Some of the News Fit to Print
SCHOOL REFORM IN NEWARK
Newark and its teachers’ union deserve praise for the groundbreaking contract that the two sides have hammered out. The relatively calm negotiations that led up to the union’s ratification vote this week stood in sharp contrast to the vitriol that surrounded a similar agreement earlier this year in Chicago that led to a polarizing strike. The need to improve teacher performance has long been evident in Newark, whose perennially troubled schools do a particularly poor job of preparing its 37,000 students for higher education. According to the district, for example, the graduation rate is nearly 62 percent. But almost 90 percent of Newark Public School students who enter Essex County College, a community college, need remedial help in English and nearly all need remedial help in math. Despite this grim picture, school officials say, the current teacher evaluation system — based on haphazard observations by administrators — rates 95 percent of the district’s teachers as “effective.” The new contract, which raises starting and midlevel salaries, includes a rigorous evaluation process that takes student achievement into account. The editorial is inThe New York Times.
WHY DO SO MANY TEACHERS QUIT THEIR JOBS? BECAUSE THEY HATE THEIR BOSSES
What's the reason so many new teachers quit the profession or move to a different school? The heavy workload? Low salary? A paucity of classroom resources? An absence of autonomy? The "always-on," continually demanding nature of the work? None of the above. The main reason is their principals. To find out what factors influence novice teachers' decisions to leave the teaching profession, Peter Youngs, associate professor of educational policy at Michigan State University and Ben Pogodzinski of Wayne State University, working with two other colleagues at Michigan State, surveyed 184 beginning teachers of grades one through eight in eleven large school districts in Michigan and Indiana. Their study was recently published in Elementary School Journal. The researchers found that the most important factor influencing commitment was the beginning teacher's perception of how well the school principal worked with the teaching staff as a whole. This was a stronger factor than the adequacy of resources, the extent of a teacher's administrative duties, the manageability of his or her workload, or the frequency of professional-development opportunities. The article is in The Atlantic.
PROMOTING QUALITY TEACHING: NEW POLICY REPORT FROM ACCOMPLISHED CALIFORNIA TEACHERS
Approximately one-third of all new teachers in the United States leave the profession within five years, and veteran teachers are leaving at ever higher rates. Teacher attrition, which has grown by 50 percent in the past 15 years, costs the nation roughly $7 billion a year for recruiting, hiring, and inducting new teachers. With this revolving door of teachers and the resulting hemorrhage of resources, schools suffer from instability and students lose out on the opportunity to learn from high-quality teachers. Among the factors behind this high turnover are outdated teacher compensation systems and narrow career options for professional growth, according to a new report by Accomplished California Teachers (ACT), a teacher-leadership network based at Stanford. The report, Promoting Quality Teaching: New Approaches to Compensation and Career Pathways, is written by a group of master California teachers and draws from current research and best practices in the field to make recommendations on how to improve teaching quality by improving the systems that compensate them. The report is from the Accomplished California Teachers blog, InterACT.
ABOUT HIGHER ED
ELITE ONLINE COURSES FOR CASH AND CREDIT
A consortium of 10 top-tier universities will soon offer fully online, credit-bearing undergraduate courses through a partnership with 2U, a company that facilitates online learning. Any students enrolled at an “undergraduate experience anywhere in the world” will be eligible to take the courses, according to Chip Paucek, the CEO of 2U, which until recently was called 2tor. The first courses are slated to make their debut in the fall. After a year in which the top universities in the world have clambered to offer massive open online courses (MOOCs) for no credit, this new project marks yet another turning point in online education. It is the first known example of top universities offering fully online, credit-bearing courses to undergraduates who are not actually enrolled at the institutions that are offering them. The article is in Inside Higher Ed.