Education Reform

People have very different ideas about what should be going on in our nation’s classroom. But beyond that, they have very different ideas about how to make sure it’s likely to happen. And this looks really different in proposed assessment of teachers’ on-the-job performance.

Here are two examples of strikingly different approaches.

The United Federation of Teachers in New York City contract proposes that after a three-year-long vetting period, teachers receive tenure for life and be paid based on their years on the job. This means that after that period of assessment, they cannot be fired, demoted, or paid less if they are not judged to be doing a satisfactory job.

A new Colorado law proposes to connect teacher evaluations to their students’ achievement test scores as a portion of evidence that shows their students’ progress, which will be 50 percent of their evaluation. Teachers found to be “ineffective” for two years running could potentially lose their jobs.

At least part of the impetus behind the change is the “Race to the Top”—the contest that offers $4.3 billion to states willing to overhaul their public schools if they are willing to enact a package of reforms that includes improved curriculum standards, among other things. But a key point is that more than a fifth of the points each state can earn for its proposal is based on the state’s commitment to get rid of the tenure-for-life approach to teachers’ job security and stop the practice of tying teachers’ compensation only to seniority, without taking account of any performance indicators.

To understand more about what’s taking place in education reform right now, we recommend two articles;

“The Teachers’ Unions’ Last Stand”

“Colorado education law may mark a national shift”

And for basic background on the elements involved in the reform movement, read our article “Education Reform.”