A Tool for Evaluating English-Language Arts Teacher Candidates’ Skills and Knowledge to Teach
Concerned with improving teacher preparation (TEP) in California, the state Legislature enacted Senate Bill 2042, which required candidates to pass standardized performance assessments before certification. As a result, the CTC developed policy on the Teacher Performance Assessments (TPAs). A consortium of universities later developed the Performance Assessment for California Teachers (PACT) and was approved by the CTC as one TPA for use in California. A crucial test for PACT is whether it can adequately assess English-Language Arts (ELA) teacher candidates on how they connect teaching to linguistic, social, and cultural context of schooling, and purposes of education in rural border schools.
Policymakers are revolutionizing teacher evaluation by placing greater focus on student test scores and classroom observations of practice and by increasing the stakes attached to evaluations. The federal program, Race to the Top, requires participating states and school districts to measure and reward teachers and school leaders based on contributions to student achievement, or “value-added.” These evaluations are the basis for high-stakes decisions about promotion, tenure, dismissal, and compensation for both the teachers and principals.
Our study examines results from Washington state’s incentive program to increase the overall supply of National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs) while also increasing the proportion of NBCTs who work in “challenging” schools.
Comparisons of Employment Outcomes with a National Sample
Nathanael J. Okpych
Mark E. Courtney
Over the past 15 years, several federal and California state laws have been enacted to support older adolescents in foster care with completing a high school credential and gaining access to higher education. Promoting educational attainment is particularly important for these young people. Since they often do not have the same level of family support and resources to rely on as they enter adulthood, completing a high school or college degree could be a deciding factor in finding stable employment and establishing self-sufficiency.
How Perceptions of Local Economic Conditions Drive Rural Youth Decision-Making About Future Residence
Robert A. Petrin
Kai A. Schafft
Over the past several decades demographers have consistently documented the outmigration of younger residents from rural areas. This is especially the case in economically-lagging rural places where local labor markets disproportionately offer part-time, temporary and contract work, often with limited or no benefits.
There is national concern about improving teacher education, but fairly little consensus about how to do that. While some dispute its value, concern is greater regarding how to strengthen it at both preservice and professional development levels. But policy makers need research evidence to do so. Currently, high profile but flawed research drives much discussion.
Accountability is a hotly debated topic in education. The emphasis on school accountability and its “high stakes” measures of student achievement puts schools and their staff under considerable pressure to perform at high levels. However, some critics believe that the measures used for accountability under No Child Left Behind are not real measures of success and are biased towards already high-performing schools.
Nonmedical exemption from mandated school-entry immunizations is associated with increased infectious disease risk for both the individual and community. Personal belief exemptions and the ease of obtaining a personal beliefs exemption have been implicated in rising exemption rates and disease outbreaks, respectively. In an effort to combat these trends in California, the state passed AB-2109, which introduces more stringent requirements for filing a personal beliefs exemption request.
It has become tougher for teachers in California to plan lessons and activities that do not directly tie to state standardized tests. This narrowing of the curriculum is largely attributed to the demands of state-based accountability assessments in the era of No Child Left Behind. A major concern with this trend is that students, especially those from more disadvantaged backgrounds, are experiencing declines in the amount of time and exposure in other academic areas, such as the arts. It may be the case that these declines will not have any discernible impact on achievement in subjects such as math and reading. However, it is also plausible that this trend could have adverse effects on other valuable educational outcomes.
The Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), reauthorized in 2004, included language that allowed a response to intervention (RTI) approach to be used to identify students with specific learning disabilities (SLDs) before research had fully validated this approach, particularly for culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students. Many of the specific practices and details regarding implementation of an RTI approach were not specified in the federal regulations.
During the last decade, local districts, states, and national organizations have started elaborate surveillance systems, indicator systems, local crime mapping programs, and survey modules to monitor student risk and health-related behaviors. Such surveillance is the backbone of the public health approach to promote health, resiliency, and empowerment and prevent risk behaviors. It reveals the magnitude of a problem, tracks it over time, and uses the information gained from monitoring to help shape actions to prevent public health problems. Such monitoring systems have the potential to provide schools and districts with the information required to formulate policies and make program decisions based on local data. Not only are local data monitoring systems critical for entire school/district populations but they are also useful in providing needs assessments for special populations within schools.
On February 14, 2014, Assemblyman Luis Alejo introduced AB 1750 which would require California’s Instructional Quality Commission to “identify model programs, standards, and curricula relating to ethnic studies at the high school level” in order to pave the way for ethnic studies coursework in California’s high schools. For policymakers, this bill raises several questions, including what is ethnic studies, and what kind of impact it makes on students. Three years ago, the National Education Association asked me to review the research on the academic and social impact of ethnic studies on students. Policy makers who are considering implications of this bill may find my report helpful.
While we know that disadvantaged students are more likely to be taught by less qualified teachers, we know little about whether this disparity is caused by decisions on the part of teachers or school administrators. It is difficult to parse out the extent to which the unequal distribution of teachers across schools results from supply—teachers’ preferences and decisions to apply to jobs in particular districts or schools—or demand-related factors—principals’ hiring preferences or district rules and regulations.
