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Inside Teaching : April 2010
Inside Teaching | April 2010 PROFESSION 16 American policymarkers seem set on capturing teacher effectiveness by using students’ tests, while those in Australia take a different tack — but as steve HolDen reports, both are in for a long haul. United States President Barack Obama aims to ‘overhaul’ the Elementary and Secondary Education Act – aka the No Child Left Behind Act – of his predecessor, George W Bush, Congress willing, and the overhaul is likely to involve some measure of teacher quality in terms of student achievement. Key stakeholders were briefed in January by Obama’s Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, and other US federal Department of Education officials. ‘They were very clear with us that they would change the metric, dropping adequate yearly progress and basing a new system on another picture of performance based on judging schools in a more nuanced way,’ Bruce Hunter, director of public policy for the American Association of School Administrators, told the New York Times’s Sam Dillon. ‘Nuanced,’ it appears, means more than adding finer lines between the big, bold pass and fail marks on the current ruler; it’s code for including some measure of teacher quality in the ‘picture of performance.’ Not only that, nuanced measures of teacher quality are likely to include student achievement in some way. Jack Jennings, president of the US Centre on Education Policy, who also attended the briefing, told Dillon, ‘They want to recast the law so that it’s as close to Race to the Top as they can get it.’ Education’s moon shot Teacher evaluation is no small part of Obama’s US$4.35 billion Race to the Top program, a program Duncan has described as ‘education’s moon shot.’ As Duncan told journalists in January, in order to participate in the Race to the Top program, ‘Several states eliminated barriers to better teacher evaluation that factors in student achievement.’ Obama’s Race to the Top education reforms aim to: • establish standards and an assessment system • measure the academic improvement of students, and • recruit, develop, reward and retain effective teachers and principals. That last dot point is all about teacher quality. As Obama explained in a visit in January to Graham Road Elementary School in Falls Church, Virginia, Race to the Top aims to ‘make sure we have excellent principals leading our schools, and great teachers leading our classes, How should we measure teacher quality? How should we measure teacher quality?