List of Publications by Date
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Learning-focused Leadership and Leadership Support: Meaning and Practice in Urban Systems
A Research Report in collaboration with The Wallace Foundation by Michael S. Knapp, Michael A. Copland, Meredith I. Honig, Margaret L. Plecki, and Bradley S. Portin, August 2010.Description:PDF
This report synthesizes what has been learned about how leaders in urban systems focus their leadership on the improvement of learning, and what it takes to support their leadership in these settings. The report brings together findings from three sub-study strands, concerned with efforts in seven urban districts to: a) invest staffing and other resources in equitable learning improvement; b) practice learning-focused leadership within the school, in teams of supervisory and nonsupervisory staff; and c) transform the district central office to support the improvement of teaching and learning district-wide.
Study of the Incentive Program for Washington's National Board Certified Teachers
A report prepared for Washington State Board of Education, June 2010.Description:PDF
This study examines the impact of Washington state's incentives for teachers to attain National Board Certification and to work in challenging schools. Using surveys and secondary analyses of state databases, we examine the workforce both prior to and following recent changes in the incentive program. The study considers the nature of NBCTs' assignments, their distribution, retention and mobility patterns compared with other teachers statewide, and the views of teachers and principals regarding NB certification and the state's incentives. The study concludes with policy implications and options for future consideration.
Central Office Transformation for District-wide Teaching and Learning Improvement
A Research Report in collaboration with The Wallace Foundation by Meredith I. Honig, Michael A. Copland, Lydia Rainey, Juli Anna Lorton, & Morena Newton, with the assistance of Elizabeth Matson, Lisa Pappas, & Bethany Rogers, April 2010.
Examining the Impact of Reduction in Force (RIF) Notices in Washington School Districts: 2009-2010
A Report Prepared for The Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession, March 2010.Description:PDF
Nearly half of Washington school districts issued layoff notices to teachers and other school staff during the 2008-09 school year. This report examines the impact of Reduction in Force (RIF) notices issued in Washington state during this time. Among teachers who received a RIF notice, 87 % were rehired in the K-12 education system in Washington in the subsequent year. The study examines the characteristics of individuals who received RIF notifications, the types of schools and districts that issued notices, and the impact of RIF on the retention and mobility of the educator workforce.
Taking Stock of Washington's Workforce: An Assessment of Conditions Prior to the Economic Downturn
A Report Prepared for The Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession, November 2009.Description:PDF
This report provides baseline descriptive statistics and recent trend data on Washington's teacher workforce prior to the recent economic downturn. The trend data includes information regarding teacher age, experience, race/ethnicity, and retention and mobility, as well as school and district characteristics. In addition, district retention and mobility data is included for each school district and Educational Service District in Washington state. From this baseline, we can examine the extent and nature of the impact of current and future fiscal stress on the state's teacher cadre.
Leading for Learning Improvement in Urban Schools
A Research Report in collaboration with The Wallace Foundation by Bradley S. Portin, Michael S. Knapp, Scott Dareff, Sue Feldman, Felice A Russell, Catherine Samuelson & Theresa Ling Yeh, with the assistance of Chrysan Gallucci & Judy Swanson, Oct. 2009.
How Leaders Invest Staffing Resources for Learning Improvement
A Research Report in collaboration with The Wallace Foundation by Margaret L. Plecki, Michael S. Knapp, Tino Castaneda, Tom Halverson, Robin LaSota, & Chad Lochmiller, October 2009.
Building Systems of Support for Classroom Teachers Working with Second Language Learners
A Report Prepared for The Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession by Ana M. Elfers, Tom Stritikus, Kristin Percy Calaff, Kerry Soo Von Esch, Audrey Lucero, Michael S. Knapp, & Margaret L. Plecki, July 2009.
Undergraduates' Views of K-12 Teaching
as a Career Choice
A Report Prepared for The Professional Educator Standards Board by Ana M. Elfers, Margaret L. Plecki, Elise St. John, Rebecca Wedel.
Balancing Direction and Support - Third Year Scale Up of a System-wide Instructional Reform Initiative: A Partnership between the Center for Educational Leadership and Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District (Interim Report #2)
A Research Report by Chrysan Gallucci and Judy Swanson, January 2008.
High School Teachers in the Workforce: Examining Teacher Retention, Mobility, School Characteristics and School Reform Efforts
A Report prepared for the Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession (CSTP) by Ana M. Elfers, Margaret L. Plecki and Michelle McGowan, July 2007.
Teaching Math in Washington's High Schools: Insights from a Survey of Teachers in High Performing or Improving Schools
A Research Report by Ana M. Elfers, Margaret L. Plecki, Michael S. Knapp, Gahram J. Yeo, and Michelle McGowan, June 2007.
Gaining Traction through Professional Coaching: A Partnership between the Center for Educational Leadership and Highline School District (Interim Report #2)
A Research Report by Chrysan Gallucci and Elizabeth Boatright, February 2007.
Architectures for Learning: A Comparative Analysis of Two Urban School Districts
An Occasional Report in collaboration with The Spencer Foundation by Mary Kay Stein and Cynthia Coburn, January 2007.
Policy Implementation and Learning: How Organizational and Socio-Cultural Learning Theories Elaborate District Central Office Roles in Complex Educational Improvement Efforts
An Occasional Paper in collaboration with The Spencer Foundation by Meredith Honig, January 2007.
Using Sociocultural Theory to Link Individual and Organizational Learning Processes: The Case of Highline School District's Instructional Improvement Reform
An Occasional Report in collaboration with The Spencer Foundation by Chrysan Gallucci, January 2007.
Who's Teaching Washington's Children? A 2006 Update
A Report prepared for the Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession (CSTP) by Margaret L. Plecki, Ana M. Elfers, and Michael S. Knapp, January 2007.
Leadership for Transforming High Schools
A Research Report in collaboration with The Wallace Foundation by Michael A. Copland and Elizabeth Boatright, December 2006.Description:PDF
This report addresses the complexity of problems associated with traditional comprehensive high schools. It examines why, despite repeated calls for reform, and various efforts aimed at reform, evidence suggests that what transpires for students inside the high school classroom remains relatively impervious to change. A picture of the terrain of leadership activity important for transforming high schools is proposed followed by questions of how the work of leadership might be accomplished.
Examining Teacher Retention and Mobility in Small and Rural Districts in Washington State
A Research Report by Ana M. Elfers and Margaret L. Plecki, November 2006.
Allocating Resources and Creating Incentives to Improve Teaching and Learning
A Research Report in collaboration with The Wallace Foundation by Margaret L. Plecki, Christopher R. Alejano, Michael S. Knapp, and Chad Lochmiller October 2006.Description:PDF
This report reviews research, practice, and theory related to resource allocation and its relationship to teaching and learning. The report describes the "state of the field," discussing a range of practices, both current and emerging, while framing the central challenges facing leaders who make resource decisions at the state, district, and school levels. The report links the allocation of resources to the exercise of learning-focused leadership.
