Curtis Whatley is a past member of the 50CAN team. 

Here’s what educators, advocates, wonks and policymakers are talking about today:

News & analysis

Teacher turnover affects student achievement, study indicates
When teachers leave schools, overall morale appears to suffer enough that student achievement declines—both for those taught by the departed teachers and by students whose teachers stayed put, concludes a study recently presented at a conference held by the Center for Longitudinal Data in Education Research. The impact of teacher turnover is one of the teacher-quality topics that’s been hard for researchers to get their arms around. The phenomenon of high rates of teacher turnover has certainly been proven to occur in high-poverty schools more than low-poverty ones. The eminently logical assumption has been that such turnover harms student achievement.  “Turnover must have an impact beyond simply whether incoming teachers are better than those they replaced‐even the teachers outside of this redistribution are somehow harmed by it,” the authors conclude. “Though there may be cases where turnover is actually helpful to student achievement, on average, it is harmful.” They authors call for more research to identify the mechanics of the decline—whether a loss of collegiality, or perhaps a loss of institutional knowledge among the staff due to turnover, is the cause of the lower achievement. (Teacher Beat)

Teachers’ satisfaction tanks on survey when higher expectations come with fewer resources
For the last four years, Beth Sanders has taught ninth and 11th-grade social studies at Tarrant High School in Birmingham, Ala., a school where many students live in poverty. She, too, has to do more to make ends meet, as well as cover her student loans. So after the final bell of the day rings, after she leaves school (a 10 hour day), after grading and lesson plans — she fills her financial gaps by running a website, tutoring students for the ACTs, and coaching teachers online. “I don’t sleep, I don’t get paid enough, and I work too many jobs,” Sanders says. Her work as a teacher is already difficult enough: Her school isn’t hitting federal standards established by No Child Left Behind, and performance targets are moving too fast for her special-education and non-English-speaking students. A 2011 Harvard paper found “students who attend schools with more favorable working conditions also achieve greater academic growth.” According to the Gates/Scholastic survey, teachers expect an average of only 63 percent of their students to graduate high school ready for college. Satisfied teachers participate in more aspects of their students’ lives, attending more sports games, keeping in touch over the summer, and constantly communicating with their charges by email, the Gates/Scholastic survey reported. Beyond individual teachers’ satisfaction rates, morale has enormous ramifications on a workforce that already has a high rate of attrition: According to MetLife, nearly one third of teachers are likely to leave the profession. (HuffPo)

Minnesota: Silva’s St. Paul schools superintendent’s contract extended
The St. Paul school board has extended the contract of Superintendent Valeria Silva for three years. Her new contract will take effect when her current deal expires in December. With a 2 percent raise and a possible 1 percent performance bonus, she’ll make about $193,000 a year. Silva can get similar pay hikes in following years, along with an $11,000 annual longevity payment for having worked for the district for more than two decades. School Board Chairwoman Jean O’Connell praised Silva’s performance. “We feel that she’s done really solid work in communications, strategic planning, leadership of the team, instructional leadership. And we expect even better results as we go forward,” O’Connell said. (MPR)

New York: To Quinn, no city child should miss kindergarten
Not everyone in Christine C. Quinn’s hometown went to kindergarten when she was growing up in the early 1970s. Her family parish, St. Patrick’s, in Glen Cove, N.Y., on Long Island, did not even enroll students for parochial school until first grade. But Ms. Quinn, the City Council speaker and a hopeful for mayor of New York, said that her mother, Mary Callaghan Quinn, made sure she never missed an educational opportunity and drove her to and from the public school a mile away. (She went to parochial school the next year.) “There was mandatory kindergarten in my house,” recalled Ms. Quinn, 45, with a burst of laughter, while sorting through a pile of family photos in her City Hall office one recent morning. “Let me be perfectly clear, there wasn’t a choice.” Ms. Quinn has emerged as the city’s champion of kindergarten attendance since announcing in her State of the City address last month that she intends to make school mandatory for all 5-year-olds in New York. Under current city and state law, children do not have to enroll until the first grade, though in reality the vast majority of them begin with kindergarten. This year, there are 68,245 kindergartners in the city’s public schools. (New York Times)


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