Hot Topics in Education

The field of education has undergone seismic shifts over the past decade. How should we train new teachers? What constitutes effective teaching? What are the elements of a quality education? How do we close the achievement gap? How should we evaluate teachers? How should teachers be compensated? What role should standardized testing play in holding students, educators and schools accountable? These questions have triggered intense debate among politicians, scholars and classroom educators themselves.

In this section, we provide an introduction to the currents of thought that are shaping the teaching profession today, as well as links to scholarly and government resources on each hot topic.The resources and articles we link to do not necessarily reflect the position of the UFT.

Our hot topics:

Teacher evaluation

Most educators would say that effective teaching can make an enormous difference in how much and how well students learn. But how do we identify an effective teacher? Consensus on that point is harder to come by. Read more >>


These days, it is almost impossible to discuss education without also discussing accountability, the idea that states, districts, schools and teachers must face consequences if students do not experience academic success. Systems of accountability have proliferated across the nation since the advent of No Child Left Behind, which has tied public funding to student academic achievement in Math and Reading (the goal is 100 percent student proficiency by 2014). But the roots of accountability actually go back much further and grow out of America's longstanding frustration with the achievement gap between black and Latino students compared with that of their white and Asian counterparts. Read more >>

Pathways to teaching

Traditional teacher preparation programs have long been criticized for offering too much theory and not enough practice, but alternative certification routes to teaching that skip the theory and go straight to the classroom have other pitfalls. Leaders in the field say that teacher preparation programs should learn from both experiences. Read more >>


High-stakes testing that distorts classroom practice and puts excessive pressure on students, together with the misuse of test data to draw unwarranted conclusions, have made educators wary of assessments in general. Yet tests, when created carefully and used appropriately, have their rightful place in education. Read more >>

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