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.

Career Switcher

December 29th, 2010
12:35 pm

“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.”

If you want to fix education in Georgia, do the following:

1) Give teachers the power to remove disruptive students from the classroom.
2) Impose serious limits on “committee promotions”—if a child does not meet the criteria to move on to the next grade level, the child doesn’t move on to the next grade level.
3) Put into place special short-term intervention classes for those students who are lacking basic skills. Many teachers’ (4th grade and up) hands are tied when it comes to teaching basic math and reading skills. We barely have time to cover the GPS effectively, and if a child leaves 3rd grade without grade-level reading/calculation skills, most that I’ve seen are never able to catch up. These are the students who reach middle and high school and use up the most resources and cause the most disruptions. If these students could be caught and remediated at an earlier age, everyone would benefit.
4) Acknowledge that teachers at schools with higher levels of poverty will need to work harder and for longer hours than those at other schools. These schools need smaller class sizes, staff for small group pullout, and programs that are proven to teach math and reading skills. Put math, literacy, and graduation coaches to work with students (I’m sure in some schools this is already done), and put the best math and reading teachers to work in the intervention classes.
5) Acknowledge that many students with disabilities are not being appropriately served in co-teaching classes and would better benefit from a pullout model, at least for math and reading. Put special education teachers into place who are also strong reading or math experts.
6) Put into place a second option for high school graduation by offering a vocational college track. This option would rigorously prepare students for Georgia’s technical colleges. Offer more applied (but still rigorous) versions of English, Science, and Math for these students.
7) Draft a bill that makes basic parental involvement mandatory. At minimum, I should be able to teach students who show up regularly, are not overly disruptive, and show up with a pencil and a sheet of paper (although I never mind buying supplies for a child who truly needs them). If not, I should be able to have contact with the parent. There should be a referral system in place, and parents who educationally neglect their children should attend mandatory parenting classes and later face legal action if things don’t improve.
8) Until and unless my test scores and performance are unacceptable, allow me to teach in a way that I believe will most benefit my students. Do not come into my room and mark me unsatisfactory because I started a new unit yesterday and don’t have my word wall up yet or because I did not post an Essential Question! I am a trained professional with as much or more education than many accountants, managers, and even attorneys. Save your “how-to’s” for those who need them and leave the rest of us alone. This would probably be the single most effective way to increase student achievement.
9) Realize that while differentiation works in the textbook, it is not an efficient way to teach, and nor is it possible to successfully implement it with current class sizes. Either give me classes of students whose skill levels are closer together, or give me extra planning time and classes of 15 so that I can successfully differentiate.
10) Planning time is crucial to a teacher’s success. Every academic teacher should have a minimum of 90 minutes of planning per day built into the regular 8 hour workday. This is far less than many other countries and is the bare minimum of what it takes to be able to plan for instruction, grade, contact parents, etc.
11) If you ever again intend to compare the U.S. educational system to that of other countries, do not do so without at least acknowledging why and how they are so successful. Most group students by ability, do not have to put up with widespread apathy, disruptions, and teacher disrespect, students show up prepared and are expected to be responsible for their own learning, and absolute respect for education is instilled at home from an early age. Many times, teachers use traditional ways of instructing, and not as much collaborative learning and fun tasks and projects. We will not achieve improvement in America until we learn to prioritize and value a solid education above all else.

I believe that many educators will agree with much of what I have posted. Interestingly, many of the suggestions would cost very little to implement, and implementing some would actually represent a cost savings over current methods. Sometimes the best solutions are the simplest.

DeKalb Educated

December 29th, 2010
12:41 pm

“you did not offer any constructive reforms that you believe would help move the ball forward.” Hey, Lindsey – got a pen? Autonomy for teachers! That should go hand in hand with accountability. How can you evaluate teachers when you do not allow them to teach – you mandate! Allow teachers to develop their own curriculum. Cut down on mandatory testing – no more than 3 days in a school year. Take the data and analyze it and leave the teachers and students alone. Review HR policies for the entire state to prevent nepotism; no school board members creating cushy jobs for relatives. Complete transparency. Have mentors assigned to all new teachers and don’t abandon them alone in a classroom with 35-40 out of control students their first year as teachers. Require that school admin who write the evaluations on teachers be required to observe a teacher in the classroom at three different times over the year – not once at the end of the year or the day before a holiday. Allow teachers to teach within their subject area – the one they majored in during college – not the subject some stupid admin guy assigned to them because they needed a warm body in a class room with a teaching certificate. There is too much micro-management from the Central Office that takes away from class preparation and evaluation. The Central Offices are too over-crowded with people who cannot teach and are a drain on our tax payer resources. There should be accountability from the School Board down to the teachers. Please let the tax payers rate our school boards, DOE (and politicians) and then we’ll be happy for you to rate the teachers.

HS Public Teacher

December 29th, 2010
12:45 pm

@What’s really going on….

Is that you haven’t a clue. You admit that you simply sit behind a computer and form opinions. If you have that kind of time, why don’t you take your butt into the school and into the classroom and see for yourself, first hand, what is going on?

It is people like you that sit back from a distance and THINK you have all of the answers when you don’t even understand the PROBLEM.

First of all, implying that teachers need “report cards” is insulting. What other profession does this at all? You want intelligent and motivated people to come into the teacher profession, yet you want to treat them like this? What college student in their right mind would do so?

Second of all, what needs to be made public isn’t any teacher “report card”. How about making public the behavior records of the thugs in our schools along with the parents name and address? If you want to ’shame’ someone into getting better, start there!

Third of all, why do you want to rub salt into the wound? Teachers in GA already have been furloughed, had pay frozen, have had to welcome students into an already over crowded classroom, continue to pay for class supplies out of our own pocket, and so on. Now, you want to do this? I guess the teacher shortage in math and science isn’t enough, you want to make the teacher shortage in all content areas?

With all of the obvious things WRONG with education in GA, it is always the teachers that get the screw. Look at the bloated administration cost in the Department of Education, alone. They hired a Czar for Turnaround Schools (what the heck is that?) who is nothing but the son of a retired politican. Look at the bloated administration at every school system central office. Look at the bloated administration at every school.

My high school alone has: 1 principal, 4 assistant principals, 1 scheduler, 1 book keeper, 4 counselors, 1 full time nurse assistant, 1 part time nurse, 4 secretaries, 2 media center people, 1 graduation coach, multiple parent “volunteers”, and I am sure that I am missing others. This is for a school with a student population of under 2000. Note that NONE of these people teach any class at all.

