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Higher Ed Trends for K-12 Education


Teacher Effectiveness & Career & Technical Education 



As policymakers move toward rewarding teachers for the quality of their teaching, not for factors like whether an educator holds an advanced degree, districts have to get better at assessing teacher performance. The big debate now is how closely teacher evaluations should be tied to student test performance and how closely they're tied to teachers' job security.

A recent union contract in New Haven, Conn., could show a path forward, the American Federation of Teachers believes. Teachers, not algorithms, set learning targets. Teachers are assessed based on classroom observation, principal reviews, and student test scores, and are given a full year's worth of support to improve their practice if they aren't performing well.

Teacher recruitment also matters. In 2014, expect to hear more calls for teachers who reflect the ethnic and racial diversity of students and debate over alternative teacher-training programs, particularly those aligned with charter networks.



After years of being pushed aside to free time for academics, career-focused learning is back. High schools, community colleges, and companies are banding together to help increase the opportunities students have to gain technical skills—often spurred by new state laws, like those in Texas and Georgia, that put a bigger emphasis on career and technical education.

Policymakers stress the economic benefits of CTE: Students with specialized training or skills find it easier to get hired in this tough labor market. Educators like that CTE can help get more students excited about math and science. Given that CTE and college preparation no longer have to be divergent paths, college costs are rising, and it remains hard for young people to find work, there's much less political opposition to career training than there used to be. The Next America recently profiled a majority-minority school in Georgia that illustrates this new vision for career and techinical education.


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