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Another Guilty Plea In Tennessee Teacher Cheating Case

Joy Resmovits   |   January 11, 2013    1:01 PM ET

In November, we reported on a major teacher cheating ring that was unfolding in Memphis, Tenn. We wrote:

Federal prosecutors recently obtained an indictment of Clarence Mumford Sr. for allegedly running a scam that enlisted ringers to take the Praxis teacher-licensing exam on behalf of would-be teachers in Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi. According to the indictment obtained by Western Tennessee's U.S. Attorney Edward Stanton III, Mumford, a former assistant principal, received between $1,500 and $3,000 for each test his ringers took. To get his test-takers into the room, he allegedly created fake identification cards and Social Security numbers.

Since the grand jury indicted Mumford this summer, the case -- highlighted by the Associated Press this weekend -- has expanded to include Mumford's son and several other teachers. His son, Clarence Mumford Jr., was indicted with having one such ringer take the test for him and then using his phony credentials to get a job. The middle-man whose alleged deception first tipped off investigators is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 7.

Now, the case is expanding. Rodney King, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney there, just called to fill me in on a recent development. Jeryl Shaw, 40, has pled guilty to aiding and abetting production of false IDs.

What's fascinating is that Shaw isn't a teacher. Rather, he has a Master's degree in polymer chemistry. Some more details came out as Shaw spoke. Mumford allegedly pulled Shaw's wife, Shantell, into the scheme. Shantell Shaw was a new high school teacher when Mumford allegedly approached her to take a biology certification test under someone else's name. That was just the beginning -- Shaw was allegedly paid about $8,000 for taking 12-15 tests, according to a previous statement from U.S. Attorney Edward Stanton III.

Now, Jeryl Shaw is saying that his wife pulled him into the scheme. I'm told he's "the last guy you would have thought would do something like this." This entire case is a true family affair: Mumford's son, Clarence Mumford, Jr., was indicted with having a ringer take a test on his behalf.

The case particularly interesting, many have previously noted, because the main Praxis exam is actually known for being pretty easy! Stay tuned for news on this. Mumford himself is supposed to appear in court on January 25.

Grading Obama On Education

Joy Resmovits   |   January 11, 2013   12:10 PM ET

All week long, you've heard about how states are doing on education. Now it's the president's turn to be graded.

HuffPost/YouGov asked the American public what they thought about Obama's performance in the education arena. And they think he's doing fine.

First, HuffPost/YouGov this week asked a representative sample of 1,000 U.S. adults, Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama has handled the issue of education? Thirty-nine percent indicated they approve, 33 percent said they disapproved, and 28 percent weren't sure. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minute 3.8 percentage points.

What does this mean?

"To have both approval and disapproval of Obama under 40 percent suggests to me that most people haven't thought much about Obama in terms of education and don't associate him with any major education initiatives," Emily Swanson, HuffPost's polling director, tells me (over gchat). "More people approve than disapprove, which probably means that most people don't have any strong negative feelings, but right now people probably don't consider Obama to be a leader on education initiatives."

Also interesting here is the racial split. Thirty-three percent of white respondents say they approve, compared to 68 percent of black participants and 46 percent of Hispanic participants.

Next, the pollsters asked: "How much of a difference do you think a president can make in improving education?"

Forty-one percent of respondents indicated they thought a president could make "a major difference," 33 percent said he could make "a minor difference," 12 percent said " no difference" and 13 percent weren't sure.

That's interesting to me because as many of you know, the federal government controls less than 10 percent of the nation's public education budget.

Check back next week for some more exciting polling!

**Extra Credit:** Now it's your turn to answer.

Ed Today: Education Rankings, Anti-Common Core Alliance

Joy Resmovits   |   January 11, 2013    2:02 AM ET

Who Is The Biggest (Educational) Loser? As we reported yesterday, Education Week released its Quality Counts report, one of the most comprehensive education rankings in the United States. For the fifth year in a row, Maryland came out on top. Who came in last? South Dakota. Things like rankings can be a bit trickier than they appear -- for example, some of the differences between states might not be statistically significant. But they are incredibly useful, at least politically.

