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ECS TQ Update

April - May 2005

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Welcome to the TQ Update, a quarterly newsletter dedicated to providing information and resources on teacher quality related issues.

Teaching Quality Policy Center News
ECS welcomes Dr. TRICIA COULTER as the Director of ECS' new Teaching Quality and Leadership Institute. Dr. Coulter most recently served as Senior Policy Analyst at the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) organization, where she focused primarily on K-16 and teacher quality issues. Her projects there included the SHEEO Teacher Quality Initiative, funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, through which she worked with states on state or system level policy that affected teacher preparation. Dr. Coulter was also lead staff for SHEEO on the final phase of the project undertaken jointly by SHEEO and ECS titled Enhancing the Teaching Profession: The Importance of Mobility to Recruitment and Retention and the SHEEO K-16 Professional Development Collaborative, the group of state level personnel who coordinate the professional development grant programs under the No Child Left Behind Act, Title II, Part A. Dr. Coulter received her Ph.D. in Counseling and Education Psychology with a specialty area in Consultation from the University of Nevada, Reno. She can be reached at

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New Center Publications
On February 9, Virginia Governor Mark Warner launched the new NATIONAL PARTNERSHIP FOR TEACHING IN AT-RISK SCHOOLS, a collaboration between ECS, Learning Point Associates, and the Educational Testing Service. The Partnership seeks to raise national visibility about the importance of improving the quality of teaching in at-risk schools and to address the need to improve research, policy and practice related to staffing at-risk schools. The group will work with policymakers, education leaders, community agencies and other local, regional and national organizations to take on the issue at the state and local level. Read more about the Partnership's efforts in its inaugural report "Qualified Teachers for At-Risk Schools: A National Imperative."

With support from Washington Mutual, the Johnson Foundation and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, ECS has been addressing the use of TIME IN OUR SCHOOLS. For at-risk schools, in particular, it is important to find time to provide teachers with the support they need to succeed in a challenging environment and to assess and meet the needs of an academically and culturally diverse student population. ECS senior policy analyst, Michael Allen, has addressed the difficulty of restructuring the school-day schedule in a lead article featured in Johnson Foundation's newly published 2005 Wingspread Journal.

ECS has a new StateNote on the variety of FINANCIAL INCENTIVES states use to encourage teachers to teach in at-risk schools such as scholarships, forgivable loans and salary-related bonuses or increases. Education Week's Research Center also is a great resource on the issue. While these efforts have demonstrated success in attracting good teachers to at-risk schools in urban areas when the incentives have been large enough, though, they have not been as successful in encouraging teachers to teach in isolated rural areas. Only time will tell if such efforts are enough to attract and retain teachers in both urban and rural schools.

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Upcoming Center Meetings/Events
THE 2005 NATIONAL FORUM ON EDUCATION POLICY, to be held July 12-15 in Denver, Colorado, will feature sessions that allow participants to interact with some of the nation's leaders in efforts to improve the quality and responsiveness of teacher preparation. Registered participants also will explore ways to encourage, train, appropriately pay and support teachers to work in our most difficult schools -- and discuss how to create the political will to do so.

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Related ECS Activities
The recent NATIONAL EDUCATION SUMMIT ON HIGH SCHOOLS, sponsored by the National Governors Association and Achieve, in partnership with ECS, the James B. Hunt institute and the Business Roundtable, was attended by more than 40 of our nation's governors who laid out a five-point strategy for improving our nation's high schools. One of those five points is to "Give high school students the excellent teachers and principals they need by ensuring teachers and principals have the necessary knowledge and skills, and by offering incentives to attract and retain the best and brightest to the neediest schools and subjects."

The important role PARAPROFESSIONALS play in our nation's classrooms, and the need to help them reach qualified status under the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, is the focus of a new 12-month ECS project. This work, to be done in collaboration with the National Center for Teacher Transformation at St. Petersburg College, will produce the following: a central database of state responses to NCLB's paraprofessional requirements; a Web-based resource of the latest policy reports, issues and links to the research in the field; and a white paper drafted by a panel of experts on what constitutes an effective paraprofessional and paraprofessional education program.

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What States Are Doing
ALABAMA Governor Bob Riley is launching the Alabama Commission on Teacher Quality which will recommend ways to better support teachers, retain them in schools with the greatest needs and reward them for results. SOUTH CAROLINA Governor Mark Sanford proposed a budget request to require teachers who receive National Board Certification -- and the accompanying $7,500 raise -- to teach in critical need areas or subjects. TEXAS Governor Rick Perry supports dedicating new money to providing salary incentives as high as $7,500 a year to proven teachers when they "rekindle the love of learning among children too often left in the shadows of success." To read the latest about what governors are proposing, see ECS' summary of education-related proposals from the 2005 state-of-the-state addresses.

