Excellent Teachers, Meet High-Needs Schools

We are constantly hearing about the struggles finding (and keeping) effective teachers. And the discussion gets louder and louder when it comes to placing (and keeping) such teachers in high-needs schools.

A decade ago, the Feds tried imposing “highly qualified teacher” provisions on such schools, but those provisions have had little lasting impact. Next came a collective push for merit pay for teachers, particularly those in hard-to-serve schools. But again, the data on whether such efforts improved student outcomes or improved placement efforts is still TBD.

So the (multi) million-dollar question is, what can we do to ensure that excellent teachers are being placed in our high-needs schools?

Over at Education Week, Arthur Levine, the president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, offers some sage insights on what it takes to match great teacher with in-need schools.

Based on the Foundation’s experiences with Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellow programs in Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey, and Ohio, Levine offers 15 specific lessons from their on-the-ground efforts working with real teachers at real ed schools in real states before moving those educators to real schools.

These lessons provide a real, effective blueprint for successfully addressing the teacher quality debate. From selectivity to one-year masters programs, accountability to recruitment, partnerships to sustainability, these Woodrow Wilson exemplars can serve as tent poles for future efforts across the country.

And Levine knows of what he speaks. The former president of Teachers College was ahead of his time was ahead of his time in focusing on how to address teacher prep for the 21st century while at TC. And he is ahead of the pack with the Teaching Fellows initiative.

The lessons put forward by Woodrow Wilson Foundation are important for both the five states currently invested in such a path, as well as for the 45 states that should be pursuing similar ideas. If nothing else, they serve as an essential launch pad for where the we need to start focusing when it comes to identifying and preparing excellent teachers for a career in the classroom.

Rather than looks for the next fad or the newest silver bullet, isn’t it time we look to proven ideas for getting excellent educators in hard-to-staff schools? Levine’s list serves as the syllabus for such a discussion.

full disclosure, Eduflack serves as a director at the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.

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