile learning.
Researchers argue that value-added analysis, when used with other measures such as feedback and observation, can improve teacher evaluation and raise the standard of effectiveness for teacher advancement and retention. While acknowledging the imperfect nature of using value-added data to evaluate teachers, researchers assert that value-added information is as reliable as measures used to make decisions in other professional fields. The authors also show that while basing layoffs on seniority or certification status will have no effect on average teacher effectiveness, targeting layoffs on teachers with low value-added scores would leave systems with higher average teacher effectiveness overall.
The Measures of Effective Teaching project studies nearly 3,000 teachers in six urban school districts to test various methods of teacher evaluation and analyze their effectiveness in predicting teacher performance over time. First, the report establishes that there is huge variance in student achievement gains among teachers: value-added by teachers in the top quartile can close more than one-third of the black-white achievement gap, while the lowest quartile of teachers actually widen it. The project analyzes two measures for teacher evaluation: student achievement gains and student feedback. Initial data confirm that growth on standardized tests is a reliable indicator of growth on other assessments that require demonstration of deeper conceptual understandings, contradicting the frequent criticism that teachers whose students attain high growth only “teach to the test.” Evidence also shows a strong correlation between student achievement gains and students’ perception of teachers’ effectiveness, leading researchers to believe that the most effective teacher evaluation “package” may require more than one measure. The project will also examine other potential predictors of teacher performance, including multiple classroom observation rubrics, a test of teachers’ content pedagogical knowledge, and teacher perceptions of working conditions.
This report outlines six design standards for new evaluation systems that should be implemented and continuously improved upon: (1) be an annual process for both new and experienced teachers; (2) set clear, rigorous expectations, placing greater weight on student learning than on teacher behaviors or routines; (3) use multiple measures such as value-added models, standardized assessments and observations, and give specific weights to these measures based on accuracy; (4) use clear, multiple (not binary) ratings; (5) include regular feedback through observations and debriefs; and 6) hold significant implications when it comes to employment decisions.
This report uses survey results from 12 districts in 4 states to examine systems of evaluation for teachers. Findings state that district evaluations do not distinguish between effective and ineffective teachers, and as a result see teachers as “widgets,” or interchangeable parts of an education system that are all equal in performance. This indifference offers no consequences for poor teaching, nor benefits for excellent teaching. The authors suggest that districts adopt more comprehensive performance evaluation systems that differentiate teachers; train administrators, and hold them accountable for using evaluation systems; and base important decisions such as tenure, assignment, compensation, professional development, retention, and dismissal on evaluation results.
This report, funded by groups historically opposed to charter schools, uses data from a federal finance survey to examine charter school revenues and expenditures. The authors find that charter schools receive less and spend less than traditional public schools.
In the most comprehensive study of charter school finance to-date, researchers compared federal, state, and local revenues in charter schools and traditional public school districts across 25 states and within the largest district in each state. The report examines outcomes in each state individually, and finds that, on average, charters are significantly underfunded compared to traditional public school districts.
This report makes recommendations to state policymakers about how to structure charter school accountability in state law. The author’s recommendations include: require authorizers to use performance contracts that outlines expectations,; define minimum standards for schools, but allow authorizers flexibility to set specific expectations; and set basic standards for the data (including growth data) that authorizers must use to evaluate charter schools.
This report suggests measures to evaluate charter school performance across three areas: financial performance and sustainability, board performance and stewardship, and parental and community engagement. The report includes example measures in each area as well as suggestions for implementation.
This report analyzes charter laws in 26 states that are home to more than 90 percent of all charter schools, and 100 charter contracts from authorizers that oversee nearly half of all charter schools. Researchers examined the level of formal autonomy schools received in four areas: staffing, financial/governance, instruction, and vision/culture. The review found that state laws were the primary source of restriction to charter autonomy, but that authorizer contracts can impose a significant level of restriction as well. The most common restrictions on autonomy were in teacher hiring; the ability to make changes to the charter contract, select members of the governing board, and choose a special education service provider; and flexibility over teacher compensation. Schools were most likely to experience autonomy over curriculum, school calendar, teacher work rules, procurement policies, and staff dismissals.
This paper discusses the mismatch between research on the one hand, and political and public perceptions of class size on the other. According to the author, research suggests that class size reduction can improve student achievement if implemented in a focused way under certain circumstances, but policymakers generally pursue and the public strongly supports broad across-the-board reductions that are unlikely to have positive effects.
