“Separation of Degrees”: New Report Questions Compensation for Master’s Degrees

A new analysis by the Center on Reinventing Public Education and the Center for American Progress suggests that school districts should rethink paying teachers for receiving master’s degrees.  It argued that master’s degrees have little or no relation to student achievement in the classroom, and concluded that strategically, the “master’s bump” makes little sense.

SMHC supports a compensation system that rewards teachers based on measures of teachers’ performance, provides additional incentives for teaching in content shortage areas and high need schools, and provides bonuses for improving student achievement.  Salary incentives for master’s degrees could be appropriate but only in a teacher’s area of licensure.  SMHC also argues that new teacher salary schedules can be created that use scores from a performance-based teacher evaluation system to trigger the largest pay increases. 

To download the full report, go to: Separation of Degrees: State-By-State Analysis of Teacher Compensation for Master’s Degrees.

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Jerald Paper on Role of Teacher Compensation Reform to Boosting Student Achievement

On Tuesday, July 14, the Center for American Progress held an event on leveraging compensation reform for school improvement. The panelists included Craig Jerald, president of Break the Curve Consulting. Jerald’s 2009 report, “Aligned by Design: How Teacher Compensation Reform Can Support and Reinforce Other Educational Reforms,” is the best new writing on teacher compensation based on strategic HR strategies in the private sector. His work draws on the Consortium for Policy Research in Education’s (CPRE) decade and a half of research on new approaches to teacher compensation, performance and standards-based teacher evaluation systems, HR alignment, and strategic human capital management.

“Aligned by Design” shows that an effective teacher compensation systems needs to be aligned with other parts of the human capital management system. To demonstrate this, Jerald examines the Teacher Advancement Program (TAP). TAP successfully aligns compensation systems with other parts of the human capital management system by carefully employing strategies that include teacher evaluation, ongoing professional development, and differentiated pay to create “teacher-leaders” who help improve teacher evaluations, professional development, and school improvement planning.

Jerald’s paper is a must read for federal policymakers revising regulations for the federal TIF program; for state policymakers considering new approaches to new teacher compensation systems; and districts looking to position teacher compensation reform as part of talent and human capital management reform.

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Odden Offers States Guidance at ECS National Forum

SMHC Co-Director Allan Odden spoke today at the Education Commission of the States’ 2009 National Forum on Education Policy on state strategies for enhancing teacher effectiveness. Odden provided an overview of key findings from the SMHC Case Studies, released in 2008, and how these findings are impacting SMHC’s work in 2009.

State strategies to improve teacher effectiveness and increase student learning have been a focus of SMHC in 2009. The SMHC State Reform Network is working diligently to identify key state policies and practices that can support local implementation of district SMHC reforms. The Network is also working to assist states in enacting the necessary laws and policies to implement these reforms. Additionally, SMHC developed a state roadmap that gives states guidance on addressing teacher and principal quality and effectiveness for Race to the Top proposals.

Van Roekel Urges NEA to Act in “Economic Crisis”

In his July 3 Representative Assembly keynote speech, Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association (NEA) and SMHC Task Force member, addressed the economic and social challenges currently threatening education in the United States. He called on NEA’s leadership to focus its energies in three areas:

  1. Leading the efforts to transform public education
  2. Helping to rebuild to middle class by strengthening the labor movement
  3. Building the NEA’s capacity as an organization, so as to further increase its influence

Van Roekel also expressed the NEA’s positions on the hot topics in education today, including accountability and compensation. On accountability, he emphasized that NEA’s members “overwhelmingly believe that they should be accountable for what happens in the classroom,” but stressed the need to hold accountable students, parents, school administrators, communities, and policymakers, as well. On compensation, he mentioned many members’ willingness to consider alternatives to the current systems. To read the full speech, please visit http://www.nea.org/grants/33729.htm.

Other relevant resources from the NEA are also available in the Other Resources section of the SMHC Web site.

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Cincinnati’s Teacher Evaluation System Hailed by New CAP Report

In “So Long, Lake Wobegon?,” a recent report from the Center for American Progress, Morgaen L. Donaldson examines the potential of teacher evaluation systems to raise teacher quality. The report specifically focuses on Cincinnati’s Teacher Evaluation System (TES) as a program that addresses many of the problems that afflict present teacher evaluation systems, and may therefore positively impact teacher and student learning. The SMHC staff at the Consortium for Policy Research in Education, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison helped Cincinnati design, formatively evaluate, and implement its TES, hailed by Donaldson as the best in the country. CPRE’s evaluation of the system focused on the implementation of five significant changes to TES after its initial year. Major changes were:

  1. Revisions of the standards and rubrics to improve ease of use, improve consistency of language across rubric levels, and reduce sources of ambiguity.
  2. Limiting the scope of coverage of the comprehensive evaluation to new teachers, teachers in their third year as a novice (Novice 3), teachers seeking continuing contracts or lead teacher credentials, teachers on intervention, and volunteers.
  3. Reducing the number of classroom observations for the comprehensive evaluation from 6 to 5 to reduce evaluator workload. New hires and teachers on intervention will continue to have 6 observations.
  4. Requiring evaluators to meet a standard of agreement with a set of master raters (‘certification’ of evaluators) to improve inter-evaluator consistency.
  5. Increased emphasis on the annual observation process, including more intensive training for teachers, a focus on the same standards for all teachers each year, and professional development focused on these standards, to help prepare teachers for comprehensive evaluation starting in 2005-2006.

