In his op-ed in the Star Tribune, Bush Foundation President Peter Hutchinson talks about the importance of great teachers in closing Minnesota’s achievement gap and how teacher preparation programs should focus on turning out the most effective teachers possible.

Hutchinson also introduced the Network for Excellence in Teaching (NExT), a partnership between 11 Minnesota universities (and three universities in North and South Dakota). NExT is “bringing together higher education and K-12 schools to rethink how new teachers are recruited, prepared, placed and supported.” Most notably, NExT is going to link student achievement data to individual teachers in order to assess the effectiveness of the programs those teachers graduated from. NExT will also support new teachers for their first three to five years of teaching.

There’s no question that teachers are important and have a tremendous impact on their students. And this op-ed highlights something that’s sorely needed in Minnesota: a way to use student achievement data to cultivate a highly effective teaching force. In short, Minnesota needs to build a barometer for teacher effectiveness.

The state collects a lot of data, but to be useful that data has to be, well, used. The NExT partnership is a good start for making use of this information; by looking at student achievement data, universities will know how effective their graduates are at teaching and be able to improve teacher training programs based on that feedback. But student achievement data can give teachers themselves useful feedback, too. That's why we need a statewide system that gives teachers the objective feedback they need and deserve. After all, information is power.


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