NEPC Newsletter: What Do We Know About Teacher Quality?

Reporter Matt Barnum recently wrote for the Atlantic on The Contradictions of Good Teaching. In the article, he asks, “Is a good teacher one who makes students enjoy class the most or one who is strict and has high standards?” The piece raises important questions about defining and enabling good teaching in America’s classrooms. Two NEPC Policy Briefs shed light on these issues:

Policy Reforms and De-professionalization of Teaching. In his recent Atlantic article, Barnum writes about a study that concludes that teachers who improve students’ test scores get lower marks from students on surveys measuring students’ happiness in math class. Rich Milner’s NEPC brief raises additional questions about evaluating teachers using student test scores. Milner’s analysis finds that assessing teachers based on their students’ test scores de-professionalizes instruction by prioritizing teaching to the test over other important aspects of instruction, such as student well-being.

Creating Teacher Incentives for School Excellence and Equity.

What can schools do to increase the odds that they will attract strong teachers? This brief from Barnett Berry and Jon Eckert examines the research and then offers four recommendations:

Use incentives to attract and retain good teachers at high-needs schools.

Expand incentive programs to reward teachers who contribute to organizational priorities such as collaboration or peer evaluation.
Improve teacher working conditions through a variety of methods including eliminating out-of-field teaching assignments, hiring principals who encourage teacher leadership, and allotting time and tools for teachers to learn from one another.

State, local and federal officials should champion examples of high-needs schools that do a good job of recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers by providing high-quality, sustainable learning and working environments.

NEPC Resources on Teacher Education, Quality, and Professional Development ->The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces and disseminates high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. Visit us at:

Some observations on the End the Contract action at the Kent County Commission meeting

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

Yesterday, roughly 50 people organized around the End the Contract campaign, went a second time to the Kent County Commission meeting to demand an end to the contract the county has with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

It is always a good indication of how effective social movements are, when systems of power respond with ridiculous tactics. In the picture above you can see that Kent County officials moved the podium to the center of the room and then added those retractable barriers to both sides, with signs on either side saying, “Staff Only Beyond This Point.”

This was no doubt in response to the fact that at the June 28th County Commission meeting, we took over the semi-circle space where the county’s logo is displayed on the carpeting.

The people who came to demand an end to the contract with ICE, brought signs to display, many of which had…

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