Posts Tagged ‘highly qualified teachers’

Legislative Update: ESEA Hearings, Education Jobs Bill, METRICS Bill

Friday, April 16th, 2010

Elementary and Secondary Education Act Reauthorization Hearings

This week the House and Senate held a number of hearings on issues ranging from data to turning around low performing schools to effective teachers and leaders. During Tuesday’s Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing on effective strategies for turning around schools Senator Patty Murray asked about the use of career pathways as a way to improve student achievement (beginning at the 115 minute mark). Robert Balfanz, a researcher from Johns Hopkins University, stated that career academies are one effective strategy that uses career pathways. He also stated that there is evidence that the students who do best in high school are those who take a college preparatory curriculum and a CTE concentration, however only 5% of student nationwide have that combination.

On Thursday the HELP Committee held a roundtable to hear about the problems facing teachers and principals. A key issue addressed by both committee members and witnesses is the need to move from “highly qualified teacher” requirements to defining “highly effective teachers.”

The House Education and Labor Committee held a hearing on Wednesday, “How Data Can Be Used to Inform Educational Outcomes.” Committee members acknowledged the vital importance of using data to improve student performance and teacher instruction, but were concerned about need to protect student privacy.

Keep Our Educators Working Act

Senator Tom Harkin introduced the Keep Our Educators Working Act of 2010 which would provide $23 billion for an “Education Jobs Fund,” modeled after the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund that was established in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  Money could be used for compensation and benefits and other expenses necessary to retain existing employees, and for the hiring of new employees, in order to provide early childhood, elementary, secondary, or postsecondary educational and related services; or on-the-job training activities for education-related careers. This bill is similar to the $23 billion included in the Jobs for Main Street Act which passed the House in December.

Senate Appropriations Hearing on Education Fiscal Crisis

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan testified in a hearing before the Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee this week to discuss the FY11 education budget and the fiscal crisis facing education. Duncan endorsed Senator Harkin’s proposed $23 billion education jobs fund (see above), saying “It’s the right thing to do at the right time for the right reasons.” Senator Harkin’s opening statement is available here.


This week Representative Rush Holt and Senator Sherrod Brown each introduced the Measuring and Evaluating Trends for Reliability, Integrity, and Continued Success (METRICS) Act in their respective chambers of Congress. The bill would authorize $65 million in competitive grants to states to improve the use of their statewide data systems and an additional $65 million for a competitive program to LEAs with low-performing schools to help build the capacity to use data to improve student outcomes.

By admin in Legislation
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Data Quality Campaign Releases Annual Survey on Elements of Longitudinal Data Systems

Friday, February 5th, 2010

In order to track student progress and answer critical policy questions, states have been developing longitudinal data systems. The Data Quality Campaign’s Compendium report provides a national overview on state progress toward implementing the ten elements below:

According to the report, data on course-taking and grades (element 6), college readiness test scores (element 7), and other feedback from post-secondary institutions (element 9) can help determine whether high school courses and graduation standards are aligned with college and workplace expectations.

By admin in Publications, Research
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Report: Big investment, little data on professional development

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

The nation spends about $9 billion annually on teacher professional development, however most programs do not provide nor do states ask for data demonstrating that such investments actually improve student learning, according to a recent National Governors Association Center for Best Practices issue brief.

At a time when educators and administrators are facing enormous pressures to boost student achievement, it is critical that training resources provided by state leaders are in fact effective in improving student achievement. Recent opportunities through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to fund professional development programs have lent some help to states, according to the issue brief. However, making the right investments that can provide the most impact on student achievement appears to be a challenge.

“Deficits exist with regard to the content and delivery of professional development, and continuing large investments in this system may not be justified unless improvements are made based on the limited research that is available,” according to State Policies to Improve Teacher Professional Development.

The brief notes that most professional development does not collect or offer data that could provide information on the impact programs have on student achievement. Thus, it outlines approaches states can take to improve the quality of teacher professional development by setting standards, implementing accountability strategies and identifying quality programs that encourage the implementation of effective professional development. Generally, the report outlines four core approaches to improving professional development systems:

o Gather and use student achievement data to assess the effectiveness of professional development;
o Use teacher evaluations and student learning data to create individualized professional development plans for teachers;
o Establish research-based state standards to create a vision for high-quality professional development; and
o Create an incentive-driven professional development initiative for teachers to acquire advanced skills.

