Officials of the U.S. Department of Education are hoping to work with Congress to introduce a new program that will alter the reporting requirements currently used to evaluate teacher quality. Since the late 1990’s, states and higher education have been required to report on teacher preparedness under standards set in Title II of the Higher Education Act. Currently, Title II requires institutions to gather roughly 440 data points from teacher-candidates in the admission process, thought by opposers to merely burden institutes with useless data. The president’s 2012 budget request addresses the need for a new formula to measure the outcomes of teacher-candidates with the new $185 million program, called the Presidential Teaching Fellows program.
The Presidential Teaching Fellow program embraces a new mode of thought that measures teacher effectiveness, not by higher education teacher preparation, but rather outcome-based indicators that are evident in their students. Officials are looking to add three new measures to judge teacher effectiveness:
1. Achievement growth of students taught by program graduates;
2. Graduate job-placement and retention rates; and
3. Graduate and employer satisfaction.
The movement has already sparked controversy in the K-12 systems due to the doubt “such information can be used validly and reliably to judge teachers.” As more budget cuts get proposed and student achievement scores plummet or plateau, policies on the state and national level are having to rearrange their financial priorities. Currently, only three states have laws that protect new teachers from the common action taken by districts known as “last-in, first-out” or “last teacher hired, first teacher fired.” Michelle Rhee recently drew attention to the need to hold on to great teachers by launching StudentsFirst.org’s new campaign “Save Great Teachers.”
On CBS’ The Talk, Rhee said because of the economic crisis, budget cuts, and lay-offs it is crucial we hold on to great teachers. Similar to the president’s new proposal that suggests student quality is directly linked to teacher quality, Rhee’s new campaign measures teacher-effectiveness by student outcomes. Rhee asks parents to follow three steps to get involved with the campaign: