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2017 LEV Annual Breakfast Highlights

Thank you for joining our seventh annual LEV Breakfast on Thursday, March 30, a celebration of Washington’s teachers and an engaging conversation on how we can advocate to put great teachers in front of our kids who need them most. We featured LEV President Chris Korsmo and an inspirational talk with 2017 Regional Teacher of the Year recipients Kendra Yamamoto and Elizabeth Loftus on how great teachers are the key to student success.

Special thanks to Workhouse Creative for this amazing film, featuring 2017 Washington state Teacher of the Year Camille Jones, teachers Jamilla Norris and Donte Felder, and Washington Governor Jay Inslee:

Watch the keynote presentation featuring 2017 Washington state Regional Teachers of the Year Elizabeth Loftus and Kendra Yamamoto, moderated by Daniel Zavala, LEV Director of Policy and Government Relations:

Here are a few photos from the event:

League of Education Voters 2017 Annual Breakfast - Daniel Zavala, Elizabeth Loftus and Kendra Yamamoto

LEV Director of Policy and Government Relations Daniel Zavala moderates the discussion with 2017 Washington Regional Teachers of the Year Elizabeth Loftus and Kendra Yamamoto

 

League of Education Voters 2017 Annual Breakfast - CEO Chris Korsmo speaks

LEV President and CEO Chris Korsmo front and center

 

League of Education Voters 2017 Annual Breakfast - Table mates

LEV Board Member and Teacher Cate Simmers (2nd from R) and her table mates

 

League of Education Voters 2017 Annual Breakfast - Board Member Bob O'Hara and former Board Member Thelma Jackson

LEV Board Member Bob O’Hara (R) and former Board Member Thelma Jackson with guests Lyle Quasim (L) and Mark Jones

 

League of Education Voters 2017 Annual Breakfast - Lobby interactive exhibit

The interactive exhibit in the Sheraton Seattle Lobby

 

League of Education Voters 2017 Annual Breakfast - 2017 Washington state Teacher of the Year Camille Jones (L) and Regional Teachers of the Year Elizabeth Loftus and Kendra Yamamoto

From left: 2017 Washington state Teacher of the Year Camille Jones with 2017 Regional Teachers of the Year Kendra Yamamoto and Elizabeth Loftus

Thank You to Our 2017 Sponsors

Platinum Level

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Gold Level

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The Seattle Times logo


Bronze Level

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LEV FOUNDATION is a 501(c)3 charitable organization that provides strategic, accurate, and timely information to citizens, educators, policymakers, and the media; highlights research-driven educational practices that prepare all students to reach their full potential; and advocates for reforms and revenue to implement the research-based practices in Washington. Donations are tax-deductible.

OUR VISION is that every student in Washington state receives an excellent public education that provides the opportunity for success.

Posted in: Blog, Events, LEV News, Media Clips

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LEV Interviews Governor Jay Inslee About His 2017 State Budget

Governor Jay Inslee - League of Education VotersLeague of Education Voters Communications Director Arik Korman sat down with Governor Jay Inslee to discuss his 2017 education priorities, how to build bridges in today’s political climate, and how to close the opportunity and achievement gaps.

 

Listen here:


Listen to Senator Christine Rolfes talk about the Education Funding Task Force

Listen to Rep. Ruth Kagi talk about the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Children and Families

Listen to Washington state Teachers of the Year talk about teaching philosophy, classroom accomplishments and education priorities

Posted in: Career Technical Education, Closing the Gaps, Early Learning, Funding, Higher Education, Legislative session, Podcast, STEM, Teacher Prep

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Great Teachers Need Great Preparation

By the LEV Policy Team

K-12 Education - League of Education VotersOur conversation around redefining basic education continues with an examination of an often overlooked part of the education system, educator preparation.

Research consistently shows that teachers have the strongest school-based impact on student performance. The impacts of a highly effective teacher or low-performing teacher can affect students for years to come and influence a student’s likelihood of college attendance and persistence. Our educational system must equip teachers with the skill sets required to meet the needs of a student body that is more diverse each year.

Our understanding of how to better support, engage, and teach students grows each year, yet many preparation programs have not used this growing body of research to change how they prepare teachers. This knowledge can be a valuable asset as we prepare future educators to meet the challenges they will face in the classroom. Unfortunately, most teachers feel that their teacher preparation program left them unprepared for the challenges of teaching.

Improving preparation programs is an important starting point to ensure every student has access to effective teachers. One way to improve these programs is to include longer, more intentional student teaching experiences. Some programs only require one-semester of student teaching which doesn’t always provide aspiring teachers with enough time to experience the range of challenges of running their own classrooms.