If teachers have “report cards” will these people also have “report cards”????

Enough!

December 29th, 2010
12:47 pm

@ Career Switcher, perfectly said from start to finish.

teacher&mom

December 29th, 2010
12:48 pm

Representative Lindsey:
How do we improve education in Georgia? We start by making absolutely certain that every student and teacher works in a safe and disciplined environment.

Next, we guarantee the students sitting in our poorest counties have equal access to quality materials, supplies, technology, libraries, and school facilities. Take a serious inventory of lab supplies, the number of computers per student, the age of computers, media center budgets, etc. At the same time, investigate how the state and federal government ties our hands in selecting materials and equipment. For example it is easier to purchase “test-prep” materials than a class set of novels. This is shameful. Survey the teachers throughout the state to find out how much money actually makes it to their classroom to purchase supplies. I suspect you will find teachers who have gone years without any money to purchase staples, dry erase markers, paper, etc.

Throw out standardized testing in grades 1,2,4, & 7. Use the money to fund and staff programs that give slower learners the chance to master standards without penalizing them. Fund meaningful after school programs, and/or summer reading programs. Expand the options for our high-achievers. We are leaving too many students behind in the current testing frenzy that requires everyone to be ready for the CRCT in April. Those of us who have taught for 10+ years at the secondary level are stunned at the drop in reading comprehension skills. When you look at their CRCT scores, you find these students actually passed the CRCT. By the time students reach high school, they are burned out by the standardized testing treadmill. We have hit them over the head with the CRCT for so long that they are numb.

Shed more light on CRCT results. Do you realize that the data from the state is shrouded in secrecy? For example, I know which domains my students scored the highest/lowest. However, there are several standards within each domain. I want data that pinpoints the weak areas. It isn’t enough to know that my students struggled with “cells and organisms.” Did they struggle with cellular transport? Did they struggle with the cellular respiration or photosynthesis? I need specifics.

Create a teacher leader network within the state. We need to identify the teacher leaders in our state and give them a voice. Then listen to them. Teachers actually have great ideas for improvement.

Finally, admit that poverty does play a role in student achievement. Then provide teachers with meaningful staff development to address the academic needs of a low SES student. I’ve personally worked with the Ruby Payne and aha! Process, Inc. The training I received created a huge paradigm shift in my teaching.

I’m not sure why you assume we are happy with the “status quo.” In fact most of us are very unhappy with the current educational environment in this state.

Georgia Matters

December 29th, 2010
12:50 pm

These teachers want you to believe that they have a class full of students with a class full of parents who simply dont care. Guess what? Thats false information. Kids, especially in early years love school and want to learn. Its middle school and highschool that there is a problem. Why is that I have to ask?

There are a lot of teachers out there who blend in with the kids and simply cant teach. Its not that they didnt get great grades in college but they simply cant teach. Is it the fault of the teacher or lack of skills and communication or both. Those are the teachers we need to remove. Its a terrible thing when our high school students graduate but cant answer the simple match question (if 2 + x = 4 then what is x). Do you know how many of them cant answer that. How many students with a high school diploma cant make change froma $20.00 bill without the help of a calculator or register that gives them the answer? Have you heard any of these kids read out loud? They studder and sputter in almost every paragraph. This is becoming the norm. How many of these kids need remedial classes to get into college? Why is that.

Computers and calculators are used in school before you even teach multiplication tables if they are even taught. They care more about teaching Spanish then teaching proper English. Where are the US History classes? Have they been taken over by Black History Month? Where is World history and Government, once a must for a diploma. Who is writing our kids books now?

Go back to basics in elementary and teach the kids. Standard tests should be given at the end of each grade. Pass or be held back. Teachers who have to many kids failing should be looked into to see why these kids are failing. Set the standards again and you will see better kids, better teachers and better adults.

Dont blame it all on parents, we the parents are not teachers. Thats why we send our kids to school. We are the parents, controlers of after school. Teachers are teachers and need to be kept out of our kids private lives and teach the skills that are needed down the road in life. Trouble makers need to be removed from the class and the school if necessary. But the big key is YES, teachers need to be graded in how they teach and communicate with the students. If they cant communicate and teach then I dont care how many degrees they have, they simply dont need to be there.

schlmarm

December 29th, 2010
12:54 pm

@ HS Public Teacher 12:32 PM, I agree with you 100%. Let’s especially make public the portion of the report card that describes behavior and work habits (self-control, follows directions and school rules, completes homework, completes assignments, etc.) Many of those items stem directly from HOME TRAINING, habits that should have been fostered long before a child walks through the school house doors.

ScienceTeacher671

December 29th, 2010
12:57 pm

@Career Switcher 12:35pm – Count me as one of those educators who agrees wholeheartedly with your ideas.

November

December 29th, 2010
1:02 pm

Dr NO

December 29th, 2010
9:15 am
WOW!! Those letter sure contain a lot of fancy words!!

And most of them empty except for “outraged teacher”

Marueen, you bring up an interesting point in saying “we have part-time legislators making $17,000 per year” and that begs the question……”why are they doing this?”,,,,,,well, I’ll tell you…..it’s probably for the pension they’ll be getting after a lifetime of worthless service.

HS Public Teacher

December 29th, 2010
1:03 pm

@Georgia Matters -

You speak in absolutes. You speak as if ALL teachers are the same. You speak as if ALL parents are the same. They are not.

I challenge you to go in person INSIDE of a classroom and observe for a day. Pick one elementary, one middle school, and one high school. See for yourself what is going on and what YOU think that the problems may be.

I strongly believe that you will come away from that experience with a totally different perspective.

Ragin' Cajun

December 29th, 2010
1:06 pm

Several new(first year) teachers left our school and the teaching profession at the end of the school year. According to friendly conversation……I smell a repeat !!!

HS Public Teacher

December 29th, 2010
1:13 pm

@Georgia Matters:

Honey, you do your job as a parent and provide me with a teenager that has actually been parented well, and I will be HAPPY to be their teacher. As a high school teacher, what do I expect from parents?

1. A teenager that has been taught manners. They should immediately say, “yes sir” or “no ma’am”. They should know that curse words are never acceptable, especially in school.

Sure, a teenager may slip up or even challenge authority. But, when a teacher calls the parent to inform them of what happened, we DO NOT expect for the parent to say that it is our fault. We expect for the parent to take care of business and ensure that the “slip up” or “challenge” does not happen again.

