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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Survey Suggests School Districts Must Modernize and Improve Their Human Capital Practices

January 16, 2017

A Center for American Progress survey of national school districts’ human capital practices, released on December 22, reveals that most districts have not yet adapted their human capital systems to the modern labor market, despite the increasing importance of attracting talented teachers.

The CAP survey asked districts to describe how they recruit new talent, select whom to hire, induct new teachers, develop teachers’ skills, and measure and reward teachers’ success in the classroom. CAP’s report released compares the survey findings with examples of human capital best practices in other fields, and recommends that school districts adopt such practices used to attract talent, increase productivity, and improve outcomes within high-performing organizations.

“Every day, people who could become great teachers decide to enter other professions. The country’s most successful organizations know the value of human capital. If school districts want to hire excellent, diverse educators, they need to dedicate more resources to recruitment,” said Annette Konoske-Graf, Policy Analyst at CAP and co-author of the report...

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District Survey Underscores Struggles and Highlights Potential Solutions to Teacher Shortage Crisis

December 5, 2016

A new survey of California school districts reveals that the state’s teacher shortage has reached alarming levels, with 75% of surveyed districts indicating there are too few qualified teachers to fill their teaching vacancies. And most districts say the shortages are getting worse.

Districts say these shortages are driven by a declining supply of teachers, ongoing retirements, and high turnover. Although districts with higher populations of low-income and English learner students are getting hit the hardest, the crisis is affecting districts of all kinds. To address these shortages, many districts are hiring teachers with substandard credentials or leaving positions vacant. Most surveyed districts report they cannot find qualified math, science, and special education teachers, and more than one-third are experiencing shortages of elementary teachers – usually an area of surpluses...

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New Study Finds Many Teacher Prep Programs Maintain High Bar for Entry

November 21, 2016

A strong body of research, and the example of other nations, supports a relationship between student performance and the selectivity of admissions into teacher prep programs. Therefore, America’s institutions training teachers should set high standards to admit only the best candidates to become the teachers who will educate our nation’s future.

According to a new report by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), 25 states set high admissions standards in 2015, but many that increased admissions requirements indirectly through the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) admissions policies backed away from that higher standard for entry when CAEP agreed to let programs delay verifying their students’ academic ability until graduation. As a result, the number of states requiring an average GPA of 3.0 or higher before being admitted to a teacher prep program fell from 25 to just the 11 states which established strong admissions policies in state law. The number requiring a test taken by general college applicants (such as the ACT or SAT) dropped from 19 to three...

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Bill to Expand Affordable Housing for Teachers Signed by Governor

October 10, 2016

A measure authored by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and sponsored by the City of San Francisco to expand affordable housing options for teachers was signed by Governor Brown on September 27. SB 1413 will help California retain quality educators by allowing school districts to establish housing for teachers and employees on district-owned property.

"When high quality teachers can’t afford to live where they work, the entire community suffers,” said Senator Leno. “Governor Brown’s approval of SB 1413 will help school districts directly address the housing affordability challenges facing teachers and reduce high turnover rates."

SB 1413 establishes the Teacher Housing Act of 2016 to facilitate affordable housing programs for teachers and school employees throughout California. The bill authorizes school districts to establish housing on their property and restrict occupancy to teachers and school employees, while still accessing federal tax credits for affordable housing...

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