Part-Time Playground Positions Now Classified Employees

October 30, 2017

On October 2, 2017, Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill ("AB") 670, amending Education Code section 45103 to provide that employees in part-time playground positions (or "noon duty aides") must be included in the classified service, regardless of whether the employee serves in another classified position elsewhere within the district. This change will go into effect on January 1, 2018, and, due to what may have been a legislative oversight, will apply only to non-merit system school districts. The impacts of this bill could be significant for many non-merit system school districts, including those that have already incorporated noon duty aides into their classified employee unions and collective bargaining agreements.

Prior to the enactment of AB 670, employees in part-time playground positions were expressly excluded from the classified service, unless they also served in another classified position in the same district...

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New Report Provides Path Forward to Increase Teacher Diversity and Selectivity

October 2, 2017

A new report from the Center for American Progress finds that raising the competitive bar for entry into the modern teaching workforce does not need to come at the cost of simultaneously continuing to promote diversity in the teacher profession. CAP’s report identifies unique challenges and solutions to accomplish both goals, given the existing underrepresentation of people of color in the teacher pipeline and the rapidly increasing diversity of the student populations. The analysis also provides empirical evidence from states and individual education programs that have proven successful in achieving both aims.

“Racial diversity benefits everyone, whether it’s students or teachers. Developing proven and rigorous standards to increase selectivity within the teacher workforce and keeping the U.S. workforce competitive on an international scale does not – and should not – need to come at the cost of diversity within the teacher pipeline...

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Why Training Teachers in Social and Emotional Learning is Just as Important as the ABC’s

By Sarah Jackson - October 2, 2017

Children come to school with more than just their backpacks. They often bring worries about whatever’s going on at home, or anxieties about being in school or interacting with their peers. It’s the teacher’s job to help them learn to regulate these feelings, get support, and be ready to learn. Addressing children’s social and emotional needs is one of the hardest parts of any early learning teacher’s job. Yet it’s not something typically included in teacher preparation programs nor is it a priority for many principals.

The Franklin-McKinley School District in San Jose, Calif. is trying to change that through a unique series of professional development trainings for its early childhood teachers designed to build teachers’ skills in early literacy and social emotional development...

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Survey Finds Teachers of Color in Short Supply

October 2, 2017

A new analysis from the Center for American Progress (CAP) shows a staggering shortage of teachers of color in relation to the number of students of color. Although people of color constitute more than one-third of the U.S. labor force and student populations continue to diversify, less than 20 percent of teachers identify as people of color.

CAP’s 2017 column uses the most recent available data from state education agencies for the analysis.

Our analysis found that California has the largest gap – 40 percentage points – between nonwhite students and teachers. Other states with large percentages of nonwhite students also fare poorly in CAP’s analysis.

“All students, especially students of color, should see teachers of color in front of the classroom...

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Training Teachers to Implement a New Program? Go Slow, Study Finds

By Ross Brenneman - Rep: August 7, 2017

Considering the pace at which some districts scale up programs that have had at least some small success, new research has some big implications for what approaches teachers should use when implementing a new program.

In a study led by David M. Quinn, an assistant professor of education at USC Rossier, researchers found that as schools embrace programs that are scaling up, they’d do well to go by the book before tweaking it – at least at first. Then once teachers are familiar with a program, they should begin to adapt it to fit the particular environment of their schools, the study says.

“This study provides evidence that scaffolding the implementation of new programs for teachers helps them learn more, change their instructional practice and ultimately, helps their students learn more, too,” Quinn said...

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‘Principal Pipelines’ to Develop School Leaders May Be Affordable Way to Improve Schools, RAND Study Finds

July 10, 2017

Improving school leadership by better selecting, training and evaluating principals can be an affordable option for school districts that aim to reduce turnover and improve schools, according to a new report by the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation.

The first-of-its kind study examined how six large urban school districts are investing in their leaders through a concept called "principal pipelines." The idea is to help school districts develop a better preparation, hiring, evaluation and support system for principals to ensure they are effective. The Wallace Foundation funded the initiative.

While states and school districts are grappling with a shortage of highly effective principals for all schools, there has been little information about what level of resources would be required to do so...

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As Trump Proposes Cutting Funds for Teacher Professional Development, Study Shows It Can Boost Student Achievement

June 19, 2017

A study released on June 5 demonstrates how well-designed teacher professional development programs significantly improve student achievement, challenging the logic behind the Trump Administration’s proposal to eliminate funding for those programs.

The new report, Effective Teacher Professional Development, reviewed 35 scientifically rigorous studies conducted over the past 30 years which showed significant gains in student achievement resulting from teacher development programs. The programs shared seven common features: they were focused on the subject areas that teachers teach; incorporated active learning; supported collaboration; used models and modeling to demonstrate effective practice; provided expert coaching and support, offered opportunities for feedback and reflection, and were sustained in duration, often unfolding over months or years, rather than occurring in a single, “drive-by” after school workshop, as is often the norm...

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Researcher Examines How Teachers Lose Connections When They Move to a New Grade or Leadership Position

By Julie Deardorff - April 24, 2017

When teachers move to a new grade or lose a leadership position, the change can sever important work relationships, suggests new research from Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy.

Moreover, teachers generally don’t reconnect with each other, resulting in a ripple effect through the school, according to the study “Breaking Up Isn’t Hard to Do: Exploring the Dissolution of Teachers’ and School Leaders’ Work-Related Ties,” published in the journal Educational Administration Quarterly.

“Work ties do not occur in a vacuum,” said study lead author James Spillane, the Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Professor in Learning and Organizational Change in the School of Education and Social Policy...

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New Study Finds That, One Year Later, California Teacher Shortages Are Worse

February 27, 2017

A just-released follow-up to a January 2016 report on teacher shortages in California shows that shortages have worsened in the past year, with especially severe shortages continuing in special education, math, and science.

The report, Addressing California’s Growing Teacher Shortage: 2017 Update, was released by the Learning Policy Institute on February 8. The update compares data from 2015-16 with earlier data, finding that while roughly the same number of teachers are entering the profession each year, the increasing demand for teachers in California is far outpacing the supply.

“The updated data paint a disturbing picture, showing that enrollment in teacher preparation programs in California remains near historic lows while the number of underprepared teachers in classrooms has grown sharply over the last several years,” said LPI Research and Policy Associate Desiree Carver-Thomas, lead author of the report...

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The School Principal’s Role in Reducing Teacher Turnover

By Roxanne Garza - Rep: January 30, 2017

Recent debates about ensuring all students have effective teachers have largely centered on how to recruit, prepare, evaluate, and – more recently – develop them. But these efforts to “build a better teacher” will only succeed if we also succeed in retaining the teachers in which we’ve made these investments. And recent research strengthens the case that there’s one individual who is key to doing so: the school principal.

Nationally, about 1 in 6 teachers leave their schools annually, although attrition is generally more of an issue in low-performing schools. To be certain, some turnover can be beneficial, such as when teachers aren’t a good fit. But consistently high rates of turnover are detrimental for schools and their students, leading to poor staff morale and negatively impacting student outcomes. It’s also costly: states spend $1-2 billion on teacher turnover each year.

In order to help address this problem, researchers have explored a variety of factors that underlie teacher turnover. Of these factors, school working conditions – such as quality of school leadership and staff cohesion – appear to matter most in whether a teacher decides to stay or leave a school...

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