Based on six years of research, including over 30 studies on school finance, this report concludes that the current funding systems most states and districts use today are hopelessly outdated. In response, the authors make four recommendations for a new school finance system: (1) drive all funds to schools based on students counts; (2) keep linked data about uses of funds and results; (3) encourage innovation and experimentation; and (4) hold schools and district accountable or student performance and continuous improvement.
This primer proposes seven priorities to guide states’ allocation of resources during tough budget times, and offers policymakers concrete action steps to reallocate funds. Topics include organizing people and time, state and district funding systems, and district data and reporting.
This report argues that the way most schools are funded does not work, and that weighted student funding (WSF)offers a better alternative. It outlines how a WSF system would works, implementation challenges, and opportunities. This report, often considered the “manifesto” on WSF, is also notable for the dozens of signatories from education, politics, and the policy world who backed it.
This paper notes the paucity of high-quality, relevant studies of class-size effects on academic achievement. The authors summarize the few available noteworthy studies and conclude that they collectively suggest that very large class size reductions (7-10 fewer students per class) can produce meaningful student achievement gains and other positive outcomes, especially when introduced in early grades and for students from less advantaged backgrounds. However, the authors note the large cost associated with class size reduction and suggest that it might not the most productive use of available educational dollars.
This policy brief outlines some of the most critical challenges facing states and districts as they develop and implement policies based on the student-teacher data link; and provides guidance on emerging best practices or effective implementation. Recommendations include: guiding the design of student-teacher links by how the data will be used, helping policymakers and educators own the process from the start, providing teachers with means to periodically review rosters, to ensure that they are linked to the correct students, and fostering collaboration between district and state leaders.
This report compares standards in all 50 states to the rigor of those included for ELA and math in the Common Core standards to help state officials determine whether their students might be better off under a standards aligned with the common standards, or whether they may be wise to keep those they already have. Analysis shows that Common Core standards are clearly superior to those currently in use in 39 states in math and 37 states in English. For 33 states, the Common Core is superior in both math and reading. Three states have ELA standards that are clearly superior to the Common Core: California, the District of Columbia, and Indiana. Another 11 states have ELA standards that are in the same league as the Common Core (or “too close to call”). Eleven states plus the District of Columbia have math standards at least as clear and rigorous as the Common Core standards.
This working paper for the National Charter School Research Project collects lessons from districts and charter authorizers that have carried out several school closures to help other districts and authorizers better manage their own closures. Major recommendations include: working to minimize the political and emotional impact of closure (such as by providing early notice, using objective criteria to choose and justify closures, using external evaluators, and involving the community in a well-defined role); and (2) avoiding legal and procedural pitfalls during dissolution (such as by carefully considering timing, developing detailed dissolution plans, and assisting students and families with alternative placements).
This paper describes why and how four urban districts—Denver Public Schools, Chicago Public Schools, Hartford Public Schools, and Pittsburgh Public Schools—closed schools for low performance. It discusses the lessons district officials learned from their experience with school closure and the changes they made to their closure process as a result of these experiences. Written for state and district officials, the report is designed to help decision makers who are contemplating closing schools for performance reasons learn from districts that have already tackled this difficult challenge.
Using detailed case studies from two high-profile turnarounds, this article explains what we know from cross-sector research about how to engineer rapid and dramatic improvements within existing organizations. It then identifies two critical policy issues that states and districts must address to accelerate the prevalence of real, successful turnarounds in education: increasing the will to try more turnarounds at the local level, and fueling the pipeline of turnaround leaders.
Despite steadily increasing urgency about the nation’s lowest-performing schools, efforts to turn them around have largely failed. This report draws upon research about high-performing high-poverty schools; experience with successfully scaled school interventions; and interviews with practitioners, researchers, leading policymakers and reform experts to explore the types of changes, environment and support that successful school turnarounds entail. Recommendations for state and district leaders include providing a “protected space” where schools are given the flexibility, resources, and support true cultural and system change requires.
If the U.S. is to transform thousands of its chronically underperforming schools, multiple actors must work together to identify and spread effective practices, create the policies and conditions for success, build capacity, and ensure the sustainability of turnaround work at scale. This report provides an overview of the school turnaround issue, identifies measures of success, surveys the policy and funding environment, compares major turnaround models, and provides a guide to important actors in the field and a visual map of their interrelated roles and funding. It is designed to increase education reformers’ awareness of the issues involved in school turnarounds and suggest a set of actions that a broad group of stakeholders could take — collectively and individually — to ensure that turnaround succeeds at scale.
