Washington, D.C. — A new report released today by the Center for American Progress explores the ways in which human-capital-management reform holds the potential to dramatically improve student achievement and solve major challenges in America’s public-education system.
“America’s education system has hired and tenured thousands of teachers and principals without seriously assessing their effectiveness and supporting their improvement. As a result, there is a shortage of effective teachers and leaders in the most challenging schools,” said Cynthia G. Brown, vice president for education policy at the Center for American Progress. “Understanding how human-capital-management impacts our nation’s school-system is critical to improving student achievement. Our students can only be successful if we surround them with educators who will work relentlessly to ensure that every child is learning and meeting their potential.”
The issue of finding strategic ways to get the best, most effective people to become teachers and principals is a relatively recent policy initiative that has picked up speed quickly and caused major changes in both policy and practice. In fact, in a matter of two decades or fewer, the entire U.S. education system has been challenged in this area, including in the ways that we recruit, select, place, develop, evaluate, pay, promote, and dismiss educators. Some of these changes have been initiated by federal grant-giving policy initiatives that reward states and districts for innovation, such as Race to the Top, School Improvement Grants, the Teacher Incentive Fund, and No Child Left Behind waivers. Others have sprung up due to the plethora of research that marks human capital as the single-most important factor in impacting student learning.
The paper released today provides an examination of the evolving landscape of talent management in education. The report’s author, Allan Odden, the director of Strategic Management of Human Capital at the Consortium for Policy Research in Education, begins with a look at talent management—or lack thereof—in education at the close of the 20th century, then documents the educational change that has occurred in the following decades that followed. He concludes by exploring why the focus on talent evolved and quickly assumed such a prominent role in the nation’s education-policy and practice agendas.
Chief among the recommendations offered in the report is making entry into the profession difficult at every point to ensure that only the top talent meets the entry standards for the full professional license to be required of every novice teacher at some point after three to five years of teaching. These entry standards would be based on rigorous assessments of content knowledge and the implementation of a rigorous “bar exam,” which should assess both instructional expertise and impact on student learning. This approach supports both traditional and alternative pathways into the profession, while also ensuring that only demonstrably effective teachers earn the full professional license and then tenure, whatever their pathway into the profession.
Read the report: “Getting the Best People into the Toughest Jobs” by Allan Odden
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