Amy Hightower, who leads the staff that compiles the report, told me about a time when a lawmaker from a certain state called her up. He'd heard that his state came in first on the soon-to-be-announced report card, and he wanted to verify that. Indeed, Hightower told him, his state had come in a fraction of a point above New York. He told her something like: "I'm going to take that fraction of the point over to the statehouse and use it to advocate for more school funding."

All this made me think South Dakota's barely-passing grade might actually be mighty useful to some politicians there! In 2012, a few SD pols got an initiative that would have abolished teacher tenure onto the ballot. That measure failed. But I can see how coming in dead last on a national education ranking would help them make their case! Failure is powerful.

Strange Bedfellows In Indiana? Something very interesting came across my inbox last night. I was forwarded a strategy memo from a coalition that's fighting the Common Core standards in Indiana.

For those playing catchup: the Common Core is a new set of English and math learning standards adopted by most U.S. states. Some conservatives hate it because they love local control. Some liberals hate it because they worry it'll herald even more testing. When the state's chief Tony Bennett was unseated, he blamed his defeat on his opponent's rhetoric on the Core. The state legislature will revisit the topic next Wednesday. Anyway, the memo:

As I mentioned, one of the way we got rid of Tony Bennett in Indiana was by forging unlikely alliances.  The conservative Tea Party groups in Indiana actively mobilized opposition to the Common Core and PARCC assessment.  This alliance continues, as legislation to undue Tony's Common Core reforms has been introduced and gaining bipartisan support.  We are working closely with our new Superintendent, Glenda Ritz, who campaigned in opposition to PARCC and expressed serious concerns about the Common Core.

The advocate then proceeded to invite folks to a rally this weekend. So, what's interesting here is the strange bedfellows situation tends to pop up in education in the strangest ways. We saw it last year, for example, when Rand Paul invoked Diane Ravitch during No Child Left Behind hearings. Bizarro!

New Grades For Show-Me State Schools? Missouri is the latest in a string of states to roll out new school grading systems, the Post-Dispatch reports. "A new rating system for Missouri's school districts will intensify pressure on low-performing school districts to improve, while exposing even the best schools to new scrutiny from parents and the public," quoth the P-D. The bar is supposed to be "higher," so a bunch of schools might see a sudden score drop -- not unlike the sudden standardized test score drop parents around the country will see in 2014 when their kids take the first round of Common Core exams. (For extra credit see ShankerBlog. Failure for all!

Yet Another Testing Revolt? When presented with the Measures of Academic Progress exam, teachers at Garfield High School in Seattle felt they had to fight. The too-cool-for-tests teachers, KPLU reports, want to ditch them because they feel they take up too much time, they're not up to state standards, and the results are unreliable. (I remember a Chicago teacher telling me he felt the same way about the last point -- that the MAP results didn't measure up with his kids' learning). The students, unsurprisingly, are totes on board with this. "This test means nothing," the student body president told KPLU.

Tech Oops?According to a new report, technology in Marblehead's schools is simply not up to snuff. It is, in the words of some guy named Lord, "in very poor shape." This could be a major problem down the line when the district is forced to implement computerized testing -- and finds that it can't! (h/t Ken Libby)

Friday Grab Bag And to round things out, here is a recently-cleared government report on how -- get ready -- subtitled music videos can help improve learning. Don't stop there. It's actually kind of cool. Some teachers in Hawaii put kids with learning disabilities in front of some videos, featuring "a karaoke-style subtitling intervention." And, as it turned out, those kids scored better than their peers on reading exams! So, basically, karaoke for all!

Which State Has The Worst Education System?

Joy Resmovits   |   January 10, 2013    6:25 PM ET

NEW YORK -- The report card is in, and the grades aren't good. But at least they're slightly better than last year's.

On Thursday, Education Week, an education trade newspaper, released the 17th edition of the Quality Counts report, a widely-cited metric of overall educational quality in the United States. America's public schools are hardly passing: they garnered a C-plus. Last year, though, the U.S. scored a C, so the ranking represents some improvement.

"We're probably tough graders," Amy Hightower, who oversees the team of seven researchers that puts together the huge report, said in an interview. "The national grade overall had a very slight uptick … That was a nice surprise."