One promising strategy to dramatically improve chronically low performing schools is known as a “turnaround” – a quick, dramatic, sustained improvement in performance brought about by a highly-capable leader. This brief offers seven steps for district leaders to support the dramatic change required to turn around chronic low performance, including (1): making a commitment to dramatic change, (2) choosing turnarounds for the right schools, (3) developing a pipeline of turnaround leaders, (4) providing leaders extra flexibility, (5) holding schools accountable, (6) prioritizing teacher hiring for turnaround schools, and (7) proactively engaging the community.
This guide is designed to help chronically struggling schools make major, rapid changes that affect how a school is led and how instruction is delivered. The focus is on translating the best education and cross-industry research available to help state and district education leaders choose strategies – turnaround, transformation, restart, state takeover, or closure – that are most likely to result in rapid improvement, based on realistic consideration of strengths and weaknesses in individual school districts.
A handful of state and district leaders across the U.S. have begun to try new approach to radically improve schools where too many have failed for far too long. By beginning anew with the freedom to do things differently – such as through the “restart” or “contracting” options under NCLB, education leaders have a real opportunity to improve student achievement. This publication from the National Association of Charter School Authorizers explains why education leaders are empowering schools to “start fresh” with a new leader and staff, and gives an overview of the major components of a successful start fresh strategy.
In the end, if the charter school movement fails to prove itself as a viable source of higher quality public schools, bad authorizing and oversight will probably be a major reason. This paper takes on the question of whether and how school authorizers should be held accountable for their own performance. It presents reasons why scrutiny and accountability are needed not only for schools but also for chartering agencies; identifies what types of accountability are present now; and offers ideas for how accountability could be improved via private and government initiative.
These principles and standards, developed by the membership organization for charter authorizers nationally, are intended to serve as a guide to formative development for authorizers at all stages and levels of experience: as a road map to guide planning and organizational development of initial practices, and as a resource for identifying areas for improvement or refinement to achieve stronger outcomes. It is also designed to anchor state policy concerning charter authorizing.
Charter schools and successful charter management organizations that run them have grown significantly over the past decade but they must dramatically increase their scale in order to meet the demand for high-quality public school options for America’s children. The limited supply of effective leaders and teachers is one of the key barriers standing in the way of more rapid growth for CMOs. To learn more about CMOs’ human capital initiatives aimed toward overcoming this barrier, we conducted case studies of CMOs that have dealt with issues of growth to offer lessons for other charter leaders, including strategies for finding and keeping the best talent, growing in-house talent, and extending the reach of teachers to more children.
To develop fresh insights to spur growth of the charter sector’s best, the authors researched the distinguishing characteristics of organizations in other sectors that have grown at sustained exponential rates. The report summarizes lessons that emerged from that research and initial recommendations for the charter sector, including (1) committing not just to excellence, but to reaching large numbers of students with excellence; (2) negotiating performance-based contracts in charter contracts; (3) importing management talent; (4) providing opportunities and rewarding charter leaders and staff for reaching more students with excellent outcomes; (5) using branding to enable innovation; (6) investing in systems for scale; (7) acquiring other organizations strategically; and (8) pursuing operational alliances.
This brief examines the factors influencing charter school quality and points out the shortcomings of charter caps –statutory limitations on the number of charter schools or the number of students they can serve – as a method of ensuring high-quality charter schools. It presents instead a proposal for “smart” caps, which would focus on growth and quality to help states expand access to high-quality charter schools for underserved students. It also examines the political climate around charter schools and explains the basics of how “smart” caps could work.
Educa¬tion has been slower than many other fields in developing and widely adopting well-crafted, reliable ways to assess the performance of its leaders. This brief discusses the elements of an improved system of principal evaluations, including what should be assessed, and how. It highlights several newly-developed instruments: the Vanderbilt Assessment of Leadership in Education (VAL-ED), designed to assess instructional leadership; and two others designed for more targeted purposes. It also discusses the potential and the unknowns involved in using evaluations as a key strategy for promoting better leader performance as well as system-wide improvements.
This report, by leaders of the non-profit principal training program New Leaders for New Schools, provide policymakers with recommendations for the design and implementation of strong principal development and evaluation systems. Recommendations include: (1) making student outcomes and teacher effec¬tiveness outcomes 70% of a principal’s evalu¬ation, and basing the remaining 30% on the leadership actions shown to drive better results; (2) basing the evaluation of principal manag¬ers and other central office staff primarily on student outcomes and principal effectiveness, and giving principal managers the tools and skills they need to effectively balance princi¬pal accountability with professional support and development; (3) developing performance expectations that are universally high and differentiated in ways that drive continuous improvement; (4) ensuring that the evaluation system is informed by principals and other experts and is adapted over time to reflect new understandings of the practices that contribute to increased student achievement.
