The guidelines for the education spending in the stimulus package are out (via EdWeek), and we now have the clearest picture of the priorities of the Federal Government in the coming years:
The guidance also describes in greater detail what the Education Department expects of states in improving the capacity of their education data systems. They must, for example, be prepared to connect student-achievement data to individual teachers, and to track students from high school through college graduation.
That’s right: stimulus money to states is going to be reliant on states committing to evaluating teacher quality. Controversial, but not so much as it might have been in years past. Of course, the big missing piece is the mechanism for evaluating teacher quality, given the Unions’ fierce opposition to standardized testing of students. It seems that the Feds are saying, “fine, maybe we don’t have the answer, but we’re not going to find the right one until we have to. If you want this money, you’re going to have to learn how to evaluate teacher performance, and base that on how students are actually succeeding.” In this environment, the argument goes, the best ideas will be innovated out at the state level and float to the top.
This is something that we’ve posted on before, and any of you entering the profession in coming years will be right in the middle of this battle. Our initiative at Breakthrough is to improve the standing of teaching as a profession in this country, so we are, in theory, in favor of stronger professionals being rewarded for better work, though we don’t have a position on the mechanism for implementation. Maybe this process will help figure that out.