The report also ranks states: Maryland bested all others for the fifth year in a row, scoring a B-plus. Maryland was closely followed by Massachusetts, New York, and Virginia, which received B's. Completing the top 10 were Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, West Virginia, and Kentucky. On the other end were seven states that came in at C-minus: Arizona, Montana, D.C., Nebraska, Alaska, Mississippi, Idaho, and Nevada. California, which educates one-eighth of the nation's students, came in at a C. South Dakota came in dead last, getting D-plus.

Lawmakers in South Dakota are apparently aware of this inferior status -- they're trying all kinds of different things to change education in the state, including a failed ballot initiative that would have abolished teacher tenure. Those lawmakers might find the state's grade useful in pushing their agenda again this year.

The report card takes into account almost every possible metric imaginable in American education, from school finance to environment to grades to equity. It looks at "Chance for Success," an index that takes into account the connections between school and positive life outcomes, looking at toddlers, kids, and adults. In the "Chance for Success" ratings, America scored a C-plus -- about one point less than last year. Massachusetts topped the "Chance for Success" rankings for the sixth year in a row, netting an A-minus. Nevada and New Mexico came in dead last, each netting D's. "States perform best on indicators associated with opportunities to acquire a solid foundation for learning during the early years," Hightower wrote. "However, the measures that capture participation and performance in formal schooling remain the driving force behind state rankings."

Quality Counts also looks at "transitions and alignment," a category that examines "efforts to better coordinate between K-12 schooling and other segments of the education pipeline," according to EdWeek. For the first time ever this year, one state -- Georgia -- got a perfect score in this realm.

School finance, such as school spending and distribution of resources, is another key component of the report. The U.S. earned a C on average, with 24 states scoring between C-minus and C-plus. The duds in this category were Idaho, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, and Utah, which all got D's or lower.

The first seeds of Quality Counts were planted in the early 1990s, as the standards-based education reform movement began to take hold. During that time, a group of American governors met at an education summit and discovered a huge hole in their plans: It's hard to formulate policy based on standards and academic outcomes when there is no standard metric of success. The 50 states have 50 different ways of measuring academic performance, making any kind of general comparison extremely difficult.

"They realized very quickly on that they couldn't even have that conversation, because they didn't have a common metric to understand what's going on," Hightower said. "EdWeek said, 'We think we can fill this void by tracking some indicators … that would have a common-enough denominator to understand how states are doing within the standards-based framework.'"

This has been an unusually busy week for report cards that grade education in America's states. Earlier this week, former Washington, D.C., schools chancellor Michelle Rhee's group, StudentsFirst, released its own version of a report card. That match-up measured states according to whether they aligned with Rhee's preferred education policies, such as private school vouchers for some students, charter schools, and a policy known as a "parent trigger," which lets parents take over failing schools.

The results were quite different from Thursday's release -- and Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers union, took notice. “These rankings also stand in sharp contrast to StudentsFirst rankings, which prioritized politics and ideology over improved teaching and learning -- giving the top-ranked state of Maryland a D-plus for failing to embrace the StudentsFirst agenda of testing, sanctioning teachers and divesting from public schools," Weingarten, who has sparred with Rhee in the past, said in a statement.

Ed Tonight: Rhee Report Card Backwards? Denver School Board Drama

  |   January 10, 2013    6:07 PM ET

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Most Kids Who Need Mental Health Care Don't Get It -- GAO

Joy Resmovits   |   January 10, 2013   12:39 PM ET

Hot off the presses, here's a report from the Government Accountability Office on the state of children's mental health care. It reveals some major problems.

"Most children whose emotions or behavior, as reported by their parent or guardian, indicated a potential need for a mental health service did not receive any services within the same year," the GAO wrote.

The report comes after Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Rep. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.), and Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (Calif.) requested that the GAO look into how psychotropic drugs affect the long-term development of kids who grow up in foster care. While the report is very specific in its scope, it's sure to be a relevant piece of evidence as the Obama administration formulates policy to deal with the ramifications of the Newtown, Conn. elementary school shooting. The shooting has sparked a nationwide debate on gun control, but it has also directed America's attention to the state of its mental health care system.

