U.S. Supreme Court’s Janus Decision Criticized by Unions

June 29, 2018

On June 27, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 5-4 ruling in the much-watched Janus v. AFSCME case that was widely seen as a blow to unions, and to public sector unions in particular. The decision means that public employees will not have to pay agency fees (or “fair share” fees) to unions that represent them in collective bargaining, which could lead to a significant decline in both union membership and dues. Agency fees are distinct from regular union dues, and make up a significant share of union budgets.

The statements from the justices regarding the decision reflected a deep split among the nine Supreme Court justices...

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Teachers of Color Remain in High Demand, but Short Supply

June 1, 2018

Research shows that teachers of color help close achievement gaps for students of color and are highly rated by students of all races - a fact that is relevant in light of the release during May of data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

This year’s NAEP results show persistent achievement gaps between students of color and from low-income families and their peers who are White or from more affluent families. Although more teachers of color are being recruited across the nation, the pace of increase is slow and attrition rates are high, leaving growing gaps between the demand for such teachers and the supply...

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Additional Training Can Help Principals Have High Overall Accuracy in Teacher Observation Evaluations, Study Finds

February 24, 2018

More than 90 percent of teacher evaluations in schools include direct observations by principals. However, the evaluations are often subjective, and if principals are not properly trained, the results may not be a fair representation of a teacher’s performance. A recent study at the University of Missouri (MU) found that after completing training with the Network for Educator Effectiveness, principals improved their accuracy. Besides creating greater accuracy, the training also encouraged discussion among principals and teachers about measurable goals.

Christi Bergin, a research professor in the MU College of Education and one of the developers of the Network for Educator Effectiveness, says that improving teacher observation practices helps education leaders prioritize methods in a way that increases transparency...

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State Figures Show That Teacher Diversity Gap Is Large and Will Widen Following Trump’s Termination of DACA

February 24, 2018

A quarter of all students nationwide are Latinx (Latino or Latina), but less than 8 percent of the nation’s teaching workforce identify as such. On February 20, the Center for American Progress released new state-by-state figures showing that there is a Latinx teacher diversity gap in 40 of the 41 states with available data. In fact, the teacher diversity gap is larger for Latinx students than for other ethnic minority groups, and now the careers of tens of thousands of DACAmented teachers — and the education of hundreds of thousands of students-hang in the balance.

The states with the largest Latinx gap — California, Nevada, Arizona, and Texas — are also the states with the largest percentage of Latinx students. Teacher diversity, however, is becoming increasingly important in rural areas with fast-growing Latinx communities where diverse teaching workforces are extremely low...

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California Districts Report Another Year of Teacher Shortages

By Desiree Carver-Thomas, Learning Policy Institute February 24, 2018

This year, 2 in 5 new Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) teachers have not yet completed the preparation and requirements for a preliminary credential. In Stockton Unified, more than half of the new teachers are underprepared. And in Shoreline Unified-a rural Northern California district-just one of the five new teachers hired for the 2017-18 school year was fully credentialed. In these districts and throughout the state, many new teachers lack any experience teaching the subject or students they were hired to teach and are not even enrolled in a teacher preparation program. That’s according to a survey conducted last fall by the Learning Policy Institute (LPI), which found that persistent teacher shortages are once again leading districts to rely on underprepared teachers to fill classrooms throughout the state.

Shortages were not a problem for many districts during the Great Recession. During that time of budget cuts, California districts laid off teachers in droves. But with the passage of Proposition 30 and implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) in 2013, district budgets increased, allowing them to reinstate programs and classes lost to the Recession and to expand learning opportunities for students with the greatest needs...

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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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