Prospect of teacher ratings sparks debate, criticisms

report cardSince teacher ratings are of such great interest on the blog, I wanted to share part of an e-mail from a teacher to me and the legislators considering this idea, state Rep. Edward Lindsey’s response to the e-mail and then the letter that New York Chancellor Joel Klein wrote to his teachers explaining why he agreed to release effectiveness ratings there once the courts cleared the way.

I think all three give a pretty good summary of the pros and cons of this highly explosive issue. I think it is fair to say from the hundreds of response to the blog and personal e-mails to me that this is not an idea that Georgia teachers will easily endorse.

And teachers have not done so in Los Angeles where the LA Times released teacher ratings this summer that led to protests in the streets. Teachers are fighting release of similar effectiveness rankings in New York where the media want to see them and the school system wants to provide them under the rationale that parents deserve more information about their children’s teachers.

First, the e-mail from the outraged teacher, who also posted to the blog in shorter form:

This is one of the most ridiculous and insulting ideas in a long line of such that I have come to expect from this country’s politicians and put forth with some measure of support by the less-than-critical news media.  I would suggest that this announcement smacks more of political grandstanding than of any substantive desire to improve our abysmal education ranking and that the AJC gives every appearance of serving as the mouthpiece.

As noted in my entry to the blog, teachers have long been subject to annual performance evaluations.  Therefore, all your proposal would accomplish is to make these evaluations a matter of public knowledge, unless you intend to add yet another evaluation into the mix.  What can possibly be gained by doing such a thing, other than spending taxpayer dollars to study how best to evaluate/report and develop a means of doing so?  Will your proposal provide for the means for parents to request the “passing grade” teachers for their children?  Will your proposal provide for the means of improvement of the “failing grade” teachers? Will your proposal provide a quantitative and verifiable means to help the students of this state?  If not, then of what value is the public report card? If someone with less than stellar performance has remained on the job year in and year out, that is hardly their “fault.”

I would suggest that the one(s) not actually performing the duties of a job would be the administrator(s) incorrectly administering the evaluation instrument or following through with steps to negate the unsatisfactory results.  Will your proposal provide for releasing the information contained within the performance evaluations in all prior years of the teacher’s employment so as to explain why someone with such a record has continued in the position

Does not the release of such information constitute a violation of privacy in some form or another as related to employment (public release of private evaluation information, for example)?  So many lawsuits have been filed against former employers for giving bad references that few are now willing to say more than that an applicant was employed at the business during a specific time period.  Yet the state of Georgia is now planning to release possibly detrimental data to the general public regarding its employees?  Do you not feel that you will be exposing the taxpayers of this state as well as of the employing county to lawsuits by publishing such information?

Have you entered into any dialogue at all with the Georgia Department of Education on this topic?  After all, is it not the purpose of that body to oversee matters of education in the state of Georgia?  If, however, the legislature is now to address these issues, should not the DOE be disbanded?  There would seem to be no reason to have such a department when the legislature will be addressing matters of education.  Would not such a move serve to address some of the budget shortfall we are now facing in Georgia?  Think of the money that could be saved by getting rid of unnecessary employees (all of them, apparently) in that department.

Surely, surely in these lean budget times there are more pressing issues of time and money that the lawmakers of this state should be addressing other than teacher report cards.  However, if you feel that this is indeed a worthy pursuit, then I, as a taxpaying citizen of the state of Georgia, would ask that you also push for public report cards for members of the medical profession, the local police and fire forces, our county and city commissioners, any and all other individuals who are paid by local and state governments (including lawmakers in the state house, their staffs, employees of the governor’s office, local school boards, school administrators, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, secretaries, para-pros, coaches, etc., and every single person affiliated in any way with the Georgia Department of Education, elected or otherwise).  As all of these people are paid in one way or another by taxpayer dollars (through mandated health care or checks from some level of government), I feel that we taxpayers are “entitled” to see the rating of each of these employees as well.

Do you not feel that citizens of this state have a right to see a report card on every government employee (including yourself) in this state, not just the teachers?  Or, perhaps, have you come to understand that the state of Georgia really does have more important matters to address than those which already have a means of correction in place?

And Rep. Lindsey replied:

You have given me quite a stream of consciousness to consider. As I discussed with Ms. Downey, the teacher report card is one of many reforms being seriously studied and should not be viewed in isolation. We need to look at many areas of education including the curriculum in the pre K program, the number of standardized test being given, improving teacher quality, enhancing parental involvement, the high school graduation rates, the technical school program, and the hope scholarship.  There is no one single bullet here and all issues need to be on the table.

I also emphasized to Ms. Downey the importance of teacher input on any reforms being advanced.  That is what I am doing here now.  The one thing that I will not accept is that the status quo is acceptable.  My constituents in general and our next generation in particular deserve better. I believe I clearly know where you stand on teacher report cards; however, I also note from your e mail that you did not offer any constructive reforms that you believe would help move the ball forward.  I look forward to hearing from you again with any such ideas.