Here are some findings:

Ed Today

Joy Resmovits   |   January 10, 2013    8:27 AM ET

Too many tests in Texas? A group of parents certainly thinks so. "Texans Advocating for Meaningful Assessments recently made its case to parents, legislators and the community of Fort Bend Independent School District about the consequences of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness," reports the Houston Chronicle. Well, that's a little interesting: Texas is the birthplace of so many of the test-based accountability systems that pervade modern education policy.

The College Tuition Trap? According to a Moody's survey, the demand for four-year-colleges is decreasing due to what the Wall Street Journal calls a "perfect storm" of factors such as stagnant family incomes. The result? It's "sapping pricing power at a growing number" of universities. Which is to say, it makes it harder for colleges to increase tuition. I'd say this report will be an important piece of evidence for the Obama administration if it chooses to pursue the higher education agenda it outlined during the first term.

Kindergarten Push In Nevada? Yesterday, Nevada's Democrats outlined their priorities for education this year. A huge part, according to the associated press, will be full-day kindergarten. If it works well, this could be super important in the Recession-addled state that has to contend with scores of homeless young students -- especially in the Las Vegas area. They also want to reduce class sizes and boost funding, which strikes me as more traditionalist than the "education reformist" approach many lawmakers have recently taken (that includes things like charter schools and ending teacher tenure.)

Longer days in New York Schools? During his State of the State address, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) floated a competition to incentivize districts to make their school days longer. Cuomo, GothamSchools reports, also touched on bonuses for teachers, an expansion of early childhood education, and the importance of schools that serve kids' non-academic developmental needs.

Trouble in the Bayou State? An audit of St. Tammany Parish Public Schools in Louisiana will be released next week and make reference to fraud within the district, reports.

Does School Design Affect Student Learning? This comes to us from across the pond, but I thought it was worth sharing. A study conducted in the U.K found that school design had a "significant" impact on school performance. "Six of the key environmental factors -- color, choice, connection, complexity, flexibility and light, were clearly correlated with either higher or lower grade scores." (H/t HuffPost tech's Dino Grandoni).

Should Schools Have Armed Guards? One Union's Recommendations

  |   January 9, 2013    3:41 PM ET

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On No Child Left Behind's 11th Anniversary, An Obituary Of Sorts

Joy Resmovits   |   January 9, 2013   12:54 PM ET

Yesterday, No Child Left Behind, the Bush-era big government education law, turned 11. We had a lot more to say about this on the tenth anniversary, but the 11th is worth noting for one simple reason: the law doesn't really exist anymore! At least, not as we knew it.

Let me back up a bit.

Once upon a time, Republicans and Democrats in Congress got together (for real!) to pass a sweeping education law. The law was a reauthorization of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Lawmakers from all backgrounds recognized the need for drastic change in education policy due to yawning gaps in performance between students of different backgrounds. So they decided to tweak the country's overarching federal school funding stream, and required results from states in exchange for providing that money. No Child Left Behind, as it came to be known, required the regular standardized testing of students in English and math. President George W. Bush got all excited and called it the beginning of "a new era, a new time in public education." (For some more background, see here.)

It didn't quite work out the way Dubya planned.

The law's successes, proponents say, include test score increases on national exams, and a harsh light shone on the achievement gap. Definitely. But the law is widely believed to have come short in one big way: it painted schools as underperforming with too broad a brush, making it hard to distinguish schools that were simply less than good from dropout factories.

Also worth noting: the law expired in 2007! And it hasn't been renewed since then. Because, you know, Congress.

So when Barack Obama ran for the presidency in 2008, he promised to shut down NCLB. While he hasn't exactly done that, he's come close. Along with his education secretary Arne Duncan, he has offered states relief in the form of waivers from the laws most stringent provisions -- in exchange for an agreement to follow aspects of the Obama education agenda. So far, 33 states and Washington, D.C. have received waivers, so in more than half of all states, No Child Left Behind as we knew it ceases to exist. Kind of a sad birthday gift!

