Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Report and dissent 2: Teaching quality and NGA

The National Governors Association has released a new report on strengthening our P-12 education workforce. The proposals are thoughtful ideas about recruiting and retaining strong teachers and leaders, including differential pay for contributions in shortage areas and hard to staff schools, career ladders for teachers who want to continue working the classroom, stronger evaluations, and better data on working conditions.

This sturdy summary of major teaching quality ideas is worth close attention, and you can download it here.

That said, I think the NGA missed the most important teaching quality idea around: professional learning communities that change school cultures.

Those learning communities focus on individual student progress, with data, professional development, and leadership all reoriented to get results. They translate research-in-books into research-used-consistently-in-classrooms. They ensure that young teachers become confident long-term contributors to public education and allow devoted teachers at every stage to increasingly effective at their life's work.

The NGA ideas can make a contribution, but the central teaching quality issue is deepening the craft mastery of current educators, a deepening that happens best with the sustained, job-embedded, data-driven collaboration that characterizes the professional learning community approach.

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Updates and data on Kentucky education!