2. A teenager that comes to school clean and wearing appropriate clothes that has been fed breakfest and is prepared for lunch.

3. A teenager that comes to school having completed all home work assignments and has spent study time the night before.

4. A teenager that comes to class prepared with their textbook, notebook with paper, and writing utensil.

5. A teenager that knows how to behave in a classroom. They do not burp or fart in class. They raise their hand to be recognized to speak. They do not chat with their neighbors during the lesson. They remain in their seat as the lesson permits/requires.

You give me these 5 little things and I can almost make gold out of a lump of coal. The problem is that very very parents actually parent. So, teachers must spend our valuable classroom time dealing with these 5 things that PARENTS should have already done!!!!

justbrowsing

December 29th, 2010
1:14 pm

I have experienced first hand angry parents and administrators who feel that their children deserved passing grades when they either slept or did nothing in class. These same students believe that they should earn 50’s when they have done nothing. Their parents believe the same. You want to legislate excellence in an environment where grade inflation is perpetuated, student’s are unmotivated to do more than the minimum, and principal’s abuse the evaluative system when- and somehow on the end of this beleive that the teacher report card will accurately reflect their performance? I would like to know what other options are on the table besides this one.

Career Switcher

December 29th, 2010
1:15 pm

@ Georgia Matters…I think most of us have said time and time again that many of the parents are great, but as the old saying goes, one bad apple can spoil the bunch. Imagine what a third, half or even more in a school can do? I have also previously mentioned that my children have attended schools where the full majority of the parents were great. Sadly, that isn’t the case in many of Georgia schools. If your child has ever attended a high poverty school, you would know this first hand. The school I work in now is more balanced than many others, but yet we often have only a handful of parents show up for PTA meetings. A few months ago, we had not one single parent (out of 800 sets) not show up! Can you imagine scheduling a conference and then not showing or even calling? Can you imagine getting new cell and work numbers and not giving them to the school? Your child, at school 7 hours a day with no way for the school to reach you for months on end? Do you send your child to open house asking the teacher for everything on the supply list even though you just bought them a new cell phone, $100 shoes, and just paid to get your nails done? Have you ever told a teacher to “just deal with him, I got too much to do, and I can’t control him anyways”? Oh, wait…have you ever sent your 7th grader to school pregnant and allowed them to discuss their impending abortion with any other 12 year old who will listen? Have you ever threatened a teacher against giving your child a bad grade, even when they haven’t turned in over half their assignements? It may be hard to believe, but some of us deal with these types of things routinely. We go in day in and day out and try to teach children the curriculum and try to love and support them as much as we are able.

If none of that sounds familiar to you, then it is not you and your parenting abilities that we are concerned with. If none of this sounds familiar to you, then leave your child right where they are, because they are in a good place. In fact, I would welcome your child in my classroom. In fact, I welcome all children…I just wish I had more parents like you around.

dear hs public teacher

December 29th, 2010
1:21 pm

of what are you afraid? that the truth may come out? that you and some of your lazy brethren aren’t teaching, but just regurgitating what’s written in the text?

This educational system is rotten – starting with the bloated and OVERPAID administration. What results have they provided that earned these salaries and compensation?

This bloated, defensive administration hires and coddles a weak and ineffective teaching force. They teach to the tests, and when that’s not enough, they erase and change the answers.

ENOUGH. Turn this thing on its head. Make it a meritocracy, make it transparent, and make it lean.
That’s what is required, and protecting ANY of the status quo is ludicrous.

long time educator

December 29th, 2010
1:32 pm

@Career Switcher 12:35 Very well said. I agree totally.

HS Public Teacher

December 29th, 2010
1:35 pm

@dear hs public teacher….

Stop trying to bait me (and others).

We seem to agree with some things. My question to you is: In Georgia, why is every effort to ‘improve education’ start with the assumption that it is the teachers fault?

This assumption has not yielded any real evidence of improvement during the last 8 years of republican rule in Georgia and the teaching profession has paid a huge cost – as well as the students!

Rather than continuing to beat that same drum over and over again, might we open our eyes to the slight possibility that it is something OTHER than the teachers?

You bring up the administration. If you really feel that they “coddle” weak ineffective teaching, then logic would dictate that you (or politicans, whomever) would go after the administration, and NOT the entire teaching profession!!!!

ScienceTeacher671

December 29th, 2010
1:35 pm

By the way, if it turns out that a majority of our teachers are incompetent, where will we find replacements for them? There are a number of teachers at our school on provisional certificates, because we couldn’t find fully certified teachers to fill those positions.

And why did Georgia switch from the nationally-recognized PRAXIS to the state-developed Georgia Assessments for the Certification of Educators (GACE)? Were too many Georgia-educated teachers failing the PRAXIS, or was this yet another way to funnel tax dollars to Pearson, or both?

If the former, why could the state not fill classrooms without lowering standards for teachers?

Ragin' Cajun

December 29th, 2010
1:35 pm

Most parents have no clue that these situations occur on a daily basis……they are not aware that we serve as social workers, psychologists, counselors, and instructional leaders during the course of a 7.5 hour day……..we invite you to come to the schools to see what is REALLY going on……

Georgia DOE

December 29th, 2010
1:38 pm

In response to this contentious debate, we’ve decided to assemble a task force called the Faculty Evaluation Council to Ensure Satisfaction (FECES), comprising six hands-off administrators with shadowy careers in the public sector and dubious academic credentials. Together, they’ll work toward the common goal of decoding their vague, incoherent job description and then hiring consultants to perform the tasks outlined therein. Each FECES member will be paid a salary of $245,850 annually, or 10 percent more than the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court; they’ll qualify for full pension benefits after two months of service.

Aquagirl

December 29th, 2010
1:40 pm

HS Public Teacher
December 29th, 2010
12:45 pm

How about making public the behavior records of the thugs in our schools along with the parents name and address? If you want to ’shame’ someone into getting better, start there!

I’ll bet this is what peeved “dear hs public teacher” to no end.

Springdale Park Elementary Parent

December 29th, 2010
1:45 pm

@ career switcher: I feel a “school’s contract with parents” is where we’re headed, and I’d like every single suggestion of yours to be in it.

teacher&mom

December 29th, 2010
1:48 pm

I have a question for Representative Lindsey. Could he please supply research and data that support his position that teacher reports cards will increase student achievement? We are told consistently that the only acceptable “reforms” are those that are researched based. I would like the opportunity to review his research and data.