Data-informed Leadership in Education
A Research Report in collaboration with The Wallace Foundation by Michael S. Knapp, Juli Ann Swinnerton, Michael A. Copland, and Jack Monpas-Huber, October 2006.Description:PDF
Drawing from empirical studies and the landscape of current practice, this report explores ideas related to how educational leaders access data, the meanings they give to it, and the uses to which they put these data in the varying settings in which leaders seek to improve teaching and learning. Moving away from the potentially appealing rhetoric that data can provide clear, indisputable direction for future action (e.g. "data-driven decision making"), the notion of data-informed leadership captures the complex and often ambiguous nature of data use in educational settings.
Leading, Learning, and Leadership Support
A Research Report in collaboration with The Wallace Foundation by Michael S. Knapp, Michael A. Copland, Margaret L. Plecki, and Bradley S. Portin, October 2006.Description:PDFExecutive Summary
This report maps out activities and supporting conditions in states, districts, and schools, that enable educational leadership to exert productive influence on learning. The report draws together threads from the research literature and from practical experimentation in a variety of states, districts, and schools, as described in greater detail within six reports that comprise the Improving Leadership for Learning series. From these sources, the report authors offer an overview of the "systems of leadership support" that guide leaders' efforts to improve the quality of teaching and learning in schools across the nation.
National Board Certified Teachers in Washington State: Impact on Professional Practice and Leadership Opportunities
A Report prepared for the Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession (CSTP) by Hilary Loeb, Ana M. Elfers, Margaret L. Plecki, Brynnen Ford, and Michael S. Knapp, October 2006.
Purposes, Uses, and Practices of Leadership Assessment in Education
A Research Report in collaboration with The Wallace Foundation by Bradley S. Portin, Sue Feldman, and Michael S. Knapp, October 2006.Description:PDF
This report discusses connections between learning-focused school leadership and leadership assessment as it contributes to coherent leadership assessment systems. Drawing upon exemplary research, and through the use of scenarios drawn from common school leadership assessment practices, this report outlines multiple purposes and uses of leadership assessment in national, state and local contexts. The central theme of the report is connecting learning-focused leadership with leadership assessment.
Redefining and Improving School District Governance
A Research Report in collaboration with The Wallace Foundation by Margaret L. Plecki, Julie McCleery, and Michael S. Knapp, October 2006.Description:PDF
This paper takes a close look at local school boards-an enduring feature of public education governance. Using published accounts in the research literature, the paper synthesizes the frameworks, beliefs, and activities concerning the roles and responsibilities of the district school board. Using three common critiques of modern school boards as a guide, the paper further identifies the underlying currents of governance reform, conditions that influence governance structure, and the connections between governance and learning-focused leadership.
Redefining Roles, Responsibility, and Authority of School Leaders
A Research Report in collaboration with The Wallace Foundation by Bradley S. Portin, Christopher R. Alejano, and Michael S. Knapp, October 2006.Description:PDF
This report considers school leaders' roles and responsibilities, and the authority they need to pursue an agenda of improving teaching and learning. The report frames what it means to lead schools toward improvements in teaching and learning, who does or can exercise that leadership (including but not limited to the principal), how leaders can be equipped to lead learning communities, what conditions empower leaders to lead in this way, and how such leadership is cultivated in individuals or school communities over time.
Aiming High: Leadership for District-wide Instructional Improvement
A Partnership between the Center for Educational Leadership and Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District (Interim Report #1)
A Research Report by Chrysan Gallucci and Judy Swanson, October 2006.
An Examination of Longitudinal Attrition, Retention, and Mobility Rates of Beginning Teachers in Washington State
A Report prepared for the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies by Margaret L. Plecki, Ana M. Elfers, and Michael S. Knapp, June 2006.
The Pedagogy of Third-Party Support for Instructional Improvement: A Partnership between CEL and Highline School District (Interim Report #1)
A Research Report by Chrysan Gallucci, Beth Boatright, Dan Lysne, Juli Swinnerton, January 2006.
Teachers Count: Support for Teachers' Work in the Context of State Reform
A Report prepared for the Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession (CSTP) by Michael S. Knapp, Ana M. Elfers, Margaret L. Plecki, Hilary Loeb, and Amrita Zahir, August 2005.
Preparation and Support for Teaching: Teachers' Response to State Education Reform
A Working Paper prepared for the Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession (CSTP) by Ana M. Elfers, Michael S. Knapp, Amrita Zahir, and Margaret L. Plecki, March 2005.
Teacher Retention and Mobility: A Look Inside and Across Districts and Schools in Washington State
A Report prepared for the Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession (CSTP) by Margaret L. Plecki, Ana M. Elfers, Hilary Loeb, Amrita Zahir, and Michael S. Knapp, March 2005.
Making Subject Matter Part of the Equation: The Intersection of Policy and Content
An Occasional Paper by Pam Grossman, Susan S. Stodolsky, and Michael S. Knapp, December 2004.Description:PDF
This conceptual paper offers a framework for understanding how educational policy is related to subject matter. Drawing on literature concerning instructional policymaking and the cultures that surround teaching in different subject areas, the paper distinguishes and illustrates three types of policy, that ignore, target, or differentiate among subject matter areas, respectively. The paper then demonstrates, for each type, how subject matter acts as a crucial context for policy implementation and effects, affecting the policy's impact in often unintended ways. Typically ignored by policy research, these dynamics have special importance for the analysis of reform policies, as well as for the making of policies aimed at teaching and learning.
Preparing for Reform, Supporting Teachers' Work: Surveys of Washington State Teachers, 2003-04 School Year
A Summary Report commissioned by the Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession (CSTP) by Michael S. Knapp, Ana M. Elfers, and Margaret L. Plecki, with Hilary Loeb, Beth Boatright, and Nick Cabot, August 2004.
Preparation and Support for Teaching: Support for Teachers' Professional Learning
A Working Paper commissioned by the Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession (CSTP) by Ana M. Elfers, Beth Boatright, and Michael S. Knapp, with Margaret L. Plecki and Hilary Loeb, June 2004.
Preparation and Support for Teaching: Working Conditions of Teachers
A Working Paper commissioned by the Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession (CSTP) by Hilary Loeb, Ana M. Elfers, Michael S. Knapp, and Margaret L. Plecki, with Beth Boatright, May 2004.
Development and Deployment of a "Fast Response" Survey System in Washington State: Methodological Notes
A Working Paper commissioned by the Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession (CSTP) by Ana M. Elfers, Michael S. Knapp, and Margaret L. Plecki, with Beth Boatright and Hilary Loeb, April 2004.
Preparation and Support for Teaching: Teachers' Assignment and Certification
A Working Paper commissioned by the Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession (CSTP) by Ana M. Elfers, Michael S. Knapp, and Margaret L. Plecki, with Beth Boatright, and Hilary Loeb, April 2004.
Curriculum Materials: Scaffolds for New Teacher Learning?
A Research Report by Pam Grossman and Clarissa Thompson, January 2004.Description:
Derived from a study of beginning language arts teachers (see District Policy and Beginning Teachers: Where the Twain Shall Meet, elsewhere on this web site), this Research Report captures the ways curriculum (or its absence) guides what is learned level about instructional practice, and how, by new language arts teachers in secondary schools. The report underscores how potent curriculum policy can be for shaping teachers' early attempts to establish a secure professional repertoire.Abstract:PDFAbstractOriginal Study
This report looks at how three secondary English teachers responded to the curriculum materials they encountered as new teachers. The authors were particularly interested in knowing how the materials helped the new teachers learn about teaching language arts. To this end, the authors explored the teachers' perception and use of two sets of curriculum materials—Teaching the Multiparagraph Essay and Pacesetter English. The authors examined the materials to see what, if any, opportunities for teacher learning were embedded in them. They also considered how the teachers' prior knowledge, both of the subject matter and of approaches to teaching language arts, affected how they responded to and used the material. The authors found that the teachers in the study spent an enormous amount of time searching out curriculum materials for their classes and that the curriculum materials they encountered did, indeed, powerfully shape their ideas about teaching language arts as well as their ideas about classroom practice. The authors describe a trajectory for the teachers' use of the curriculum materials. New teachers begin by sticking close to the materials they have at hand. Then, over time, as they learn more about both students and curriculum, they adapt and adjust what they do, and their use of the materials opens up as they become more willing to play with and take liberties with the materials. The authors argue that new and aspiring teachers need opportunities to analyze and critique curriculum materials. This would begin during teacher education and continue in the company of their more experienced colleagues. Such curricular conversations are helpful to all but especially to new teachers who tend to latch on uncritically to whatever curriculum they are handed.
The Relation Between State and District Literacy Standards: Issues of Alignment, Influence, and Utility
A Research Report by Elizabeth Dutro and Sheila W. Valencia, January 2004.Description:
This Research Report explores how state content standards in reading affect local content standards. The study, undertaken in four states, shows that under the guise of "alignment" between state and local standards, there is considerable variability, and that the usefulness of the state's efforts to promote local standards-based reform in this areas of the curriculum depends on various attributes of the state policy, the characteristic relationship between state and local level, and local engagement in professional development.Abstract:PDFAbstractOriginal Study
At the core of standards-based reform are content standards—statements about what students should know and be able to do. Although it is state standards that are the focus of much public attention and consume substantial resources, many local school districts have developed their own content standards in the major subject areas. However, we know very little about the role state standards have played in local standards efforts. In this article we report on a study of the relationship between state and local content standards in reading in four states and districts. Through interviews with key personnel in each state and district and analyses of state and local content standards in reading, we explored the alignment between state and district content standards, the path of influence between the two, and the role of high-stakes tests in state and districts reform efforts. Our findings suggest that alignment had multiple meanings and that state standards had differential utility to districts, ranging from helpful to benign to nuisance. This wide variability was influenced by the nature of the standards themselves, the state vision of alignment and local control, districts' own engagement and commitment to professional development, and student performance on high-stakes tests. We explore implications for the future of content standards as the cornerstone of standards-based reform and argue that states must promote district ownership and expand accountability if state content standards are to have any relevance for local efforts to reform teaching and learning.
Building Instructional Quality and Coherence in San Diego City Schools: System Struggle, Professional Change
Policy Brief 9, September 2003.
Building Instructional Quality: "Inside-Out" and "Outside-In" Perspectives on San Diego's School Reform
A Research Report by Linda Darling-Hammond, Amy M. Hightower, Jennifer L. Husbands, Jeannette R. LaFors, Viki M. Young, and Carl Christopher, September 2003.Description:
This research report looks at the aggressive set of policies San Diego City School District used to improve instruction. It reveals how San Diego consolidated and redirected resources, redesigned the district office as well as work in schools, and mediated and leveraged state policy to further its reform agenda. The report also documents the difficulties of managing the politics and implementation of a coherent approach to change in a large district with an established culture of decentralization located in a state with a piecemeal, sometimes conflicting, menu of reforms.Abstract:PDFAbstractOriginal StudyOriginal StudyOriginal Study
During the 1990s, a new policy hypothesis—that focusing on the quality of teaching would provide a high-leverage means for improving student achievement—began to gain currency. This study of San Diego, California's highly focused reform initiative to improve the quality of teaching examines an effort to act on this hypothesis. Based on interview, observation, survey, and record data collected at the state, district, and school levels over a five-year time period, the study offers a look at how one large, urban district developed an aggressive set of policies to improve instruction. The research examines how the district consolidated and redirected resources, redesigned the district office as well as work in schools, and mediated and leveraged state policy to further its reform agenda. Among key reform strategies were:
- An overhaul of recruitment, hiring, placement, and evaluation to recruit and retain high-quality teachers and principals in the district, while weeding out weak staff members;
- A massive investment in intensive professional development, including institutes, workshops and on-site coaching in every school, focused initially on developing teachers' and principals' expertise in literacy instruction, and later branching out into mathematics, science, and other subjects;
- A redesign of administration, replacing area superintendents with Instructional Leaders working closely with principals on improving the quality of teaching in each building and charging principals with focused evaluation and support of instruction;
- A major reallocation of resources to downsize the central office, consolidate fragmented programs and pots of money, and focus resources on classroom work;
- A much more centralized approach to providing curriculum and teaching guidance based on research on learning and teaching, including the development of special courses and district-wide strategies for literacy development as well as aspects of mathematics and science instruction;
- An effort to develop a culture and shared expertise to enable professional accountability and to redefine the state's accountability processes to support instruction without punishing students.
The study documents substantial gains in student achievement and transformations of teaching practices, especially in San Diego's elementary and middle schools, over a five year period, in association with these policies. Schools and students that benefited most from the changes were often those that were previously lowest-achieving. However, schools that were most bureaucratically organized with the fewest opportunities for collaboration among faculty had more difficulty using new resources to transform instruction. The study also documents the difficulties of managing the politics and implementation of a coherent approach to change in a large district with an established culture of decentralization located in a state with a piecemeal, sometimes conflicting, menu of reforms. Looking at the process of school change from both the 'outside in' and the 'inside out,' the study details how the district and individual schools initiated, coped with, and transformed the many competing policies in the school environment. Finally, we document the district's more difficult process of seeking to improve high schools and its new round of reforms, just launched as the research was ending, to rethink the organization and design of the urban high school as a means of transforming the quality of teaching and learning within.