And here is NY Chancellor Joel Klein’s letter to his teachers on why he agreed to release effectiveness ratings, pending the outcome of a court challenge by New York’s teacher union. The court has not ruled yet on the release:

Dear Colleagues,
As you have likely heard or read, several media outlets recently issued Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests to the City, requiring the Department to share the Teacher Data Reports we provide schools and teachers in grades 4 through 8 each year. These reports use a method called “value-added data” that seeks to predict student performance based on factors outside of a teacher’s control (high levels of poverty, for example), and then determines whether a given teacher’s students exceeded or fell short of these predicted examination scores (teachers may always access their reports at http://schools.nyc.gov/Teachers/TeacherDevelopment/TeacherDataToolkit/GetYourReports/default.htm).

By controlling for factors beyond a teacher’s control, it is the fairest system-wide way we have to assess the real impact of teachers on student learning. And while the City’s particular value-add method is not etched in stone, this is why the State passed legislation this spring, endorsed by the teachers’ unions, committing to using value-added data for all teachers. It is also why value-added data is increasingly being used throughout the nation as part of a comprehensive system of teacher evaluation.

In the past we have provided the numeric value-added data to the press with no indication of the identity of individual teachers. I am writing to you today because media outlets, prompted by similar data being published by the Los Angeles Times, have requested the names of individual teachers, not just the statistics.

As it is the City’s legal interpretation that we are legally obligated to provide the media this information, it is our intent to provide the data as requested.

In the time since we informed the UFT that we intended to comply with the FOIL request, the union has sued the City to prevent the release, and we have agreed to delay any release until at least November 24, when a court hearing will be held. So no data have yet been released. But I want to make sure that, as you read about these events in the newspapers, you understand the circumstances and you understand my view on the issue overall.

Our most important task is to ensure that every one of our students has a great teacher. It is critical, therefore, that when we have indications of a teacher’s proficiency, we use that indication to do what’s right for kids. One indication will never tell the whole story, and sometimes it is hard to discern definitive evidence from data alone —such as with a teacher who is “average” according to these numbers, for example. But where teachers have performed consistently toward the top or the bottom, year after year, these data surely tell us something very important. Namely, we need to retain and reward the great teachers, and we need to develop the low-performing teachers. And those who don’t improve quickly need to be replaced with better-performing teachers.

Secretary Arne Duncan last week said it best when he said, “I give New York credit for sharing this information with teachers so they can improve and get better.” More than anything, these data demonstrate that we need a better, more comprehensive system of evaluation than the one we have now. That’s why the State legislature and the unions supported an evaluation system that uses value-added data. Now it’s time that the DOE and UFT together build a new system that gives teachers an honest sense of how well they’re doing and how they can improve.

In the end, this is about real people. On one hand, for too long, parents have been left out of the equation, left to pray each year that the teacher greeting their children on the first day of school is truly great, but with no real knowledge of whether that is the case, and with no recourse if it’s not.

But this is also about teachers. They take on the hardest work there is, and they deserve our respect. If anyone sees these data as an opportunity to scapegoat public servants, that is a mistake. Doing what’s right for children means making hard decisions; it has nothing to do with personal attacks.

We’ve made huge strides for our kids over the last eight years. That’s because we’ve been willing to face hard facts. It’s also because we have made kids’ best interests our shared priority. My hope is that we approach this issue with both of those thoughts in mind, ensuring fair treatment for adults, but always keeping children first.

Sincerely,
Joel I. Klein

– By Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

264 comments Add your comment

Dr NO

December 29th, 2010
9:15 am

WOW!! Those letter sure contain a lot of fancy words!!

irisheyes

December 29th, 2010
9:17 am

Of course the status quo is unacceptable. But, Rep. Lindsey, what, exactly, has caused the crisis we see in Georgia today? I would venture to say that the draconian cuts made to education (including the “austerity cuts” made long before the current recession) has been a huge part of the problem. Perhaps, if the state legislature decided to fund public education in this state properly, instead of below the bare minimum, we might see some improvement. But, if the cuts continue while the corporate tax breaks grow, it doesn’t matter if a teacher is Superman, learning will suffer. You can’t teach a class of 25 – 30 kindergarteners, many of whom have not been read to or even watch Sesame Street, well. (To say nothing of classes of 35 – 40 high school students)

Another “reform” that the state legislature could make (if they are determined to meddle into how each system is run) is to mandate that a certain percentage of payroll funds be spent directly in the classroom. That would help get rid of many systems and their overbloated central office staffs filled with people who haven’t been in a classroom in 100 years.

Dr NO

December 29th, 2010
9:20 am

“And Rep. Lindsey replied:”

Oh Rep Lindsey thanks so much for those brave words, how so very impressive you are and how proud you wife must be.

Perhaps next time you might just sum thing up a little more concisely by stating your true opinion? This particular time I will do it for you…ready?

“And Rep. Lindsey replied: Yes, no, maybe.”

Dr. Proud Black Man

December 29th, 2010
9:25 am

“Do you not feel that citizens of this state have a right to see a report card on every government employee (including yourself) in this state, not just the teachers?”

Notice how Rep. Lindsey didn’t answer this, or any, question posed by the teacher. Instead he blamed her for not offering any solutions. Would he have listened?

