Over the last two decades, educators have experienced some pendulum swings in public policy that have affected their own livelihoods as well as their students’ learning experiences. The No Child Left Behind Act defined specific achievement standards in mathematics and literacy for students, which created new pressures on teachers in “tested grades and subjects” to continuously improve student outcomes on standardized assessments.
Under Race to the Top, which was not a federal law, many states modified their legal code to change standard processes related to educator evaluation. State laws shifted evaluations by increasing their mandated frequency and defining specific categories in which educators should be regularly measured. States also moved collectively to adopt a common set of learning standards in math, ELA and science, which dramatically shifted both the ordering of content and the ways in which educators needed to teach their students the content.
In recent years, public policy at the state level has attempted to address teacher compensation (including salaries and pensions), as well as provide incentives for educators to teach in geographic and subject areas where there are shortages of qualified educators. Overall, the landscape for educators has been rapidly shifting, which means that setting improvement goals for educators and leaders and tracking them over time can be quite a challenge.
Here are some recent trends that are worth paying attention to as the landscape continues to evolve.