This brief draws upon available research to describe the challenges that school superintendents and hiring committees face when trying to hire a school principal. It also offers emerging practices that school superintendents and hiring committees have implemented to address challenges, such as recruitment planning and research-based selection processes and criteria.
This guide is designed to help schools attempting turnarounds understand the underlying characteristics of leaders likely to succeed by clarifying the critical competencies – or patterns of thinking, feeling, speaking and acting – that enable candidates to successfully lead a turnaround. The guide includes definitions of each competency, detailed levels of increasingly effective competence, and examples of various levels as they may play out in a turnaround school.
Building on the success of its 2003 study, Missed Opportunities, The New Teacher Project investigated the methods that urban school districts use to recruit, select and hire principals. This working paper presents the basic findings of that investigation along with recommendations for how urban districts and schools can build model recruitment, screening, selection and hiring processes to obtain quality principals. Specifically, it addresses the following questions: what obstacles do urban schools and districts face in hiring principals? how is principal quality affected as a result? It offers solutions to help districts hire higher-quality principals related to recruitment, initial screening, full competency screening, and school panel fit interviews.
This paper highlights current state and district efforts to address longstanding weaknesses in principal training. It describes key attributes of effective training identified in new research and offers four action-oriented lessons to help guide states, districts and universities in better preparing principals: (1) principal training programs should be more selective, more focused on improvement of instruction, more closely tied to the needs of districts, and provide more relevant internship experiences; (2) leadership preparation should not end when new principals are hired, but should continue with high-quality mentoring and career-long growth opportunities; (3) resources for improving preparation should be directed at programs with proven benefits; and (4) state and districts should also address the conditions that support or undermine leadership.
This report brings together lessons learned from members of the Rainwater Leadership Alliance (RLA) to provide a vision for making principal preparation programs more systematic and rigorous, and offer a new path forward using illustrations of RLA approaches. Key lessons include: (1) defining a Competency Framework—the set of skills, knowledge, and dispositions that a principal must have in order to drive high levels of student achievement; (2) relying on strategic, proactive, and targeted recruiting strategies; (3) establishing clear criteria and rigorous processes for evaluating applicants; (4) providing experiential training and intensive support; and (5) using data to assess the effectiveness of their program and principals’ work in schools. Members providing input include Gwinnett County Public Schools, Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) Foundation, Long Beach Unified School District, New Leaders for New Schools, NYC Leadership Academy, Rice University’s Education Entrepreneurship Program, School Leaders Network, The University of Illinois at Chicago, and The University of Virginia’s Darden/Curry Partnership for Leaders in Education.
Authors Rick Hess and Juliet Squire analyze two persistent challenges of teacher pension systems: incentives for politicians to make short-term commitments to public employees without fully attending to long-term costs; and the politics of altering longstanding teacher benefit systems. The article suggests political strategies to make these challenges more tractable and pave the way for reform.
Researchers analyze incentives embedded in teacher pension systems by examining the pattern of pension wealth accumulation over a teacher’s career. They show the “pull and push” of most pension systems - pulling teachers to remain in the profession for many years until large benefits start to accrue, and then pushing them out at relatively young ages even if they are still effective. They propose two solutions (defined contribution systems and cash balance plans) that restore the broken link between benefits and contributions, and propose four principles for reform (neutrality toward longevity; transparency; portability; and sustainability).
This report details the financial pressures building in states across the country that have failed to make adequate payments for pension systems while expanding benefits and neglecting long-term price tags. The report details the roots of the problem, factors driving change, and promising roads to reform.
The authors discuss steps to modernize pension systems, from addressing technical aspects or basic structural elements of the systems to tackling political or legal obstacles. ”Guideposts” for pension reform include (1) acknowledging both the fiscal realities and the human capital challenges that must be confronted for any solution to work; (2) rethinking pension systems in light of increasing mobility and steep learning curves in the early years of teaching; (3) reforming the political process to make it harder to use pension plans for short-term gain at the expense of long-term sustainability; (4) protecting current beneficiaries; and (5) increasing transparency.
