'Model' Teacher Contract: Is Praise Overblown?

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To the Editor:

I was delighted to read in “Teacher Contract Called Potential Model for Nation” (Oct. 28, 2009) that New Haven, Conn., has developed a teacher contract that addresses key issues going well beyond the usual negotiations on salary, benefits, and work rules. Yet, I was disappointed that the emphasis seems to be on evaluation and linking pay to performance, rather than on taking proactive steps to improve teaching and learning.

According to both empirical research and international comparisons, the most effective strategy for improving teacher performance and student achievement is to provide teachers with regular opportunities for professional learning that is teacher-led, job-embedded, and focused on results (see, for example, the National Staff Development Council’s recent report “Professional Learning in the Learning Profession: A Status Report on Teacher Development in the United States and Abroad”).

While New Haven’s contract appears to provide support for veteran teachers who don’t “make the grade,” it says nothing about ensuring that every educator engages in effective professional learning every day, so that every student can achieve. When the contract contains time for teachers to meet on a regular basis to engage in collaborative learning, then I think it will be a true model for the nation.

Nancy Ames
CORE Consulting Services
Westborough, Mass.

Vol. 29, Issue 10, Pages 25-26

Published in Print: November 4, 2009, as 'Model' Teacher Contract: Is Praise Overblown?
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