Part two of this report also places heavy weight on the need for teacher evaluations, both before and after entering the classroom. The Commission recommends a new “model of educator responsibility,” which highlights a need for a state-level entry “bar” that requires comprehensive course study, diverse in-classroom teaching experiences, and an assessment to acquire teaching license. The Commission also calls for a Teacher Quality Index where specific data on teachers can be reported, and also developing more innovative ways to develop teachers professionally. In short, they are calling for a complete overhaul of the methods used to recruit and retain teachers. They suggest a federal financial aid program that allows eligible states a chance to participate in the event that they ensure professional development for their teachers and increase selective hiring practices, among other requirements. They also suggest a federally-funded residency program that would allow scholarships to those teachers who would be willing to stay and teach in schools that are considered high-risk and high-need. This section on the report also analyzes the current ways students’ learning opportunities are jeopardized, including limited instructional “tracks” that may not cater to students’ individual needs, providing coursework that is not challenging enough, and also limiting access to instruction because of suspensions or expulsions. Part three notes the need for access to high-quality early childhood education. The Commission reports that students tend to be more successful later in their academic careers when they participated in such a program, and that these programs are less likely to be available in areas of concentrated poverty. The children in these areas have shown to be less ready for school by age 5 than their counterparts who participated in the early education programs. The Commission recommends a new initiative that would allow all low-income students, in all states, to have access to early education programs within the next 10 years, and that those programs would align with the methods proven effective by research in early education.*** 20 | KNOW • Volume 13 Issue 1 The content within part four focuses on the specific needs of the students within high-poverty communities. The Commission’s research shows that students from highpoverty backgrounds tend to be at far greater risk of failure, at greater risk of suspensions or dropping out of school altogether, and also at risk for additional obstacles such as homelessness, foster care, drug or alcohol abuse, among other factors. The Commission states that achievement gaps for disadvantaged students can start before they even step foot into a classroom. They believe that more access to high-quality prekindergarten programs and encouragement of parental involvement will greatly increase the chance for academic achievement for these students. The Commission believes that implementation of grant and incentive programs targeting the parents of the atrisk students would greatly benefit both students and parents, and would allow for parenting education and professional development, and even adult Englishlearning classes for parents of enrolled students. Grants would also cover crisis counseling and support for families. Part five wraps up the report detailing the need for governance and accountability to improve equity and excellence. Overall, the report states, “we need a system in which the value of fairness and inclusion inform the roles of each level of government and in which research and sound educational judgment, rather than custom, drive reform.”**** The Commission notes that the local authority should remain substantial in education, but that there should be a stronger influence from the federal and state levels and that the standards put in place should align with state policies and national commitments to equity and excellence. They state a need to allocate resources to level the playing field across all states, and also for the ability for oversight and intervention when school boards are ineffective or school districts are underperforming. In closing, the Commission states that “a complete system will focus in a coordinated way on resources and outcomes from early childhood to high school graduation.” To achieve this, the Commission believes that a redesigned education system calls for certain accountability criteria to be successful: a focus on resources rather than strictly student outcomes, empowering teachers and leaders alike and holding them responsible for outcomes, focus on students at all learning levels and provide incentives and intervene when necessary to better achieve equity and excellence, among other accountability factors. The report concludes with a statement of commitment to provide meaningful education to all students, regardless of factors like income, status or race. The Commission hopes that this report could guide significant change in the disparities of student achievement across the country, and benefit the country overall. To read more about equity in education and to view the report in its entirety, please make sure to visit: http://1.usa. gov/1aSF3Jq.
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