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Local control used as excuse

What should Colorado do to improve teacher effectiveness and win the Race to the Top? First, stop using local control as an excuse to justify inertia.

“To make this work, no one can use local control as an excuse not to do what is required,” argue the authors of a report released this week by the Colorado Legacy Foundation.

In compiling the 23-page report, titled “Teacher and School Leader Effectiveness: Designing a Framework for Colorado,” Paul Teske and others at the Center for Education Policy Analysis interviewed six of the nation’s leading experts on teacher and leader effectiveness.

They then applied the experts’ thinking to current Colorado policy and practice to shape a series of recommendations for how the state can improve its teacher corps and win a chunk of the $4.3 billion in the federal Race to the Top grant competition.

Among the recommendations, most of which call for a greater state role:

  • A state assessment team should be formed to assist districts in developing and appropriately using measures of student growth, required by Race to the Top to be the predominant measure for evaluating educator and system performance.
  • Colorado should consider joining other states interested in developing a “national teacher entry level credential” to make it easier for good teachers to come here, particularly since about one-half of Colorado teachers are prepared out-of-state.
  • The state should be responsible for monitoring the quality of district teacher evaluation and remediation plans and should intervene as needed.
  • Colorado should only include districts in its Race to the Top application that evaluate all teachers annually and that use a 4-point evaluation scale – unsatisfactory, effective, highly effective and exemplary. Effective is defined as a teacher whose students consistently average around one year’s growth in one year’s time, among other factors.
  • The state should create a fund to ensure that Colorado’s top teachers and leaders, through combined state and district funds, earn annual salaries in excess of $100,000.

A panel discussion about the report is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Oct. 1 at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science Ricketson Auditorium.

Scheduled participants include Barnett Barry, president of the Center for Teaching Quality; Joan Schunck, project director with The New Teacher Project; Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg; Harrison Schools Superintendent Mike Miles and Tony Salazar, executive director of the Colorado Education Association.

Click here to read a copy of Improving Teacher and School Leader Effectiveness: Designing a Framework for Colorado.

Nancy Mitchell can be reached at nmitchell@pebc.org or 303-478-4573.