Teaching Quality Supports
Teachers are the most important school-based influence on student achievement. Despite consensus that high quality teaching is critical to the success of America’s students, in many places we have yet to see the coherent, systemic supports for teachers that will ensure success for each and every child. We believe in supporting change that helps teachers perform at their best.
The Latest on Teaching Quality Supports
20 years after Massachusetts (often lauded as a leader in education policy) passed the Education Reform Act of 1993, Citizens for Public Schools, an OTL ally, took a long hard look at the results of that law to find the state still has a ways to go toward ensure equity and opportunity for all Massachusetts students. [Executive summary available below. Download the full report here.]
How do you explain the opportunity gap to someone who isn't familiar with the education debate? Just show them this new video from the OTL Campaign! "A Special Message to Grown Ups, Love Kids" is a video introduction to the OTL Campaign that we developed with the help of the phenomenal video production studio SoulPancake. The video provides a simple explanation of why all kids deserve the same resources and opportunities to learn.
In an age of mass school school closings, "A Proposal for Sustainable School Transformation" has been held up as a model of smart policy by organizers fighting for the resources and opportunities to support their local schools. It advocates for a strong focus on school culture, curriculum and staffing, and wrap-around supports for children.
The National Education Policy Center's new book "Closing the Opportunity Gap" offers a wide array of policy recommendations for closing the opportunity gap and ensuring all students have the resources they need to succeed. This policy guide distills the most important recommendations from the book at three different levels: at the level of students' individual needs, at the level of in-school opportunities and resources, and at the level of communities and neighborhoods.
Top-down pressure from federal education policies such as Race to the Top and No Child Left Behind, bolstered by organized advocacy efforts, is making a popular set of market-oriented education “reforms” look more like the new status quo than real reform. Reformers assert that test-based teacher evaluation, increased access to charter schools, and the closure of “failing” and under-enrolled schools will boost at-risk students’ achievement and narrow longstanding race- and income-based achievement gaps. This new report from the Broader, Bolder Approach to Education examines these assertions by comparing the impacts of these reforms in three large urban school districts – Washington, D.C., New York City, and Chicago – with student and school outcomes over the same period in other large, high-poverty urban districts. The report finds that the reforms deliver few benefits, often harm the students they purport to help, and divert attention from a set of other, less visible policies with more promise to weaken the link between poverty and low educational attainment.
Need a blueprint for recruiting, developing and retaining high quality teachers in your state? Look no further than this report from CA State Superintendent Tom Torlakson's Task Force on Educator Excellence. Drawing on the expertise of educators and thought leaders like Linda Darling-Hammond, the report lays out precisely how states should invest in their teachers and their schools to ensure that every student has access to well-prepared and effective teachers.
The Coalition for Teaching Quality, representing a broad cross-section of 90 civil rights, disability, parent, student, community and education groups are voicing their deep concern with the proposed extension of the highly qualified teacher federal amendment (HQT amendment) until 2015, allowing teachers in training to be “highly qualified” under federal law.
The HQT amendment enacted in December 2010 allows participants in alternative teacher preparation programs to be classified as “highly qualified” even though they are still in training. Research shows that such teachers are disproportionately concentrated in schools and classrooms filled with our most vulnerable students. Under the current provision, teachers-in-training can continue to teach for as long as three years even if they never complete their preparation program, pass certification tests, or meet other state certification standards. And worse yet, parents are never notified that their children’s teachers are still in training and therefore not actually “highly qualified” according to the original definition of the term.
Join advocates from across the country to tell Congress and President Obama to allow the current HQT amendment to sunset after the 2012-2013 school year. An Opportunity to Learn requires all students to have a well-prepared teacher on day one.
Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, an OTL partner, has released "An Arkansas Student Bill of Rights," which details what students and parents should expect from their school districts and the resources and opportunities to which they are entitled in order to receive a quality education and reach their full potential. Watch the video, then download the report here!
Teachers and students shouldn’t be judged on test scores, grades, and reading levels if they don’t have the proper tools to produce high-quality outcomes. An Arkansas Student Bill of Rights, using opportunity to learn (OTL) standards as the basis for measurement and accountability, unequivocally ensures the state will provide all students with the resources necessary to obtain a high-quality public education and achieve success in college and later, a career, including access to high-quality early childhood education, prepared and effective teachers, college preperatory curriculum for all students, and equitable instructional materials.
In late March 2012, Massachusetts student advocates from Youth On Board and the Boston Student Advisory Council joined up with Chicago student advocates from Voices of Youth in Chicago Education at a press conference to push for the inclusion of student input in teacher evaluations in Chicago public schools. The MA students won their voice in teacher evaluations in June 2011. In April 2012, the Chicago public schools announced its new teacher evaluation system will include a pilot program for student feedback. The two groups of students connected at the 2011 National Opportunity to Learn Summit in Washington, D.C.