Friday, January 28, 2011

NCTQ logs some promising changes in teacher policies

The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) recently released its 2010 State Teacher Policy Yearbook. It includes a page of "primary findings", including:

  • The # of states requiring annual evaluations of all teachers rose from 15 in 2009 to 21 in 2010.
  • The # of states that required "evidence of student learning [to] be the preponderant criterion in teacher evaluations" leaped from 4 in 2009 to 10 in 2010
  • The # of states enacting policies to hold teacher prep programs "accountable based on the academic performance of students taught by their graduates" jumped from one pilot program in Louisiana in 2009 to 14 states in 2010.
However, the NCTQ also found that many states have yet to make significant progress in policies related to teacher preparation, licensure requirements, alternative certification programs, and tenure and dismissal policies.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Early college high schools working in NC

According to research published in late 2010, "North Carolina’s early college high schools are creating more positive school environments for students resulting in improved attendance, reduced suspensions, and increased numbers of students on-track for college. These schools are also successfully expanding the initial part of the college preparatory pipeline for students of all backgrounds."

While many states have Gates Foundation-funded early college high schools, few have state policies aligned with the unique needs of such programs (these schools by and large operate on waivers from certain state policies). North Carolina is among a small # of states that have adopted policies to provide the specific supports such schools need. A short ECS report identifies the model components of a state-level early college high school policy--and North Carolina's commendable set of state policies are highlighted throughout.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Increasing STEM degree completion in Washington State

Legislation enacted in Washington back in 2006 targets two areas many states are struggling with today: increasing postsecondary degree completion, and increasing the state's STEM workforce. As with the Maryland example cited in a post last week, WA's suggested business involvement and use of flexible delivery models such as online learning are two potential means to extend student learning opportunities in an economic downturn.

2006 H.B. 2817 recognizes that "community colleges play a unique role in supporting degree attainment in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics through the development of transferable curricula and the maintenance of viable articulation agreements with both public and private universities." It establishes a state priority for PS institutions to encourage increased enrollments and degrees in "engineering, technology, biotechnology, sciences, computer sciences, and mathematics", and requires the higher education coordinating board to track and report on various indicators related to this state goal, including "The number and type of public-private partnerships established relating to these fields among institutions of higher education, including community colleges, and leading corporations in Washington state."

While the legislation gives PS institutions flexibility in working toward increased STEM degree completion, it proposes several examples of approaches institutions might take, such as the "establishment of institutes of technology, new polytechnic-based institutions, new divisions of existing institutions, and a flexible array of delivery models, including face-to-face learning, interactive courses, internet-based offerings, and instruction on main campuses, branch campuses, and other educational centers." It "strongly urges" PS institutions to consider STEM program growth "in areas of the state that exhibit a high concentration of aerospace, biotechnology, and technology industrial presence. Expanded science and technology programs can gain from the proximity of experienced and knowledgeable industry leaders, while industry can benefit from access to new sources of highly trained and educated graduates."

Monday, January 10, 2011

New ECS report on P-20 governance

A new 2-page ECS report identifies states that have fully or partially consolidated oversight for K-12 and postsecondary education in a single state entity. The report also indicates whether this entity also oversees early learning.

Some may wonder whether there is research on the impact of consolidated ed. governance structures on student achievement or cost savings. Unfortuately, there is little research on the impact of education governance structures period, much less on P-20 ed. governance in particular.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Improving STEM education in Maryland

In case you missed it--this past November, it was announced that the Maryland Business Roundtable for Education (MBRE), in collaboration with the Maryland Department of Education, will develop the STEMnet Teachers Hub. While many states have launched efforts to allow teachers to share classroom materials and know-how online, the STEMnet Teachers Hub will also provide:

  • "System-Wide STEM Connections, through which teachers can link with STEM educators at all levels and with private-sector STEM professionals to share knowledge and resources" and
  • "Specialists in the Classroom, enabling teachers to call on a roster of STEM practitioners from federal agencies, industry, and higher education to visit their classrooms, augment curriculum-based learning, and inform and inspire students about real-world STEM work" (quotes from the MBRE press release).
Also interesting: the effort was developed based on market research on STEM teachers. "MBRT conducted focus groups and an online survey in spring 2010" to gather input from STEM educators statewide. "Based on the results of that market research, MBRT identified and then ranked 11 proposed initiatives to reflect the explicitly stated needs of Maryland STEM teachers. Phase One of STEMnet includes implementation of the three initiatives teachers identified as most important. ... Additional initiatives recommended by STEM teachers will be phased in over the next few years with support from stakeholders throughout Maryland[.]"

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Using universities to spur economic growth and innovation

New Jersey: improve collaboration between businesses and institutions of higher education to spur innovation. This is one of the recommendations made in a report released yesterday by the state's Higher Education Task Force. (A summary of all recommendations is available here.)

The specific recommendations re: business and PS institutions are:
1. New Jersey should reestablish the Commission on Science and Technology to provide much-needed leadership to promote and commercialize joint research between universities and the private sector.
2. A reconstituted Commission on Science and Technology should establish a database of university research that would benefit institutions of higher education, industry, and the state’s economy.
3. New Jersey should better utilize NJIT’s expertise in technology and innovation.

Elsewhere, the report suggests, "A revitalized Commission could help establish best practices for all institutions of higher education for partnering with private collaborators. These best practices would help open these institutions to investment and innovations available in the private sector throughout the state."

How many other states might benefit by better collaboration between postsecondary institutions and the private sector? It is not clear how many states already have the measures in place that have been proposed in New Jersey.

Monday, January 3, 2011

School innovation zones in West Virginia

I have a feeling we are going to see a lot of proposals this legislative session to allow schools and districts greater flexibility in exchange for better student results (with consequences to follow if those improved outcomes fail to transpire). One example of existing legislation in this vein is West Virginia's 2009 H.B. 109.

The legislation allows for the creation of "School Innovation Zones", which allow teachers and principals "greater flexibility and control to meet the needs of a diverse population of students by removing certain policy, rule, interpretive and statutory constraints." One or more schools, a portion of one or more schools, or a school created by a postsecondary institution can apply to the state board/superintendent for status as a school innovation zone.

The administrative rule governing innovation zones requires applications to "provide evidence of teacher collaboration and shared leadership", "include a component of teacher professional growth" and "include job-embedded professional development that is on-going throughout the initiative". Professional development must "relate to the desired innovation, and support the implementation processes selected for the Innovation Zone."