The research ends with evidence of substantial transformation in the culture, organization, instruction, and outcomes of San Diego's schools but also with the changing of many members of the leadership team. The future will reveal whether the reforms with be sustained in the long run and whether San Diego's bet on professional learning—enforced from the top down as a key lever for change—will ultimately strengthen the teaching and learning capacities of local schools from the inside out.
Is There Really a Teacher Shortage?
A Research Report by Richard M. Ingersoll, September 2003.Description:
In this report, Richard Ingersoll builds on his hypothesis that school staffing problems are due largely to excess demand resulting from high pre-retirement turnover and not solely or even primarily to supply-side deficits in the quantity of teachers produced. He also addresses criticisms of those who argue that concern over teacher turnover is exaggerated.Abstract:PDFAbstractOriginal Study
Contemporary educational thought holds that one of the pivotal causes of inadequate school performance is the inability of schools to adequately staff classrooms with qualified teachers. It is widely believed that schools are plagued by shortages of teachers, primarily due to recent increases in teacher retirements and student enrollments. This report summarizes a series of analyses that have investigated the possibility that there are other factors—tied to the organizational characteristics and conditions of schools—that are behind school staffing problems. The data utilized in this investigation are from the Schools and Staffing Survey and its supplement, the Teacher Followup Survey conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics. These data indicate that school staffing problems are not primarily due to teacher shortages, in the sense of an insufficient supply of qualified teachers. Rather, the data indicate that school staffing problems are primarily due to a "revolving door"—where large numbers of qualified teachers depart their jobs for reasons other than retirement. The data show that the amount of turnover accounted for by retirement is relatively minor when compared to that associated with other factors, such as teacher job dissatisfaction and teachers pursuing other jobs. This report concludes that teacher recruitment programs—traditionally dominant in the policy realm—will not solve the staffing problems of such schools if they do not also address the organizational sources of low teacher retention.
Out-of-Field Teaching and the Limits of Teacher Policy
A Research Report by Richard M. Ingersoll, September 2003.Description:
In this report, Richard Ingersoll focuses on trends over the past decade in the level of underqualified teachers in schools and why recent reforms have failed to adequately address this problem.Abstract:PDFAbstractOriginal Study
The failure to ensure that the nation's classrooms are all staffed with qualified teachers is one of the most important problems in contemporary American education. Over the past decade, many panels, commissions, and studies have focused attention on this problem and, in turn, numerous reforms have been initiated to upgrade the quality and quantity of the teaching force. This report focuses on the problem of underqualified teachers in the core academic fields at the 7-12th grade level. Using data from the nationally representative Schools and Staffing Survey, conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, this analysis examined how many classes are not staffed by minimally qualified teachers, and to what extent these levels have changed in recent years. The data show that while almost all teachers hold at least basic qualifications, there are high levels of out-of-field teaching—teachers assigned to teach subjects that do not match their training or education. Moreover, the data show that out-of-field teaching has gotten slightly worse in recent years, despite a plethora of reforms targeted to improving teacher quality. The report discusses possible reasons for the failure of these reform efforts. My thesis is that, despite the unprecedented interest in and awareness of this problem, there remains little understanding of a key issue—the reasons for the prevalence of underqualified teaching in American schools—resulting thus far in a failure of teacher policy and reform. I conclude by drawing out the lessons and implications of these failures for the prospects of the No Child Left Behind Act to successfully address the problem of underqualified teachers in classrooms in the coming years.
Reforming Districts: How Districts Support School Reform
A Research Report by Milbrey McLaughlin and Joan Talbert, September 2003.Description:
By detailing the experiences of three reforming California districts, this research report offers new evidence of district effects on school reform progress and improved student outcomes. The case studies offer instructive exception to conventional wisdom-or myths-about district reform. Among the refuted myths: teachers and principals resist a strong district role; turnover derails efforts to establish and sustain a consistent reform agenda; and local politics will defeat any serious reform agenda.Abstract:PDFAbstractOriginal StudyOriginal Study
School districts have participated in multiple rounds of education reform activity in the past few decades, yet few have made headway on system-wide school improvement. This paper addresses the questions of whether districts matter for school reform progress and what successful "reforming" districts do to achieve system change and to navigate the pitfalls associated with system change efforts. Using multi-level survey data and four-year case studies of three reforming California districts, the paper offers new evidence of district effects on school reform progress and improved student outcomes and develops a picture of a reforming district.
The reforming districts featured in this analysis offer instructive exception to conventional wisdom—or myths—about district reform. One myth predicts that teachers and principals will resist a strong district role. Yet, our research provides evidence that a weak central office in fact limits schools' reform progress, while a strong district role is effective and welcomed when it uses a strategic conception of responsibilities and leadership between system levels. A second myth about district reform holds that turnover or personnel "churn" will derail efforts to establish and sustain a consistent reform agenda. While this statement is true in many instances, in two districts studied, turnover in top leadership positions did not trigger significant change in district priorities or norms because planning processes and inclusive communication strategies over time had embedded them in district culture. A third myth asserts that local politics will defeat a serious reform agenda; yet, leaders in each reforming district articulated unambiguous goals and priorities and, with strong board support developed over many years, were able to navigate local political waters and protect a strong district role.
Each of the reforming districts studied was a self-conscious "learning organization," investing in system-wide learning—in the central office, in schools, in cross-school teacher networks, and in units such as the business office that typically are excluded from professional development focused on instruction. This research suggests that taking the district system as the "unit of change" is essential to advancing equitable and sustainable reform.
Who's Teaching Washington's Children? What We Know-and Need to Know-About Teachers and the Quality of Teaching in the State
A Technical Report commissioned by the Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession (CSTP) by Margaret Plecki, Ana Elfers, and Michael S. Knapp, August 2003.
Standards-Based Reform and Small Schools of Choice: How Reform Theories Converge in Three Urban Middle Schools
A Research Report by Chrysan Gallucci, Michael S. Knapp, Anneke Markholt, and Suzy Ort, July 2003.Description:
This report examines the ways two seemingly opposite theories of educational reform converge in three New York City middle schools. Using in-depth case studies, the authors look at what happened when a theory of centralized, standards-based instructional improvement was introduced into these schools on top of an existing theory that emphasized small schools, distinctive programs, and close relationships among students and adults. The result, a surprise to some, is that the two theories can coexist, even complement each other, but not without some tension.Abstract:PDFAbstractOriginal Study
The convergence of two apparently opposite theories of urban educational reform is analyzed as it occurs in three middle schools in a New York City school district. The first theory, emphasizing small schools of choice, promotes close relationships between students and adults in distinctive school programs. The second—centralized, standards-based instructional improvement—seeks to standardize instruction through demanding curriculum, an emphasis on standard-bearing work, and investment in professional learning. Using in-depth case studies developed over three years, the authors argue that the reform theories complemented one another in this case, but their coexistence varied based on how the schools organized themselves for professional learning, knowing their students well, and taking joint responsibility for learning outcomes. The sophistication and flexibility of the district's policies facilitated the convergence process. The authors conclude that, although tension producing, the first set of reform ideas can create the conditions in which rich and complex versions of standards-based practice can develop.
