Teachers and Leaders
May 30, 2013
April 23, 2013
This interactive video profile of the Quakertown Community School District (QCSD) is the first of a series providing readers with a real-life, practical story about how district and school leaders are working to improve student learning outcomes through the effective use of digital learning. It examines how QCSD—a small, K–12 public school district in rural southeastern Pennsylvania—worked with important partners, including its local teachers’ union, to improve student outcomes using effective applications of technology and blended learning strategies. Throughout the interactive profile, there are short videos from district practitioners describing how they addressed specific issues.
Teacher and Leader Effectiveness in High-Performing Education SystemsReport (PDF)
March 16, 2011
The issue of teacher effectiveness has risen rapidly to the top of the education policy agenda, and the federal government and states are considering bold steps to improve teacher and leader effectiveness. One place to look for ideas is the experiences of high-performing education systems around the world. Finland, Ontario, and Singapore all have well-developed systems for recruiting, preparing, developing, and retaining teachers and school leaders, and all have attained high levels of student performance and attribute their success to their teacher-effectiveness policies. This report examines lessons from these high-performing systems that the United States can apply, and provides detailed descriptions of the policies from each system.
Transforming High Schools: Performance Systems for Powerful Teaching Policy Brief (PDF)
February 8, 2011
Teaching quality is recognized as the most powerful school-based factor in student learning. This does not mean, however, that all teachers have powerful effects on student learning. Considerable evidence points to the enormous variation in teaching practice as a fundamental problem in improving high schools. The national policy community recognizes that in order for the United States to compete in a global knowledge economy, the concentration and distribution of effective teachers in secondary schools must be dramatically improved. Fundamental policy questions remain unanswered, however, about what approaches are best to ensure teaching quality. This brief provides several recommendations for federal and state policymakers to support educator development in high schools.
Meeting the Challenge: The Role of School Leaders in Turning Around the Lowest-Performing High Schools Policy Brief (PDF)
January 18, 2011
As the national policy community has coalesced around the priority of graduating all students ready for college and careers, the challenge of improving the lowest-performing high schools serving the most challenged populations remains. This policy brief examines the limitations of previous high school reforms and describes new approaches showing promise in producing substantive changes in secondary level teaching and learning. It highlights the central role of school leaders and districts in creating high school learning environments that can engage and support students with widely divergent learning needs. The brief concludes with a set of policy recommendations for the design of coherent systems to build human capital and foster the conditions for high school transformation.
Call for Action: Transforming Teaching and Learning to Prepare High School Students for College and Careers Policy Brief (PDF)
August 12, 2010
The Online Learning Imperative: A Solution to Three Looming Crises in Education Issue Brief
Currently, K–12 education in the United States is dealing with three major crises, each of which on its own is capable of wreaking havoc on schools and communities around the nation, but together are an all-out perfect storm. Simultaneously, the U.S. education system is facing a growing workforce whose mounting needs for education and training will not be met by the nation’s current public education system; declining state fiscal revenues; and mounting teacher shortages, further crippling low-performing secondary schools. The time for merely rethinking and upgrading the role of technology in education has passed; policy decisions today must embrace a dramatic transformation of teaching and learning. Technology can no longer be thought of simply as an “add-on” tool in education, but rather an integral part of the total educational environment. This issue brief describes these looming crises and suggests ways that online learning can lead the U.S. education system out of them.
Writing to Read: Evidence for How Writing Can Improve Reading Report
April 14, 2010
Although some progress has been made in improving the literacy achievement of students in American high schools during the last twenty years, the majority of students still do not read or write well enough to meet grade-level demands. Poor literacy skills play a role in why many of these students do not complete high school. Among those who do graduate, many will not be ready for college or a career where reading and writing are required. These young people will find themselves at a serious disadvantage in successfully pursuing some form of higher education, securing a job that pays a living wage, or participating in social and civic activities. One often-overlooked tool for improving students’ reading, as well as their learning from text, is writing. This report identifies instructional practices in writing shown to improve students’ reading abilities and recommends ways that teachers can improve students’ reading skills through teaching writing.
Teaching for a New World: Preparing High School Educators to Deliver College- and Career-Ready Instruction Policy Briefs
November 3, 2009
It is well established that teacher quality is one of the most significant school influences on student achievement. Unfortunately, it is less clear how teacher preparation programs can prepare and recruit effective educators for every classroom. As the global economy demands that all students are college and career ready after high school, teachers must be educated and supported to instruct to this higher standard. Despite pockets of excellence across the country in the ways teachers are prepared in both traditional and alternative routes, there is a need for a new, comprehensive vision. This brief offers a new conception for secondary teacher preparation that ensures candidates are able to prepare students for college and career success after high school, encourages a shift to the skills, knowledge, and competencies candidates should have once they become classroom teachers of record, highlights the need for improved teacher performance assessments and data systems, and contemplates how federal policy can support the realization of these goals.
