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studentsThe ECS teaching quality and leadership staff strives to keep policymakers on the leading edge of what's happening with state teaching quality systems by gathering, analyzing and disseminating information about current and emerging issues, trends and innovations in state educational teaching quality policy and system designs.

Purpose and scope

Provide state policymakers and education leaders with high-caliber information to advance the quality of teaching and leadership. Subject areas include, but are not limited to:

  • Certification and licensure
  • Compensation and diversified pay systems
  • Teacher preparation, recruitment, and retention
  • Teacher and principal leadership
  • Professional development

Goals and Objectives

Collaborate with others to explore, create and disseminate new research, model policies, and innovative practices that will lead to greater levels of student learning


  • Provided leadership and raised awareness around the concept of “Pay for Performance” in The Progress of Education Reform (December 2011)
  • Assisted with data, research, and analysis – delivered customized TQL technical assistance, information, policies, and implementation strategies for state policymakers
  • Provided leadership and raised awareness in the preparation of the Events Summary and Recommendations generated at the National Summit on the Role of Education in Economic Development in Rural America (July 2011)
  • Contributed to the creation of a website devoted to Teacher Leader Model Standards,
  • Played a major part in planning the July ECS National Forum, the Academy for Governors’ Education Policy Advisors (GEPA’s) in January, and May’s National Summit on the Role of Education in Economic Development in Rural America

Recent documents:

More on Pay-for-Performance
This issue of The Progress of Education Reform describes “pay-for-performance” (PFP) models and presents recent research findings and their implications for policy. It looks at PFP systems broadly and includes not only systems that provide rewards for increased student achievement, but also for other tasks such as engaging in professional development and taking on added roles and responsibilities. (October 2011, Barbara Thompson and Paul Baumann)

Pay for Performance Proposals in Race to the Top Round II Applications
The Education Commission of the States reviewed all 36 Race to the Top (RttT) Round II applications. Each of the 36 states that applied for Round II funding referenced pay for performance under the heading of "Improving teacher and principal effectiveness based on performance." The majority of states outlined pay for performance initiatives to be implemented upon receipt of RttT funds. Key takeaways from the 36 applications are reviewed in this paper. (Stephanie Rose, July 2010)

The Progress of Education Reform: Teacher Merit Pay
The idea of merit pay programs for educators has been around for several decades and it is starting to be implemented in a growing number of districts around the country. But we have to ask: What do we really know about the impact of merit pay on students? This issue of The Progress for Education Reform looks at what impact some of these merit programs have had on student learning. (Michael Griffith, Education Commission of the States, June 2010)

Teacher Effectiveness and Evaluation
Teacher Evaluation: New Approaches for a New Decade
Whether spurred by the hope of Race to the Top funds or the research showing that students in ineffective teachers' classrooms do not make the academic gains of children taught by more effective educators, a number of states have enacted legislation in the last year to amend teacher evaluation policies. This ECS policy brief provides highlights of these new provisions.

The Progress of Education Reform: Teacher Leaders
This issue of The Progress of Education Reform discusses the roles teacher leaders can play; how they can contribute to overall school and student success; how some states are formally supporting teacher leaders and the concept of teacher leadership; and policy implications and recommendations for state policymakers on how to explore and/or expand teacher leadership in their states.

Browse the Issue Site on the subject of Teacher Quality

State-Set Limits on Superintendent Contracts
Costly superintendent contract buy-outs and early terminations are increasingly in the news. This compilation captures both the landscape of current state policy and new elements that could help limit potential taxpayer liability and promote transparency in district leader contracts. (Kathy Christie, August 2011.

Teacher Tenure or Continuing Contract Laws
More state legislatures are beginning to embed teacher performance evaluation in decisions to grant tenure or to explicitly state the terms of contracts. And an increasing number of states are distinguishing between renewal at the end of a teacher's contract and dismissal during the term of a contract. This document updates ECS' 50-state look at teacher tenure and continuing contract laws. (Kathy Christie and Jennifer Dounay Zinth, Education Commission of the States, August 2011)




Past Projects:  
ib cover International Benchmarking Toolkit
In July of 2008, at the National Forum on Education Policy in Austin, Texas, the Education Commission of the States (ECS) released From Competing to Leading: An International Benchmarking Blueprint. This blueprint was created in response to growing concerns about the quality of education students in the United States are receiving and the lack of workforce competitiveness our students face, compared to students in other countries around the world. The Blueprint serves as an action guide, recommending essential policy components that would enable states, districts and schools to craft new and adjust existing policies proven to demonstrate world-class performance.
rural summit

The first National Summit on the Role of Education in Economic Development in Rural America was convened by the Education Commission of the States (ECS) on May 4, 2011, in Washington, DC. This event was a collaborative effort by ECS with the U. S. Department of Education and U. S. Department of Agriculture and was sponsored by AT&T, Archer Daniels Midland, and the National Education Association.

This “Rural Summit” produced recommendations under the headings of “State and Local” and “Federal” in the following categories:

  • Rural Infrastructure
  • Flexibility in Implementing Rural Improvement Strategies
  • Lack of Job Opportunities in Rural America
  • General/Cross-cutting

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