Dr NO

December 29th, 2010
9:28 am

Let me answer that for you PBM…”Would he have listened?” The resoudning answer is NO! None of them listen. They dont wanna hear bad news or how crappy of a job they are doing. They are politicians and strictly there to take/make money, create huge messes and leave them behind for others to clean.

These idiots vote on and approve conflicting laws all the time. They couldnt care less if the sun rises each day. Just gimme some money. Of course anytime their pay increase comes up for a vote, or their wife needs a new car you can bet they are in attendance.

Maureen Downey

December 29th, 2010
9:34 am

@Dr. No, I feel like I need to step in and say that Georgia does not have a full-time legislature. So, unlike New York, for example, where lawmakers in Albany earn six-figures and are full-time, we pay our citizen-legislators $17,341.68 per year, plus daily expenses when the General Assembly is in session.
Maureen

chillywilly fan1

December 29th, 2010
9:47 am

If we publicize teachers’ report cards, publicize report cards of all administrative staff (principals, asst. principals, etc.) in schools as well as superintendents and their cabinet members, etc. And please let’s not omit politicians and parents. Parents are the FIRST TEACHERS!

God Bless the Teacher!

December 29th, 2010
9:48 am

My biggest question about value-added ratings is how will ratings be determined in non-EOCT classes? Will state-developed pre-tests and post-tests be developed for each course to determine if gains have been made by students? Will the time spent remediating students who come to me unprepared with basics from previous teachers be taken into account when my value-added rating is determined? May I now post students’ grades for each assessment on my web site so parents will know how their children rate against classmates (they always ask in parent-teacher conferences anyway)? Will the records I keep on student NON-participation in the learning process be considered when my score is calculated? If we could harness all the hot air Rep. Lindsey and others blow out from both ends each day, we may just solve our energy crisis!

Springdale Park Elementary Parent

December 29th, 2010
10:02 am

The reason we need teachers to be directly accountable to parents is obvious: parents are their childrens’ proxies. Another good reason (not that we need one) is that principals can’t be trusted to do fair evaluations. At our own school, our in-over-her-head principal transferred out one of our most gifted teachers because she wouldn’t kiss butt (and negatively evaluated said teacher without ever once visiting her classroom, I might add). Meanwhile, this blog has cited studies showing that 90% of the time, evaluators just shrug and give teachers an “excellent” rating.

Those of you who are worried about being inaccurately evaluated going forward? I would submit that you are already being inaccurately evaluated. If I were grading the process, I’d give it an “incomplete.”

It’s okay for teachers to vent here about how unfair it might be to do this but not do that, but our educational system is being slowly but forcibly reformed right now out of necessity; it’s going to be a rough ride and if you’re not okay with being held directly (and publicly) accountable to parents for your on-the-job performance, you’re facing a future outside of the classroom.

God Bless the Teacher!

December 29th, 2010
10:04 am

Suggestions to help “move forward.”
1) Require that no student may miss class due to having to leave school early or miss a day of school entirely to make it to an extracurricular event on time (e.g., football, basketball, etc.). Begin the activity later or restrict times to weekend if it’s that important.
2) Before implementing teacher report cards, restore funding for salaries. Do you honestly think teachers are going to be inspired to perform more effectively if pay is continuing to be cut?
3) Businesses want an educated work force (at least that seems to be a selling point when GA travels all over the world trying to coax businesses and industries to come to GA). Put your money where your mouth is. Require businesses of all sizes to pay an education tax that would go directly to funding the QBE formula. The formula would work if it was fully funded.
4) Who paid for Rep. Lindsey’s trip to Colorado? Why couldn’t the meeting have taken place using technology to prevent such a trip? Oh, wait! It’s ski season out there.
5) Make students pay for each course they have to repeat (even if it’s taken during the regular school day). Imagine the money that could be saved if students graduated on time. Should all of the burden have to be the school’s? Maybe paying to repeat (like in post-secondary reality) would inspire many students to focus on mastery the first time through.

Rep. Lindsey, any responses to my specific suggestions?

God Bless the Teacher!

December 29th, 2010
10:10 am

Springdale Park…How do you suggest we hold students accountable for NON-participation in the learning process? I’m talking about the students who never come by for tutoring, who don’t bring supplies to class, who don’t do homework, who work in class only when repeatedly reminded to do so, who choose socializing over trying to master content, who want extra credit work when they don’t do required work to begin with, or who would rather take a 75 off a retest than try to do better on an original test. Pick one of the aforementioned characteristics or combine in any way you’d like. Those are the students who would not lose a wink of sleep by “Christmas treeing” an EOCT or other test for which the results may be used to report an “ineffective” teacher.

LSH

December 29th, 2010
10:11 am

Employment decisions are far more complicated than anyone outside of education realizes. It is never about test scores. A principal will never fire the head foot ball coach over poor test scores. The golf coach? Employment for life. A relative of a board member? What principal gunning for a promotion would run that risk? Perhaps schools in metro Atlanta have teems of teachers pounding at the doors trying to get in, but the rural schools have trouble finding qualified and experienced people to fill key positions.