KIPP is an expanding network of public charter schools designed to improve educational outcomes among low-income children. The first KIPP schools opened in 1995 and by 2013-2014 there were 141 KIPP schools operating nationally, including 22 schools in California. Prominent elements of KIPP’s educational model include high expectations for student achievement and behavior, and a substantial increase in time in school.
College graduation rates in the United States lag far behind college attendance rates and this gap is growing, particularly at broad-access four-year and two-year schools. There are a number of theories as to why students do not complete college: schools fail to provide key information about how to be successful or students fail to act on the information that they have; students are not adequately academically prepared; students lack important non-academic skills such as time management and study skills and schools do not provide enough structured support in these areas; students do not feel integrated into the school community; students struggle in balancing school with career and personal demands. With such a long and varied list of potentially serious obstacles and an increasingly tight fiscal environment, we’re faced with a difficult policy question: what cost-effective levers can colleges employ for boosting graduation rates?
Recent trends in U.S. schooling have witnessed an increase in the number of students with disabilities being placed in general education classrooms: to date, more than 50 percent of students with disabilities receive over 80 percent of their entire schooling from within the general education classroom. This trend of placing an increasingly greater number students with disabilities in general education classrooms has raised questions among policymakers, practitioners, and parents about the effects that this practice has not only on students with disabilities but also on their classmates without disabilities. These issues arise in dialog for students as early as at school entry.
There is substantial interest in increasing high school graduations rates, yet youth from low-income families and communities experience greater academic challenges and the achievement gap between children from low- and high- income families has been growing. Students who live in poverty are significantly more likely to have lower grades, standardized test scores, and high school completion rates than their more affluent peers. It has been suggested that out-of-school programs can contribute to better educational outcomes but few evaluations at the high school level have been completed.
With high school graduation only months away, seniors in California may already be eagerly anticipating the relaxation of summer before they transition into college or the workforce. For students who have planned and worked hard to pursue postsecondary education immediately after high school, however, a series of unanticipated financial and procedural hurdles may loom on the horizon that have the potential to derail their college aspirations.
American education policymakers have been strongly advised of the need for more graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and U.S. federal policy has focused on improving and increasing STEM education as a national priority for education over a number of years. However, data on the performance of American students shows that many students are not well prepared in STEM fields at high school graduation.
A recent trend in school reform efforts is the transfer of decision-making authority in many large, urban districts to individual schools, giving principals greater control over how they meet performance targets. In California, two of the state’s largest districts, San Francisco and Los Angeles, have shifted decision-making authority to a small but growing number of schools; similarly, Oakland has allowed some schools to opt out of many district-wide mandates. Beyond California’s borders, Boston, Chicago, Houston, New York City, Seattle, and St. Paul have implemented school-based autonomy programs in the last ten years.
Educating youth with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders (EBD) or with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) costs school districts three times as much/$5,007 more, respectively, than educating students without EBD or ADHD. Much of this cost is related to provision of services, including accommodations, modifications, and interventions, mandated by federal law. The goal is for all students to demonstrate proficiency on core academic standards. Thus, these costs would seem justified if these services were improving student outcomes. However, youth with EBD and ADHD are suspended more often than typical peers, score below “proficient” on high stakes assessments, and leave high school prior to graduation.
Studies consistently show that teachers are the most important in-school factor for improving student achievement. It makes sense then, that policymakers would seek to create policies that help improve the overall quality of educators. They have often attempted to do so by raising barriers to entry. That is, politicians put in place licensure requirements in an effort to keep low-performing individuals from entering the classroom. But are current licensure requirements effective screens? Do they actually keep ineffective teachers from entering the classroom?
Proponents of market models of education assert that providing families with the power to choose schools will significantly improve the American educational system, in part because choice will generate competition among schools that will force poorly performing schools to improve their academic practices. Indeed, embedded in the market model of education is the assumption that competition leads to institutional isomorphism among service providers in the educational marketplace that would compel traditional public schools to mimic charter schools or similar models of education reform that are believed to be more effective. However, some have criticized this model, arguing that choice and market reform do little to enhance achievement or ameliorate educational inequality.
District policymakers often argue that rules in teacher contracts and collective bargaining agreements (CBAs), that limit their ability to transfer teachers to different schools unless the teacher initiates the move, handcuff them in achieving the right mix of teachers across the district. In many districts in California, for example, CBAs prevent districts from involuntarily transferring teachers except when schools lose teaching positions, and even then, seniority often governs which teachers can be moved. Could loosening those restrictions benefit students? On the one hand, maybe so. Districts could, for example, use transfers to move ineffective teachers out of disadvantaged schools or match teachers to positions where their skills could have a more positive impact.
School health programs and policies may be one of the most efficient ways to prevent or reduce health-risk behaviors among students, which in turn, can prevent serious health problems. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued science-based guidelines that identify policies and practices schools can implement to improve critical student health-risk behaviors. In addition, CDC has released tools designed to help schools implement effective health promotion and safety policies and practices identified in its guidelines.