Press Room NEWSLETTERS
The Education Innovator #28
Volume III
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The Education Innovator
 August 2, 2005 • Number 28
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Feature
Mid-Atlantic Regional Teachers Project
What's New
Secretary Spellings addresses Teacher-to-Teacher Summer Workshop; 15th anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act noted; Education Secretary says that children are reading better and more at National Reading First Conference and in op-ed articles; Secretary Spellings comments on Business Roundtable report; new SES in Action toolkit available for parents and administrators; Rodel Foundation issues report card for the Delaware school system; Kauffman Foundation report shows charter schools not a real estate risk; Victory Schools ranks as New York State's best performing charter management organization; and Research for Action releases report on efforts to enhance teacher quality in Philadelphia.
Innovations in the News
Indiana may start two new online charter schools; plus information about closing the achievement gap, leadership, private schools, and teacher quality.

The Mid-Atlantic Regional Teachers Project Sets a High Bar for Quality Teachers
On January 4, 2005, Capitol Hill was abuzz with people eager not to debate or petition, but to celebrate. People gathered at a press briefing to hear about a special group of 192 Mid-Atlantic teachers who had recently finished their studies at 28 different universities. For these teachers, all of their qualifications, years of study, and hard work paid off in the form of both a professional license and a new recognition called the Meritorious New Teacher Candidate (MNTC) designation. At the time they received their licensure, teachers from four areas were recognized: Virginia honored 133, Maryland honored 52, Washington, DC honored five, and Delaware honored two. Delaware Congressman Mike Castle, the chair of the Education Reform Subcommittee of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, lauded the teachers from his state while praising the MNTC program, "This project serves as a national model for creating highly qualified teachers in accordance with the No Child Left Behind Act. I commend state education leaders in the Mid-Atlantic region for designing and implementing this initiative."

The history of the MNTC designation begins in 1998 when the Council for Basic Education, the Maryland State Department of Education, and Temple University's Laboratory for Student Success (LSS) brought together education leaders from states in the Mid-Atlantic region to discuss strategies for enhancing the supply and quality of teachers. The leaders recruited to advise on the project recognized that each jurisdiction's efforts to improve student achievement largely depended on its ability to hire and retain effective teachers. With this idea in mind, the group set out to identify barriers that the jurisdictions could address together. Two priorities came to the forefront of their discussion: the need to enhance the pipeline of well-trained, effective teachers and the need to remove state-by-state regulations that often contributed to the attrition of these qualified teachers. After its initial meeting, the group decided to continue working toward a goal it now shares with the federal No Child Left Behind Act: to ensure that a qualified instructor teaches in every classroom. At that point, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Teachers Project (MARTP) was born; its members included Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, DC, with Virginia and New Jersey joining the ranks in subsequent years.

MARTP initially set out to focus on the supply and quality of teachers. Using a whitepaper entitled, Ensuring Teacher Quality and Supply in the Mid-Atlantic Region as a starting point, the group discussed topics such as tiered licensure, intense induction programs, a common region-wide teaching certificate, and a special project it called a "meritorious teacher designation."

To begin its work, MARTP embarked on the collection and analysis of data. By providing a common source of information for the Mid-Atlantic area, MARTP aimed to become a forum where policymakers and educators could obtain timely data and discuss shared challenges and successes. Based on its findings, the project issued a number of reports, which it continues to do today, posting each one on its website. One of the project's early studies includes Steps Toward Data Driven Policy: A Profile of Teacher Supply and Demand in the Mid-Atlantic Region. Data from this December 2000 report revealed an issue affecting teachers upon which MARTP felt it needed to focus. According to the data, Maryland imported one-half of its teachers from outside states while Pennsylvania trained more teachers than it could hire, highlighting a regional problem with the portability of teachers' credentials.

