New NEPC Review: Elevating Teaching Profession Requires More Than Sound Bites

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Key Takeaway from NEPC Review: Report relies too heavily on rhetoric and not enough on research

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A recent report from the Center for American Progress outlines a vision for elevating and modernizing the teaching profession. It offers seemingly innocuous recommendations for improving the public perceptions and experiences of teachers. However, closer examination reveals several harmful policy reforms in the report.

Elizabeth J. Meyer, Associate Dean for Teacher Education and Associate Professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, reviewed Smart, Skilled, and Striving: Transforming and Elevating the Teaching Profession for the Think Twice Think Tank Review Project at the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder’s School of Education.

Professor Meyer notes that while elements of the report’s 10 recommendations would likely be beneficial, they also include policy changes that would increase surveillance of teachers, reduce their job security, evaluate them by students’ test scores, and create merit pay systems that would likely have the opposite effect. In advocating for a policy agenda that in many ways could do further harm to the profession, the report relies too heavily on popular rhetoric, sound bites, opinion articles, and advocacy publications.

For example, one recommendation is to “improve professional development by aligning it to the needs of students and teachers.” While this sounds good on the surface, one of the model programs touted in this report, the Teacher Advancement Program (TAP), has been controversial due to its pairing of performance pay with the professional development activities it introduces.

Professor Meyer concludes that, other than a review of contemporary issues, the report offers “little of substance to advance the teaching profession.”

Find Elizabeth J. Meyer’s review at:

Find Smart, Skilled, and Striving: Transforming and Elevating the Teaching Profession, by Carmel Martin, Lisette Partelow, & Catherine Brown, published by the Center for American Progress, at:

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) Think Twice Think Tank Review Project ( provides the public, policymakers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. The project is made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice:

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces and disseminates high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. Visit us at:

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William Mathis

Elizabeth J. Meyer
University of Colorado Boulder
(303) 735-3029
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