Corey

December 29th, 2010
1:49 pm

Aren’t tests results of the kids indicative of the teachers’ effectiveness? Report cards for teachers will become nothing more than window dressing.

abacus2

December 29th, 2010
1:51 pm

I spend more time documenting what I teach and going to meetings about what I teach than I do teaching! Tell me what you want taught, give me a decent class size and proper funding, leave me alone to teach, and I’ll get the job done.

Georgia Matters

December 29th, 2010
1:53 pm

@ HS Public Teacher

I did my job as a parent by removing them from the public school system. If you read my last paragraph again you will see I said “trouble makers need to be removed from the class and school if necessary”. That should tell you I know there is a problem in schools. I also know that if children are taught at a early age what is expected then they try to perform.

I have seen the schools and the gang members and the kids running the halls and cursing and I have also had it in with teachers who expect homework to be done but will not allow for the taking home of books. I was told first hand that my son could not take home his book because there is lack of books and they might not bring them back. What is up with that. I went to a conference one day and actually saw students fighting in the halls with no adults in site. Why is tha?. It didnt take me long to decide that my kids did not need to watch their backs but needed educated. I removed them in their 8th and 9th grade year. No more.

When I attended school there were trouble makers. These students were immediately removed from the class and turned over to the principle. There were boards on the tail ends more times then not. Those students were not allowed to disrupt class. Homework was turned in and if you did not turn it in you got a zero. Grades were actually grades and not extra credit for not going to the restroom during class for the week. Students were given study guides for the materials covered in plenty of time so they could refresh and study. Where is all this today. It does not exist. Dont punish the kid at school because the parent might get mad? How about dealing the punishment and if the parent does not like it, well let him take it up with the judge. See how many parents actually complain about punishment then.

Bad parents are just that, bad parents. That does not take away the fact that the students now run these schools and its up to the teachers and administrators to make sure they have control and have teachers who actually teach and communicate with students so they can learn and grow. Georgia schools so have a problem but its one that can be taken care of.

1. Quality teachers
2. Quality administrators
3. Quality teaching equipment
4. Teaching basics again
5. Remove the problem kids and set a court date for the child and parent. Let the court system take care of that problem. It does not belong in schools.

Dr NO

December 29th, 2010
1:54 pm

“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.”

College degree means much of nothing especially when the so-called knowledge isnt applied. I work with many college educated egg-heads who have not the sense to come in from the rain and when the productivity rankings are published they, once again, bring up the tail end of the train.

Your argument is moot.

a practical man

December 29th, 2010
1:55 pm

I am not an administrator, but I would not want this information to become public if I were one. I imagine administrators already have to deal with parents wanting their children to be in particular teachers’ classes. With the “rating” out, how much more do you think administrators would have to deal with their parents? How are they going to respond to the question, “why was my Jonnie placed in Mrs. X’s class, who is only ‘average’ instead of Mrs. Y who is ‘above average’?”

Let’s start with the school level data.

Dr NO

December 29th, 2010
1:57 pm

Once the firings begin then the remainder of these lackluster teachers will fall in line.

RAISE THE AX!!

Dr. Craig Spinks /Augusta

December 29th, 2010
2:03 pm

“Teacher report cards” is a relatively new concept, at least to me. But, because it’s new, does that mean it’s a good idea? A computer-search of ERIC and Google turned up no evaluations of TRCs. But Google did identify a Wall Street Journal story from 8/21/10 dealing with the topic. Should we consider for widespread implementation a concept which has not met rigorous evaluation by disinterested experts? How ’bout a pilot study by out-of-staters? Would money funding such a pilot be better spent on things which have been proven to relate positively to student learning? Of course, asking questions is easier than developing and implementing solutions to our problem of lagging student achievement.

Incredulous

December 29th, 2010
2:05 pm

I hate to respond to trolls, but…. Dr No. don’t you mean that worked FOR college educated people that constantly reminded you that You were bringing up the tail end of the train?

Dr NO

December 29th, 2010
2:09 pm

Incredulous

Uh no, nada, fraid not, wrong again, you lose, get the picture? Or you need addl explanation.

Veteran teacher, 2

December 29th, 2010
2:11 pm

Here is a relatively cheap alternative. Let’s put cameras with streaming video in every classroom. I am told that this would cost about $50,000 per school. That is far less than is what is spent on testing. Think of the advantages. First, the public sees that most teachers use every minute for instruction. Second, all disruptions and other discipline problems are documented on video. No “He said, she said.” Thirdly, those students absent three times a week have no excuse. They can watch the entire class. (To those not in classrooms currently, you might be amazed to know that many students think that being absent is an excuse for missing work and lack of preparation for tests. They think that someone else is supposed to do everything for them. The parents of this type of student are usually even worse!) Lastly, there would be ample documentation available to get rid of ineffective teachers.

teacher&mom

December 29th, 2010
2:14 pm

@Dr. Craig Spinks….when in doubt, check the Gates Foundation. I’ve copied and pasted the following from the Colorado Legacy Foundation:

The Colorado Legacy Foundation has secured $1.9 million in grant funding to support efforts by the state and local school districts to improve educator effectiveness.

“For the first time, a new state law requires Colorado to identify what makes an effective teacher and principal,” said CLF Executive Director Helayne Jones. “It also requires that at least half of every public school teacher’s and principal’s evaluation is based on their students’ academic growth. The need for resources to assist this work is urgent, and we’re pleased to be able to bring those resources to the table.”
In total the grant funding secured by CLF comes from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation ($1.75 million); the JPMorgan Chase Foundation ($51,000); the Daniels Fund ($70,000); and the Donnell-Kay Foundation ($30,000).

The sizeable infusion of funds means that CLF is well positioned to offer substantial assistance to the Colorado Department of Education and to school districts to implement Senate Bill 10-191 (commonly referred to as the “Educator Effectiveness Bill” passed in May 2010), which requires CDE to develop a system to evaluate public school teachers and principals at least once each school year based in part on their students’ academic growth from year to year.

CDE’s efforts to implement the Educator Effectiveness Bill are strengthened by also rolling out new academic content standards and providing supports to educators in all public schools to teach to those standards. A portion of the funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant will be used to support that work as well.

Is Representative Lindsey working with the Gates Foundation on this legislation?

Incredulous

December 29th, 2010
2:14 pm

Dr nono. So, when these college educated people pulled you aside and showed you concrete data indicating that your performance was lackluster and then gave you a specific set of areas for improvement; you responded with what? Please help me understand how you were able to effectively self correct.