With this data, MARTP continued to develop its work on teacher supply and demand. The organization recognized that Mid-Atlantic teachers lost benefits, including seniority and their accumulated pension, if they moved to a different school district or state within the region, a problem that currently persists in many areas of the nation. To be eligible to work in a different state, these teachers often needed to take additional coursework and other credentialing exams at their own expense, finding themselves at the bottom of the professional ladder. For some experienced teachers who must relocate during the course of their careers, such a demotion is enough for them to leave the profession.

To address this problem, MARTP created the "Meritorious New Teacher Candidate" (MNTC) designation for highly qualified teachers entering the workforce. The MNTC would allow teachers to move to participating states without having to meet additional qualifications toward licensure and would act as a high professional bar for the "best and brightest" new teachers to reach. Four of the six participants (Delaware, Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia) agreed to pilot the MARTP criteria for the designation, allowing MNTC teachers full regional reciprocity.

Now in its second year of implementation, the meritorious designation is not a separate teaching certificate, but a special recognition noted on the initial license of highly qualified teachers. The MNTC is a level of achievement attained by teacher candidates who demonstrate excellence in their teacher preparation programs.

To receive the MNTC designation, teacher candidates must receive a recommendation from their preparation programs, ensuring that they meet high standards in terms of character, determination, and a belief that all students can achieve. MARTP's criteria for meritorious candidates was chosen by a committee of individuals from state departments of education, local school districts, teachers associations, and research organizations. The committee identified criteria in three categories that have a demonstrated impact on student achievement: performance in the professional education program, evidence of content knowledge, and evidence of verbal skills. They based these criteria on research from the Abell Foundation, the Center for Teaching Policy, and SRI, which showed that teachers who have participated in well-designed and supervised field experiences, and who have strong verbal skills and a firm grasp of their subject matter, are most likely to succeed in influencing students' academic progress.

To meet MARTP's first criterion, candidates must complete a traditional or alternative state-approved teacher preparation program with a minimum of 400 hours of field experience, 300 of which must be direct classroom instruction. Candidates also must have maintained a 3.5 grade point average during their undergraduate studies or a 3.7 average during their graduate work. To meet the second criterion, candidates must score in the upper quartile nationally on the Praxis II test or in the subject area they will teach. In order to satisfy the final criterion, candidates must score in the upper quartile nationally on the verbal section of exams such as the SAT, ACT, or GRE.

The Mid-Atlantic Regional Teachers Project is beginning to study the MNTC teachers to learn about their effectiveness in the classroom and the program's impact on improving teacher quality in the region. Additionally, policymakers and educators in other regions and states are exploring ways to adapt the MNTC model. MARTP is now housed at the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE). The project receives funding through grants from the Laboratory for Student Success, the Education Commission of the States (ECS), and participating states.

Resources:
  • Mid-Atlantic Regional Teachers Project
Note: The featured program is innovative and interesting; however, it does not yet have evidence of effectiveness from a rigorous evaluation.

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What's New
From the U.S. Department of Education

It may sound like a tongue twister, but it is a question with an obvious answer: who is better to teach teachers than excellent teachers? At the Teacher-to-Teacher Summer Workshop, U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings asked this question, noting that with a great teacher, every child can learn. The Teacher-to-Teacher initiative allows teachers to participate in free, online courses and to attend workshops with senior officials from the U.S. Department of Education. This summer, several thousand teachers will have had the chance to attend such workshops. (July 27)

July 26 marked the 15th anniversary of President George H.W. Bush's signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Since 1990, the U.S. Department of Education has been responsible for providing equal access to, and educational excellence for, students with disabilities across the nation. The National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 released this week, shows that during the past 25 years, students with disabilities have made significant progress with lower dropout rates, increased postsecondary enrollment, and a higher rate of gainful employment after high school. (July 28)