OHIO has established a system of "charter colleges of education" that are free from state regulation as long as they meet various performance criteria. The colleges were created to focus, in particular, on preparing teachers to teach successfully in low-performing schools, especially urban schools with large percentages of poor and minority children. Currently, three charter colleges have enrolled a total of 94 students: Wright State University, offers online courses to build on alternative licensure; Mahoning County ESC, which partners with Youngstown State University, focuses on teachers of students with severe disabilities; and College of Mount St. Joseph, which prepares teachers for Cincinnati Public Schools, focuses on the unique needs of urban students and schools.

In CALIFORNIA, one outcome of placing the Oakland Unified School District under state administration has been the revising of budgeting practices, specifically for the benefit of the district's lowest-performing, hardest-to-staff schools. While it is common for most school districts to ignore the actual cost of faculty salaries and allow schools to hire as many teachers as they need based on the size of the student population, every school in Oakland is now assigned a specific budget for teacher salaries that is based on the size of its student population, and schools are charged for actual salary costs of the teachers on their faculty. This makes it impossible for some schools to stockpile a significantly higher percentage of more experienced and more expensive teachers than other schools and is intended to result in much greater equity in faculty qualifications among all the schools in the district.

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Good Reads
"California's Hidden Teacher Spending Gap," a new report by The Education Trust-West, reveals the DISCREPANCIES IN SPENDING ON TEACHER SALARIES, between schools within the same district that serve a high percentage of poor and minority students, and those serving higher-income and white students.

A recent poll conducted for The Teaching Commission found that the public and teachers both respond quite favorably to PAYING HIGHER SALARIES to teachers willing to serve in high-poverty schools. The findings include public and teacher comment on the three aspects of the commission's reform agenda: increasing and changing teacher compensation, raising standards and increasing accountability, and improving professional development and training.

An intensive three-year collaboration in the Bronx by organized parents and teachers has led to an INNOVATIVE ATTEMPT TO IMPROVE TEACHER QUALITY in some of the city’s lowest-performing schools. This case study, prepared by the Center for Community Change and published by Grantmakers for Education, examines the relationship between the union, district and New York City Department of Education showing how those involved have come together to create a shared vision and priorities, resolved differences, and worked to improve teacher quality and retention, and thus close gaps in student achievement.

MOVING ALL STUDENTS -- particularly minority and low-income students -- to high levels of academic achievement is the topic of a 2004 report from the National Study Group for the Affirmative Development of Academic Ability. It provides a set of practical recommendations for what policymakers, educators, parents and the community can do to close the "experience gap" by addressing the out-of-school environment.

"Perspectives on the Gaps: Fostering the Academic Success of Minority and Low-Income Students" is the latest result of continuing efforts by the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory at Learning Point Associates to help ELIMINATE ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT GAPS between students of color and low income and their white and more affluent peers. The publication spotlights promising practices and presents preliminary evidence for reducing and eliminating the gaps, with a particular eye toward providing practitioners with ideas and strategies they can use at the school and district levels.

"The Market for Teacher Quality" contradicts that the MOST CAPABLE TEACHERS ARE THOSE MOST LIKELY TO LEAVE low-income urban schools. The study, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, found that the teachers who left inner-city schools in Texas between 1989 and 2002 were no more successful in raising their students' achievement scores on the statewide assessments than were the teachers who remained. It also found, however, that the vacancies in urban schools were likely to be filled by new teachers, whose inexperience makes them less effective than veteran teachers.

In "Sharing the Wealth: National Board Certified Teachers and the Students Who Need Them Most," the distribution of NATIONAL BOARD CERTIFIED TEACHERS (NBCTs) is explored. Part of a larger study of NBCTs in lower-performing schools, the article examines the distribution of these teachers in the six states with the largest number of them -- California, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio and South Carolina. It finds that, in each state other than California, poor, minority and lower-performing students are far less likely to benefit from the teaching of an NBCT than are their more affluent, majority, higher-performing peers. The authors include a set of policy suggestions for realigning this distribution.

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International Focus
The difficulty of RECRUITING AND RETAINING teachers in the schools that serve our most impoverished and vulnerable students is not limited to the United States alone. It also plagues other industrial nations and, although quite different in character, developing nations as well. To gain an understanding of the problem in Great Britain, read this article in the Centre for Economic Performance's CentrePiece, "Teacher Shortage: Another Impending Crisis?" To see how the problem manifests itself in developing nations, read the UNESCO report "Wanted! Teachers."

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Teaching quality is part of the Teaching Quality and Leadership Institute. The mission of the Institute is to provide resources to help state policymakers shape education policy on finding, keeping and developing highly effective teachers and education leaders.


To read more about Teaching Quality, visit the ECS Issue Site on Teaching Quality.

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