Achieving a Wealth of Riches: Delivering on the Promise of Data to Transform Teaching and Learning Policy Briefs
August 13, 2009
It is clear that throughout the nation, teaching and learning must be transformed to ensure all students are graduating from high school ready for college and careers. While many policy discussions focus on data-driven decisionmaking as the answer, too often these conversations do not include how classroom teachers can and should use data to improve instruction, the kinds of data that would be most useful to teachers, and the challenges inherent in teachers’ use of data. Ensuring that teachers are rich in data, information, and skills that enable them to improve student achievement requires focused attention from leaders at all levels, including federal policymakers. This brief addresses why using data represents a significant shift for most teachers in how they perform their jobs; explains the importance of using multiple types of data to affect learning; details the infrastructure necessary to encourage teachers’ use of data; and provides federal policy recommendations.
The chapters below are from Meaningful Measurement: The Role of Assessments in Improving High School Education in the Twenty-First Century Report
June 23, 2009
Jan Chappuis, Stephen Chappuis, and Richard Stiggins of the ETS Assessment Training Institute describe the characteristics of formative assessment, with a particular focus on those formative assessment practices that engage and empower students in their own learning, or assessments for learning. They also describe challenges related to the effective use of formative assessment and recommended actions for policymakers.
Erin Martin Gohl, Daniel Gohl, and Mary Ann Wolf of the State Educational Technology Directors Association describe how the use of technology to assess students and to record and analyze performance can result in timely, appropriate, and individualized instruction for all students. They highlight some of the innovative approaches in using technology to assess student progress, address current challenges in the use of technology, and provide recommendations to federal policymakers to overcome those challenges.
From No Child Left Behind to Every Child a Graduate Report (PDF)
August 28, 2008
This report outlines the Alliance for Excellent Education’s Framework for Action to Improve Secondary Schools, which reflects the consensus among educators, researchers, policymakers, and other authorities on the specific problems of secondary schools, as well as on the research- and best-practice-supported solutions to those problems. Taken together, the seven policy areas contained within the framework offer a comprehensive and systemic approach to secondary school reform.
Improving the Distribution of Teachers in Low-performing High Schools Policy Briefs (PDF)
April 10, 2008
Inequitable [teacher] distribution is a problem at all grade levels, but some aspects are more pronounced in high schools.... Overall, the key to solving distribution problems is to act comprehensively, by significantly increasing the supply of teacher candidates where shortages exist, improving the recruitment and hiring process, and retaining effective teachers in low-performing high schools. Understanding the dynamics of the teacher labor market can ensure that strategies actually impact teachers’ decisions concerning where to work and how long they stay. Although states and districts have the most influence over teacher policies, federal law can also help improve the distribution of teachers by supporting and encouraging good recruitment and retention practices at the state and local levels.
Measuring and Improving the Effectiveness of High School Teachers Issue Briefs (PDF)
March 25, 2008
Most education reformers agree that effective teaching is defined by improving student learning, but they disagree on how to measure teacher effectiveness and how to use those measurements to improve teaching. Thus far, most of the policy debate on teacher effectiveness has focused on using test scores to implement merit pay or to fire teachers, but those strategies alone will not lift teacher performance on a large scale. In order to improve high school teaching, educators and policymakers must first invest in solid, objective ways to measure a teacher’s effectiveness. Currently, many experts believe that the best method is to use “value-added” analysis, a statistical method described in more detail in this brief.
What Keeps Good Teachers in the Classroom? Understanding and Reducing Teacher Turnover Issue Briefs (PDF)
February 26, 2008
Teachers are crucial to the success of our students. Yet many of them are leaving their schools and the profession every year, particularly in poorer, lower-performing schools. Several studies have attempted to identify why teachers leave and how to stem their turnover, but few have identified the quality of teachers who are departing. As in any profession, not all attrition is bad, but whether bad or good, it has financial ramifications. This brief explores the costs associated with teachers leaving the profession and their schools, the characteristics of those likely to leave, and what can be done to prevent unnecessary and costly turnover.
Increasingly, federal and state leaders are using longitudinal data systems for both policymaking and school improvement. In response, states are investing more resources in the systems’ design, development and use.... One of the most crucial discussions taking place is how to link teacher and student data and the benefits of doing so. Until recently, most states have used these data systems separately, but by linking them, much more can be learned about effective teacher preparation and “what works” to improve teaching and learning in districts, schools and classrooms.