TopSchool

December 29th, 2010
2:21 pm

Get the point…Evaluations need honest ethical administrators…What the governor does with the APS situation will set the STANDARD for future issues with EDUCATION in Gerogia.

If this problem is not handled properly in the public’s eye…the issue of a “report card” for teachers is ridiculous.

This is trash politics to keep your eye off the target.

Hold those in the legislature responsible for making sure the criminal is charged for the crimes they’ve committed in our public schools. FRAUD, FALSIFIED DOCUMENTS, MISUSE OF EDUCATION FUNDS…THESE ARE THE ISSUES AT HAND.

Hold those in political positions accountable for the current APS issues…
And just say “no way” to their …attempts to put the spin on the REAL FACTS

The APS administration needs to be carefully scrutinized…Leaving any one of those unethical leaders in charge will surely allow the corruption to continue to fester.

Cleanse the APS system that has created the most DAMAGE to the state of Georgia. The Governor needs to show us what he is going to do with APS administration that has disgraced our city to the entire nation.

http://www.TopPublicSchoolCorruptionAtlanta.com

Sade

December 29th, 2010
2:27 pm

Where will we find the time and the resources to complete all of the above?

Dr NO

December 29th, 2010
2:30 pm

You may want to consult a physician about that head injury.

Another Good Teacher Bites the Dust

December 29th, 2010
2:36 pm

So now teachers are being subjected to Report Cards. Sounds like a winner. Who will grade us? The students that we are trying to control and teach. What will they say to us when we enter the classroom.
Sit down teacher and shut up or we’ll make sure you get an F. I’m going to tell my mama and my daddy on you.
This stupidity just gets more stupid. OK Let’s set about Miss Bones over there. She wears too much black. Make sure she gets most of the D.A.M.F.’s. That will surely get her an F and out of here.
This should be hilarious!

Hud

December 29th, 2010
2:36 pm

If and when the performance ratings are made public I’m guessing people will be surprised at the number of very high ratings. In my experience as a manager in a government agency almost every employee, practically everyone with a pulse, receives “outstanding” annual performance ratings. To rate an employee less than “outstanding” is to invite a huge amount of time consuming grief for a manager (or a principal).

I’d also guessing most of the teachers will be surprised. The really good ones probably think they’re in a select performance rating group. Wait till they find out that almost everyone, even the slugs, is rated as a top performer.

Incredulous

December 29th, 2010
2:38 pm

Dr No, would you recommend that I consult an educated egg head physician that is certified and licensed in Neurology, or should I see someone like yourself that can really ” git er dun”?

Another Good Teacher Bites the Dust

December 29th, 2010
2:46 pm

Part 2
Good morning class! My name is Mrs. Smith and I am your teacher. I am so happy to be here with you today. Paper ball hits; chair turnovers, running, darts. Belches as several finish their McDonalds breakfasts. Sit down please.
Shut up lady before we sic that report card on you. We run this show, not you!

Another one bites the dust!

the sky is falling

December 29th, 2010
2:47 pm

One thing that would help is mandate a percentage of money that must go to the classroom. Make it so high that systems would have to cut all these advisors, directors, teachers on special assignments, etc…. What frightens me about Mr. Deal taking office is that he wants local systems to have flexibility in spending. That really equates to less in the classroom and more bureaucracy.
( Just look at what systems have already done with the RTTT money- they hired administrators)

I also think that teacher report cards will not have the intended effect. It will drive the good teachers to areas that they know they can succeed (or leave the profession) and no one will want to work with the at risk populations. Teachers are already evaluated throughout the year, so why add more? Would that be pulling away money from actual classrooms in order to implement these report cards?

Why not try something different? Why not dismantle the department of education? Why not give each school complete control of their money? Have teachers and parents on advisory boards to run the schools. Let schools decide on curriculum and materials. It would have to be more cost efficient and extremely popular with voters wanting to cut out big government. Let the state money follow the child and parents can choose their public school.

Another thing- better sunshine laws for school systems. Make them put check ledgers online and detailed minutes of all meetings and discussions. That would be another thing very popular with voters.

There are so many things that could be easily done to improve education in Georgia if someone would just listen to the folks in the trenches. Most of us are not just working for a paycheck, it is our calling. We want to do what is best for the children, but a lot of times we have to do that with both hands tied behind our backs and blindfolded….

Another Good Teacher Bites the Dust

December 29th, 2010
2:52 pm

Part 3
She needs to be removed. I don’t give a darn what her report card said last year. She gave my Johnny an F. He only missed 14 days. She should have spent more time after school catching him up. She only sent us five letters and she only called once a week. Charlie got an F too and so did April. The other 30 passed, so what! She’s not doing her job!

Another one bites the dust!

Ed Johnson

December 29th, 2010
2:52 pm

Via E-mail

December 29, 2010

“The one thing that I will not accept is that the status quo is acceptable.”
–Edward Lindsey, State Representative

Dear Ed:

Indeed, the one thing you must not accept is the status quo. I certainly do not.

So please consider how you and Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan are promoting the status quo, although perhaps unintentionally. You see, an aspect of the status quo calls for maintaining certain ways of thinking, some of which have become deeply institutionalized, so endure on the premise that is the way the real world works.

One of the most enduring status quo ways of thinking calls for figuring out how to do something to somebody in response to perceived problems. It is much like the adolescent who, when questioned about his or her inappropriate behavior, will look to others to blame, so as to avoid having to acknowledge his or her contributions to the problems. In short, this status quo way of thinking demands fixing the problems “out there, with them” because the problems cannot possibly be “in here, with us.” (An aside: In this regard, today’s superintendency of Atlanta Public Schools portends a case study the Georgia Legislature might take up and learn from.)

Another enduring status quo way of thinking calls for deflecting being informed of a problem when the informant does not also offer a solution (or even when the informant does offer a solution). This happens especially when the informant is deemed to occupy an inferior position in a social hierarchy. It is a status quo way of thinking steeped in condescension and the belief that those at the “top” know what is best for those at the “bottom.” After all, those at the “top” are the successful ones, and those at the “bottom” are the failures. Therefore, it is not the business of the “bottom” to come up with workable solutions; the “top” must bring solutions to the “bottom” to get their buy-in to accept the solutions.

