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New teachers in the first semester at the Wright City School District near St. Louis spend one day every month in PD. Teachers learn about assessment, teaching strategies and classroom management.

Teacher quality is crucial to the success of schooling, yet the teacher-hiring process is sometimes rushed and ad hoc. A late-summer flurry of activity in which subjective factors—from where a candidate went to high school to how many resumes an exhausted principal has already reviewed—can weigh as heavily as meaningful evidence of academic achievement or instructional effectiveness.

A National Council on Teacher Quality report compared grades given in teacher preps courses to other majors. (Click to enlarge)

A National Council on Teacher Quality report citing a lack of rigor and grade inflation in teacher preparation courses is being disputed by the organization that represents college and university education programs.

New York Times science reporter Benedict Carey students can benefit from switching up where they do homework, or even changing the music they listen to while studying.

In his book How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens, New York Times science reporter Benedict Carey examines well-worn advice about learning, only to find much of it misguided or outdated. Instead, recent research shows that sometimes contradictory study techniques may actually lead to greater success in the classroom.

Administrators can use this web-based tool to observe and sustain effective instructional practice and classroom culture. Using an observation template on any laptop or tablet, data is collected during an evaluation and can be shared with teachers and other administrators via email. observe4success identifies trends by storing, sorting and analyzing data by teacher, grade level, department and school.

Year: 
2014

Such intervention software is designed to help districts reduce truancy and excessive absences. It allows administrators to track and analyze absence patterns, and compare the data to historical trends. A2A can turn this data into actionable reports, highlighting the areas that help district administrators address attendance concerns and increase parent involvement.

Reader Testimony: 

“A2A has not only helped our district track our attendance but also communicate early and often with our families. The response from families has been very positive and our attendance has improved from approximately 94 to 96 percent. Because of A2A, we have been able to not only track how many students are absent but when they are absent and where” — such as the specific classroom and community. — Margaret Lavin, director of student services, Redwood City School District, Calif.

Year: 
2014

This fully-automated employee absence management and substitute placement system has internet and telephone access. SubFinder can be integrated with human resource and payroll systems and promotes a paperless work environment. It includes access to employee and substitute profiles, records and reports.

Reader Testimony: 

“The Subfinder system provides our district with the best-qualified substitutes to replace our teachers when they need to be out of the classroom. The system is very user-friendly with either the phone or computer system. Subs are able to take jobs that suit them and keep track of the days they have worked. This also lets our employees track their days off and see who is subbing for them.” — Ann Beverly, human resources assistant, Ankeny Community School District, Iowa

Year: 
2014

The Planboard app helps educators plan their lessons throughout the academic year by aligning with school and classroom schedules. Planboard can provide a synopsis of weekly and daily schedules. A variety of academic standards, like the Common Core, can also be integrated and tracked on Planboard.

Reader Testimony: 

“I discovered Planboard this year and fell in love with the website immediately. It is the perfect teacher tool and I managed to convince my entire middle campus to use it as a lesson-plan template and now our principal made it mandatory. I have cut down on time spent writing lesson plans and submitting them to my principal, and I can spend more time working on my classroom concepts.” — Ashlee Castro, department chair/fifth-grade teacher, Alpine ISD, Texas

Year: 
2014

As baby boomers retire and school enrollment steadily increases, more districts are searching internationally to find candidates for difficult-to-fill math and science positions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that districts will need to hire nearly half a million teachers by the end of the decade.

Jessica Cuthbertson, a teacher leader in Aurora Public Schools, teaches middle school students. Cutherbertson considers herself a “teacherpreneur” and attends summer retreats via the Center for Teaching Quality.

Although teachers have long coached colleagues and developed curriculum informally and without compensation, teacher leadership programs aim to formalize the role by instituting rigorous selection processes, training and pay.

A teacher candidate from the NEA’s San Francisco residency program leads a lesson.

Teacher preparation programs have been criticized for not providing educators with sufficient classroom skills, as noted in the National Council on Teacher Quality’s “Teacher Prep Review 2014.”

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