Understanding Reading Test Failure: Challenges for State and District Policy
Policy Brief 8, July 2003.
Triage or Tapestry? Teacher Unions' Work Toward Improving Teacher Quality in an Era of Systemic Reform
A Research Report by Nina Bascia, June 2003.Description:
By examining the work of six teacher unions, this report considers the contributions that teacher unions make toward improving the quality of teaching in today's context of systemic reform.Abstract:PDFAbstractOriginal StudyOriginal Study
his report looks at and identifies emerging trends in the roles that teacher unions play in educational reform and improving the quality of teaching. A description of the efforts of six teacher unions to improve teacher quality within the context of the current systemic reform movement shows a range and depth of union initiatives beyond what is commonly known in policy research. The report highlights organizational strengths of teacher unions, the unique contributions they make to teacher quality, and some of the challenges they face. Two broad conceptions of systemic reform in support of improving teaching quality—triage and tapestry—are presented and contrasted. When educational improvement is understood as a "tapestry" of efforts that requires multiple initiatives in many arenas by many reform players, unions appear to perform several important and unique functions toward improving teacher quality.
Theorizing About Responses to Reform: The Role of Communities of Practice
An Occasional Paper by Chrysan Gallucci, May 2003.Description:
This paper offers a summary of a policy-oriented case study that examined the practice of six elementary teachers and, more significantly, evaluates the value of a sociocultural approach for analyzing teachers' responses to the professional learning demands of standards-based reform policies.Abstract:PDFAbstract
This paper evaluates the usefulness of a sociocultural approach for analyzing teachers' responses to the professional learning demands of standards-based reform policies. A policy-oriented case study of the practice of six elementary teachers who worked in two high poverty schools in a demographically changing district in the state of Washington is summarized. Key findings of that study conclude that communities of teaching practice are sites for teacher learning and are mediators of teachers' responses to standards-based reform. Characteristics of the communities of practice, including their relative strength and openness (to learning), influence the degree to which teachers work out negotiated and thoughtful responses to policy demands. The present paper discusses the efficacy of Wenger's (1998) theory of learning for the study of policy to practice connections.
Meeting the Needs of Failing Readers: Cautions and Considerations for State Policy
An Occasional Paper by Marsha Riddle Buly and Sheila Valencia, April 2003.Description:
In this CTP Occasional Paper, the authors' findings are a caution to policymakers and educators who may be tempted to treat the same all students who score "below standard" on statewide reading assessments. By probing beneath student's failing scores on a 4th-grade state reading assessment, the authors found that scores masked distinctive and multifaceted problems having to do with 1) word identification, 2) fluency, and 3) meaning. To have treated the same all students who had failed would have been to miss the different instructional emphases called for by their underlying skills, strategies, and needs. The paper presents reading profiles of failing students and discusses five potential areas as potential policy levers for improving student performance in reading.Abstract:PDFAbstract
Every year thousands of students fail state reading tests and every year policymakers and educators search for strategies to help these students succeed. In this study, we probed beneath students' failing scores on a state reading assessment to investigate the specific reading abilities that may have contributed to student performance. We found that scores on state tests mask distinctive and multifaceted problems having to do with word identification, fluency, and meaning. Our findings are a caution to policymakers and educators who may be tempted to treat the same all students who score "below standard" on statewide reading assessments that now proliferate the education landscape. To do so is to miss the different instructional emphases called for by the underlying skills, strategies, and needs of failing students. Such a practice not only limits individual student progress; it may lead to an oversimplification of reform efforts and evaluation. This report presents reading profiles of failing students and discusses five areas-instruction; multiple indicators; alignment among standards, assessment, and instruction; allocation of resources; and evaluating reform-as potential policy levers for improving student performance in reading.
Using Student Work to Support Professional Development in Elementary Mathematics
A Working Paper by Elham Kazemi and Megan Loef Franke, April 2003.Description:
This CTP Working Paper charts the evolving conversations and pedagogical learning of one teacher workgroup as it met over the course of a year to discuss student work in elementary mathematics. Chronicled are details of the teachers' efforts to make sense of their students' reasoning in solving base ten system problems. The paper is organized into six sections that reflect the trajectory of the workgroup. The authors reflect upon that trajectory of teachers' talk to make several conjectures about the use of student work and the potential opportunities for learning that examining student work opens up for teachers. One such conjecture is that examining it is a promising way of beginning to work with a diverse group of teachers.Abstract:PDFAbstract
It is commonly argued that teachers need ongoing engagement with ideas about student reasoning, pedagogy, and subject matter if they are to make sense of the complex demands of current reforms in mathematics education. Drawing on similar arguments about the potential benefits of using student work to organize professional development, this study charts the development of one teacher workgroup over a year. The analysis addresses two questions: (a) How did teachers' talk about student work develop? and (b) What kinds of mathematical and pedagogical issues were raised as a result of their ongoing and changing talk? The study locates teacher learning in their interactions with one another in the workgroup. In monthly cross-grade meetings teachers brought and discussed student work that was generated by a similar mathematical problem posed to students in each of their classrooms. We document the teachers' efforts to detail their students' reasoning and discuss how their engagement with mathematical and pedagogical concerns created opportunities for teacher learning. We discuss the implications of this work for organizing teachers' collective deliberations about student reasoning and pedagogy.
Leading for Learning: Reflective Tools for School and District Leaders
A CTP Research Report in collaboration with The Wallace Foundation, February 2003.
Leading for Learning Sourcebook: Concepts and Examples
A CTP Research Report in collaboration with The Wallace Foundation, February 2003.
The Organization of Schools as an Overlooked Source of Underqualified Teaching
Policy Brief 7, December 2002.
What School Districts Spend on Professional Development
Policy Brief 6, November 2002.