This report builds existing research and labor-economic theory to offer four recom¬mendations regarding teacher equity. These include: (1) creating and maintaining state data systems that allow analyses of teacher distribution and the efficacy of policies designed to address that distribution; (2) implement new teacher policies simultaneously with a plan to study their effects; (3) require school districts to report spending at each school on a real-dollar basis, so that the public can perceive any inequities in school spending that result from teacher quali¬fication disparities; and (4) develop and tap into new high-quality sources of teachers that are specifically targeted toward schools serving disadvantaged students.
This report summarizes three studies of teacher compensation to underscore both the importance and the difficulty of redesigning teacher pay incentives in public education. The first study looks at teacher attitudes about pay reforms and provides a sense of what teachers think about particular incentive proposals. The second and third papers examine how high incentives would have to be to attract people with technical skills to teaching and to make working in high-needs schools more attractive. Together, these papers suggest that incentives are already in play in public education, and education leaders can make them more strategically aligned with their goals by undertaking more trials and paying close attention to the results.
This paper uses data from salary schedules North Carolina to examine the structure of teacher compensation in the state. The author finds that pay peaks near the end of a teacher’s career (around the age of 55), despite research suggesting that effectiveness tends to peak in a teacher’s third to fifth year. Drawing on experience in other sectors, the author notes that compensation for other professionals such as doctors and lawyers traditionally peaks much earlier (between the ages of 42 and 45) and calls for an “evidence-based salary schedule” in education to focus the rewards on the early rungs of the experience ladder.
This report explores cross-sector research about pay policies to provide insights for states about how to pay teachers in ways that enhance teaching effectiveness and, thereby, improve student learning. Summarizes research and offers recommendations for states related to pay for performance, positions in hard-to-staff schools pay, skill shortages, advanced roles, skills and knowledge, advanced degrees, and retention.
Research indicates that top-quintile teachers produce learning gains three times that of bottom-quintile teachers. But the supply of these top teachers is limited – and they affect only a small portion of children each year. This white paper examines potential results if instead of trying to recruit more great teachers, schools chose to reach more students with the great teachers they already have. It poses several potential forms of “reach extension,” such as redesigning jobs to concentrate teacher time on instruction, putting star teachers in charge of more children’s learning, and using technology to extend teacher reach and meet their standard. Star teachers whose reach is extended could then have unprecedented opportunities for achievement and could be paid more from existing per-pupil funding streams.
This paper summarizes key features of layoff policies in 100 districts across the country, noting that in 75 of 100 districts surveyed, seniority alone determines whether a teacher is laid off. The authors note that inadequate evaluation systems frequently hinder layoff policies that incorporate evidence of teacher effectiveness, and recommend improving these systems to strengthen layoff policies based on multiple factors. Even in the absence of strong evaluation policies, however, the authors recommend removing some seniority preferences or creating systems where star teachers can earn exemptions from layoffs based on performance.
This brief examines the disproportionate impact of seniority-based layoffs on high-need schools. These schools have less experienced staffs, so a greater proportion of their teachers are laid off under seniority-based systems, leading to higher staff “churn,” which has numerous negative consequences for teachers and students. The authors briefly discuss current efforts to replace seniority-based policies with layoff systems that incorporate additional factors.
This brief, authored by Marguerite Roza, highlights an important but often ignored consequence of seniority-based layoffs: more people lose their jobs under these systems than under alternative systems. Cutting the most junior staff, who tend to be the lowest paid, saves less money per laid-off employee. The result is that more junior employees need to be laid off to meet budget requirements, as well as program cuts and increased class sizes. The brief uses financial modeling for a sample district to project the number of teachers who must be laid off under a seniority-neutral layoff policy versus a seniority-based policy.
This policy brief highlights evidence of the negative impacts of quality-blind layoff rules and poses reasonable alternatives. Results of a 2009 survey reveal that three-quarters of teachers (and a majority at every experience level) favor considering factors other than seniority in layoff decisions, such as classroom management ratings, teacher attendance, evaluation ratings, and other factors. The brief includes a sample scorecard for a quality-based layoff system.
This report asks what lessons the US might learn from nations that succeed in delivering world-class educational outcomes with top talent in teaching – Singapore, South Korea, and Finland – and what an American version of such a strategy might entail. The authors’ research among teachers and top-third college students suggests what it might take to attract and retain such talent, how to do so cost-effectively, and what other systemic changes would make the strategy most effective.
