#5 Increase Support and Accountability for Superintendents, Principals, Teachers, and School Boards
Investments in teacher quality can increase reading and math achievement more than reducing class sizes alone.1 One way to improve teacher quality is to provide teachers ongoing training and support throughout their time as educators using proven best practices from educational research, and to better align recertification credit requirements and professional development with current teaching challenges. Most states allow recertification through continuing education, a pathway that includes: higher education coursework (43 states); workshops, conferences, and other professional development (42 states); job-embedded professional development (23 states); National Board Certification (17 states); and other efforts (22 states).2
In addition to taking direct action to improve the quality of teachers, students could benefit from more efficient teacher staffing decisions. For example, if layoffs are ever necessary, they could be decided based on teacher quality and past performance, not tenure.3
Following teachers, school leaders are the most influential factor impacting student achievement.4 Still, systemwide, Idaho did not have a school accountability system in place from 2014 until the fall of 2018, meaning that Idaho did not rank or rate the performance of its schools in these years. Idaho’s current plan to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act meets the minimum in accountability.5 As part of the current plan, Idaho will identify only the five percent lowest-performing schools and assist with school-improvement plans but will not assign schools with summative ratings, instead using multiple indicators to “monitor and differentiate among the state’s schools.”6
Another example is that Idaho provides extra funding for career counseling and literacy improvements, and schools have local control over spending, yet these funds are not tied to performance or outcomes, as noted above.7 More must be done in terms of accountability—tying funding to performance—if we want to see real improvements in Idaho’s educational system.
1 Rivkin, S.G., Hanushek, E.A., & Kain, J.F. (2005). Teachers, Schools, and Academic Achievement. Econometrica, 73(2), 417-458. Link; Hanushek, E.A. (2011). The Economic Value of Higher Teacher Quality. Economics of Education Review, 30(3), 466-479. Link; Darling-Hammond, L. (2004). Standards, accountability, and school reform. Teachers College Record, 106(6), 1047-1085.
2 Tooley, M., & White, T. (2018). Rethinking Relicensure: Promoting Professional Learning Through Teacher Licensure Renewal Policies. Washington, DC: New America. Link
3 Kraft, M.A. (2015). Teacher layoffs, teacher quality and student achievement: Evidence from a discretionary layoff policy. Education Finance and Policy, 11(4), 1-41; Boyd, D., Lankford, H., Loeb, S., & Wyckoff, J. (2011). Teacher Layoffs: An Empirical Illustration of Seniority versus Measures of Effectiveness. Education Finance and Policy, 6(3), 439-454. Link; Goldhaber, D., & Theobald, R. (2013). Managing the Teacher Workforce in Austere Times: The Determinants and Implications of Teacher Layoffs. Education Finance and Policy, 8(4), 494-527.
4 Lieberman, A. (2017). A Tale of Two Pre-K Leaders: How State Policies for Center Directors and Principals Leading Pre-K Programs Differ, and Why They Shouldn’t. Washington, DC: New America. Link
5 Corbin, C. (2017b). House Education Approves New School Accountability System. Boise, ID: Idaho EdNews. Link; a summary of the consolidated plan can be found at: Idaho State Department of Education. (2017). Idaho’s Consolidated Plan Summary: An Overview of Purpose and Programs. Boise, ID: Idaho State Department of Education. Link
6 Idaho State Department of Education. (2017), p. 4.
7 School appropriations are distributed according to Idaho State Legislature. (2018). Title 33, Education: Chapter 10, Foundation Program – State Aid – Apportionment. Idaho Code 33-1002. Boise, ID: Idaho State Legislature. Link