Any child who can read can learn. And any learner can be successful in school and in life. At the Second Annual National Reading First Conference, Secretary Spellings made these assertions and said, "reading is more than a pastime, it's a survival skill. "Reading First, the country's largest and most focused early reading initiative, is helping teachers learn research-based best practices in reading instruction. The initiative builds on more than 20 years of research that followed 44,000 children, both readers and non-readers, from age five through adulthood. (July 26)

Secretary Spellings announced in an op-ed article published in newspapers across the country that American children are reading more and better. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) long-term trend assessment, 9-year-olds scored better in reading than they ever have in the 30-year history of the test. Both 9- and 13-year-olds are both reading more than 20 pages a day, according to the NAEP report. (July 24)

Secretary Spellings commented on a new report from the Business Roundtable, Tapping America's Potential: The Education for Innovation Initiative. The Roundtable recommends that the number of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics graduates with bachelor's degrees be doubled by 2015. The Secretary said, "The key to achieving this goal is to increase our K-12 pipeline by improving our high schools." (July 27)

Accountability

The Rodel Foundation has issued a "report card" PDF (1MB) detailing the status of Delaware's K-12 education system. The report measures student achievement across all levels and analyzes "system conditions" that can influence student achievement. Some of these conditions include teacher quality, leadership development, school finance, school choice, and standards and accountability. The Rodel Foundation of Delaware is dedicated to ensuring, that by the year 2012, Delaware's public education system will be one of the finest in the nation. (July 28)

Charter Schools

A new study released by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation shows that charter schools are not as much of a real estate risk for landlords or real estate lenders as previously thought. According to the study, fewer than six percent of charter schools have closed with an impact on landlords or real estate financiers. In fact, risk can be minimized; for example, charter schools started with Education Management Organizations (EMOs) have negligible failure rates, even if the contract with the EMO is later terminated. Finally, the study found that "securing a long-term lease or mortgage helped a charter school stabilize, attract students, and survive." (July 26)

Based on the fourth grade English Language Arts exam scores for the 2004-2005 school year, Victory Schools ranks as New York State's best performing charter management organization, outscoring both for-profit and nonprofit groups managing two or more schools in the state. The New York State Education Department has recognized PDF, (10KB) two Victory-managed schools, Roosevelt Children's Academy and Merrick Academy, as "High Performing / Gap Closing Schools." Just three charter schools received this honor statewide. (July 25)

Supplemental Educational Services

A new SES in Action Toolkit, prepared by the Supplemental Educational Services Quality Center with an OII grant, offers parents and community leaders tools and strategies to learn more about supplemental educational services. Inside the kit, parents can find tips about picking a quality SES provider and using the school system to sign up for services. Toolkits may be ordered at no cost by calling 1-866-544-8686 or through email. The toolkit may also be viewed and downloaded online. (July 25)

Teacher Quality

Research for Action, part of the Learning from Philadelphia's School Reform project, has released The Quest for Quality: Recruiting and Retaining Teachers in Philadelphia, PDF , (305KB) the second annual study of teacher quality in Philadelphia. The report concludes that Philadelphia's effort to hire and retain highly qualified teachers to meet the requirements of No Child Left Behind is gaining momentum; however, turnover among new and veteran teachers remains high, and the hardest- to-staff schools still have the highest proportion of minimally qualified teachers. (2005)

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Innovations in the News

Charter Schools
Indiana's family of 22 charter schools may gain two technological siblings if Ball State University officials endorse the state's applications. The proposed schools would have administrative offices in Muncie and Fort Wayne, but web-based instruction would be open to students across the state. The first proposal comes from an affiliate of Sylvan Ventures, widely known for its national tutoring programs; the second comes from a group of educators, parents, and business leaders. The high-tech schools result from the strong demand for charter schools in Indiana — nearly 4,600 students enrolled in charters last year, a 33 percent increase from the previous year. [More-The Indianapolis Star] (July 25)