The Teacher Follow-up Survey 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, designed to provide information about teacher mobility and attrition among K–12 teachers in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The TFS addresses questions such as: what percentage of teachers leaves the profession between one year and the next? what factors contribute to teachers’ decisions to move to another school or to leave the profession? how many teachers move from one school to another? where do teachers go when they move or leave? Offers a summary of major findings as well as detailed data tables.
This report examines the research and case studies outside education – such as private businesses, non-profits, and government and health care organizations – to reveal four key strategies to boost high-performer retention in K-12 schools: pay with purpose, give high-performers mountains to climb, design flexible and challenging work roles, and build lasting teams. The report also examines individualized strategies that education leaders can use to go to the mat for individual employees they do not want to lose, such as retaining relationships beyond direct employment, generating positive non-hires, and using short-term contracts to keep a high-performing team member who might otherwise leave.
This report summarizes six steps that research and experience from across sectors — including government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and for-profit companies — show are critical for designing an outstanding performance measurement system. These include: (1) determining the purposes of performance measurement; (2) choosing job objectives that align with the organization’s mission; (3) designing performance measures; (4) setting performance standards; (5) designing the performance measurement system; and (6) using measurement results to take action. It concludes by offering implications from each of these steps for use in teacher and leader performance evaluations in K-12 public education.
This guide aims to help schools attempting turnarounds understand the underlying characteristics of teachers likely to succeed by clarifying the critical competencies – or patterns of thinking, feeling, speaking and acting – that enable people to be successful in the turnaround context. The guide includes definitions of each competency and examples of various levels as they may play out in a turnaround school.
This paper reviews various observable characteristics (e.g., certification, experience, education level) and discusses relevant research about their relationship to teacher quality. Findings suggest only weak evidence of a consistent and positive influence on student learning for degrees and experience. But subject-matter knowledge, as measured by degrees, courses and certification, is related to higher performance in math and science, but outside of these areas there is weak or inconsistent evidence of positive effects. Teachers’ pedagogical knowledge, measured by certification exams and certification type, may be weakly related to a teacher’s effectiveness in some instances, but the research is inconclusive. Finally, the author finds that other teacher attributes, such as academic skills (e.g., ACT scores, tests of verbal ability) may be the most predictive characteristics of effective teachers.
The authors examine two other sectors that have long histories with tenure or tenure-like job protections – the civil service and higher education – to recommend reform options for K-12 education leaders. The authors describe five “design elements” that determine who receives tenure and what protections it affords: the number of years required to earn tenure, the criteria used to determine whether to award it, the process for conferring tenure, the specific protections it affords; and tenure’s place among other career and reward opportunities. Tenure reform options include redesigning the tenure system – either to grant more meaningful tenure to a large number of teachers, or to grant it only to consistent high-performers – or to eliminate it altogether.
This report provides an overview and history of tenure, analyzes the nature of current and past reform proposals, and highlights recommendations for policymakers. Authors found little variation in tenure policies across states, but voices calling for reform that are loud and growing. Recommendations are for the federal government to leverage education funding to incent states to develop more meaningful teacher evaluation systems; for states to mandate that retention and dismissal decisions incorporate effectiveness data (or give districts flexibility to experiment with new approaches to evaluation and tenure), and to incorporate effectiveness data into the teacher licensing process.
The authors interviewed directors of alternate route programs across the country. Findings suggest that while nearly all states have something on their books labeled “alternate route to certification,” most alternate route teachers have had to jump through many of the same hoops—meeting the same “traditional” academic requirements and undergoing much the same training—as typical education school graduates.
Researchers explore the relative effectiveness of recently hired New York City public school teachers who entered the profession through alternate routes. They analyze student test scores as well as information about the students, their teachers, classrooms, and schools to compare the effectiveness of recently hired alternatively certified and uncertified teachers to that of their traditionally certified counterparts in improving student learning in math and reading. Results suggest that some teachers are considerably better than others at helping students learn, but very little of this difference can be explained by the route through which they enter the classroom.
This booklet summarizes findings from well-designed and well-executed research studies about the connection between several characteristics of a teacher and his or her success in the classroom. Summary indicates that subject area knowledge adds significant value to a teacher’s classroom effectiveness, particularly in the upper grades; literacy levels appear to be correlated with teachers’ effectiveness; and colleges that are more selective in their admissions generally produce more effective teachers. Research also suggests that a few years of experience helps teachers improve, but after that the evidence is unclear; on the whole, master’s degrees do not make teachers more effective; education courses taken before teaching have little effect on classroom effectiveness; and traditional routes to certification do not appear to yield more effective teachers than alternative routes.