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TopPublicSchool

December 29th, 2010
10:16 am

Here’s the report card for the TOP PUBLIC SCHOOL in Atlanta…Warren T. Jackson Elementary.
The camera does not lie…and she was proud to sit in front of it and tell her story…because she believes it!

Georgia Professional Standards Commission/ No Code of Ethics
http://www.youtube.com/user/TopSchoolAtlanta#p/u/9/b1vFdKXudjM

Watch them dance around the issues at this elementary school…paper, paper…look at all this paper.
After intense research, it is apparent in these videos that Parents, Teachers and Community Leaders in the Jackson School District have been hoodwinked. Their leader is not what she appears to be. A true professional with ethics needs to step up to the plate and ask for a proper investigation of possible criminal activity at Jackson Elementary School.

Most in political positions are not worried about public schools…unless they are a contractor or they need to help a relative with a job. These people are in politics and need the private school label.. That’s where they get their donations.

Come on people…quit taking their rotten bait for discussion.

TopPublicSchool

December 29th, 2010
10:19 am

Just call Warren Fortson…and John Grant…they will know what to do.

ScienceTeacher671

December 29th, 2010
10:19 am

And Rep. Lindsey replied: You have given me quite a stream of consciousness to consider.

Now, really. How demeaning and condescending is that????

justjanny

December 29th, 2010
10:23 am

Why would anyone want to teach in Georgia? Maybe the politicians can work full-time as teachers to supplement their $17,000.00+ “stipend” for (dis)serving the public! Perhaps, then, they would understand the role of a teacher in today’s world.

TopPublicSchool

December 29th, 2010
10:28 am

And what would the teacher do if the evaluation was conducted illegally?
What form of due process would be provided to challenge an individual that would use the “report card” tool to falsify information against a teacher.

And…What grievance process would the teacher use in the attempts to challenge a fraudulent evaluation?

http://www.TopPublicSchoolCorruptionAtlanta.com

TopPublicSchool

December 29th, 2010
10:37 am

“MOCK” Investigations
http://www.youtube.com/user/TopSchoolAtlanta#p/u/29/Z2pCuI8w0Z4

Reich can not remember investigations. She stated, “Warren Fortson was my attorney” when she tried to remember details about the investigation with the Professional Standards Commission.

Reich fabricated Professional Development Plans in less than 6 weeks before an involuntary transfer was issued by APS officials. PDP’s were issued for cutting in the cafeteria line, professionalism, and absences with a doctor’s recommendation. Sam’s pay was docketed for attending the Level 2 hearing with Reich’s supervisor. More than four Professional Development Plans were issued in less than 6 weeks while attempting to appeal APS grievance levels up the chain of command.

Ok fine

December 29th, 2010
10:38 am

Ok fine, give me a report card….but let me teach how I want to instead of mandated strategies, instruction, and programs. Give me more planning time to design instruction and determine the instruction’s effectiveness. Give me fewer students to do this with, and finally quit making me document that I’m doing my job and let me do my job. Then you can give me a report card and make it public.

Hey Teacher

December 29th, 2010
10:39 am

Where are we going to find more teachers to replace those of us who flunk this new report card? Econony or no, we lose fantastic teachers every year — I’ve only had one out of the last three student teachers actually stay in the classroom. Everyone seems to think that the answer is to get rid of the “bad” teachers, but the pool of good teachers willing to work in our current climate is frankly pretty shallow.

Springdale Park Elementary Parent

December 29th, 2010
10:46 am

@god bless–parents like me are your allies in seeking a fair way to create “teacher report cards.” I would not accept a report card based on test score improvement alone, nor a report card prepared by any single evaluator (as I illustrated in my post, it is all too easy for vindictiveness or petty biases to creep into a sole-evaluator model).

By all means, let’s discuss and debate how to do this. But the “whether” to do it question has, in my mind, already been settled.

Those who are already whining about the price tag? Bad teachers cost us all more than better evaluations would.

TopPublicSchool

December 29th, 2010
10:47 am

This is the EVALUATION tool in place now…and according to Atlanta Public School officials …it is working just fine!

Let me remind you… an EVALUATION tool needs the intelligence of an honest, ethical EVALUATOR with INTEGRITY to implement the procedure.

As with a teacher administering a Standardized TEST.

I think the State of Georgia needs to take a step back on this report card issue…Until we see what happens with the APS report card…I think all of this “GONE WITH THE WIND”

I’LL THINK ABOUT IT TOMORROW.

Dr. Craig Spinks /Augusta

December 29th, 2010
10:50 am

Friends, recriminations won’t help our kids earn first-rate educations. Rather, recriminations impede the “ad hoc” collaborations among teachers, administrators, parents, students, media agents and elected officials needed to provide our kids first-rate educational opportunities.

Maureen, when will Rep. Lindsey hold his hearings?

