Advancing Educator Effectiveness
Opening TAP Conference Plenary Panel: Advancing Educator Effectiveness
NIET Chairman and TAP Founder Lowell Milken moderated the opening plenary panel titled "Advancing Educator Effectiveness: Policies and Practices," which featured U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Innovation and Improvement Nadya Dabby, Tennessee Commissioner of Education Dr. Candice McQueen, Louisiana Superintendent of Education John White and Dr. Scott Ridley, dean of Texas Tech University's college of education.
Panelists discussed innovative practices to improve teacher and school leader effectiveness and increase student achievement growth—especially in high-need schools—and noted where and how successful practices are impacting state and district policies.
L-R: Milken, Dabby, McQueen, Ridley, and White
Milken set the stage by highlighting that America's teachers are tasked with preparing young people to compete in a challenging global economy, making educator effectiveness an urgent priority. Research has repeatedly shown that teachers are the most important school related factor impacting student achievement, he said, yet teachers are not always provided the resources and support needed to reach their potential.
Innovative districts and states are leading the way in developing more effective approaches to increasing educator effectiveness, and many are using federal grant funds to support and scale up this work in high-need schools.
"We are now in a place where a state or school system has no reason why they shouldn't be able to have a coherent picture for educators of the curriculum and standards," White said. "We should not accept curriculum incoherence. The fundamentals of coherence and intensive supports for teachers have to be there."
Creating opportunities for teachers to collaborate helps them to establish clear goals and communicate the means to reach them. McQueen highlighted the importance of building and maintaining teacher networks. She described how Tennessee has worked to create a hub in which teachers working in networks can continue to sustain instructional improvement over time.
"Educators are natural innovators," noted Dabby, "but we lack a routine way to take those risks, learn from them, and help others to adapt and adopt so everyone doesn't have to reinvent the wheel. Teachers in classrooms play a critically important role" in sharing their stories about what works.
The next step is ensuring that these strategies are effectively transferred to the classroom, where they will have the most impact. McQueen described the importance of the state educator evaluation model and how the state is "working every year to ensure that our evaluation results match our student achievement data" in order to continue to connect teacher practice with student learning.
"We are looking to higher education to continue the partnership on teacher effectiveness," she noted.
Ridley commented on the importance of planning for sustainability, particularly when using grant funds. "We think from the beginning about how we can identify and internalize the costs of those elements that show effectiveness," he stated.
To that end, Milken asked panelists for their suggestions on how audience members can support progress. Dabby commented that in education we often continue to add on new programs or initiatives when, instead, "we need to simplify and understand what is most important about the work we are doing."