On that note, here are a few memorable NCLB headlines from the last year:

-More Than Half Of U.S. States Wiggle Out Of Bush Education Law
-No Child Left Behind Waivers Granted To 33 U.S. States, Some With Strings Attached
-Some States Resisting Obama Ed-Reform Requirements
-Texas 41st State To Back Away From Bush's No Child Law
-Florida Sets Math, Reading Goals Based On Race, Ethnicity
-Virginia Approves New 'Progress Metrics' To Close The Math Achievement Gap
-No Child Left Behind Reauthorization Debate Likely To Continue In Obama Second Term

And here are some thoughts on the law's 11th anniversary:

-Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the House education committee, bemoans the "patchwork" waivers.
"Eleven years ago Congress turned the lights on in our schools when it enacted the No Child Left Behind Act. Prior to NCLB only a handful of states had access to data that showed student achievement broken down by gender, ethnicity, income, or English proficiency," Miller wrote on a statement. "Congress' failure to rewrite NCLB has left our nation with a patchwork of state systems and temporary relief from specific provisions of the law," Miller added. He called on Congress to take the issue up again.

-Rand Corporation has five suggestions for improving the law. Priorities for Rand include syncing up states' proficiency standards and looking at subjects outside of just reading and math.

-UCLA Professor John Rogers: "I think that the strategies of providing states waivers was a way for the US Department of Education to ease the pressures without having to back away from its claims of upholding high standards."

Ed Tonight

  |   January 9, 2013   12:05 PM ET

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Are Charter Schools Good For Kids? Michelle Rhee Advisor Argues Yes

Joy Resmovits   |   January 9, 2013   10:31 AM ET

Last Friday, I wrote a story about a crop of high-profile Democrats leaving StudentsFirst, the organization run by former Washington, D.C. schools chief Michelle Rhee.

Several sources suggested that the move spoke to a broader change in StudentsFirst: a group once extremely self-conscious about its positioning as a bipartisan organization is now more interested in being purist and ideological in implementing its ideas. (This theory played out interestingly on Monday when the group released its report card of state education policies).

I was excited to see that the piece spurred dialogue on a few different corners of the web -- particularly on the blog of Diane Ravitch, an education historian who vehemently opposes Rhee's ideas.

"It is hard to see how any Democrat could be part of a campaign to curtail collective bargaining rights and to diminish the rights and status of teachers. Unions and teachers are the base of the Democratic Party," Ravitch wrote.

One of those departing Democrats is Hari Sevugan, a former Democratic National Committee spokesperson who served as Rhee's communications chief (and still advises her). He responded a few hours later, saying he disagreed with Ravitch's premise. "To suggest that folks working at StudentsFirst or in education reform are doing anything but working for the benefit of kids is plain wrong."

The exchange continued, and on Monday, Ravitch posted an open letter to Sevugan from a Florida teacher and parent. "I do not believe it is possible to convince us [that charter schools benefit children]," the parent wrote. "I applaud you for coming on this blog and trying ... but these are our kids. We know they deserve better. ... Charter schools are furthering that division."

Sevugan was kind enough to send HuffPost his (long form!) response. The thrust of his argument is that U.S. students perform so poorly in school that something's gotta give. That thing just might be the structure of public schools as we know them. He rightfully notes that even in states like Massachusetts and Maryland, which tend to do well on national exams, there are cavernous gaps between the performance levels of different ethnic and socioeconomic groups.

"Regardless of how you cut the numbers, we simply are failing too many children," he writes. "To me, this demands change - including better social services and better prioritization of resources to be certain. Fundamentally, however, when a system is failing as many students as the status quo currently is, the elements of change must include massive innovation and accountability."

Charter schools, he explains, "can explore new ways to teach." (I'd argue, with no disrespect to charters, that plain old traditional public schools can do this too. But anyway.) He articulates the education reform movement's overarching argument for change: we must experiment in schools -- even if it fails -- because what we've got now isn't working.

Unencumbered by bureaucracy, and also the invisible tether of past practice, charters can explore new ways to teach, administer and learn. And, yes, some of those ways won't work. But some will, and lessons can be learned from those successes and should be scaled where possible. I'd also argue that a free school for public school students is 'public,' and should be funded accordingly. I imagine you won't agree with me on these issues.

I've left you the full memo below. I'm sure we'll be hearing more from Ravitch -- and the Florida teacher -- in the near future. Meanwhile, help me chew this over. The bigger question here is this: do you think the charter experiment -- and the reform experiment at large -- is better than the system we have now? Maybe it's more nuanced than that. I see both sides of this one. On the one hand, the idea of "experimentation" on students is scary (and sounds nefarious!). On the other hand, I've interviewed some kids who are stuck in awful situations in public schools, situations I would never wish on anyone. And I understand the desire, on the part of the reform movement, to not let the perfect become the enemy of the good. But at what expense? What do you think?