High School Teaching for the Twenty-first Century: Preparing Students for College Issue Briefs (PDF)
September 12, 2007
Studies show that college remediation rates are high and college completion rates are low, signaling that a fundamental disconnect exists between the way that high school teachers prepare their students for the future and what students truly need to know to meet the demands of college. Decades of reform have focused on restructuring high schools or increasing course requirements for graduation, but the nation has so far failed to address the biggest factor in improving student success—the type of teaching that occurs inside the classroom. High School Teaching for the Twenty-first Century: Preparing Students for College focuses on policy-related issues concerning college readiness—meaning the course work and teaching needed to prepare students for most two- and four-year programs that lead to an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree, respectively. A sustained focus on college readiness can inform, assess, and improve high school teaching for the twenty-first century.
Literacy Instruction in the Content Areas: Getting to the Core of Middle and High School Improvement Report (PDF)
June 12, 2007
Today, more than six million of the nation’s secondary school students fall well short of grade-level expectations in reading and writing. Recognizing the urgency of this literacy crisis among middle and high school students, policymakers in all parts of the country have begun to implement a wide range of new programs and services designed to help struggling adolescent readers catch up in essential literacy skills, particularly reading fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. However—and as this report argues—if students are to be truly prepared for the sophisticated intellectual demands of college, work, and citizenship, then these reforms will not be enough. Even as their schools help them to catch up in the basics, students also must be taught the advanced literacy skills that will enable them to succeed in the academic content areas—particularly the core content areas of math, science, English, and history.
Teacher Quality Fact Sheet Fact Sheets (PDF)
February 1, 2006
Teachers make the greatest impact on students—what they learn, how they learn it, and what they do with it. Decades of research clearly demonstrate that a quality teacher, more than any other factor, enables students to overcome obstacles to learning (like poverty) and can even erase the achievement gap. The problem is that many teachers lack the skills and opportunities they need to become high-quality educators. And those who are most qualified work in schools where students are doing fairly well on their own.
Profiles in Leadership: Innovative Approaches to Transforming the American High School Report (PDF)
October 3, 2004
Profiles in Leadership: Innovative Approaches to Transforming the American High School is a collection of essays written by some of America's foremost education innovators, including former Virginia Governor Mark Warner, former U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley, and Melinda French Gates. It presents valuable perspectives from a range of influential educators, foundation executives, and public officials.
Some of America’s foremost education innovators lay out a bold vision for secondary school leadership in a collection of essays released by the Alliance for Excellent Education. Profiles in Leadership: Innovative Approaches to Transforming the American High School presents valuable perspectives from a range of influential educators, foundation executives, and public officials.
Tapping the Potential: Retaining and Developing High-Quality New Teachers Report (PDF)
June 23, 2004
American schools spend more than $2.6 billion annually replacing teachers who have dropped out of the teaching profession. At a Capitol Hill briefing on June 23, the Alliance for Excellent Education released a new report which cites comprehensive induction, especially in a teacher's first two years on the job, as the single effective strategy to stem the rapidly increasing teacher attrition rate.
The report, Tapping the Potential: Retaining and Developing High Quality New Teachers includes federal policy recommendations, in-depth analysis of new teacher induction practices, and four case studies: Connecticut BEST, Santa Cruz New Teacher Project (California), Tangipahoa FIRST (Louisiana), and The Toledo Plan (Ohio).
Reading for the 21st Century: Adolescent Literacy Teaching and Learning Strategies Issue Briefs (PDF)
January 1, 2004
Young people need to develop strong literacy skills to communicate effectively, gain respect from peers and authority, participate in their communities in a meaningful way, and fully contribute to society. Building literacy, therefore, goes far beyond improving a child’s ability to read and write. It speaks to the larger societal issues of access and equity. In our society, being literate opens doors, allowing one to access power, and in many cases, helps to level the playing field. However, approximately 1 in 4 young people are struggling to read and comprehend grade level textbooks and subject matter materials as they enter middle and high school.
The Literacy Coach: A Key to Improving Teaching and Learning in Secondary Schools Report (PDF)
November 9, 2003
Helps to develop an understanding of what works in successful programs, as well as successful strategies for training effective literacy coaches.
New Teacher Excellence: Retaining Our Best
August 1, 2003
Out of Print
(For information on teacher retention, see Tapping the Potential: Retaining and Developing High-Quality New Teachers).
New Teacher Excellence: Retaining Our Best examines what we know about effective induction programs and offer examples of programs around the nation that might serve as models for others. It argues that by implementing effective mentoring and professional development programs for new teachers in schools across the country, we greatly increase our chances of retaining the teachers who are coming into the profession as the result of a variety of recruitment efforts. For the sake of all of our nation’s children—and in particular those at highest risk—we must not only attract excellent teachers, we must also keep them.