Wilson Willard opened the W.E.B. DuBois charter school in 2000, and now the charter school leader plans to create a charter district. Four new schools are planned for this fall: Veritas Academy, a program for gifted students with classes in Latin and Greek; Salubrious Life Center for morbidly obese students and children with other health impairments; Cincinnati Speech and Reading Intervention Center, a program for those with reading disabilities or speech handicaps; and Leadership Center, a school in the current W.E.B. BuBois building for children who have failed a grade and are in need of extra learning supports. [More-The Cincinnati Enquirer] (July 22)

Closing the Achievement Gap
Children of migrant farm workers in New Jersey are reaping the benefits of summer school. In the state for the blueberry harvest, about 200 children in Sicklerville are met at camps and motels and brought by bus to an elementary school where they eat breakfast and attend classes. After classes, the children go to a summer camp for recreation activities and dinner, then are brought back to their families. Summer and school-year programs like the one in Sicklerville are administered by the state and federally funded. In an effort to close some of the gaps in their learning, approximately 550,000 children of migrant workers in the country receive a form of education subsidized by the federal government. [More-CNN] (July 25)

A new study from MDRC, shows that, by the spring of 2004, five First Things First high schools had 11.1 percent more students performing at the proficient level on the state's standardized reading test as compared with other schools. Similar results also occurred at the middle school level. First Things First is a school reform model that was adopted in Kansas City (KS) nearly eight years ago. As part of the reform model, large schools are broken down into smaller learning communities and students are paired with adults who monitor their academic progress and act as liaisons between the school and families. [More-Education Week] (July 13) [free registration]

Leadership
Some school districts facing a shortage of superintendent candidates are using performance-based pay and other incentive packages to prompt individuals to lead their school systems. Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) may be the first in Indiana to link its superintendent's pay with student performance. School boards in Cincinnati, Denver, Dallas, and Illinois also have drafted contracts with their superintendents based on their success and the success of their districts to meet challenging academic criteria. The new Denver Public Schools (DPS) superintendent, Michael Bennet, has agreed to a contract that will pay him an additional $40,000 if he meets certain goals. Bennet believes he should be held to the same standards and accountability system as his teachers, who will participate in a new performance-pay plan known as ProComp. [More-The Indianapolis Star (July 21) and Rocky Mountain News (July 22)] (free registration)

Private Schools
Assumption Catholic School and 12 other Catholic schools from low-income sections of Washington, DC, are being transformed into high-performing learning communities. Together, the schools make up the Center City Consortium, a program from the Faith in the City initiative, which was created to find the best method for improving high-poverty schools under the control of the Archdiocese of Washington. From 2000 to 2005, the consortium schools experienced marked growth in proficiency rates for students in second and eighth grade on the Terra Nova test. Overall, schools saw a 60.6 percent growth rate in reading, 78.1 percent growth in math, and 34.1 percent growth in language arts. [More-The Thomas B. Fordham Foundation PDF, (29KB)] (July 21)

Teacher Quality
A Transition to Teaching grant from OII will enable more mid-career professionals and other interested individuals to become teachers in Broward County (FL). The three-year grant will help the School Board of Broward County, through the Florida Atlantic University Teaching and Leadership Center, to streamline school district hiring and place and support more new alternative certification candidates. Part of the grant is the Superb Teacher Attracting and Recruiting (STAR) program, an alternative teacher certification program designed for candidates who wish to teach mathematics, science, English, and special education at the secondary level. STAR includes a 70-hour field experience component with a national board-certified or experienced teacher in a high-need school. [More-The Business Journal] (July 18)

Spring Arbor University (MI) will offer a new program to help ease the need for special education instructors in Northern Michigan. The program will provide the necessary training for certified Michigan teachers to become both credentialed by the Michigan Department of Education and highly qualified under No Child Left Behind in order to be able to teach students with learning disabilities. The 35-credit hour program will include student teaching experience and will take about two years to complete. [More-Cheboygan News] (July 18)

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Last Modified: 11/02/2007