TopPublicSchool

December 29th, 2010
10:50 am

And the political beat goes on…

Maureen Downey

December 29th, 2010
10:51 am

Dr. Spinks. They won’t be scheduled until a bill is crafted. David Morgan suggested to me that if a bill is dropped, it would not happen until February and then hearings would be scheduled.
Maureen

TopPublicSchool

December 29th, 2010
11:00 am

Until you’ve attempted to challenge the current system of PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT PLANS and the Atlanta Public Schools agenda…including the Professional Standards Commission…I don’t think you should make public statements about recriminations. We are so far from a first-rate education in Georgia that you will not live to see the day of “first rate” in our public schools.

I think this is a waste of time.

Here we are today with an entire school system involved in FRAUD and manipulating everything from top to bottom…ATLANTA PUBLIC SCHOOLS and YOU want to talk about a report card for teachers.

I think this is designed to divert your attention to other issues while they sweep this APS scandal under the carpet behind your back.

HS Math Teacher

December 29th, 2010
11:07 am

To the powers that be:

Teacher effectiveness ratings are fine, in my opinion, if you’re using well-crafted pre-tests & post-tests that can realistically measure the academic growth of the student during an academic year. Who gets to see these ratings is what I have a problem with. If the State is going to pay a principal around 100K per year, don’t you think he/she should be the MANAGER who uses these reports to make the right “adjustments”? The principal, in addition to being a Buildings, Buses, & Budgets manager, should also be an instructional leader and supervisor. The principal should be visiting each teacher’s classroom regularly, and as frequently as possible. I agree that the status quo is unacceptable, and part of the status quo is the performance appraisal process. I think it should require more than just general observation made on two or three principal “sit-ins” a year. How about lets work on that end first, i.e., lets change the performance appraisal process, and make the principal the BOSS.

What is being done in New York is fine with me, in that you have a teachers union that is so powerful that the administrators in charge of these folks (on paper) have no ability to get rid of poor teachers. Am I correct in saying this? Sure, the rogue teachers need to be “shamed” out of their jobs. After much thought, I can’t help but to conclude that the real motivation to push a published teacher report card in Georgia is to put a sizable amount of fear in teachers, and to get them off their butts. In polite, professional discussion among educrats and policymakers, I’m sure no one will admit to this, but around water coolers, there’s got to be a little chuckling going on…”This ought to light a fire under their asses.” I can’t help but to also think that policymakers, and some legislators, are trying to grandstand a bit, much like Kathy Cox, who wanted to create big waves, and get a lot of notoriety. “We’re going to lead the nation in school improvement!” Yeah, how’s that one-diploma system combined with the integrated math going?” Where is she now? She starts a radical program like this, which is a train wreck waiting to happen, and she’s gone to greener pastures. Over-arching, over-reaching measures implemented without LISTENING to people who are expected to implement the programs creates nothing but bigger problems.

If you’re going to use roach spray to get rid of roaches, don’t spray everyone in the kitchen with it. I think most folks know what’s reasonable, i.e., most teachers work very, very hard, and have put up with poor working conditions in the last few years. The teachers report cards (published to the public) has the potential to do more harm than good. It’s easy for folks who don’t teach to make the ultimate decision to go ahead with such a thing; however, if you had someone who has taught for more than a year in a poor, rural school, or an inner-city school where a lot of social promotion has taken place in the lower grades, then I would be convinced that a lot of thought and HEART has been put into the decision making process.

HERE’S A CONSTRUCTIVE SOLUTION: Georgia’s poorest performing schools are in the poorest areas of Georgia. If you can stop unmerited promotion of students in the lower grades, and make real, enforceable promotion policies that are uniform from grades 3 through 8 (the same rules that are in high school – if you fail a course, you have to REPEAT IT), then you’d see a dramatic positive change in the next five years. Making radical changes in curriculum, and coming up with ideas like published teacher report cards, are not attacking the REAL PROBLEM. The former was based on the theory that our curriculum needed changing. The latter proposal is based on the theory that we have an abundance of teachers who aren’t, or can’t teach.

Would you teach?

December 29th, 2010
11:10 am

Hey Teacher is absolutely right. I predict a massive teacher shortage in the next few years. Seriously, who in their right mind would venture into this profession? Those among you blog readers who don’t teach, would you step in and become a teacher under the current climate? More and more is being asked of teachers while each year they are paid less and more importantly respected less. A sad suituation indeed.

WAR

December 29th, 2010
11:11 am

Honestly, teachers would not mind these “report cards” if we were able to have the following:

1). Select the students we want for our classes/courses
2). Make parent participation madatory
3). Raise our salaries according the step increases and standard of living increases we have not received in the past few years
4). Openly evaluate the administration: go to their offices, observe is they use best key practices, etc.
5). Actually be allowed to teach and educate withtout interruptions from the P.A. system, meetings about the meetings, or disruptive students

I think if we address those five key issues, many teachers will get at least a B+

Echo

December 29th, 2010
11:13 am

A lot of money was spent developing CLASS KEYS to evaluate teachers and now they are going to spend money to develop a “report card”? Pretty soon teachers will be too busy jumping through the hoops instead of teaching. Just another stupid idea by another stupid politician.

TopPublicSchool

December 29th, 2010
11:16 am

Here we are today with an entire school system involved in FRAUD and manipulating everything from top to bottom…ATLANTA PUBLIC SCHOOLS and YOU want to talk about a report card for teachers.