In contrast some teacher preparation programs, like Heritage University, have developed longer, more intentional approaches to student teacher placements. Aspiring teachers will work in a classroom for more than a year as they build the knowledge and understanding that they will need to succeed when they become a teacher. It is new approaches to teacher preparation like this that will help to provide the necessary foundation for aspiring teachers.

Another means to ensure new teachers develop the appropriate skills to be successful in increasingly diverse classrooms is providing a curriculum in preparation programs that is reflective of the skills and understanding needed to positively impact student learning, like trauma informed instruction and culturally responsive instruction. This type of training should also be provided to current and veteran teachers.

Trauma informed instruction/care

  • “In this approach, the adults in the school building understand the prevalence and impact of adverse childhood experiences, the role trauma plays in people’s lives, and the complex and varied paths for healing and recovery.”
  • “A trauma-informed approach asks: ‘What happened to you?’ instead of ‘What’s wrong with you?’ It is designed to avoid re-traumatizing already traumatized people, with a focus on ‘safety first’ (including emotional safety), and a commitment to do no harm.”

Culturally Responsive Instruction

  • Culturally responsive instruction is “recognizing the differences among students and families from different cultural groups, responding to those differences positively, and being able to interact effectively in a range of cultural environments.”

If teachers are the most significant school-based factor on student achievement, appropriately preparing teachers is a common sense route to improving student outcomes. What can Washington state do to better prepare and support teachers?

#BeyondBasic

 

Read Part 1 of our McCleary blog series, Rethinking Our Education System

Posted in: Blog, Funding, Teacher Prep

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Every Student Needs an Effective Teacher

By the LEV Policy Team

Teacher Helping Student - League of Education VotersAs discussed in our previous blog post on teacher compensation, investing in our teachers is critical to closing the opportunity gap in Washington state. Research has found that effective teachers* are inequitably distributed between districts and between schools within districts according to student poverty**. (Adamson and Darling-Hammond, IES brief, IES study, WA Equity report). This means that some of the students with the highest needs don’t have access to the teachers that can meet those needs. Research also indicates that improving the distribution of effective teachers can lessen the achievement gap between low-income and non-low-income students. So, how can we make sure that every student has access to effective and well-supported educators?

There are a number of reasons for the inequitable distribution of effective educators. In Washington, differences in salaries between districts because of local levy dollars and teacher shortages in particular endorsement areas have been found to contribute to the issue. Working conditions, school leadership, and available supports are also factors in teacher’s decisions of where to teach. In order to address these factors and ensure every student has access to effective teachers, we should pursue strategies to attract and better prepare new teachers as well as encourage and better support existing teachers to teach in high needs schools. Below are some of the strategies that could help us accomplish that.

Attracting and Preparing:

  • Increase starting teacher salary to attract more individuals to become teachers.
  • Create alternative pathways to certification to enable paraeducators and other career changers to pursue teaching. This will not only help give more effective individuals the opportunity to pursue teaching, but could also increase the number of teachers from historically underserved communities and diversify the teaching force.
  • Increase teacher preparation standards to make sure that teachers have received the training they need before they enter the classroom. This includes raising expectations for content and pedagogical knowledge, standardizing those expectations across preparation programs in Washington, and increasing preparation program quality.
  • Include more student teaching and practicum in teacher preparation programs. This will help future teachers gain more hands-on experience before entering their own classrooms. This can include partnership with districts, such as the Seattle Teacher Residency Program or Heritage University’s Residency program, and mentoring programs once teachers are placed in schools.

Supporting and Encouraging:

  • Provide state-funded professional development for all teachers. By supporting all teachers in their professional growth, we can increase the effectiveness of all educators.
  • Provide targeted professional development for teachers and principals in high needs schools. This will support teachers in meeting the specific needs of their students, and principals in meeting the needs of their teachers. The professional development could also be designed as an incentive to encourage teachers to move to high needs school, by providing additional opportunities for professional growth.
  • Institute mentoring programs in high needs schools. This would provide a leadership opportunity for veteran teachers and additional support for new teachers, improving the working conditions and growth opportunities for both.
  • Allow more flexibility for principals in high needs schools. Flexibility in staffing and programming could attract effective principals and allow them to set the culture and working conditions that will attract effective teachers.
  • Provide student loan forgiveness for teachers and principals who work in high needs schools for a sustained period of time.

Additional Strategies:

  • In order to really have a sense of whether students have access to effective educators, we must improve data collection and indicators of teacher effectiveness. Our current indicators of certification, education level, and years of experience do not provide information about actual teacher performance and impact on student learning. The Washington Equity report outlines some potential options for using the teacher evaluation system to enhance our effectiveness data.
  • Move bargaining of teacher salaries to the state level. This would eliminate the differences between districts in salary levels, thus decreasing the recruiting advantages one district may have over another.

