The Talk of the Nation

The Talk of the Nation

How best to assess teachers and the topic of bullying has become a topic of national debate.

There is no doubt from all perspectives that measuring the effectiveness of teachers is key to improving today's schools. During these fiscal times, no administrator can forget that salaries and benefits are typically over 75 percent of a district's budget, and the recent PISA standings reaffirm that something has to change in U.S. education. Teacher quality is paramount.

Beginning in 2001 with the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act, accountability was mandated by measuring student performance on state standardized tests. Although high-quality teachers were part of the discussion, the practice of measuring teacher quality to award bonuses or tenure did not come into play until the Obama administration began connecting federal grants to this practice. Some districts within states that won federal grant money, however, may have bitten off more than they can chew. District leaders with good intentions promised to sign on to school reform, the requirement for winning RTTT grant money, but some are dropping out, claiming that teacher-assessment requirements are too drastic for their school culture. How best to assess teachers has become a topic of national debate, so we asked Elizabeth Duffrin to write about it in "What's the Value in Value-Added?"

Another topic that has become part of the national conversation is bullying. A recent rash of homophobic bullying has caused several students to take their own lives, eliciting strong reactions from politicians and organizations promoting their own agendas in response to these tragedies. We cover this in "The Politicization of Bullying" by Victor Rivero and in a sidebar on how to manage bullying in politically charged climates by DA contributing writer Ken Trump.

On another note, DA is a finalist for an Eddie Award, part of an annual prestigious magazine-industry recognition program sponsored by Folio magazine. DA was selected in the "Best Series of Articles B-to-B" category for our three-part series States of Debate (available at www.districtadministration.com), which highlighted three states renowned for their heavy influence on education in the United States. Each article in the series included a profile showcasing one superintendent in that state who stood out from the crowd. Although we feel this indicates that we're on the right track, feedback from our readers remains our most important assessment. We couldn't do this without you!

Finally, we at Professional Media Group are deeply saddened by the news of the passing of our colleague and friend Sales Manager Terry Nelson. Over the last ten years, Terry has contributed greatly to the success of this company and has been a source of light and laughter to those who worked with her.

Judy Faust Hartnett


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