Both/And: Improving Education in Schools and in the Community

City Connects team member Matthew Welch penned a thoughtful guest post on BC professor Andy Hargreaves‘ blog, “Both/And: Improving Education in Schools and in the Community,” in which he proposes a way to stop the cycle of blame in education reform. The achievement gap is not just the fault of teachers, nor can it be solely attributed to out-of-school factors like poverty. Schools and the communities are jointly implicated and both should be part of the solution.  Matt writes:

“As a conscientious public, we should do whatever we can to improve [schools], focusing special attention on their most important element: teachers. But we should also acknowledge that there are bigger issues that schools are not equipped to address. The good news is that much of that expertise is already there—often already paid for—in the communities surrounding schools.”

For more information:

Making an A+ Teacher

Boston’s NPR station, WBUR, has launched a week-long series, “Making an A+ Teacher,” which aims to examine the factors that make a good teacher great. The first story aired today (“What Makes a Good Teacher?“) and focused on how successful teachers embody three distinct roles: social worker, instructor, and manager.

The online component of the series includes an interactive map of Massachusetts, which overlays teacher salaries and per-pupil spending with MCAS (state standardized test) scores. Check it out here.

For more information:

  • Follow WBUR on Twitter @WBUR

New Report Shows High-poverty Schools Have Fewer In-field Teachers

The Education TrustThe Education Trust, a nonprofit group working to close the achievement gap, published a study yesterday that reports that 9 years after a federal law was passed to ensure that low-income students were being assigned to strong teachers, students in high-poverty schools are still disproportionately taught by out-of-field and inexperienced teachers. According to the report, Not Prepared for Class, “Staffing schools in a way that ensures that all kids have access to strong teachers requires states and school districts to mount strategies that address multiple problems at once.”

The study’s recommendation’s include:

  • Collect data on teacher quality and equality, and get it out in public.
  • Adopt a policy prohibiting disproportionate assignment of high-quality or low-quality teachers.
  • Use the state’s authority to intervene in low-performing schools.
  • Provide big incentives for strong teachers to stay in or move to high-poverty and high-minority schools.
  • Measure and hold accountable teacher preparation programs for producing high-quality teachers for high poverty and high-minority schools.
  • Develop rigorous evaluation systems to measure teacher effectiveness.