States seem to be “racing” to ensure great teachers for every student, all of a sudden.
But our in-house review of a number of Race to the Top state applications suggests that policymakers are ignoring one of the most critical factors related to finding and rewarding effective teachers: the conditions under which they work.
I am not talking about some of the conditions found in local collective bargaining agreements. I'm talking about what we know from research and from classroom experts about conditions that matter for student learning.
In a few weeks, CTQ will be releasing a new report prepared in partnership with the TeacherSolutions Teacher Working Conditions team — a group of 14 accomplished teachers who work in mostly high-needs schools and districts, both urban and rural. They draw on current research and CTQ case studies to identify essential, research-based principles that must undergird sustainable and effective teaching reforms. Among them are:
• Schools must promote aligned, out-of-school learning experiences for students beyond the school walls, as well as growing online opportunities to connect schools with local and global communities;
• Teachers must have the opportunity to make decisions about instruction in their classrooms and schools in order to reach students with diverse and unique needs; and
• Administrators must be accountable for ensuring teachers are in teaching assignments for which they are prepared and have opportunities to develop skills they need to meet new pedagogical challenges.
The team also calls for much more prominent teacher leadership roles in schools, shared accountability with higher-ups for student performance results, and the development of more "hub" schools in high needs neighborhoods that offer community services while also protecting academic priorities.
Contrary to the current reform rhetoric — which seems to depend upon heroic educators posing as caped crusaders to swoop in and save children with magical teaching — the upcoming TeacherSolutions report provides ideas backed by solid research that can make the schools and teachers we already have more successful.
The team includes: Eldred “Jay” Bagley (Philadelphia); Glenda Blaisdell-Buck (Charlotte-Mecklenburg, NC); Mitzi Durham (Clark County, NV); Larry Ferlazzo (Sacramento, CA); Brian K. Freeland, Jr. (Charlotte-Mecklenburg, NC); Lori Fulton (Clark County, NV); Leona Bost Ingram (Charlotte-Mecklenburg, NC); Kristoffer Kohl (Clark County, NV); Mona Madan (Charlotte-Mecklenburg, NC); Kathie Marshall (Los Angeles); Delores Maxen (Charlotte-Mecklenburg, NC); Susan “Ernie” Rambo (Clark County, NV); Taylor Ross (Jefferson County, AL); and Gamal Sherif (Philadelphia).
Funded by the Ford Foundation, their year of TeacherSolutions work will identify both the policies and practices needed to ensure great teaching for all students.