While working at the New Jersey Department of Education, I found our work on improving educator evaluations to be our most technically and politically challenging initiative. It required close work with schools, districts, labor organizations, the state board, and various internal offices and deep knowledge of state law and regulation and the growing national research base.
That’s why I was so impressed with (and proud of) the recent memo sent out by my former colleagues.
I’ve said many times before that educator evaluation policy got far ahead of the practice. This memo shows that the NJDOE has been assiduous in trying to bridge that gap.
Do your job thoughtfully and well, and take pride in that—but know that the aspects likeliest to be covered will be those that generate the most heat, not the most light.
The graphic on page 3 shows how they’ve used multiple sources to continuously inform their work. The timeline on the final page shows how they’ve choreographed the various activities over a long stretch of time to ensure that the work progresses—but prudently.
The heart of the memo is a summary of what they’ve learned from these various sources to date and how the department is responding to the lessons.
I may be biased, but this is—in my opinion—top-notch, grown-up policymaking by a state department of education: Take a broad policy directive, start a pilot, develop multiple external assessors, integrate this work with mid-stream RTTT-3 funds and a new
Operating in the Dark: What Outdated State Policies and Data Gaps Mean for Effective School Leadership
After years of focus on lifting teacher quality, attention is—slowly—turning to the need to do the same for school leaders. This new report from the George W. Bush Institute (GWBI) adds to this freshening conversation: It offers recommendations for how states can take charge to improve the quality of school leadership. Drawing on survey responses from education departments in all fifty states and D.C., the report identifies four areas of focus: principal prep-program accreditation, licensure requirements, principal-effectiveness standards, and collection and dissemination of job-performance data. On all, states are lacking. For example, nineteen states couldn’t report how many principals are trained annually within their borders, and twenty-eight don’t collect job performance data. Further, only six require current principals to demonstrate effectiveness before renewing their licenses (typically done every five years or so). Two overarching policy recommendations arise. First, each state must clearly define what it means to be “effective” and regulate preparation and licensure programs accordingly. Second, states must develop data-collection systems that track principals from preparation to licensure to job placement, and use these data to close ineffective prep programs and revoke the licenses of incapable principals. Though the report is jargon-laden at times, its advice is sound.
SOURCE: Kerri Briggs, Gretchen Rhines Cheney, Jacquelyn Davis, and Kerry Moll, Operating
Ambiguous government writing sparked a debate over disabled students' "right" to sports.
Photo by Canadian Paralympic Committee
Two weeks ago I kicked up some dust when I wrote that the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights had apparently created a right to wheelchair basketball via its new guidance about athletics and students with disabilities. Nor was I the only one to read it that way—the disability rights community saw it as a “landmark moment” too, akin to the passage of Title IX.
Not so fast, says the Department in a new Education Week article:
Seth M. Galanter, the acting assistant secretary for civil rights, said that the guidance neither breaks new ground nor mandates new policy for the states that did not previously exist. During an interview, he pointed to a footnote in the guidance that says it is not adding requirements to applicable law.
Mr. Galanter also said that while the bulk of the guidance document offers examples of where the civil rights office would or would not find violations, the portion that talks about offering different or separate activities does not prescribe any penalties.
"The guidance does not say that there is a right to separate or parallel sports programs," Mr. Galanter said. Instead, the guidance
The more Republicans talk about education, the better they do with voters. But the party seems oblivious.
Photo by Photomatt28
As the Republican Party searches its soul and its ranks for policies, strategies, and leaders that can restore it to fighting strength at the national level, few expect education reform to loom large among the issues needing close attention. Yet it’s hard to get very far on such central challenges as economic growth and international competitiveness without paying close heed to the capacity of America’s workforce in the medium term—and to the prowess of our scientists, inventors, and entrepreneurs over the long haul.
Keep this in mind, too, as any pollster will tell you: The more Republicans talk about education, the better they do with voters.
A number of GOP governors, past and present, have figured this out, among them Jeb Bush, Mitch Daniels, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, Chris Christie, Scott Walker, and Rick Snyder. And plenty of education reform is underway at the state and, sometimes, local levels.
The national party, however, appears somewhere between oblivious and brain-dead on this topic. Observe, for example, a Congress that’s many years overdue in revamping and reauthorizing such core federal education programs as No Child Left Behind and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
No, it’s not
About the Editor
Michael J. Petrilli
Executive Vice President
Mike Petrilli is one of the nation's foremost education analysts. As executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, he oversees the organization's research projects and publications and contributes to the Flypaper blog and weekly Education Gadfly newsletter.
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