Ensuring teachers are real participants and partners in reform

Recently, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan pointed out, “Teachers need and deserve more autonomy and respect–and they must become real participants and partners in reform if outcomes for children are to dramatically improve.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Recently, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan pointed out, “Teachers need and deserve more autonomy and respect–and they must become real participants and partners in reform if outcomes for children are to dramatically improve.”

We couldn’t agree more.

In a new CTQ report, “Teaching Effectiveness for the New Millennium,” 23 expert teachers describe how policymakers can more accurately define student learning and advance teaching effectiveness reforms. They emphasized that policymakers must capitalize on the untapped potential of classroom leaders.

The teachers’ insights–informed by research and their classroom experience–were inspired by online conversations with a group of key USDOE staff and with Secretary Duncan. The teachers began by unpacking the Department’s ESEA “blueprint” — but soon honed in on the significance of hybrid teaching roles in implementing new reforms with veracity and fidelity.

All co-authors are members of CTQ’s Teacher Leaders Network, and several participate in our New Millennium Initiative. Drawing upon research and their teaching expertise, they highlight promising steps by the USDOE and also call for specific teaching effectiveness reforms, including:

  • Involve teacher leaders in creating and scoring assessments aligned with Common Core standards throughout the school year. These assessments could help teachers fine-tune instruction and could inform results-oriented teaching evaluations.
  • Draw upon and spread the expertise of National Board Certified Teachers, who have met rigorous standards and demonstrated skill in analyzing student evidence to improve instruction.
  • Promote and support hybrid roles that allow teacher leaders to continue building upon their classroom skills while also serving as teacher educators, policy researchers, community organizers, and trustees of their profession. Our nation needs more teacherpreneurs if we are to take innovative steps to improve our schools.
  • Develop new forms of shared school leadership to support teaching effectiveness, like tapping expert teachers to serve as peer reviewers in implementing high-quality, rigorous classroom evaluations.

Just yesterday, I was reading a newly released study that examines the effectiveness of high-quality peer review programs, such as California’s Poway and San Juan districts. The researchers found that, when compared to principals, teachers are far more thorough and tough-minded in evaluating their colleagues. Expert teachers “get” the job of teaching–and what it takes to do that job well.

Kudos to Secretary Duncan and his staff for engaging in an authentic conversation with some of the nation’s best teachers. Now let’s find ways–including more robust peer review programs–for teacher leaders to become the “real participants and partners” in reform.