Understanding How Policy Meets Practice: Two Takes on Local Response to a State Reform Initiative
An Occasional Paper by Michael S. Knapp, June 2002.Description:
In this CTP Occasional Paper, Center Director Mike Knapp explores connections between policy and instructional practice by analyzing two studies that employed different and contrasting research perspectives to examine the same policy case-the early implementation of the California Mathematics Framework. In reviewing the studies, Knapp discusses the conceptual blind spots of each perspective and suggests conceptual work that would enable scholars to entertain richer pictures of policy, instruction, and avenues of influence on instruction.Abstract:PDFAbstract
This paper explores the connections between policy and instructional practice through a close reading of contrasting studies and through an exploration of ways, prompted by the studies, to develop better conceptualizations of policy-practice connections. The two studies each examined the same policy case (the early implementation of the California Mathematics Framework more than a decade ago) from different vantage points-the first paying close attention, from the "inside-out," to the response of a teacher to the state reform policy, and the second focusing, from the "outside-in," on the way the policy's enactment generated changes in local policy implementation and support systems. The contrast between the studies brings to light conceptual blind spots in each research perspective that make it difficult to ascertain whether the studies offer contradictory or complementary understandings of the case and that may lead to under- or over-estimates of policy effects. Further conceptual work suggested by the paper would enable scholars to entertain richer pictures of policy, instruction, and avenues of policy influence on instruction.
San Diego City Schools: Comprehensive Reform Strategies at Work
Policy Brief 5, February 2002.
Out-of-Field Teaching, Educational Inquality, and the Organization of Schools: An Exploratory Analysis
A Research Report by Richard M. Ingersoll, January 2002.Description:
This research report examines the practice of out-of-field teaching as a possible source of underqualified teaching in U.S. schools.Abstract:PDFAbstractOriginal Study
Contemporary educational theory holds that one of the pivotal causes of inadequate student achievement, especially in disadvantaged schools, is the inability of schools to adequately staff classrooms with qualified teachers. Deficits in the quantity of teachers produced and in the quality of preparation prospective teachers receive have long been singled out as primary explanations for underqualified teaching. In this study, I hypothesize that the manner in which schools are organized and in which teachers are utilized can account for as much of the problem of underqualified teaching as do inadequacies in teacher training or the supply of teachers. This analysis specifically focuses on a little recognized source of underqualified teaching the problem of out-of-field teaching—teachers being assigned by school administrators to teach subjects that do not match their training or education. I use data from the Schools and Staffing Survey—a large, comprehensive, nationally representative survey of teachers conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics. The results show that while most teachers, even in disadvantaged schools, hold basic qualifications, a significant proportion of these qualified teachers, especially in disadvantaged schools, are assigned to teach classes out of their fields. Data also show that out-of-field teaching is not primarily due to school hiring difficulties resulting from teacher shortages. In contrast, the analysis shows that a number of aspects of the administration and organization of schools are significantly related to out-of-field teaching. For example, school district regulations concerning minimal education requirements for new hires, the quality of principal leadership, the strategies schools use to cope with teacher recruitment and hiring, and average school class sizes all have an independent association with the extent of out-of-field teaching in schools, after controlling for other factors.
San Diego's Big Boom: District Bureaucracy Supports Culture of Learning
A Research Report by Amy M. Hightower, January 2002.Description:
This research report chronicles three years of reform by San Diego City Schools and explores what it means to radically refocus a large urban district on instructional improvement.Abstract:PDFAbstract
This paper contributes to an emerging body of literature on school districts as active partners in education reform. Using qualitative methods, it details the first three years of a major districtwide initiative in San Diego City Schools as reformers sought to orient central office bureaucracy around an instructional agenda. This paper both describes the major thrusts of the reform, including reactions of participants, and wrestles with the notion that large-scale, systemic change in an entrenched urban district may require strong, even bureaucratic, methods to transition the system into supporting a culture focused on instruction.
Connecticut's Story: A Model of State Teaching Policy
Policy Brief 4, June 2001.
District Policy and Beginning Teachers: Where the Twain Shall Meet
A Research Report by Pamela Grossman, Sheila Valencia, and Clarissa Thompson, June 2001.Description:
This Research Report looks at the role that policies concerning curriculum, professional development, and mentoring in two reform-active districts played in shaping the experiences and concerns of three first-year language arts teachers.Abstract:PDFAbstractOriginal Study
This analysis considers what role district policy environments play in the lives of beginning teachers. As part of a longitudinal study of teacher learning in the language arts, the authors followed 10 teachers from their final year of teacher education into their first three years of teaching. In this paper, they examined the role that policies concerning curriculum, professional development, and mentoring in two reform-active districts played in shaping the experiences and concerns of three first-year language arts teachers. The questions asked in the study locate it at the intersection of two distinct literatures—the literature on beginning teachers and the literature on the relationship of policy and practice. Whereas other studies on beginning teacher concerns have taken a psychological perspective, focusing on the individual teacher as the explanatory factor, this study employs a more sociocultural view, looking at the broader contexts in which individual teachers work. The authors found that the two districts served powerful roles as teacher educators. The tasks the districts assigned the teachers, the resources they provided, the learning environments they created, the assessments they designed and the conversations they provoked proved to be consequential for what the teachers came to learn about language arts teaching and teaching in general.
A Case of Successful Teaching Policy: Connecticut's Long-Term Efforts to Improve Teaching and Learning
A Research Report by Suzanne M. Wilson, Linda Darling-Hammond, and Barnett Berry, February 2001.Description:
This Research Report describes 15-years' worth of successful effort by Connecticut to implement a comprehensive set of teaching quality policies to support improved student learning. The authors hypothesize that the power of Connecticut's teaching policy reform lies not simply in their comprehensiveness and in the state's political stability over the last decade but also in the power of policies to build capacity in teachers, students, administrators, teacher educators and state department staff. A Policy Brief based on this report is also available.Abstract:PDFBriefAbstractOriginal Study
In this monograph, the authors describe Connecticut's long-term efforts to implement a comprehensive set of teaching quality policies to support improved student learning. The authors begin by describing the 15-year evolution of policies designed to recruit, prepare, and support teachers, while also creating greater accountability for the acquisition of knowledge and skills on the part of both students and teachers. That description is followed by a summary of the large concomitant gains in student achievement in both mathematics and literacy and an evaluation of competing explanations for these gains. The authors conclude by hypothesizing that the power of Connecticut's teaching policy reforms lies not simply in their comprehensiveness and in the state's political stability over the last decade but also in the power of the policies to build capacity in all participants: teachers, students, administrators, teacher educators, and state department staff alike.
