The Federal Role in Education: Considerations for ESEA Reauthorization

Reading List: Human Capital in ESEA

Overview and Implementation of NCLB Human Capital Provisions

Birman, B. F., Boyle, A., Le Floch, K.C., Elledge, A., Holtzman, D., Song, M., Thomsen, K., Walters, K., & Yoon, K. (2009). State and local implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act. Volume VIII: Teacher quality under NLCB. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development. Available at

This report presents findings from two national studies and summarizes the implementation of NCLB’s teacher qualifications provisions through academic year 2006-07. We have included two excerpts:

Chapter 1 of this report contains an overview of the teacher and paraprofessional qualification provisions of NCLB. Title I of NCLB requires states to set standards for all public school teachers to be highly qualified; this applies to all teachers of core academic subjects and to teachers of limited English proficient students and students with disabilities. Additionally, the law mandates the provision of information to parents, educators and the public at large about these qualifications and the provision of support for actions by states, districts and schools. The chapter also offers a policy context for the implementation of those teacher qualification provisions and surveys the evaluation questions and data sources for the national study of teacher quality under NCLB.

The executive summary presents results of the study which indicate that most teachers have met the NCLB requirements to be considered highly qualified, but that state definitions of this requirements varied greatly. In addition, 86 percent of Title I instructional paraprofessionals were considered highly qualified under NCLB. The percentage of those who were not highly qualified was higher for special education and middle schools teachers. Despite NCLB’s focus on sustained, intensive, classroom-focused professional development, there was a relatively small portion of teachers that reported taking part in content-focused professional development in mathematics or reading for a sustained period of time.

Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness

**Little, O., Goe, L., & Bell, C. (2009 April). A practical guide to evaluating teacher effectiveness. Washington, DC: National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality. Available at

This practice guide provides a definition for teacher effectiveness, explores different methods of evaluating teacher effectiveness, and discusses the utility of these methods for addressing specific aspects of teaching. The authors define each evaluative method, cite research regarding its effectiveness, provide examples of how it can be applied, and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each model. The practice guide reviews a) value-added models, b) classroom observations, c) principal evaluations, d) analyses of classroom artifacts, e) portfolios, f) self-reports of practice, and g) student evaluations.

Futernick, K. (2010, January). Incompetent teachers or dysfunctional systems? Re-framing the debate on teacher quality and accountability. San Francisco: WestEd. Available at

In this report the author describes the problems associated with teacher removal as an approach to improving instruction, suggesting that more often poor teaching is the result of poor functioning systems than it is of individual shortcomings. The author suggests re-framing the issue of effective teaching to focus on supportive systems. He recommends a system of reciprocal accountability where teachers are held accountable for their performance at the same time that the system is accountable for providing conditions that enable their success. Thus teacher quality is a function of two things: the people themselves and the quality of the system that is created for them.

Toch, T., & Rothman, R. (2008). Rush to judgment: Teacher evaluation in public education. Washington, DC: Education Sector. Available at

This report documents the troubled state of teacher evaluation and the need for reform. The authors surveyed traditional approaches to measure teacher effectiveness and argue for a better approach than the classroom “drive by.” They then examine a number of comprehensive evaluation systems to highlight advantages and challenges associated with new approaches to evaluation. The report concludes with recommendations for strengthening teacher evaluation in ways that would help school systems to judge teachers’ strengths and weaknesses more fairly and effectively and to use evaluations to improve teaching.

Equitable Distribution of Effective Teachers

Goe, L. (2009) America’s opportunity: Teacher effectiveness and equity in K12 classrooms (Chapter 3). Washington, DC: National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality. Available at

Chapter 3 of this report on teacher effectiveness and equity reviews the challenges related to recruitment, hiring, and retention that states have faced in addressing the equitable distribution mandates in the law. It outlines steps that states can take to address these challenges, which include the accurate identification and understanding of cases of inequitable distribution as well as strategies to improve these situations once identified. In addition, the chapter presents case studies on two states (Delaware and Tennessee) with unique approaches to collecting and acting upon data to better understand teacher distribution challenges.

Teacher Compensation

Baratz-Snowden, J. (2007). The future of teaching compensation: Déjà vu or something new? Chicago: Center for American Progress. Available at

This report provides an overview of the political and educational context for teacher compensation and what it takes to make pay-for-performance systems work in schools. The author discusses the numerous factors driving the current push for pay for performance, and then presents examples of recent approaches to teacher compensation, including those in Denver and Florida, to illustrate important considerations in designing an effective teacher compensation system. The author concludes that any new system must be administratively feasible, professionally acceptable, publicly credible, legally defensible, and economically affordable.

Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness

Harris, D. N., & Hill, H. C. (2009). Point/Counter-Point: Teacher value-added: Don’t end the search before it starts & Evaluating valued-added models: A validity argument approach. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management

The authors debate the merits of value-added models as a measure of teacher performance. Harris first states that teacher value-added measures provide useful information at little cost and that information is useful for credentials and measures of observed performance. He acknowledges that almost nothing is known about how value-added will change or improve actual teaching, but notes that fundamental flaws exist with all current measures of instruction and argues that value-added models merit additional attention. Hill questions the assumptions regarding the validity of value-added for teachers: scores represent quality, scores are accurate/reliable enough, scores are free from manipulation. She concludes that it is irresponsible to use value-added scores in high-stakes situations absent other information about teacher quality. The authors ultimately agree that a pressing need exists for measuring teacher quality and that value-added scores can be one indicator of instructional quality, but arrive at different conclusions about the strength of value-added models as a measure of effectiveness.

Effective Leaders

New Leaders for New Schools. (2009). Principal effectiveness: A new principalship to drive student achievement, teacher effectiveness and school turnaround with key insights into the Urban Excellence Framework. New York: Author. pp. 5-9, 17-22. Available at

This article highlights the importance of strong school leadership in driving student achievement and teacher effectiveness. The authors propose an evidence based definition of principal effectiveness that is based in student outcomes, teacher effectiveness, and leadership actions. The article identifies five leadership actions critical to driving dramatic gains in student learning and teacher effectiveness: 1) ensuring rigorous, goal- and data-driven learning and teaching; 2) building and managing a high-quality staff aligned to the school’s vision of success for every student; 3) developing an achievement- and belief-based school-wide culture; 4) instituting operations and systems to support learning; and 5) modeling the personal leadership that sets the tone for all student and adult relationships in the school. The authors also suggest policy recommendations for states, school districts, and philanthropic funders to create the conditions for principals to turn around low performing schools.

Developing Effective Teachers

Darling-Hammond, L., Chung Wei, R., Andree, A., Richardson, N., and Orphanos, S. (2009 February). Professional learning in the learning profession: A status report on teacher development in the United States and abroad. Dallas, TX: National Staff Development Council, The School Redesign Network at Stanford University. Available at

This report discusses the importance of designing and offering creative and effective professional development (PD) for improving teaching quality and student achievement in the U.S. and around the globe. The report summarizes relevant research regarding the implementation and effectiveness of PD, finding that effective PD is intensive, ongoing, and tied to practice by focusing on teaching specific curricular content. Effective PD also aligns with school improvement efforts and builds working relationships among teachers. The report explores PD trends and strategies of high achieving countries to illustrate the approaches used in environments where teacher learning is a top priority and where students learn and achieve more. Finally, the authors use survey data to describe trends in the implementation of PD in the United States and examine the extent to which teachers receive the kinds of PD that research recommends or that other nations embrace.

**This document is considered a priority reading.