I think this is designed to divert your attention to other issues while they sweep this APS scandal under the carpet behind your back.

Aquagirl

December 29th, 2010
11:22 am

I’m all for it, if teachers could in turn issue report cards in parenting. Firing uninvolved, uninterested, lazy parents who only appear, screaming when their little angels get disciplined would correct the REAL problem.

Karma

December 29th, 2010
11:22 am

@TopPublicSchool – I agree with your 11:00 am post.

What ABOUT all this unethical and ILLEGAL garbage going on? Not just in APS but all over – I don’t want to be evaluated by an administrator who is a likely criminal. How’s that fair?

This is so stupid. Talk about putting the cart before the horse. Let’s deal with taking out the garbage that is our administrators and superintendents and then maybe you can judge me. Has it occured to anyone that the evaluators might be the problem? (I saw it occured to Springdale Park)

Keep treating us, the folks who treat your children, like garbage. What comes around goes around.

Karma

December 29th, 2010
11:23 am

I guess that’s occurred, oops. Whatever

Mom of 3

December 29th, 2010
11:26 am

The one thing I first thought of as I was reading this, is how much will it cost to have this program? At a time when the state and local school boards are having to cut, cut, and cut again. Where will the money come from to pay for the people to gather the information, summarize it and release to the public? Or will this be more paper work that is added for school administrators to deal with? Am I alone in feeling that the budget cuts are sending the “public education ship” through some menacing waves in the “education ocean”? Why don’t we try to right the ship before we start adding more to it?

Dr. Craig Spinks /Augusta

December 29th, 2010
11:27 am

Maureen, THANKS for the info about the timing of the hearing. Please keep us apprised as to the exact date and location of the hearing when they are announced. Craig

Dr. John Trotter

December 29th, 2010
11:28 am

You know what makes good schools? Good students. When the students lack any (yes, in some cases, “any”) motivation to learn and many (yes, in many cases, “many”) just want to substantively and materially disrupt the learning processes of those students who actually want to learn, then neither Arne Duncan, Joel Klein, Representative Lindsey, nor Maureen Downey can make them learn — or should be held accountable for their non-learning. These students should be removed from the regular classroom environment and sent to “The Non-learning Center.” (Note that I copyrighted this phrase a while back! When you guys start “stealing” this phrase like you “stole” my “snoopervision” and “educrat” words, just think about me. Ha!).

All of this poppyc_ck (note that I edited the previously phrase because of the sensitivity of Mr. Filter) about “value-added” evaluations all begin with the premise that the woes of today’s public education is largely attributable to the lack of teacher performance. Balderdash, if I might editorialize. When you see any so-called educational reforms coming down the pike which do not address the lack of classroom discipline and the lack of student motivation right square in the face, then this so-called reform too will fall flat on its face like ALL (yes, all!) others have fallen. Until student discipline and motivation are addressed, then all of the so-called school reform efforts will amount to flatulence in a hurricane (if I may borrow Dr. NO’s metaphor).

You cannot have good learning conditions until you first have good teaching conditions. This insulting, inane, ineffective, and stupid “value-added” evaluation of teachers only add to worsening teaching conditions. Like merit pay, it will be flawed beyond measure. Among many downside happenings will be the lack of collegiality among teachers and teachers refusing to share ideas and materials. The general public cannot begin to comprehend how this evaluation process will be heinously abused by angry and abusive and sex-driven and power-hungry administrators. (For the record, there will be more people sleeping their way up the educational corporate ladder.) These booger-eating, weasel administrators will use this process in a manipulative, retributive, and punitive manner. This “value-added” evaluation of teachers will do NOTHING to improve public education. Nothing. Like the Nice Child Left Behind Act, it will hasten the demise of public education, not the improvement of public education. It will be the poster child of The Law of Unintended Consequences. (c) MACE, December 29. 2010.

lulu

December 29th, 2010
11:29 am

@HS Math Teacher re: constructive solution – AMEN.

I tutor mostly MS and HS math in these poorer areas, and my most frequent observation is that the kids just don’t have the foundation for higher-level (or even elementary-level) math. As a HS math teacher, of course you are going to do a “bad job” (the students will not know the standards by the end of the year) if the students come in barely able to manage basic arithmetic.

Pius Paul

December 29th, 2010
11:32 am

We can debate until the cows come home, but the system we have at present folks DOES NOT WORK!

Our kids — even those who graduate high school — do not have the skills to compete globally! China and India are on the verge of eating our collective lunch!

How much rigor do we find in our ‘Schools of Education’ throughout the state — and nation for that matter?

How much rigor do we find in our public school systems, especially in math, science and foreign languages?

How many of our kids are having to take remedial course once they get to college to remain on those campuses?

How many of our kids are taking five, six and more years to complete a four year degree? AND LOOK AT HOW MUCH DEBT THE ARE ACCUMULATING, AND HOW MUCH PRODUCTIVE TIME THEY ARE LOSING??

We have a broken system folks, and we are going to pay dearly as a nation if we do not get real serious real quick. Our teachers and administrators — on balance — ARE NOT PREPARED to compete with their counterparts in Korea, China, and India!! WHY NOT??????????? Unions and associations???