A third enduring status quo way of thinking calls for always taking action in response to any perceived problems. It amounts to always seeking to come up with something, anything, that will “move the ball forward,” as you say. In the language of quality improvement, this status quo way of thinking is called “tampering.” Tampering, irrational, does not allow admitting that perhaps the ball need not be moved at all, that an effective solution simply might be to stop doing something. For example, the idea of stop putting problematic reforms and issues on the table will make no sense to the “Take action, move the ball forward!” status quo way of thinking. Negative consequences to democracy and civility really don’t matter when tampering.

The forgoing few status quo ways of thinking attest to a kind of institutionalized cognitive laziness, if you will, that tends to seek simple solutions to complex problems, including complex social situations around teaching and learning.

Now, depending on your degree of willingness, you will accept or reject the following short list of resources offering “constructive reforms” (your term) of status quo ways of thinking:

“[O]ne can conclude that the fundamental attribution error is an error in thinking, on behalf of the observer [e.g.,politicians], which often leads to a misattribution of behavior in a given situation.”
–The Fundamental Attribution Error
http://www.psychwiki.com/wiki/The_Fundamental_Attribution_Error

“Until senior managers [and politicians] become aware of the ways they reason defensively, any change activity is likely to be just a fad.”
–Teaching Smart People How to Learn
http://pds8.egloos.com/pds/200805/20/87/chris_argyris_learning.pdf

“Current conditions call to mind the parable of the drunken man crawling under the streetlight while searching for his keys. A Good Samaritan stops to help; after minutes of searching, she finally asks, ‘Are you sure you dropped your keys here?’ The man looks up and gestures toward the other end of the street, saying, ‘No, I dropped them down there—but the light’s better over here.’”
–The New Stupid
http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/dec08/vol66/num04/The-New-Stupid.aspx

Sincerely,

Ed Johnson
Advocate for Quality in Public Education
Atlanta GA
(404) 505-8176
edwjohnson@aol.com

Cc: Alishia Thomas Morgan, State Representative
Bcc: Distribution List

Dr NO

December 29th, 2010
2:59 pm

Why consult a physician…there are plenty of very intelligent teachers who could offer the same services for less…just ask them.

Career Switcher

December 29th, 2010
3:18 pm

@ Georgia Matters 1:53…I wholeheartedly agree with you concerning discipline, etc., however, you need to realize that if I were to follow your suggestions concerning discipline and grading that I would be out of a job very quickly. These decisions and mandates do not come from teachers, and teachers are often powerless to do much about them. Your comments and suggestions should be addressed to administration and central office. The day that I look my principal in the eye and state that I am giving a 0 and it will stand and that I am demanding a disruptive student be dealt with will be the first day of the end of my career. You see, that is the dirty little secret in education…you do not go against the status quo, and if you do, you will no longer be employable. I have seen those who speak up or disagree with administration quickly branded trouble makers and be given teaching assignments outside their area or even several subjects to teach at once. I have seen them be given higher loads of unruly students in their classes, and bad, undeserved evaluations.

There are loads of factors that go into grading and discipline that many don’t realize…such as passing students to bump up graduation rates and the fact that discipline stats have to be reported to the government. Schools with higher numbers of referrals are on the radar. The school’s answer is to reduce referrals, even though the underlying behaviors are still there. In my opinion, misinterpretation of federal law (the you-can’t-suspend-IEP-students-for-more-than-10-day rule) has resulted in reduced punishments across the board. The county comes in and tells us that we are in violation because more than x percent of black males or special ed. students were suspended for x number of days, and whammo!…you can probably guess what happens then. You see, if we don’t write students up for bad behaviors, then that really means they didn’t happen, right? So, the pressure to not write students up can get intense. Thankfully, it is not as bad at my current school as I have seen it before, nor is it as bad as some other teacher friends say it is at their schools.

@ Veteran Teacher2….I would absolutely welcome a camera (with audio recording, please) in my classroom. I would love to be evaluated based on what happens over time instead of what happens once a year during my 20 minute evaluation (although my evals. are good). I would also love the power to be able to show parents what happens. As a matter of fact, I would like to go even farther and say that it would be great to have live video/audio feed into each classroom at each school. That way, if a student is absent or a parent would like to check in, they could. Those of us who do our jobs would welcome it, and those who are subpar would be forced to get better. Discipline issues would be greatly reduced, because most kids are genuinely good kids. Most would fear repurcussions if they knew they couldn’t fib their way out of trouble with mom and dad. Maybe that is the solution to our problems!

Another Good Teacher Bites the Dust

December 29th, 2010
3:19 pm

There are so many smart and intelligent people writing in to this website. I appreciate your posts. This constant teacher witch hunt is making the profession non palatable.

Still, we will get up in January, 2011 and give it our best. There are very few bad teachers out there. The problem is having so many students who don’t perform well in the same place. They have to be mixed up all over the city. If you don’t mix them then it looks like you have low performing schools when you don’t.

My hats are off to all the teachers who go out there everyday and still teach to the best of their ability despite all of this mess. Everyone is trying to make a name off the back of teachers.

Thank you Dr. Trotter, Science Teacher 671 and Mr. Ed Johnson for giving me the determination to go in there and try it again despite all of these would be educators who themselves can’t teach worth a darn and would cringe at the idea of having someone give them a report card on themselves.

Thank you too Top School.

Career Switcher

December 29th, 2010
3:26 pm

@Veteran Teacher2…Oops! I didn’t fully read your post, you did mention streaming feed!

Young teacher

December 29th, 2010
3:34 pm

Sorry to disagree but EVERY teacher in my school gets a satisfactory rating. Most deserve it but there are a few bad apples. If you’re all doing the great job that you say you are, ratings shouldn’t pose a threat. A friend in LA complained about the ratings until they appeared and she was rated tops. Now, she thinks it was a wonderful idea because there is affirmation of her work. The same thing would happen here. Good teachers would get the credit they are due and bad teachers would finally get unmasked. Rep. Lindsay, not all teachers are afraid to be rated.

I Really do Teach!

December 29th, 2010
3:51 pm

I am somewhat concerned about posting comments to a site such as this as I often read such angry, rude, comments by individuals who I feel really aren’t concerned about the issue at hand. With that being said I do feel I need to comment here.

I am a teacher. I have been teaching for over thirty years in two different states with a lot of different teaching experiences. I have often been evaluated by administrators who actually had spent little time in a classroom prior to going the route of administration. Many did this for monetary reasons, which I totally understand. I do however feel if one has not taught children to read or to develop mathematical understandings, then they really should not be evaluating what I do.

