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Articles tagged with Teachers

New report finds teachers need more effective professional development to meet higher standards

Despite decades of research, teacher professional development is not adequately helping teachers to develop their students’ critical thinking skills and subject matter knowledge so that they can be ready for college and the workplace, a new report by the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Center for Public Education (CPE) finds.

Teaching the Teachers: Effective Professional Development in an Era of High Stakes Accountability,” reports that ongoing, dedicated time for collaboration and coaching is the most effective way to help teachers develop needed classroom skills, but most professional development exercises are one-time workshops that research shows have no lasting effect. An estimated 90 percent of teachers participate in some form of professional development each year, but the vast majority receive it in workshops.

“Effective professional development is a key factor in improving student achievement and better preparing our students for the challenges of the 21st century economy,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “We already see that public schools are facing greater accountability for their students’ learning, and now teachers in the states that implement the Common Core State Standards will be under intense pressure to teach their students critical thinking and problem-solving skills.”

The report notes that professional development that is ongoing, collaborative and connected to the teacher’s subject area produces the largest student gains. The biggest challenge for teachers, research shows, is implementing the skills they have learned in their classrooms.

The report also looked at effective practices and found that:
• Professional development is best delivered in the context of the teacher’s subject area;
• Working with a coach or mentor is shown to be highly effective;
• Although research on effective critical thinking strategies is lacking, teachers in some areas have established professional learning communities to create best practices and coach each other;
• Case studies show that some school districts may be able to reallocate spending to provide better professional development opportunities without spending significantly more.

Teachers’ time is the most significant cost consideration for effective professional development. Further, professional development is often one of the first areas cut in tight budget times.

“Teachers need embedded time for collaboration and support while they attempt to change their practices,” said CPE Director Patte Barth. “But time is money. When budgets are pinched, districts may be tempted to go with one-time workshops which cost fewer dollars. But a low price is still too high if there is no impact on student learning.”

Teaching the Teachers: Effective Professional Development in an Era of High Stakes Accountability,” was written by Allison Gulamhussein, a doctoral student at George Washington University and a former high school English teacher, who was a policy intern for the Center for Public Education.  View Gulamhussein’s analysis of this report in American School Board Journal.

Alexis Rice|September 10th, 2013|Categories: School Boards, Center for Public Education, American School Board Journal, Center for Public Education Update, Reports|Tags: , , |

NSBA signs shared vision for future of teaching

As part of this week’s Labor Management Conference, the National School Boards Association signed a “shared vision” for the future of the teaching profession that outlines seven elements to transform the field.

NSBA Executive Director Anne L. Bryant participated in the opening panel of the conference, held May 23 to 24 in Cincinnati.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the shared vision focuses on three goals, which include ensuring all students should be prepared for college, career, and citizenship; improving opportunities and access to higher education for less privileged students; and preparing all students to be globally competitive. The seven core principles to achieve these goals include:

• A culture of shared responsibility and leadership;

• Recruiting top talent into schools prepared for success;

• Continuous growth and professional development;

• Effective teachers and principals;

• A professional career continuum with competitive compensation;

• Conditions that support successful teaching and learning;

• Engaged communities.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and representatives from six other national education organizations also signed the document.

“The principles outlined in the document represent ways to strengthen and elevate teaching as one of our nation’s most valued and respected professions,” said Duncan.

In addition to NSBA and Duncan, co-signers of the document include the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, the American Association of School Administrators, the Council of Chief State School Officers, the Council of the Great City Schools, and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.


Joetta Sack-Min|May 24th, 2012|Categories: Teachers, Professional Development|Tags: , , |

Principals’ impact is greatest at struggling schools, Center for Public Education report says

Principals are second only to teachers in their impact on students, and this impact is greatest at elementary schools and at high-poverty, high-minority schools, according to The Principal Perspective, a new report from the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Center for Public Education (Center).

However, the report suggests that the very schools that need high-quality principals the most – those same high-poverty, high-minority schools — have a more difficult time finding them, with experienced principals typically moving after a few years to easier-to-manage schools. According to one study of a large urban district, a principal’s second or third school typically enrolled 89 percent fewer poor and minority students than their first one.

“Research clearly shows that principals are a key ingredient in the performance of their school, especially if that school enrolls a large number of low-performing and/or poor and minority students,” said Jim Hull, senior policy analyst at the Center. “Unfortunately, challenging schools are more likely to be led by less experienced and less effective principals even though principals have a greater impact on these schools than on less advantaged schools.”

Principal turnover adversely affects all schools, the report said. But this impact is greatest at the most challenging schools, the report said.

“In these schools, the new principal is more likely to have less experience and be less effective than a new principal at a less challenging school, often resulting in a longer, more pronounced slowdown of achievement gains,” the report said.

Among the qualities that the report says characterize effective principals are: having more than three years of overall experience and at least three years’ experience at that school; having a clear sense of instructional goals; and having shared leadership responsibilities, rather than simply delegating paperwork.

Because of the important role that principals play and the impact they have on learning, school board members need to ask many questions about how they are hired, managed, and evaluated, the report said.

