Those benchmarks include making sure teachers are able to "employ multiple measures of measuring student growth and understanding" (NBPTS). Moreover, a teacher needs to be able to "clearly explain student performance to parents" (NBPTS). What this means is that teachers must be mandated to complete "rigorous self-reflection exercises" that are designed specifically to demonstrate the teacher's effectiveness (p. 60). Caillier points to a study which showed that teachers with NBPTS certifications were more effective in raising student outcomes -- and though he doesn't spell out what study that was, he believes schools should use models like the NBPTS model to identify effective teachers.
If Caillier is right, these models could work well. But he cautions that while private sector employees are more motivated by money and status, public school teachers "are more motivated by work-related conditions than money." Hence, if money is being offered as a motivating factor for teachers in a pay-for-performance strategy, will it indeed inspire teachers to improve their methods? The school systems in states should clarify expectations, Caillier concludes on page 61. And that clarification should be tinged with caution when powerful forces are urging the administration to adopt pay-for-performance in the newly revised NCLB.
Additional suggestions for improving NCLB were brought forth in a New York Times editorial (Feb. 2010); the editorial pointed out that yes, critics are saying it has failed, but "for all its flaws, the law has focused the country on student achievement as never before." When the law went into effect, many states kept "unqualified teachers" and some were known to "phony up graduation rates" in order to get funding from NCLB. That said, prior to NCLB being made into law, many states covered up their failures by basically failing to report or analyze test scores by gender, on socioeconomic grounds, or by ethnicity, the Times writes. With NCLB, that practice was ended, because states under NCLB must provide accurate "yearly breakdowns of student achievement data" along the lines of ethnic, racial and economic lines.
But what needs to be revised is the fact that the present law fails to note the difference between schools that miss their targets because "they are permanently mired in failure and schools that miss their targets but are still making rapid progress." The new version of NCLB should, the Times asserts, find a way to reward and recognize schools that are indeed making progress "without opening the floodgates to a new round of fraud and evasion" (www.nytimes.com).
That having been said, the Times insists that making federal dollars available to schools that show progress is a good idea, albeit some critics say that model is "too onerous." To give up the policy of linking federal dollars to measurable progress would lead the country back to the "bad-old days when education reform consisted of vague aspirations with no action plans, no timelines, and, ultimately, few results" (www.nytimes.com).
An article in the journal Reference & User Services Quarterly (Emmons, et al., 2009) takes the position that the preparation of teachers in universities and colleges must improve in order to make laws like NCLB workable in educational settings. Teachers must be well trained in evidence-based practices, and the way to be sure they are learning those practices is by placing more emphasis on "information literacy" (IL) skills (Emmons, p. 140). The theme of the article is that colleges of education (COEs) "…must go beyond an attitude of compliance or noncompliance with the mandates" of NCLB. Instead of just complying with the mandates of NCLB, schools must prepare teachers who can "design and implement evidence-based practices" and indeed "thoughtfully and ethically articulate and justify" evidence-based practices (Emmons, p. 140). Teachers taught to create refreshingly new and workable evidence-based practices could, theoretically, help make NCLB the successful legislation it was touted to be at the outset.
Conclusion: Since no voices have yet been raised disputing the need for major revisions of NCLB, the task before the president and Congress then is to not just reach a compromise that is a watered down version of reform, but they must demand accountability and even hold back federal dollars if that policy can assure higher quality of learning in schools. A nation that is #24 among all nations in "problem solving" needs a robust NCLB, not in ten years, but now.
Caillier, James. (2010). Paying Teachers According to Student Achievement: Questions
Regarding Pay-for-Performance Models in Public Education. The Clearing House, Vol. 83,
Emmons, Mark, et al. (2009). Teaching Information Literacy Skills to Prepare Teachers
Who Can Bridge the Research-to-Practice Gap. Reference & User Services Quarterly,
Henderson, Nia-Malika. (2010). New Course for No Child Left Behind. Politico.com.
Retrieved Feb. 7, 2010, from www.Politico.com.
Miller, George. (2009). Improving Competitiveness Through Education.…