The last several years of teaching here in Georgia have been the most upsetting of my teaching career and it has little to do with becoming an older teacher. It has to do with the lack of respect I am given by many individuals and organizations that do not come into my classroom. I have always had high standards and high work ethic which I demand from myself as well as those I teach. I first encountered parents who could not accept their children were not going make the honor roll a few years ago as they had done previously. These were children who did not have the skills to produce work or evidence of learning. This did not mean these students were not able to develop these skills, it just meant they needed to accept the rigour had changed due to a more intensive curriculum. Parents were very annoyed by this concept. However, I can only say this was an anomaly. The vast majority of parents I have worked with have been supportive and appeared at conferences.

In regards to a report card based upon results from a standardized test I just do not see it being valid. I want to be judged by the growth my students make during the time I am their teacher. I do not want to be compared to the teacher down the hall who has a class filled with high performing students who may not put forth the effort students in more challenging classes often do and who have a much farther distance to travel.

I am very much in support of recognizing that individuals are not equal. They do not learn the same, they are often not interested in much of the curriculum we present, and we do not accept the current system of college bound for all is not the answer. We are not giving our students real opportunities, we are just literally micromanaging learning for the purpose of these tests.

I do not have any real answers to this dilemma about teacher performance. The point is teachers do not make a lot of money and class sizes do have an impact. Not requiring mastery of basic skills at the early grades is also an issue. It is very difficult to actually teach upper level math skills to students who have no mastery or understanding of basic math. We do not read in school anymore as we become a nation of basal readers produced by textbook companies. Students have reading textbooks, not reading material. There is not enough reading and discussion of non-fictional text. There are not enough opportunities for students to actually read for pleasure. One does not develop reading comprehension skills if there are not real opportunities for reading in school. Multiple choice questions should not even be in the ball park in elementary school. I could go on and on, but I am just a teacher and not a politician.

I still love teaching. There is nothing quite as magical as the wonder of when one of my students suddenly gets a concept that has been just out of reach.

Arch Dawg

December 29th, 2010
4:10 pm

Season 4 of ‘The Wire’, the highly acclaimed drama from HBO a couple of years ago is a sad but very accurate portrayal of most inner city schools in America. Anyone who thinks all of educations problems starts with a few less than stellar teachers should watch the show. It touches on the political corruption, overbearing administration, unprepared and violent children, and the lure/reality of drugs in the community.

My Mother-in-law was a teacher, she retired after being demoted from teaching Latin, Advanced English, and Shakepserean Lit because a parent sued the school because their little Johnny didn’t get into Harvard or Yale. Somehow it all came down to her fault. The school board refused to defend her for because they could not bear the cost. And this was in a good system. Not only did she retire but she made sure her daughter would never go into teaching (my wife actually changed her college major after the incident).
My Mother was a teacher who crossed an angry Administrator and after 3 years of being subjected to essentially professional harassment quit and has had a long and prosperous career outside of teaching.

You can only rely on someone’s love of their craft to make them get up and do to work everyday and perform their duties at a high level. Eventually the love of their profession is not enough to overcome the working conditions, low wages, lack of respect, unending red tape, and political meddling. I’m actually shocked that anyone would persue teaching as a career anymore.

Although the same can be said about my profession.

Another Good Teacher Bites the Dust

December 29th, 2010
4:44 pm

Wait until you get to be our age young teacher…ha, ha, ha…if you last that long. Get one of those D.A.M.F.’s fixed classes every year and you’ll be singing a different tune. 60-70 hour weeks get old after 10 years dearie. After 20 years, your health just won’t allow it. You have to cut it down to about 50. I’ve hung in there for 28 and I can still do about 55. Right, I’m expected to give up the extra hours of my life but no other profession does it without pay. I do it for love dearie and you’re so young you don’t realize what you’re giving up. The rest of us understand respect for the profession. Bye now.

What's really going on

December 29th, 2010
4:45 pm

@HS Public Teacher.. Clearly you are emotional about this topic, and as a teacher you have earned to right to be. However, to be clear on how much “butt sitting” I do, i’d say I sit on my “butt” a lot less than you are assuming. I actually do visit classrooms of my 3 children quite often, attend fieldtrips, and all the other things that a parent is expected to do and more. I have also had the pleasure of de facto home schooling them as well, when for any number of reasons their teacher was not successful at teaching a particular concept. Whether it was due to the teacher’s poor command of the subject matter, a disruptive child, too many kids in the classroom, or otherwise, it doesn’t matter; the kids have to learn. When other parents won’t pay for a field trip or send in classroom supplies, I’m the one who you can call to cover the cost or make a run to Costco or Walmart so all the kids don’t have to suffer due to a few parents who either don’t have the means to pitch in or who unfortunately have other priorities other than their child’s education. I will also add that a family member works in a school district in the metro ATL area in schools made up primarily of lower income students and believe you me, I have heard it all. I mean the raw, unfiltered, types of situations that arise with kids, many of which I feel should make the 5:00 news! It’s every type of abuse you can think of; it’s mothers who forsake their children; absentee fathers; drugs, crimes, fights, and anything else in between. Mind you I grew up in a neighborhood where I saw many of these same things happen with childhood friends so although it’s sad that kids have to go thru these things, it is not beyond belief. The frequency that these things occur nowadays is, however, very concerning.

As to the point about report cards, I am not suggesting that teachers “need” them so do not feel insulted. Would they add value to parents interested in knowing more about the teacher that is in front of my child… yes. Personally, I find it insulting that you would assume that I, as (apparently) a simpleton of a parent, would blindly assume that this report card would be my only metric for forming an opinion about the quality of a teacher for not all kids, but MY CHILD. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. I would put about as much credence into it as I would the report cards my kids or any kids bring home. There have been times where I felt certain grades on my child’s report card was “indicative” of how my child is doing but not something I could take at face value. It depends on the teacher (or evaluator in the case of teacher report cards) and how much “feel good learning” is being thrust upon my child.

My general point about this report card and other “reform” measures is that it seems that for most such measure that the train has already left the station and that public school educators need to get on the train and try to be the conductor. And in other cases fire up your own locomotive and get a train moving. I havent the time to read all of your posts but based purely on what you responded to me, I will comment on a few points..

- in the 3rd paragraph- i agree..I am not aware of other professions for which this is not only required, but required to be public info. Aside from some websites where folks give reviews of say doctors, handymen, or sites like ratemyteacher.com and the like I am not aware of anything. That said, the one difference in other professions is that I HAVE A CHOICE in the matter. If i visit a doctor and i do not like them for whatever reason, I do not go back. If i hire someone to do work on my house, car, whatever, and they do a terrible job, I can choose to not deal with them again, cancel a check or whatever. When I need a new pair of shoes, I have choices!

