Federal and State Education Policy

Improving Science Achievement: The Role of Teacher Workforce Policies

This paper examines the difficulty hard-to-staff and low-performing schools have in hiring and keeping high quality teachers. Students failing to achieve even minimal levels of educational achievement are most dependent on their teachers and schools for academic learning, yet they typically are taught by individuals with relatively weak and/or inadequate qualifications.

College Admission Testing in America

There is rarely a more anxiety inducing event for a high school student than sitting down to take a college admission test. Scores on the SAT or ACT, the two nationally recognized college admission tests in the United States, are an important component of the admission application to colleges and universities and help the admission officers decide whether or not to accept the student into the incoming class. Most of the selective colleges and universities require high scores for acceptance, and many competitive scholarships use admission test scores as one of several selection criteria.

The Development of a Teacher Salary Parcel Tax: The Quality Teacher and Education Act in San Francisco

In June 2008 San Francisco voters approved Proposition A, a parcel tax initiative dedicated to improving teachers’ salaries in the San Francisco Unified School District. Proposition A also provided funding for a number of innovative teacher compensation programs, including extra pay for teachers in difficult-to-staff schools and difficult-to-fill subject areas.

The Quality Teacher and Education Act in San Francisco: Lessons Learned

This policy brief, Heather Hough from Stanford University reviews the recent experience of the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) with the development and approval of Proposition A. Proposition A (also known as the Quality Teacher and Education Act, or QTEA) included a parcel tax mainly dedicated to increasing teachers’ salaries, along with a variety of measures introducing flexibility to the current salary schedule and strengthening accountability for teacher performance.

Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness

“The Widget Effect,” a widely read 2009 report from The New Teacher Project, surveyed the teacher evaluation systems in 14 large American school districts and concluded that status quo systems provide little information on how performance differs from teacher to teacher. The memorable statistic from that report: 98 percent of teachers were evaluated as “satisfactory.” Based on such findings, many have characterized classroom observation as a hopelessly flawed approach to assessing teacher effectiveness.

Turning around chronically low-performing schools: A practice guide

The goal of this practice guide is to formulate specific and coherent evidence-based recommendations for use by educators aiming to quickly and dramatically improve student achievement in low-performing schools. Although schoolwide reform models exist, most assume a slow and steady approach to school reform. They do not seek to achieve the kind of quick school turnaround we examine in this practice guide. That is not to say that schools using a packaged schoolwide reform model could not experience dramatic and quick results.

Does merit pay reward good teachers? Evidence from a randomized experiment

A common criticism of merit-pay plans is that they fail to systematically target rewards to the most effective teachers. This study presents new evidence on this issue by evaluating data from Tennessee's Career Ladder Evaluation System and the Project STAR class-size experiment. Because the students and teachers participating in the experiment were randomly assigned, inferences about the relative quality of teachers certified by the career ladder should be unbiased.

How welfare reform impacts preschool-age children: An analysis of random assignment data from Connecticut

As welfare-to-work reforms increase women’s labor market attachment, the lives oftheir young children are likely to change. This note draws on a random-assignmentexperiment in Connecticut to ask whether mothers’ rising employment levels and pro-gram participation are associated with changes in young children’s early learning andcognitive growth. Children of mothers who entered Connecticut’s Jobs First program,an initiative with strict 21-month time limits and work incentives, displayed moderateadvantages in their early learning, compared with those in a control group.

Remediation at the Community College: Student participation and outcomes

Community colleges play an important role in remediation; over 40 percent of first-year students at public two-year colleges take remedial courses (U.S. Department of Education, 2003). Furthermore, recent developments suggest that many states are moving toward concentrating all remediation in their community college systems. For example, in 1999 the City University of New York (CUNY) passed a resolution to phase out most remedial education at the system’s four-year institutions and move it to the community colleges.