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Promoting Effective Teachers

There is more to celebrate this week than quality charter schools. With Teacher Appreciation Week upon us, men and women from across the country are also taking time to #ThankATeacher for their dedication to improving the lives of children through education.

Research shows an effective teacher can dramatically boost a child’s academic achievement and opportunities for success in life. According to a study conducted by RAND, “teachers matter more to student achievement than any other aspect of schooling.”

If quality teachers are so vital to student success, then why do federal policies hamper state and local efforts to recruit and retain the most effective educators? Under No Child Left Behind (NCLB):

  • A rigid teacher requirement, known as the “Highly Qualified Teacher” mandate, values a teacher’s credentials and tenure over his or her ability to successfully teach;
                   
  • A one-size-fits-all accountability system, known as “Adequate Yearly Progress,” and turnaround models allow the federal government to dictate teacher dismissals; and
                                                  
  • A maze of professional development programs are costly, duplicative, and, in many cases, ineffective, according to a report by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office.

 Because of these overly-prescriptive policies, too many students are deprived of an engaging, challenging, and rewarding learning experience. That’s one of the reasons why Education and the Workforce Committee leaders introduced the Student Success Act, a bill to replace NCLB with commonsense reforms that:

  • Repeal the “Highly Qualified Teacher” mandates and empower state and local education leaders to make staffing decisions based on a teacher’s effectiveness, not his or her credentials and tenure;

  • Eliminate “Adequate Yearly Progress” and federally-prescribed turnaround models, returning responsibility for performance and staffing decisions to state and local education leaders; and

  • Support creative approaches to recruit and retain effective teachers and grant states and school districts the flexibility to develop teacher and school leader preparation, certification, or evaluation programs that best meet their local needs.

Every child in every school deserves an excellent education. The Student Success Act empowers teachers and leaders to deliver that excellent education by providing flexibility and reducing the federal footprint in our nation’s classrooms.

As the nation recognizes Teacher Appreciation Week, it is time to do more than just say “thanks.” It is time to replace a flawed law with new policies that enable the brightest teachers to help every child succeed.

To learn more about the Student Success Act, click here.

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