Washington, DC – The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results released today demonstrate that early adopters of education reforms that include raising academic standards and improving teaching effectiveness in partnership with teachers have seen the greatest gains in student learning.
Two places with the largest gains – Washington, DC and Tennessee – built rigorous teacher evaluation systems that emphasize student learning, and matched those systems with a major investment in professional development, including Common Core-aligned tools and resources. Celine Coggins, CEO of Teach Plus, a national teacher voice organization that works in both Washington, DC and Memphis, Tennessee, said, “It is not surprising that their gains stand out from states that are in earlier stages of implementing similar reforms. Teachers throughout our network in both locations are excited about the higher bar that has been set for their profession and the recognition and leadership opportunities that come from having success with students.”
Coggins said the NAEP results in Tennessee and Washington, DC are a testament to the work both have done to set and enforce clear, high standards for both students and teachers. “We commend the students and teachers for their hard work – as well as Commissioner Huffman, Superintendent Hopson, Chancellor Henderson and public charter school leaders who have shown relentless efforts to focus on teaching effectiveness and raise the standards for both teachers and students in their schools. Their efforts are clearly paying off, and I hope this signals similar changes to come nationwide.”
“One of the common denominators in Tennessee and Washington, DC is that these are places where policymakers have been taking teacher engagement seriously,” said Dr. David Driscoll, chair of the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) and a member of the Teach Plus Board of Directors. “These promising results suggest that when teachers are given leadership roles in evaluation reform and Common Core implementation, as is the case through Teach Plus’ programs, these tools can and will have a positive impact on teaching and learning.”
Washington, DC and Memphis, TN have consistently led the nation in the development and implementation of rigorous, multiple-measure evaluation tools. Memphis built its system, called the Teacher Effectiveness Measure (TEM), with significant input from local teachers through a partnership with Teach Plus. Earlier this year, Teach Plus released the results of a survey of Memphis teachers, indicating that a majority of the teachers believe that the TEM is leading to positive outcomes for students (read the full report here). District of Columbia Public Schools has invested significant resources into improving their human capital, including bringing to Washington, DC programs like the T3 Initiative that engage teachers as leaders in school improvement.
Teachers have also led the transition to the Common Core in both Tennessee and Washington, DC. Professional development conferences hosted by Teach Plus in Washington, DC and Memphis drew nearly 500 local teachers for teacher-led workshops on Common Core best practices. (Nearly 5,000 teachers participated in teacher-led Common Core conferences nationwide.)
Memphis Teaching Policy Fellow Casie Jones, who serves as a Common Core Coach for Tennessee, said that efforts to engage teachers as leaders in the transition to the new standards will undoubtedly benefit students. “The most effective professional development is teacher-to-teacher. Through the Teach Plus Common Core conference and as a trained coach for my state, I’ve been able to collaborate with other teachers to deepen my understanding of the Common Core, and then share that knowledge with colleagues,” Jones said. “Teachers here in Tennessee are working incredibly hard to improve learning outcomes for our students, and I’m energized by the fact that my state is making great progress.”
Teach Plus is a national non-profit based in Boston whose mission is to improve outcomes for urban children by ensuring that a greater proportion of students have access to effective, experienced teachers. Teach Plus runs three programs designed to place teacher leaders at the center of reform: Teaching Policy Fellows, the Teach Plus Network, and T3: Turnaround Teacher Teams. The programs focus on demonstrably effective teachers who want to continue classroom teaching while also expanding their impact as leaders in their schools and in national, state, and district policy. Teach Plus began with 16 founding teachers from urban district and charter schools in Greater Boston. Since its inception as a non-profit in August 2009, Teach Plus has grown to a network of more than 14,000 solutions-oriented teachers in six major cities across the country. www.teachplus.org