“A school principal is now more than a head disciplinarian or a glorified schedule-maker. The principal of today’s school is a leader,” Hull notes. “While teachers may have the primary influence on student achievement, individual teachers cannot do it alone. An effective principal is needed to maximize teachers’ impact as well as the school’s effectiveness as a whole. School boards, educators and policymakers who focus on supporting the principal’s role as instructional leader will be supporting what’s best for students as well.”

The report is available on the Center’s website. Additionally, check out more of Hull’s analysis on principle effectiveness on the Center’s The EDifier blog.

Lawrence Hardy|April 11th, 2012|Categories: Teachers, Center for Public Education, Urban Schools, Student Achievement|Tags: , , , , , |

Education technology: Game changer

Only four out of 10 ninth-graders today graduate from high school ready for college or the workplace—and it’s going to take a more thoughtful, strategic use of technology to change that equation.

That was the message of Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education, who spoke Sunday at NSBA’s Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C.

More attention must be paid to technology because limited financial resources and demographic trends are likely to force schools to hire fewer, younger, and less-experienced teachers in the years ahead, he said. Technology will prove a useful tool to help these teachers maximize their time and instructional effort.

But the promise of technology will only be kept if school leaders are smart about its use, Wise warned. Technology is not simply about adding laptops or Internet connections to classrooms.

“If you do that, you accomplish nothing but the spending of a lot of money,” he said. “What is required is a conscious strategy. When talking about districts where the technology is not working and large amounts of money were spent, you’re looking at a district that did not develop a conscious strategy beforehand.”

To emphasize his point, Wise showed his audience two slides: one of a classroom of a hundred students sitting in an amphitheater-style classroom with laptops in front of them; the other of a classroom where students were organized in small groups, with the teacher standing amidst half a dozen students, each working on their own laptop project.

The more intimate setting was the more reassuring, he noted. The scene suggested students were receiving personalized instruction. They were more engaged in individual instruction and advancing at their own pace, with an instructor available to answer questions, track individual student progress, and ready to step in when students faltered.

Any discussion of successful technology in schools won’t focus gadgets and software, he added. “It’s about the teaching, the pedagogy. We want technology to enhance teachers … We want technology matched with what teachers teach to allow them to do what couldn’t be done before.”

That’s going to take a lot of thoughtful planning—and school boards are just the entity to see that happen, Wise told conference attendees. One of the strengths of technology is that it can be adapted to variety of settings, and school boards are best positioned to determine what adaptations are needed for their school settings and student populations.

“During the next several years, the local school board will be the main agent for change,” Wise told School Board News after his presentation. “They will provide the innovation … school boards are where the rubber meets the road, and they’ll create the future education laboratories to help us find what works.”

Del Stover|February 5th, 2012|Categories: Educational Technology, Dropout Prevention, 21st Century Skills, Leadership Conference 2012|Tags: , , , , |

Americans sympathetic to school finances, teachers, PDK poll finds

The latest edition of the influential Phi Delta Kappan/Gallup opinion poll, released on August 17, found more support for public school teachers and sympathy toward schools’ financial woes.

Despite negative publicity and state initiatives limiting the power of teachers unions, the annual poll found significant support for teachers. More than 70 percent of respondents said they have “trust and confidence” in public school teachers, and 69 percent of respondents gave public school teachers in their community a letter grade of an A or B, compared to 50 percent in 1984.

Another result found that 36 percent of respondents think that lack of financial support is the biggest problem facing schools.

And most respondents felt that decisions on teacher salaries and layoffs should be based on multiple factors, including advanced degrees, experience, and administrator evaluations, while their students’ scores on standardized tests were rated as least important. Also, most respondents thought that school districts should use multiple factors when determining layoffs, rather than seniority.

Full results of the poll are available at:

Joetta Sack-Min|August 17th, 2011|Categories: Teachers, Educational Finance|Tags: , , , |

Hiring teachers late in the year works against building a quality faculty

stockvault_7718_20070525Chances are, if you’ve paid even passing notice to the national education debate, you’ve heard some variation of this: “If we could just get rid of bad teachers…”

There’s some truth to that statement. Many times, union contracts (which, it must be added, were negotiated, in most cases, with school board members and/or their representatives) make it difficult to fire bad teachers or reduce staff by methods other than seniority: “Last in, first out,” is the rule, in many cases.

It is a problem, of course, and it’s being debated at the national level and addressed in many districts. But it’s not the biggest staffing problem facing schools. That problem is attrition: nearly 50 percent of teachers leave the profession in their first five years.

They leave because of lack of support and guidance, and frustration with a job that, despite our pronouncements, does not convey much in the way of authority or respect.

Now a study by Nathan D. Jones at Northwestern University and Adam Maier at Michigan State provides new information about another practice that leads, inordinately, to attrition: late hiring.

Looking at data from schools in Michigan, they found that nearly 12 percent of teachers were hired after the start of the school year. But these teachers were not evenly distributed.

Naomi Dillon|March 22nd, 2011|Categories: Teachers, Educational Research, Policy Formation, American School Board Journal|Tags: , |
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