Some states have made traction in regards to evaluating and monitoring professional development programs, according to the brief. For instance, Iowa requires the school districts to include in their professional development plans an evaluation piece that examines the impact programs have on student learning. In New Jersey, state standards mention the use of research-based professional development with a demonstrated ability to improve student learning.

In order for other states to follow such leads, the NGA Center notes that governors, state education leaders, higher education institutions, teachers associations and professional development providers must collaborate to make systemic changes. Perhaps, the nation’s current fiscal crisis may be the needed impetus to encourage a focus on wise investments in professional development, according to the brief.

By admin in Publications, Research
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ED Stakeholders Forum: Great Teachers and Leaders

Friday, October 16th, 2009

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Education held another of its monthly Education Stakeholders Forums, with this one focused on effective teachers and leaders.  Topics included how we ensure that all students have access to the best teachers, which measures are used to evaluate teacher effectiveness, and the importance of support and resources such as mentoring and professional development.

At the forum we also heard from a panel of outside speakers who each addressed which parts of NCLB worked and which parts were not helpful.  Arlene Ackerman, Superintendant of Philadelphia Public Schools, felt that teacher certification requirements and the highly qualified teachers (HQT) standards were the most effective components of NCLB.  On the other hand, she stated that not defining teacher competencies is a shortcoming of NCLB because being highly qualified does not mean that a teacher is effective.  Kay Brilliant of NEA agreed that the HQT standards were the most helpful part of NCLB, while for her, the least helpful part is NCLB’s emphasis on testing.  Dan Weisberg from the New Teacher Project said that NCLB did a good job of pointing out the inequities in the public school system by disaggregating data about disabled and ELL students, but that the law focused on the wrong levers to fix these problems.

The topic of the next forum will be “Promoting Innovation and Rethinking the Federal Role.”

By admin in Public Policy
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Highly Qualifed & CTE: Tough Economic Times Creating New Options

Saturday, June 20th, 2009

As I have traveled the country, one of the most common questions I get is about how NCLB highly qualified teacher (HQT) requirements impact CTE. NCLB statute and regulations do not require CTE teachers to meet the same requirements as academic teachers, in large part because so many CTE teachers come from industry and through alternative routes. States some latitude to define what highly qualifed means for CTE.  However, the HQT regulations related to academic teachers have had the unintendend consequence of limiting states’ ability to allow CTE courses to garner academic credit because if academic credit is awarded then the teacher teaching that class must meet academic HQT requirements.  Several states have developed innovative approaches to this challenge. Idaho invested in funding to CTE teachers certified in academic areas. New York negotiated a waiver to allow academic and CTE team teaching (strictly regulated) to meet the requirements. California is the latest state to offer up another option given challenges districts are facing due to tough economic times.

Below is a recently published article that summarizes the California option quite nicely.  This article was written by Allen Young of The Cabinet Report, a subscribers-only daily news source published by School Innovations & Advocacy . 

“LEAs have options on tech instructors meeting NCLB qualifications
By Allen Young

With districts looking for creative ways to address staffing needs, the California Department of Education issued advice this week reminding local educational agencies that a career technical education instructor can qualify as a ‘highly qualified teacher’ with authorization from the school board.

The issue has been raised repeatedly by districts that are struggling under the current budget crisis to match diminishing instructional resources with ever growing student needs and still meet federal goals under the No Child Left Behind Act.


“Amid massive layoffs throughout the state, people are trying to save their jobs and find out what they are credentialed for,” said Lynda Nichols, NCLB coordinator at CDE. “When a district decides to have one of these classes and the board approves it as a graduation requirement, it throws the non-NCLB course into NCLB [requirements].”  The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing said that if a school is granting graduation credit for a CTE class, then the instructor need only carry a CTE credential.

To qualify as a “highly qualified teacher,” the instructor must have a four-year college degree and hold a proper credential in their CTE subject area.

There are many examples of crossover classes that provide alternate forms of graduation credit. The CDE has clarified on their website the sections in law that describe the classes and credentials needed for career tech teachers to provide graduation credit and fulfill UC admission requirements.   

Here is a summary. 

The CDE guidance for CTE instructors satisfying NCLB is available here:

The CTE Frequently Asked Questions are available here:”



By admin in Public Policy
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