Aspen Institute Publications
Aspen Institute publications are listed below. Many are available for purchase through Google Checkout, a secure system for handling credit card transaction online. For assistance with ordering publications, please contact our Publications office by email or by phone at (410) 820.5433. Please note: Orders are shipped two times a week from our warehouse in Queenstown, MD, on the Eastern Shore.
To strengthen state implementation of Common Core State Standards and meaningful teacher evaluations, the Aspen Institute and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) in this policy brief suggest ten actions to move beyond simply alignment of two ambitious reforms-- teacher evaluation and the Common Core-- to integrate them into a system-level whole. To do that, author and Aspen Education Program Executive Director Ross Wiener describes the linkages between implementation of Common Core and teacher effectiveness policies and offers practical suggestions to state leaders on how to ensure teachers are using strategies that engage students in learning at high levels.
Public education is focused intensively on designing and implementing meaningful teacher evaluations. To convert evaluation information into more effective teaching, teachers, principals, and system leaders need to embrace a culture of ongoing, two-way feedback and a commitment to continuous improvement. Developed in partnership with The Parthenon Group, Evaluating Evaluations explains how teacher surveys can advance this work by engaging teachers, generating information on what’s working and what’s not, and supporting reciprocal accountability in education improvement efforts.
The Common Core State Standards is a near-universal set of academic standards adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia. It represents a paradigm shift in the teaching of English Language Arts and math, emphasizing deeper learning and application of knowledge. This flyer makes the Common Core accessible to families and other stakeholders, explaining what the standards are and why they are important for improving public education.
School systems that provide their highest-performing teachers with leadership roles can elevate the profession and increase the impact of top talent. Pursuing teacher leadership allows schools systems to increase support for teachers and students, advance systemic improvement efforts, and improve the recruitment and retention of top performers. Developing teacher leadership systems requires us to rethink evaluation, compensation, distributed leadership, and even what we see as the role of teachers and the way we organize instruction.
This paper outlines a clear process for establishing shared purpose for teacher leadership and career pathways, for designing and implementing systems and structures that support this work, and for learning from teacher leadership efforts. The paper also includes profiles of school systems leading the effort to create teacher leadership and career pathways.
To assist teachers in understanding and employing the Common Core instructional emphasis on Close Reading in the classroom, this primer addresses the following key questions:
1) What is Close Reading of text, and what are its essential attributes? How, and for what purposes, should teachers employ this strategy?
2) What is the role of background knowledge in the development of reading comprehension, and when should teachers activate and/or provide background knowledge?
3) What should teachers and district leaders consider about Close Reading as they prepare to implement it in practice?
This extensive series of professional development modules provides open educational resources designed to meet the needs of educators making the key instructional shifts in ELA & Literacy for the Common Core. Each module-on text complexity, close reading and text-dependent questions, and designing close reading exemplars-comes with a Powerpoint presentation and facilitator's guide designed for professional development instructors, as well as a suite of supplemental exemplars, worksheets, and other supplemental resources.
Building It Together: The Design and Implementation of Hillsborough County Public Schools' Teacher Evaluation System
Hillsborough County Public Schools has launched a teacher evaluation system that has attracted attention from educators and policy makers across the country. Centralized, collaborative, communications-driven and adaptable are key characteristics of Hillsborough's approach. The system consists of two main components: observation of instruction and teachers' value-added scores, based on student test results.
The two top priorities in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Schools' Strategic Plan 2014 Teaching Our Way to the Top are: focusing on equitable instruction district-wide, and creating a performance-oriented culture based on continuous improvement and accountability for results.
- Target use of teacher performance data
- Engage a broad group of stakeholders in the schools – especially teachers, in the system, and in the community
- track implementation with monitoring, feedback surveys and other oversight
- build and adapt the system based on data collected
- shift the district’s focus from managing the amount of money and services provided to schools to focusing on student achievement and graduation rate
Means to an End: A Guide to Developing Teacher Evaluation Systems that Support Growth and Development
Teacher evaluation has emerged as a key strategy for improving student outcomes in public education.
The rationale is compelling: teachers vary widely in their effectiveness, and evaluation systems need to identify and address this variation. In the last two years, most states have adopted new policies to make teacher evaluations more rigorous and meaningful, and the field is consumed with implementing these policies, moving quickly from design to pilot to full-scale implementation.
This guide is designed to help school systems and states design evaluation systems that support teacher growth and development. This focus is critically important because early work in leading districts suggests that the overwhelming majority of teachers fall in the middle range of the performance continuum. For these teachers, supporting improvement is critical.
Means to an End is a practical toolkit for structuring the design process, elevating important issues, and identifying tensions and trade-offs that need to be resolved. The guide was conceived at a 2011 Aspen Institute workshop that brought together leading educators, researchers, and policymakers to share strategies for designing and implementing new teacher evaluations. Examples from districts and charter networks at the vanguard of this new work are included throughout the guide.
Forging a New Partnership: The Story of Teacher Union and School District Collaboration in Pittsburgh
Forging a New Partnership: The Story of Teacher Union and School District Collaboration in Pittsburgh documents Pittsburgh's transformation from a typical, adversarial district-union dynamic to one of deep, substantive collaboration over the course of several years. This work has catapulted Pittsburgh to the vanguard of efforts to improve teacher effectiveness, and helped secure more than $80 million in philanthropic and federal grants. Through the voices of the principal participants, Forging a New Partnership tells the story of Pittsburgh's breakthrough collaboration and highlights important principles that can be applied in other contexts. Download publication