CTAC Insights

What to Do Next With Teacher Evaluations

  Teacher evaluation is a contentious issue. It tends to be more so when evaluation systems must show evidence of a teacher’s contribution to student learning, as federal initiatives have recently required. The stakes are high, since how a teacher is rated affects his or her continued employment, advancement, and even compensation. In the wake … Read more »

California Jolt: State Upends How It Funds and Runs Education

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Robert Stirrup, https://goo.gl/W0QRBR

  It’s hard to find stories of “upheaval” in the way states structure the machinery of public schooling. Wrangling interests tend to allow only a little tinkering under the hood. But California right now is rewriting that script. And the sweeping changes occurring in the state’s education system are so politically stunning that those inured … Read more »

“Why can’t the Feds just leave us alone and let us do our jobs?!”

All indications are that when ESEA is finally reauthorized states and local district leaders will get what they say they want: significantly more flexibility. But to these happy folks I say, be careful what you wish for! As a former state education official I longed for flexibility with federal mandates. But I would be less … Read more »

So Old and So New: Argumentation in the Common Core

Photo by DoDEA, https://flic.kr/p/rWDfat, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Lost in the political fog surrounding the Common Core State Standards is just how much there is to admire in these new standards for K-12 students. They markedly advance the quality of learning standards, going beyond an emphasis on discrete skills by calling for the teaching of significant and fundamental concepts, together with essential skills, … Read more »

An Educational “Bucket List” for Parents

  For many parents the political tug of war over “transformational changes” to fix our schools is bewildering. Suppose you have a child starting school – 1st grade to be exact. Concerned that she gets the best education possible, you do your research on schools. You may even go so far as to move to … Read more »

Long Overdue: A New Discourse on School Reform

Photo by Martin Fernandez (https://www.flickr.com/photos/dodeacommunications/9457988689/) CC-BY-2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/)

  Remember the last time you were part of a conversation about school reform that was balanced, respectful of different perspectives and focused on finding common ground? Didn’t think so. Such exchanges are becoming an endangered species–largely due to the interwoven influences of ideology, money and power. And the result is that we’ve handicapped our … Read more »

No Tenure for Teachers: The New Education Reform?

  Eliminating tenure for teachers is the new education reform. Last spring, Vergara v. California found that the state’s tenure statutes protected teacher incompetence, disproportionately impacting students in less affluent school districts and denying them access to an equal education. Subsequently, other states are looking at what they can do to neuter tenure laws through … Read more »

Helping Principals Beat the Clock

Let’s talk about time. Under new state and federal policies, most high-need schools we work with at the Community Training and Assistance Center are implementing more rigorous approaches to teacher support and evaluation. School districts are equipping principals with specialized training to conduct classroom observations based on evidence, not gut feelings, using standards-based rubrics, not … Read more »