What’s Next?

The new Education Next features Joe Williams on how school boards and their allies block charter competition and Nelson Smith writes that superintendents aren’t letting charter operators have a shot at restructuring persistently low-performing schools, even though it would be an easy way to evade responsibility for problem schools.

Some preschool teachers can close the learning gap for disadvantaged children or those with social, behavioral or academic problems, concludes Robert Pianta.

To be effective, teachers of young children must strategically weave instruction into activities that give children choices to explore and play. Several aspects of teachers� interactive behaviors appear to uniquely predict gains in young children�s achievement:

— explicit instruction in certain key skills
— sensitive and emotionally warm interactions
— responsive feedback
— verbal engagement/stimulation
— a classroom environment that is not overly structured or regimented.

However, there’s tremendous variety in quality from classroom to classroom, even when teachers have the same credentials and are supposed to be using the same program.

A New York City study finds teacher certification doesn’t affect classroom performance. Newly hired uncertified and alternatively certified teachers did just as well as traditionally certified teachers. Teachers improved significantly with experience, and some teachers were much more effective than others.

The greatest potential for school districts to improve student achievement seems to rest not in regulating minimum qualifications for new teachers but in selectively retaining those teachers who are most effective during their first years of teaching.

Also check out Julie Landry Peterson writes on data-informed instruction. And there’s lots more.

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