Lee

December 29th, 2010
11:39 am

Random thoughts…

1. Newsflash – most “involved” parents already have a pretty good idea who the effective teachers are and those to avoid at all costs.

2. If you agree to the statement that there is a certain percentage of (ineffective, not-worth-a-crap, etc, etc) teachers out there, then that begs the question “What have those highly paid administrators been doing about it?” (Hint: either you provide them with development or you get rid of them.)

3. The teacher’s response brings up a very good point about whether or not this falls under the “performance evaluation” category, which are generally not available for public disclosure.

4. I think that any teacher performance evaluation should include a parental feedback segment. Along the same lines, a principal’s evaluation should include feedback from the teachers.

5. The CRCT, EOCT, Graduation Tests, et al were supposed to improve education. Most would agree that they have been a dismal failure. I don’t have any confidence that published teacher evaluations would be any better.

Bottom line, politicians, educrates and others in education keep searching for that “magic bullet.” Sorry folks, there’s no such thing.

Jeff

December 29th, 2010
11:42 am

I lasted 13 months in the classroom because of the overbearing bureacracy that existed in 2006. My wife, an 8 yr veteran in one of the best systems in our area, is leaving the classroom at the end of the year because of the bureacracy that currently exists and the conditions it encourages. As I told Rep Lindsey yesterday, there needs to be EXTREME caution here. YES, reform needs to happen – but it needs to happen by REMOVING bureacracy, not creating new layers of it!

Echo

December 29th, 2010
11:44 am

@Pius Paul…our top 10% kicks the sh!t out of the top 10% of every other country. For some reason we think that EVERYONE should be in school and can succeed, other countries do a little “weeding of the garden” to eliminate the low performers.
The top students from the countries you listed regularly apply/attend American colleges and universities…wonder why?
If we would just stop trying to make the low performers feel good by telling them they too can be doctors, we would go a long way to correcting these issues. If we could get rid of the parents who constantly scream “lawsuit” every time a teacher or school holds their child accountable for their poor performance (ie: get rid of social promotion) we could start to really correct these problems. Remove the disruptive kids and I think we have this problem nearly completely solved.

BTW…many of those countries you listed also recruit US teachers to come to their country to teach.

ScienceTeacher671

December 29th, 2010
11:47 am

Rep. Edward Lindsey’s rationale for teacher report cards:

If not now, when? We now have a situation where 50 percent of low-income students who enter ninth grade are not graduating. That is atrocious. We cannot allow demographics to control destiny.

Is this really the fault of the teachers, or might other policies or factors be responsible?

How many of these students have failed the CRCT and been administratively or committee promoted despite not having the skills to succeed in their current grade, much less the next? How many of these students have missed 10% or more of their classes in a school year? How many of these students would have prefered a technical track but were locked into a college prep track due to Georgia’s current one-track diploma? How many students were unable to pass integrated math? How many students have been on RTI or SST for years without being tested to determine whether or not they have an underlying learning disability that has impeded their learning? How many of these students are part of a culture that denigrates academic achievement (i.e., considers doing well in school to be “nerdy” or “acting white”)? How many quit because they do not like school but have the opportunity of an immediate job or are needed to help in a family business?

Yes, it is a tragedy that half of our low income students do not graduate, but to assume that this is the fault of teachers without exploring all the factors that may impact the outcome is short-sighted, at best.

Dr. John Trotter

December 29th, 2010
11:51 am

One other thing…When will we see legislators like Lindsey and opinionists (like that phrase?) like Downey advocate the evaluation of administrators by teachers? One hundred to 200 eyeballs are more accurate than two eyes. The Georgia law currently makes teacher evaluations of administrators permissible but not mandatory.

What's really going on

December 29th, 2010
11:59 am

I am a parent and I not only support the teacher ratings, but I also support them being made publicly available. I agree with @Springdale Park parent that much of this is inevitable. The more constructive approach for public school educators and leaders, is to try to get out in front of some of this and be equal contributors at coming up with solutions. If this were a football game, public school educators seem to be all about defense… how about we see a little offense sometime. And to be fair, I think that there is some offense, but the public schools and systems are absolutely terrible at communicating the innovative programs they offer and the numerous (underutilized) resources that they have at their disposal. I would challenge anyone to visit their local public school with whatever preconceived notions that you have about what is or is not going on there, and I would bet that you will find out about something innovative they are doing that at a minimum will pique your interest about the school. So for any public school principals reading this, please find some time to market yourselves better. And please do not say that you need funds to do this. :-) Many parents sit behind a computer and they (we) use the websites as our first clue as to what is going on in your schools. Most never make it to a point of visiting to get first hand information that might result in a positive overall impression of the school. Right now, most of you are letting NCLB mandates do your marketing for you in the form of spreadsheets and pdfs that state how many of your kids, meets, did not meet, or exceed expectations. How about you be your own publicist! Stop making teachers set up blogs that go unused beyond the first few weeks of school and then you talk about how technology is important in the school. Or don’t let your most recent school council meeting minutes be from the fall of 2008; Newsletters from 2006, and dry information on your website that barely articulates anything of use about your school. Many of you are doing wonderful things. Stop getting caught up in the venting and market yourselves in a manner that says that you fell privileged that parents allow you to educate their children. Right now, many of you give off an air of indifference that says, take what we have to offer or leave it, and that rubs parents the WRONG WAY, every time. Quite frankly, many of the posts (vents) from what appear to be Educators on this blog are rubbing many parents the wrong way right now, especially when the things you have to say are not constructive. You are just feeding into what you might consider rhetoric that suggests that public schools are failing institutions that will never change without being forced to do so. Go to a private school parent event, and it’s unlikely that you will not hear the school leader say to parents that he/she is grateful to have the opportunity to educate the children they have. I think that simple shift in mindset for a principal and all the teachers and staff in the building of a public school will go a long way towards improving the overall culture and success of a school, and most importantly it’s perception!