The CAP report also discusses the validity of these performance-based teacher evaluation systems, and the question of whether teachers with higher evaluation scores produce more student learning gains. SMHC researcher Anthony Milanowski, who helped evaluate TES, found that in Cincinnati performance ratings were correlated with value-added estimates of student learning in math and reading over the three years of the evaluation. Correlations averaged .35 for reading and .32 for math. This is a stronger relationship than has typically been found in research on evaluation systems in education, and is comparable to the typical relationship between evaluation scores and objective performance found in research on systems in the private sector.

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Weingarten to Head Up Teacher-Evaluation Task Force

In an interview with Education Week last week, Randi Weingarten, president of American Federation of Teachers and SMHC Task Force member, revealed she will head up a teacher-evaluation task force with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The task force is believed to be part of the Foundation’s new strategy as revealed in early 2009, which focuses on the development of effective teachers. According to Weingarten, the task force had some “great discussions,” and she thinks everyone will be “surprised” by its results.  The task force will aim to address disparities in teacher effectiveness, and identify ways for teachers to implement successful practices in the classroom to improve student achievement.

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Sir Barber Offers Prichard Committee Lessons on Importance of Principal and Teacher Quality

Sir Michael Barber, Vice Chair of the SMHC task force, head of McKinsey & Company’s Global Education Practice, executive director of the Education Delivery Institute in Washington, D.C., and a former top advisor to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, was featured at a recent meeting of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence in Louisville, KY.  Barber stated that in order for any education system to be world class, it needed to address:

  1. Standards and accountability
  2. Human capital
  3. Structure and organization

He also laid out the following four principles for improving education systems:

  1. The quality of an education system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers.
  2. The only way to improve student outcomes is to improve instruction.
  3. High performance requires every child to succeed.
  4. Great leadership at the school level is a key enabling factor.

He pointed out that the Human Capital part of the education puzzle includes recruiting great people and training them well, continuously improving pedagogical skills and knowledge, and providing great leadership at the school level.  All of these ideas are parallel to the SMHC principles and have been outlined in the “What is SMHC?” paper.  The State and District Roadmaps for Federal “Race to the Top” Proposals offer states and districts a framework for addressing these human capital issues in policies and practices.

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Allan Odden Offers Insights on How to “Fast-Track Rising Teacher Stars”

In this op-ed in Education Week, Allan Odden, SMHC Co-Director, offers insights on innovative ways to manage teacher-salary structures. SMHC advocates that schools and teachers be strategically managed around measures of student performance and measures of teaching performance. Odden argues that from adequate measures of teachers’ performance in the classroom, we can implement pay schedules that both reward excellent performance and increase teachers’ skills.

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New Report Mobilizes for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Education

Today, the Carnegie Corporation of New York – Institute for Advanced Study Commission on Mathematics and Science Education released a new report, “The Opportunity Equation: Transforming Mathematics and Science Education for Citizenship and the Global Economy.” This report – which makes recommendations to “do school differently” and “mobilize for excellence in mathematics and science education” – is the culmination of two years of work by a distinguished Commission of 22 mathematicians, scientists, educators, public officials, and business and nonprofit leaders. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan expressed his support for the report at its launch today, while SMHC and several organizations represented on the SMHC Task Force – including the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, and The New Teacher Project – also signed a statement to show their support for the report’s objectives.

“The Opportunity Equation” includes a section on the human capital needs for implementing its various recommendations, and cites extensively the work of SMHC, with references to our “What is SMHC?” paper and the SMHC Case Studies.

SMHC applauds the Carnegie Corporation and its Commission for the inclusion of these important SMHC resources in its critical report.  We encourage the SMHC Task force and others to study “The Opportunity Equation” and consider adopting its many recommendations to improve science and math teaching and learning in American schools.

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“Wanted: Talented People in Our Schools”

On May 27, Allan Odden, co-director of SMHC, was a guest on Schoolhouse Talk. Citing the SMHC Case Studies, Odden reminded listeners that contrary to popular belief, it is not “in the DNA of urban districts to have low levels of teacher and principal talent.” The first step to addressing the problems of recruitment and retention we see in urban districts is to implement innovative recruitment systems and intensive, comprehensive teacher induction programs. To hear more, listen to the full segment here.

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