How else can we make sure that every student has access to effective and well-supported educators?

#BeyondBasic

*Effective educator is defined differently in various studies. Some use value-added measures that incorporate student growth and others use definitions based on credentials and years of experience.

**Two of the studies also found similar inequitable distribution based on student race and ethnicity.

 

Read Part 1 of our McCleary blog series, Rethinking Our Education System

Posted in: Blog, Closing the Gaps, Funding, Teacher Prep

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Teachers: The Most Important Part of Our Education System

By the LEV Policy Team

Teacher Compensation - League of Education VotersWe begin our discussion of redefining basic education with the most important part of our education system: our teachers. Research consistently shows that teachers have the strongest school-based impact on student performance, but that is not reflected in their current pay. The Washington State Supreme Court is requiring the Legislature to increase the state contribution to teacher salary as part of its duty to fully fund education. As the state grapples with how to meet its McCleary obligations, we must continue to advocate for meaningful investments in education—which starts with investing in teachers.

Teacher salary in most districts comes from a combination of state and local levy funding. Currently, the state pays districts only $35,700 for first-year teachers with a bachelor’s degree. To provide a wage that accurately reflects the job responsibilities of teachers, districts use local levies to supplement state funded salary. The ability to pay teachers additional salary and the amount of additional salary varies from district to district and is dependent on how much districts are able to raise through local levies.

The average teacher in Washington gets paid $64,867, but the state only pays for $53,767 of that. The state must contribute more towards teacher pay, but simply changing who pays for teacher salary will not change the experience of teachers or students. Improvements to our state’s compensation system are needed to better recruit, retain, and reward high-quality teaching, including increasing starting teacher salary.

Our current state salary schedule focuses on years of experience and educational attainment rather than difficulty of the teaching assignment, job performance, or teaching certifications. Aligning teacher compensation to career advancement and attaining higher certification levels, as recommended by the Compensation Technical Working Group, would better align salary increases with the knowledge and skills teachers have accumulated. Teachers who have demonstrated excellence in teaching should also be given opportunities to take on additional leadership roles, such as serving as a mentor for beginning teachers, and be compensated for these additional contributions.

Ideally, compensation reform would include an extended contract that more accurately reflects the time and work teachers dedicate to their students outside of the school day or year, like evaluating student work or meeting with students after school. Providing teachers with a competitive salary along with an extended contract can allow more time and resources for parent teacher conferences, job-aligned professional learning, and lesson planning. An extended contract allows for restructuring professional development so it limits disruptions for students and families during the school year.

Establishing a better way to compensate teachers will help to attract and retain effective teachers, but compensation isn’t the only way we should be investing in teachers. Dissatisfaction with professional support, leadership, and other working conditions are leading causes for teacher turnover. We need a thoughtful approach to more effectively retain high-quality teachers that is informed by what causes teachers to leave the classroom. If Washington wants to address teacher retention in the long-term, we must do a better job of supporting teachers and school building leaders to tap into their incredible drive and passion for their students. We’ll be exploring ways to do this in upcoming blogs.

Our teachers are our most effective resource for closing the achievement gap and improving student outcomes. How can we move beyond the status quo and rethink the way that we compensate our educators?

#BeyondBasic

Read LEV board member Cate Simmers’ view on teacher compensation, A Teacher’s Perspective on Contracts and Collective Bargaining

Read Part 1 of our McCleary blog series, Rethinking Our Education System

Posted in: Blog, Funding, Teacher Prep

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Comments to OSPI regarding proposed revisions to the Teacher & Principal Evaluation Program (TPEP)

July 7, 2016

Sue Anderson
Director of Educator Effectiveness
OSPI
600 Washington St SE
Olympia, WA 98501

Dear Ms. Anderson,

By this letter, the League of Education Voters (LEV) is providing comments on the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s proposed revisions to Washington Administrative Code 392-191A, regarding the Teacher & Principal Evaluation Program, that will be discussed at the July 7, 2016 OSPI rules hearing. LEV supports efforts to create a more meaningful evaluation system that drives continuous improvement and has some concerns regarding the proposed changes to the current rules and the rulemaking process.

I. Transparency & Community Engagement

Transparency and community engagement should be embedded in the process for updating the rules governing TPEP and should be reflected in the updated rules adopted by OSPI.

