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Ideas matter. In addition to our work with clients, Bellwether Education Partners generates and gathers ideas and policy solutions, analyzes ongoing reform efforts, and writes about and discusses education and education reform. We believe that the work we do to improve education for all students benefits from thought leadership, analysis, and thoughtful discourse around emerging ideas, in order to help challenge leaders and leading organizations to think differently and improve, to coordinate efforts where possible, to inform policymakers and improve the political and policy context, and to share successful approaches with the public education field at large.

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There is a growing belief that students can provide valuable feedback on a teacher’s performance in the classroom. Student perception surveys are increasingly seen as a low-cost and reliable tool for gathering data and feedback on the quality of teaching in individual classrooms. However, incorporating student surveys into formal, high-stakes teacher evaluation and development systems has its challenges. In this paper, Jeff Schulz, Gunjan Sud, and Becky Crowe highlight the experience of states, districts, charter management organizations, and teacher preparation programs that are “early adopters” of student perception surveys.

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The past decade saw unprecedented progress on teacher quality. Policymakers came to embrace two key research-based ideas: teachers are the single most important in-school factor for student achievement, and traditional methods of measuring teacher quality have little to no bearing on actual student learning. ...


In Genuine Progress, Greater Challenges: A Decade of Teacher Effectiveness Reforms, Andrew J. Rotherham and Ashley LiBetti Mitchel analyze what spurred the past decade of progress in teacher quality policy, today’s status quo, and what corrections and next steps policymakers and philanthropists should take.

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Education reformers and state policymakers have rushed to enact new teacher evaluation policies. While changes in teacher evaluation are clearly needed, recent efforts have often paid insufficient attention to fundamental tensions in the design, implementation, purposes, and use of teacher evaluations, including trade-offs between local flexibility and centralized control, different purposes and uses of evaluations, and the role that evaluation should play in an evolving system. Ultimately, smart educator evaluation policies must be based in a much more nuanced consideration of what it means to evaluate teachers as professionals than is included in our current debates. By raising and discussing these trade-offs and tensions, this paper seeks to advance the debate on teacher evaluation.

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TIME.com -- A Georgia kindergarten teacher has made more than $1 million selling her lesson plans online. Can U.S schools crowdsource their way to better student performance?

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The Washington Post -- The Chicago teachers strike, which tentatively ended Friday, thrust teachers unions into the national spotlight this past week. In Chicago and around the country, some see unions as saving public education and others as driving it into the ground. But the reality of how teachers unions operate is more complicated than the rhetoric about them.

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The Diane Rehm Show -- Chicago teachers on strike: How the union’s fight over merit pay and job security highlights a broader national struggle.

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From 2010-2012, more than 20 states passed legislation designed to address educator effectiveness by mandating annual evaluations based in part on student learning and linking evaluation results to key personnel decisions. This report surveys more than 20 states' laws and rates each on the law's strengths and weaknesses in teacher evaluation design requirements, transparency and public reporting of evaluation data, principal autonomy over teacher hiring and placement, and the extent to which the law links teacher evaluation results to key personnel decisions, including tenure, reductions in force, dismissal of underperforming teachers, and retention.

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TIME Magazine -- New to homeschooling, an angsty parent tells all.

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TIME.com -- A radically simple solution to improving science education in America.

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TIME.com -- Why Fallujah might have more to teach us than Finland about improving our schools.

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