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Leadership coaching could help teachers boost student achievement

E-School News – Laura Devaney

“Giving teachers two years of formal PD and training sessions with a leadership coach could result in higher student achievement in certain curriculum areas, according to a new RAND Corporation study. The program, which also includes a mentoring component in which teachers receiving the program’s services mentor other teachers, has shown early signs of success.”(more)

What do teachers really think of data tools?

E-School News – Laura Devaney

“Two-thirds of teachers in a Gates Foundation study said they are not completely satisfied with the data, or tools designed to help them work with data, which they are able to access on a regular basis. Teachers Know Best: Making Data Work for Teachers and Students examines digital instructional tools that help teachers collect and use student data and attempts to outline the challenges teachers face when working with these digital tools. Teachers in the national survey (in which about 4,600 participated) said they believe they have a responsibility to support each and every student, and that they should adjust instruction based on each student’s strengths, needs, and interests. In fact, 86 percent seek ways to engage students based on who student are, and 78 percent said they think data can help define where students are and where they can go.”(more)

All schools need trained careers teachers, says charity

BBC – Judith Burns

“All schools in England should have a teacher trained to give high-quality careers advice, particularly to poorer pupils, says a charity. Without a fresh effort, careers advice in schools will remain “fragmented and ineffective”, says Teach First. Schools should be held to account for what their pupils are doing two years after GCSEs, it adds. Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said she agreed schools needed additional support to boost careers advice. Teach First, which trains high-achieving new graduates to work in challenging schools, launched the report alongside a new careers guidance programme for its own teaching recruits.”(more)

Classroom observers using new tools to make teachers better

The Seattle Times – Martin R. West

“Watching from a corner of the room, evaluator Elaine Jackson made a mental note: Amin had missed an opportunity for the kind of conversation that builds learning. Amin might have asked the children, for example, what the wind did to the trees or whether they had ever lost power at home. Jackson is part of a growing effort to solve a tough problem: how to accurately and fairly critique teaching in ways that helps teachers improve. The art of teaching has long been considered something of a black box — a matter of personal style, intuition and philosophy that couldn’t be defined, much less reliably measured. But now the lid is starting to come off. Trained observers like Jackson — armed with elaborate guides that describe what good teaching looks like and how to rate it — are changing the way teachers are evaluated, not only in preschool but in K-12 classrooms. These new, in-depth observations are replacing or supplementing the ways teachers have been judged in the past, most often with superficial visits by school principals. The goal is to make teacher evaluations more objective than a principal’s opinion and more useful for self-improvement than a ranking based on student test scores.”(more)

Does Better Observation Make Better Teachers?

E-School News – Matthew P. Steinberg and Lauren Sartain

“Of all school-level factors related to student learning and achievement, the quality of the student’s teacher is the most important. Yet the teacher evaluation systems in use in American school districts historically have been unable to differentiate teachers who improve student learning from lower-performing educators. Many have failed to differentiate teachers at all. A 2009 study by The New Teacher Project found that “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory” were the only ratings available to school administrators in many districts, and that more than 99 percent of teachers in those districts were deemed satisfactory.”(more)

Obama to highlight tech aid at science fair

The Sacramento Bee – Staff Writer

“Obama on Tuesday was to announce new assistance to train teachers, help for low-income students and a mentoring program in seven cities across the country.”(more)