  • The lack of public and stakeholder engagement outside of the steering committee members is a We appreciate the time and work the steering committee has undoubtedly devoted to this topic. For any individuals or organizations not on the steering committee, however, it is very difficult to know about any changes that are being considered. We became aware of the proposed revisions less than 48 hours before the hearing will be taking place. Many stakeholders beyond the steering committee were involved in the legislation creating TPEP and many more beyond that may be interested. More meaningful outreach and engagement should be done with families, students, and communities.
  • Given that low-income students and students of color are usually served by less experienced teachers and are in schools with higher teacher turnover, has there been any analysis on whether these proposed changes would have a disproportionate impact on low-income communities and communities of color?
  • It is unclear in the proposed language how focused evaluation scores will be The draft rules propose that a comprehensive evaluation rating will be the rating on record for a teacher when they are on a focused evaluation, but remain silent on how this will impact reporting of scores earned on the focused evaluations. Consistent with current practice, we believe that all scores earned though comprehensive or focused evaluations should be reported to OSPI, and this practice should be clarified in the new rule.

II. Continuous Improvement and Consistency in the Process

The evaluation system and its complementary components should consistently reflect a philosophy of continuous improvement that focuses on improving teacher and principal quality to better support students in their educational experience.

  • To remain consistent with the philosophy of continuous improvement, the focused evaluations should drive towards growth in areas that would most improve instructional practice and student The rules should establish and clarify that when an evaluator selects a criteria for the focused evaluation the criteria selected should be determined by which focus area would most improve an individual’s instructional practice.
  • Do the proposed changes create a system where a teacher’s evaluation score of record can be improved but not lowered through the focused evaluation? If so, we feel this and should be A teacher or principal’s score of record should either 1) remain constant between comprehensive evaluations to enable a focus on areas with the greatest potential for growth or 2) be adjustable (either higher or lower) between comprehensive evaluations.
  • Do the proposed changes to the definition of ‘observe or observation’ create the possibility for no actual classroom observations to take place? What is the minimum criteria for what counts as an observation? A minimum floor should be established for what constitutes an observation that supports districts that want to implement more robust evaluations and feedback for teachers and principals to support them in their professional growth.

Thank you for your work and for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Amy Y. Liu
Policy Director

League of Education Voters
2734 Westlake Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109
206.728.6448

Posted in: Blog, Teacher Prep

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Dear Legislature: The time is now

Dear Legislature,

Chris Korsmo, CEO, League of Education Voters

Chris Korsmo

Thank you for your hard work and commitment to ensuring a high-quality public education for each Washington student, from early learning through higher education. The Legislature is poised to pass the most comprehensive education budget in the history of the state that has the potential to increase opportunities for all Washington students.

But there is important work that still needs to be done.

We must ensure expanded access to quality early learning by passing the Early Start Act. We must increase the number of people who can access the State Need Grant Program. But the biggest job left to tackle is in K–12 education. To address legal issues and profound inequity in the current system, we must design a cogent, viable, funding plan for K–12 education. (more…)

Posted in: Blog, Legislative session, LEV News, Press Releases & Statements, Weekly Roundup

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Statement on the Vergara v. State of California Ruling

A teacher at South Shore PK-8 reads a book with his class.At the League of Education Voters (LEV), we value the role of a teacher in a student’s life and educational trajectory.  “The research is clear,” says LEV CEO Chris Korsmo. “Teachers make the biggest school-based difference in a child’s education.”

Access to high-quality instruction can help close the achievement and opportunity gaps in our state and help ensure that all Washington students have access to a world-class education that provides the opportunity for success. Chris is optimistic about the impact the Vergara v. State of California ruling will have on public education: “We must put our kids’ well-being and learning at the center of every policy issue we have in public education. I hope that the ruling will be a constructive catalyst toward that end.”

Posted in: Blog, LEV News, Press Releases & Statements

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Activist(s) of the Month: Sarah Butcher, Jennifer Karls, Beth Sigall

At the League of Education Voters (LEV), we recognize all of the hard work that you do toward improving public education across Washington state. We are pleased to announce our Activists of the Month for April: Sarah Butcher, Jennifer Karls, and Beth Sigall. Read more about their experiences as strong advocates for special education.

Sarah Butcher, Jennifer Karls, and Beth Sigall are strong advocates for public education in Washington state. Sarah and Jennifer formed the Bellevue Special Needs PTA in 2012, where Jennifer serves as President and Sarah as co-Vice President. Beth serves as the Vice President of Advocacy for the Lake Washington PTSA Council. (more…)

Posted in: Activist of the Month, Advocacy and Activism, Blog, Career and College Ready Diploma, Closing the Gaps, Legislative session, LEV News, School Discipline

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The 2014 Legislative Session

The 2014 legislative session may have been short, but there were significant policy accomplishments in improving public education in Washington state. These accomplishments expand access to financial aid for higher education for all Washington students, pave the way for all students to graduate from high school ready for college or career, and make steps toward reducing the opportunity and achievement gaps. (more…)

Posted in: Blog, Career and College Ready Diploma, Closing the Gaps, Higher Education, Legislative session, LEV News

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