Revisiting What States Are Doing to Improve the Quality of Teaching: An Update on Patterns and Trends
A Working Paper by Eric Hirsch, Julia E. Koppich, and Michael S. Knapp, February 2001.Description:
This updated version of an earlier CTP Working Paper takes a fresh look at recent developments in the realms of state policy related to teacher and teaching quality. The broad-brush, descriptive analysis covers state-level policy action pertaining to (1) development and promotion of high standards for student learning and for teaching; (2) attempts to attract, reward, and retain capable people in the teaching profession; (3) support for high-quality initial preparation and induction of new teachers; (4) attempts to motivate and support teachers' ongoing professional learning; and (5) enhancements to the school workplace environment.Abstract:PDFAbstractOriginal Study
This updated version of the 1998 CTP Working Paper What States Are Doing to Improve the Quality of Teaching takes a fresh look at recent developments in realms of state policy related to teacher and teaching quality. Paying closest attention to recent legislative activity, the analysis describes state-level policy action pertaining to: (1) development and promotion of high standards for student learning and for teaching; (2) attempts to attract, reward, and retain capable people in the teaching profession; (3) support for high-quality initial preparation and induction of new teachers; (4) attempts to motivate and support teachers' ongoing professional learning; and (5) enhancements to the school workplace environment. The results indicate that states have been particularly active with respect to the development of teacher standards and assessments, approaches to a growing recruitment challenge, more proactive ways to improve teacher preparation (and hold teacher education institutions accountable), and some targeted efforts to strengthen professional development. While the paper is descriptive, not evaluative, the authors call in their concluding remarks for more coherent, data-informed policy related to the quality of teachers and teaching, yet acknowledge the difficulty of bringing this about at the state level.
Teacher Preparation Research: Current Knowledge, Gaps, and Recommendations
A Research Report by Suzanne M. Wilson, Robert E. Floden, and Joan Ferrini-Mundy, February 2001.Description:PDFExecutive SummaryOriginal Study
The Research Report summarizes what research has to say about five key issues in teacher preparation: subject matter preparation, pedagogical preparation, clinical training, preservice teacher education policies, and alternative certification. The report was prepared for the U.S. Department of Education and the Office for Educational Research and Improvement by CTP in collaboration with researchers at Michigan State University. An executive summary of the report is also available.
A Different Approach to Solving the Teacher Shortage Problem
Policy Brief 3, authored by Richard Ingersoll, January 2001.
Teacher Turnover, Teacher Shortages, and the Organization of Schools
A Research Report by Richard M. Ingersoll, January 2001.Description:
This Research Report provides data and a new framework for looking at the teacher shortage problem. The author shifts the focus away from the problem's two most common explanations (teacher retirement and student enrollment growth) to examine from a sociological view how certain organizational characteristics and conditions of schools lead to low teacher retention. The analysis suggests that education policies, such as teacher recruitment programs, will not solve the staffing problems of schools if they do not also address what is going on in schools that cause teachers to leave. A Policy Brief based on this report is also available.Abstract:PDFBriefAbstractOriginal Study
Contemporary educational theory holds that one of the pivotal causes of inadequate school performance is the inability of schools to adequately staff classrooms with qualified teachers. Contemporary theory also holds that these staffing problems are primarily due to shortages of teachers, which, in turn, are primarily due to recent increases in teacher retirements and student enrollments. This analysis investigates the possibility that there are other factors that might have an impact on teacher turnover levels, and, in turn, the staffing problems of schools, factors rooted in the organizational characteristics and conditions of schools. The data utilized in this investigation are from the Schools and Staffing Survey and its supplement, the Teacher Followup Survey, a large, comprehensive, nationally representative survey of teachers and schools conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics. The results of this analysis show that, net of teacher effects, there are significant effects of school characteristics and organizational conditions on teacher turnover which have largely been overlooked by previous research. For example, the data show that while high-poverty public schools have moderately higher rates, contrary to conventional wisdom, neither larger schools, nor public schools in large school districts, nor urban public schools have especially high rates of teacher turnover. In contrast, small private schools stand out for their high rates of turnover. Moreover, the data show, again contrary to popular wisdom, that the amount of turnover accounted for by retirement is relatively minor, especially when compared to that resulting from two related causes—teacher job dissatisfaction and teachers pursuing other jobs. The data show that, in particular, low salaries, inadequate support from the school administration, student discipline problems, and limited faculty input into school decision-making all contribute to higher rates of turnover, after controlling for the characteristics of both teachers and schools. The results of this investigation suggest that school staffing problems are neither synonymous with, nor primarily due to, teacher shortages in the conventional sense of a deficit in the supply of teachers. Rather, this study suggests that school staffing problems are primarily due to excess demand resulting from a "revolving door"—where large numbers of teachers depart their jobs for reasons other than retirement. This study also suggests that popular education initiatives, such as teacher recruitment programs, will not solve the staffing problems of such schools if they do not also address the organizational sources of low teacher retention.
What Makes Teacher Community Different from a Gathering of Teachers?
An Occasional Paper by Pamela Grossman, Sam Wineburg, and Stephen Woolworth, January 2001.Description:
This CTP Occasional Paper details the formation and development of teacher community through a project that brought together 22 English and social studies teachers, a special education teacher, and an ESL teacher to plan interdisciplinary curriculum. It includes colorful sections of dialogue among the teachers and sheds new light on definitions of professional community, its stages of development, and the challenges that confront community building in a fast-paced high school workplace.Abstract:PDFAbstractOriginal Study
In this paper, the authors draw on their experience with a professional development project to propose a model for studying the formation and development of teacher community. The project they describe brought together 22 English and social studies teachers, as well as a special education teacher and an ESL teacher, from an urban high school for a period of 2 1/2 years. The teachers met twice a month to read together in the field of history and literature and to work on an interdisciplinary curriculum. This detailed account of the first 18 months of the project sheds new light on definitions of professional community, its stages of development, and the challenges that confront community in the workplace of high schools. One of the challenges consists of the need to negotiate an "essential tension" at the heart of teachers' professional community. Among this group of teachers, many felt that the primary reason to meet was to improve classroom practices and student learning, while others were more interested in the potential for continuing intellectual development in the subjects they taught. The authors—who deliberately built the essential tension into the project—claim that these two views must both be respected in any successful attempt to create and sustain intellectual community in the workplace. The authors also describe the challenges of maintaining diverse perspectives within a community and how familiar fault lines—both in society and in schools—threaten the pursuit of community. The paper includes a model of the markers of community formation—as manifested in participants' talk and actions—and concludes with a discussion of why we must continue to care about professional communities.
Resources, Instruction, and Research
A Working Paper by David K. Cohen, Stephen W. Raudenbush, and Deborah Loewenberg Ball, December 2000.Description:
This Working Paper looks at resource use in schools and discusses research designs that would be appropriate to identify resource effects. Whereas education policymakers have long believed that conventional resoures, i.e. books, bricks, class size, and teacher qualifications directly affect student learning and achievement, the authors here argue it's all about how those resources get used in instruction. How resource use is influenced by the management of certain key problems of instruction, including coordination, incentives to use the resources, and management of instructional environments, is also discussed.Abstract:PDFAbstractOriginal Study
Education policymakers have long believed that conventional resources, i.e., books, bricks, class size, and teacher qualifications, directly affect student learning and achievement. This working paper builds on more recent research and argues that learning is affected by how resources are used in instruction, not by their mere presence or absence. If use is central to resource effects, research on the effects of resources should be broadened to include the chief influences on use, including teachers' and students' knowledge, skill, and will, and features of teachers' and learners' environments, including school leadership, academic norms, and institutional structures. We discuss how resource use is influenced by the management of certain key problems of instruction, including coordination, incentives to use resources, and management of instructional environments. Having framed the issues in a way that places use by teachers and learners at the center of inquiry, we then discuss research designs that would be appropriate to identify resource effects.
