Operating in the Dark: What Outdated State Policies and Data Gaps Mean for Effective School Leadership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
The MAP is exactly the type of "good" assessment that many educators claim to favor
Photo by albertogp123.
Shame on the teachers of Garfield High. Shame on them for resisting a modicum of personal responsibility for student learning. Shame on them for obfuscating what their resistance is really about. And double-shame on them for likening their selfish crusade to the noble acts of resistance of the Civil Rights era.
As you probably know, the teachers of Seattle’s Garfield High School are “boycotting” the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessment, which is required by the district. Ostensibly, their protest is about the overuse of tests, the instructional time that those tests devour, and the culture of soulless data-driven instruction that animates today’s brand of school reform.
Yet it’s hard to square their complaints with the actual test they decry, for the MAP is precisely the type of “good” assessment that many educators claim to favor. It’s instructionally useful; it provides instantaneous feedback to teachers and students alike; and it’s not used for high-stakes decisions on issues pertaining to students and schools.
The real reason the Garfield teachers attack the MAP, one must presume, is because it’s a small part of Seattle’s new teacher-evaluation system. (If students show low growth on the
Spanning a manageable 2,000 pages, this sixth edition of the National Council on Teacher Quality’s (NCTQ’s) annual teacher-policy yearbook focuses attention on states’ teacher-preparation policies (one of five areas tracked by NCTQ as part of this initiative). And, once again, NCTQ finds them wanting. Across the items investigated (including the rigor of admission requirements in teaching programs, student-teaching expectations, and accountability systems linked to the performance of prep programs’ alumni when they reach the classroom), the U.S. averages a D-plus. Only four states earn respectable marks (still a meager B-minus): Alabama, Florida, Indiana, and Tennessee. Three others (Alaska, Montana, and Wyoming) earn Fs. Looking closely at specific policies is even more depressing: Just three states (Indiana, Minnesota, and Tennessee) require high school teachers to pass content-area tests in their subjects without allowing loopholes (most of which are for math and science teachers). And Texas is the only state that norms its admissions exam to the general college-bound population (all others norm it to the prospective teaching population, setting a lower bar than for other college and university students). Still, NCTQ acknowledges that states are slowly moving in the right direction. In 2007, when the organization began scrutinizing these data, no state held its prep programs accountable for the quality of their graduates; today, eight do. And since 2011, fourteen states (including Ohio) have improved their teacher-preparation policies in some way. Kudos to NCTQ for continuing to spotlight one of
Bill and Melinda Gates funded possibly the most important K–12 research study of this generation.
Photo by Kjetil Ree.
The final report from the Gates-funded “Measures of Effective Teaching” project may prove to be the most important K–12 research study of this generation.
Many others have summarized its findings and opined on its various features, so I’ll only do that lightly here, spending more time on its implications. (See here for Amber and Daniela’s very good synthesis and here for the Washington Post story.)
It’s hard to believe that it’s taken this long for our field to undertake a research project of this level of sophistication on arguably the most important and confounding aspect of K–12 practice and policy: educator effectiveness.
The upshot is that we know far more than before about how to assess a teacher’s ability to improve the learning of students in his/her classroom. That means we now have the power to identify—in every state, district, and school—the teachers likeliest to help kids learn. The consequences for policy are profound.
We don’t yet know enough about how to find individuals who will eventually become great educators or how to train people to get there, but at least now we’re not flying blind. Some will argue
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.
Sign Up for updates from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute
- Core Knowledge Blog
- Daniel Willingham: Science and Education Blog
- Education Next Blog
- Getting Smart
- Gotham Schools
- Jay P. Greene
- Joanne Jacobs
- NACSA's Chartering Quality
- National Journal Education Blog
- NCTQ Pretty Darn Quick
- NCTQ Teacher Quality Bulletin
- Ohio Education Gadfly
- Politics K-12
- Quick and the Ed
- Rick Hess Straight Up
- The Corner
- The Hechinger Report
- Top Performers