Now back to the topic of this blog… Personally speaking, I think that this teacher grading effort should help to benefit schools that historically are lower performing schools more than it would those that are considered top performers. Here’s one reason why.. I have a child who will be a middle schooler next fall (currently in a private school) and over the past few months my wife and I have visited several schools in the public, and private sectors. The middle schools in our neighborhood typically rate relatively low as far as test scores are concerned. As a result of HB251 we now have the potential (space permitting of course) to attend any number of schools in our school district. That said, we visited a school in our local community and one on the other side of the district that on average has ITBS test scores that are 2 grade levels higher than the middle school in our neighborhood. After visiting them both, my wife and I individually rated the schools based on various criteria we came up with and both of us felt that the lower performing school (according to ITBS scores) was better. In general, we were more impressed with the teachers and principal at the neighborhood school. This is not to say that there aren’t teachers that span the spectrum of competency in either of the two, but we just strongly felt that the teachers were a little more competent in some cases, more enthusiastic, and the principal was extremely responsive and transparent about the school, and its challenges; which largely seem to be attributable to its demographics. Along those same lines, the overall student population at the school with higher scores is one where most students are from higher income households and from families where the majority stress the importance of education. So in large part, their students are going to do well regardless, because their parents are not going to accept failure. All that said, I think that these teacher report cards would likely illustrate that the teachers in the “lower performing” schools are producing more gains in students than the comparison school, and for that teachers like this need to be put on a pedestal for their efforts. This report card just might be one way to do this. The only thing I’d like to add to the teacher ratings metric Rep Lindesy and Morgan is that there should be a way to measure teacher contribution to the overall school climate. Here’s an example, let’s say a teacher sponsors a student club (beta Club, Student Government, Science Club, Chess, etc), then i think that should also factor as a positive for the teacher. I am not suggesting this type of metric should be weighted at the same level as the academic performance of the students in their classroom, however, as a parent, this is important enough of a component that it’s something that my wife and I look at when considering schools. Also for a teacher that takes on activities like this, they are typically going above and beyond the call of duty so that should be recognized. Again, this is a category where if you consider a high vs low performing school, you will typically see that the higher performing school as a result of increased parental involvement and support will typically have many more student extracurriculars. In fact many in the higher performing school will be run by the parents. So to me, to see a teacher in a school with a very challenging student demographic with little to no parental support, taking on the responsibility to facilitate an extracurricular activity, is a good indication of their passion for education, so lets please highlight their efforts in this area as well.

EdDawg

December 29th, 2010
12:00 pm

Awesome questions Science Teacher!

Retired Educator

December 29th, 2010
12:11 pm

You can’t trust rethuglicans, especially in states like Georgia. Now what they are doing is designating decoy rethugs to push really hot buttons that will effectively distract everyone’s attention from what the rest of the thugs are plotting our demise in other very important ways. You just can’t trust um.

northatlantateacher

December 29th, 2010
12:30 pm

I do not understand the mindset that teachers are trying to hide and continue doing a piss poor job. Or trying as hard as possible to NOT work. That we are lazy, and that we don’t want accountability.
I don’t have a problem with teacher report cards. My problem is that the program will be done hastily, with little innovative and helpful ideas, and published for all to see…and that the letter or number assigned will be nothing but a lie based on a broken idea.

Truly involved parents know who all the good and bad teachers are already. Some think an easy A teacher is great, others want a more challenging teacher, etc. Listen and make your own decision. Just go to a soccer or a football game and you too can know – and best of all, it’s free! The word of mouth in the community is probably at least as accurate as this new program will be. And it’s many times more powerful.

HS Public Teacher

December 29th, 2010
12:32 pm

It is simply insulting.

To state that teachers have “report cards” is to say that we professionals with college degrees are on the same level as our children/students.

To state that teachers have our “report cards” made public is additionally insulting. Are student report cards made publice? If our republican politicans want to make teacher “report cards” public, then let’s also make public all of the student report cards!

If the idea is to “shame” teachers into improving, shouldn’t the same hold for students?

When will the teachers in GA join together, form a REAL union (not these goofy professional organizations) and stage a massive walk out until real education reform happens? Someone has to save education in this State and it is obviously not going to be these elected republican politicans.