Dear reader,

Making sure that a highly qualified teacher is at the head of every classroom in America is one of the unmet goals of the No Child Left Behind Act. With new commitment, fair funding and focused action, we can turn the corner and assure excellence through quality teaching for every child.

The education agenda of the new administration includes a focus on recruiting, preparing, retaining and rewarding teachers. As we move forward on this key priority, the term "teaching quality" itself must be pulled out of the educational jargon bin, dusted off and infused with new meaning.

Teaching quality, of course, is about the men and women who dedicate their lives to educating our children. Teaching quality is also about providing the training, mentoring, coaching and professional development that nurtures teachers’ development and success. But teaching does not occur in a vacuum, and any effort to promote teaching quality must be coupled with excellence in governance, state and school policy, school leadership, and curriculum. Teaching quality also is centrally about the relationship among the teacher, family and student – a relationship and environment that must be vibrant for students of all backgrounds.

In this February issue of the IDRA Newsletter, beginning with "Defining Teaching Quality Beyond the Certificate," we examine teaching quality through this wide lens, spanning research, policy and practice. We then focus in on how to strengthen the quality of teaching for those are among the most under-served students in our schools – English language learners. An article on Judge William Wayne Justice’s recent ruling that the State of Texas must dramatically improve its oversight and delivery of programs for English language learners offers both analysis of the case and a discussion of the state’s response thus far. "Ten Principles that Guide the Development of an Effective Educational Plan for English Language Learners at the Secondary Level," the second part of a two-part series, provides guidance for developing an evidence-based secondary educational plan for English language learners. Finally, "Putting our ChIPS on the Table – Children in Public Schools" illustrates five innovative ways in which schools, families and communities can partner to strengthen teaching, learning and student outcomes.

In 2009, minority students, English language learners and students in poverty in America are still far more likely than their more affluent peers to attend classes taught by a teacher who is not certified, who is paid poorly, or who is working out of field. A restored commitment to teaching quality will be a big step forward in securing educational opportunities for all of our children.

Dr. María Robledo Montecel

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[©2009, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the IDRA Newsletter by the Intercultural Development Research Association. Every effort has been made to maintain the content in its original form. However, accompanying charts and graphs may not be provided here. To receive a copy of the original article by mail or fax, please fill out our information request and feedback form. Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author.]