Ed Today

  |   January 9, 2013    8:43 AM ET

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Gates Foundation: Classroom Observation Of Teachers Is Extremely Unreliable

Joy Resmovits   |   January 8, 2013    3:00 PM ET

NEW YORK -- A few years ago, Bill Gates decided to learn more about whether a teacher's effect on student learning could be measured. Three years, 3,000 teachers and about $50 million later, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation thinks it has the answers.

On Tuesday afternoon in Phoenix, the Gates Foundation released the third and final component of the Measuring Effective Teachers project, a gargantuan effort spearheaded by Harvard economist Thomas Kane.

"Effective teaching can be measured," the authors wrote in the latest installment. They're sure of it because they used a randomized experiment to figure it out. Reliable teacher evaluations, the paper claims, include "balanced" proportions of teacher observation, students' standardized test scores and student surveys. And for the first time, the randomized trial shows that teachers who perform well with one group of students, on average, perform at the same levels with different groups of kids.

The findings are important because of what they may contribute to the debate over changing how teacher evaluation is conducted, which has emerged as a hot-button political issue favored by the so-called education reform movement. Such changes are controversial because the idea of measuring a teacher's contributions to student learning contests the predominant labor management model in education: salaries and benefits that increase with experience, and layoffs based on reverse order of seniority. Measuring teachers promises administrators and policymakers that they can make hiring and firing decisions with an eye toward quality of instruction.

The federal government's Race to the Top competition had states vie for cash by doing such things as formalizing their teacher evaluations to include student test scores. Many states have signed on, and several districts have already implemented such systems.

One major point of pushback to using test scores in teacher evaluations has been the concern that such tools, known as value-added measures, reflect student demographics more than a teacher's ability, and penalize teachers who take on more difficult students. "We didn't know if in fact what we were seeing -- the differences we were seeing between teachers were about the teacher or about the students who were coming into their class," Steve Cantrell, Gates' chief education researcher, told The Huffington Post. "By randomly assigning students to teachers, we were able to show that teacher effectiveness is really about the teachers."

After randomly assigning classes to teachers in consecutive years, Cantrell said, MET found that "the performance of the teachers in the second year was almost identical to the year prior."

While the study shows some reliability in measuring teachers who either overperform or underachieve dramatically, the authors note that "the vast majority of teachers are in the middle of the scale, with small differences in scores producing large changes in percentile rankings."

Moreover, the report found that overall, classroom observations -- the way most teachers around the country have been evaluated for decades -- are highly unreliable on their own. "It is clear from these findings and the MET project's earlier study of classroom observation instruments that classroom observations are not discerning large absolute differences in practice," the authors wrote. They found that counting observations for half of the total score is "counterproductive."

"The way that most teachers have been evaluated forever is completely unreliable," said Tim Daly, who leads TNTP, a consulting group that places new teachers and helps districts implement evaluations. "Before, what we were weighing is, 'Should we move in the direction of using student learning or is it too precarious?' They show we have no choice but to change -- the way they're doing it is totally inadequate."

The report also notes that teacher observation becomes more reliable when more than one judge watches a class. The lesson for districts is that staffers other than principals need to be trained in teacher observations.

Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers union, has been critical of the MET Project's teacher quality research in the past. But in advance of Tuesday's release, she released a statement lauding the effort. "The MET findings reinforce the importance of evaluating teachers based on a balance of multiple measures of teaching effectiveness, in contrast to the limitations of focusing on student test scores, value-added scores or any other single measure," Weingarten said.

And as for Gates, while the foundation is closing a major chapter on teacher quality research, Cantrell says the next step is culling and tagging a massive video library of teaching practices to be studied by researchers and used by education schools.

Gates also intends to focus on helping teachers improve. "Now we know that we can identify and take up multiple perspectives on what great teaching looks like," said Vicki Phillips, who heads the Gates Foundation's college readiness efforts. "Now, how do we help make sure there's more and more of that?"