Connecting Districts to the Policy Dialogue: A Review of Literature on the Relationship of Districts with States, Schools, and Communities
A Working Paper by Julie A. Marsh, September 2000.Description:
This Working Paper reviews literature about the key roles that districts play in supporting improvements in teaching and learning, including the district role in implementing state policies and enacting school-level change and what the key factors are that enable districts to effectively support improvements. It also considers how community involvement and collaboration contribute to districts' improvement efforts. The paper suggests directions for future research to advance the state of knowledge on school districts.Abstract:PDFAbstractOriginal Study
The current wave of education reform pays little attention to school districts. State and federal policies have increasingly identified schools as the most important units of change-rendering local districts virtual non-actors in the process of educational improvement (Elmore, 1993, 1997a; Elmore and Burney, 1999; Fullan, forthcoming; Massell and Goertz, 1999; Spillane, 1996). The focus on state-level education standards, curriculum frameworks, assessment, and accountability systems, along with state and federal efforts to serve specific populations through categorical programs, restructure schools, increase site-based decision-making, and introduce greater parental choice exemplify this trend in education policy. To some reformers, school districts are the problem. Critics claim that they have no empirically significant role to play, are inconsistent with sound policy, and are inefficient bureaucratic institutions (Chubb and Moe, 1990; Elmore, 1993, citing Finn, 1991). To other observers, school districts have become overly politicized and unresponsive to public, teacher, and student needs (Hill, 1999). Other policymakers simply view districts as relatively insignificant go-betweens through which policies and funding must pass to reach the more important school-level actors. Finally, some reformers have invented new organizational forms and networks (e.g., New American Schools Development Corporation) that bypass districts in order to directly target resources and support to schools.
Despite this trend in policy, an increasing number of studies in the past decade or so have documented the key roles that districts play in supporting improvements in teaching and learning-building a strong case that school districts matter (Spillane, 1996). The following paper examines this emerging body of literature and attempts to answer the following questions:
- What roles do school districts play in efforts to improve teaching and learning? How do they affect the implementation of state policies and the enactment of school-level changes?
- What are the key factors that enable districts to effectively support improvements in teaching and learning?
- How does community involvement or collaboration contribute to districts' improvement efforts?
In conclusion, this paper will examine several unanswered questions and suggest directions for future research to advance the state of knowledge on school districts.
State Teaching Policies and Student Achievement
Policy Brief 2, December 1999.
New Tools for Research on Instruction and Instructional Policy: A Web-based Teacher Log
A Working Paper by Deborah Loewenberg Ball, Eric Camburn, Richard Correnti, Geoffrey Phelps, and Raven Wallace, December 1999.Description:
This Working Paper reports on the initial development and pilot-testing of a web-based instrument designed to collect daily data on instruction, which then could be aggregated to create portraits of content emphasis and pedagogy. The instrument was developed for use in the Study of Instructional Improvement and although it is not currently being used, the authors think there are elements of its design that may be of use to those interested in instructional tracking tools.Abstract:PDFAbstractOriginal Study
This working paper reports on the initial development and pilot testing of a Web-based instrument designed to collect daily data on instruction. This instrument, referred to as the teacher log, was being developed for use in the Study of Instructional Improvement, a large scale, longitudinal study focusing on school improvement in high poverty schools. Although the instructional log we are ultimately using in this research is not a Web-based tool, and its features are both similar to and different from the one under discussion in this report, we think that there are elements of our early instrument design work that may be of use to others interested in the development of such tools to track instruction.
In recent years, a number of studies seeking to generate more detailed data on instruction have pioneered the use of teacher logs. Such logs are generally self-administered instruments which ask teachers to report on topics covered, pedagogy, and more. Teachers fill out such logs on a daily basis and data from these daily reports is then aggregated to create portraits of content emphasis and pedagogy over time.
In this pilot work, we set out to further develop the potential of teacher logs by experimenting with Web-based technology and computer branching. These features open up possibilities for capturing a much wider range of data and for linking this data to the work of individual students in classrooms. Furthermore, where paper and pencil logs must be distributed to teachers and data from each log entered into a data base, Web technology allows data to be entered directly as teachers complete the log, potentially reducing the burden on both teachers and researchers. The teacher log pilot study was conducted in the spring of 1998 to test the feasibility of using a Web based instrument to collect data on instruction. Seven teachers in two schools used the teacher log to report on 29 lessons in mathematics and reading. In addition, project researchers observed classroom instruction, filled out log reports, and wrote detailed narrative descriptions for 24 of these lessons.
Results from this pilot were encouraging. All teachers were able to use the teacher log to report on instruction. Data was successfully entered through a Web interface into a data base and subsequently used to conduct provisional analyses of both instruction and the reliability and validity of the instrument.
State Action to Improve Teaching
Policy Brief 1, December 1999.
Teacher Quality and Student Achievement: A Review of State Policy Evidence
A Research Report by Linda Darling-Hammond, December 1999.Description:
This Research Report examines the ways in which teacher qualifications and other school inputs are related to student achievement across states and suggests that policies adopted by states regarding teacher education, licensing, hiring, and professional development may make important differences in the qualifications and capacities teachers bring to their work.Abstract:PDFBriefAbstractOriginal Study
Using data from a 50-state survey of policies, state case study analyses, the 1993-94 Schools and Staffing Surveys (SASS), and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), this study examines the ways in which teacher qualifications and other school inputs are related to student achievement across states. The findings of both the qualitative and quantitative analyses suggest that policy investments in the quality of teachers may be related to improvements in student performance. Quantitative analyses indicate that measures of teacher preparation and certification are by far the strongest correlates of student achievement in reading and mathematics, both before and after controlling for student poverty and language status. State policy surveys and case study data are used to evaluate policies that influence the overall level of teacher qualifications within and across states. This analysis suggests that policies adopted by states regarding teacher education, licensing, hiring, and professional development may make an important difference in the qualifications and capacities that teachers bring to their work. The implications for state efforts to enhance quality and equity in public education are discussed.
Federal Research Investment and the Improvement of Teaching, 1980-1997
An Occasional Paper by Julia Koppich and Michael Knapp, April 1998.