- in the 4th section – I am not sure if you are in a hardcore title 1 school or what but if you were’ you’d know that for the sort of uncaring parents and unruly kids we are talking about that your solution there would not matter one bit. Shame— are you kidding me?!?!? Many parents wont care, or wont even know they are “listed”, and eventually it might turn into a badge of honor for the kids. Then we’ll have teachers coming down with, what is it called– “chalkboard flu” when they get too many kids from parents who have been outted by the system you propose.

- for your salt in the wound paragraph i will say this, join the club! you sound about as helpless as do the many parents who are simply looking for the best education for their child who is fed up with one size fits all approach to teaching, and the infinite number of “reasons” as to why kids are not learning.

… I could go on with the rest of your response, but at the end of the day, I think we can both agree that there are some things that need to be changed. I hate to sound crass, but I think that a lot of the reforms that you and many other educators seem to complain about are cropping up largely because some educators in decision making positions at some point in time haven’t done a good job of taking care of their own “house” that they’ve had, and quite frankly still have a monopoly on. Furthermore, for just about everything that you may feel is dumb or was thought up by some politician who hasn’t a clue or even a stupid parent like myself who sits on his butt behind a computer, that I could, with little effort find what is felt to be reputable research by a reputable Educator or former Educator (so you cant argue the point that they are just dumb politicians or parents) from one of the prominent Teachers colleges in the country that supports it! So from my vantage point there isn’t even agreement among Educators what works! How helpless do you think that makes parents feel? What’s worse is that because the public education system has a monopoly, most parents have little to no choice to opt for any alternatives. So I say, if an option were on the table to give parents choice, and I mean real choice…
- expanding Hb251 to include interdistrict transfers, provide transportation, and alter the definition of “available space”.
- vouchers
- more themed schools in traditional public schools in the elementary and middle school grades
- break down the walls of the “private” public schools that remain that way via highly political district boundaries that zig-zag around apartment communities, and streets to keep out certain categories of students
- etc..
… then I would agree with you that these teacher report cards are a waste of time. However, since most parents do not have real choices; we need to arm them with as much information as possible to work the system as best they can. Last time I checked principals and maybe teachers like yourself are not openly informing parents of the teachers’ classroom to avoid. Yes, if you are “in the know” or have the luxury of being at the school at least once a week you may come to find out on your own, but the vast majority of parents are not in the know, havent the time to visit schools that frequently, and do not know the teachers who are best for their child.

Final point to @HS Public Teacher… If your child was sick and needed life saving surgery, and I told you that there was only one hospital with 10 different doctors that you could use, how would you feel? What would you do? Although it is true that all of the doctors went to medical school (although u dont know if they went to Johns Hopkins, Harvard, or some online medical school), passed a test to get licensed, wouldn’t it also be useful for you to know, as a parent, which one would be best for your child even if the metric for evaluating them (i.e., their report card) was as crude as (i cant think of anything better for the example) how many surgeries they had attempted in the past year for which deaths were the outcome, or where heavy post op procedures were needed due to complications and potential mistakes made by the doctor??? Teachers are not performing life or death surgeries, BUT a string of bad teachers (i’ve read research to sugggest that 2 consecutive years of bad teaching will create major grade level setbacks in terms of achievement) and inferior schools will surely alter the trajectory of the life of a child. And in the very communities that are so challenging to educate, the ramifications of failure are so much higher, not just to that community, but to our entire nation. So in many respects, you all, as teachers are charged with “saving” lives as well.

Actually one question to HS Public Teacher… If you could assume for a minute that the report card bill will be passed, what things should it measure?

catlady

December 29th, 2010
4:47 pm

Ms. Downey@9:34: Don’t know if anyone has corrected you yet, but the legislators get that $17,000 plus ~$175 per day for ANY day they claim to work on state business. Many of them hold “hearings” or somesuch quite often, and balloon that pay into $34,000 or more. So let’s not hear of the part time job and meagre earnings. Like much else at the Gold Dome, it is ripe for abuse. Taxpayers, lock up your daughters and guard your pocketbooks, the legislature is coming to town!

Math Teacher

December 29th, 2010
4:55 pm

Hearing things like this make me seriously consider finding another job, which I am able to do with degrees in more than one area. The people who can’t get a different job are the “bad” teachers with fewer skills. If you want to improve education, you should make teaching a more attractive job, not less.

I have no problem being evaluated, even publicly, as long as it’s based solely on factors within my control. This is going to be as successful as our War on Drugs.

ScienceTeacher671

December 29th, 2010
4:57 pm

@Another Good Teacher Bites the Dust – Thanks!

Unfortunately I think your scenarios are all too likely if report cards become a reality.

Henry County Mom

December 29th, 2010
4:59 pm

Where else can you work 40 days and get $17K?

RBN

December 29th, 2010
5:05 pm

Wow, strong reactions all around. As I have said before, Maureen, one of the biggest impediments in improving education in Georgia is the lack of confidence teachers have in any of the decision makers in power. No wonder given the record of the last eight years, and to be fair the roller coaster of the previous four. Reason rarely rules, but the evaluation process is incredibly weak in Georgia, probably purposely so, given the weakness of so many administrators in the state (not all, but too many) and the lack of support for teacher development. First, we need to develop a high quality evaluation system that includes student performance. I use the we in its truest sense. Teachers like myself have become extremly cynical of the motives of our legislative, gubernatorial, and DOE colleagues. Next, the teaching profession needs to be professionalized, with high entry standards, real mentoring by practicing mentor and master teachers, advancement opportunities that keep teachers teaching, group incentives to improve performance, and a truly professional salary. Yes, underperformers need to be assisted and if not successful counseled out early. States like Connecticut which embarked down this path lead in student performance.
Unfortunately, Georgia has wandered down a different path -underfunding, over testing, and a continual parade of dogma driven legislative “fixes”. Until someone truly puts teachers, yes Maureen – with more than three years experience, at a meaningful place at the “table”, then little will change. I believe that Rep Lindsay is sincere in his efforts; I hope his colleagues, particularly in the senate controlled by anti-public education voucher proponents will be equally as sincere.

Dr. Craig Spinks /Augusta

December 29th, 2010
5:08 pm

Teacher and Mom,

Thanks for the info about The Gates Foundation.

Dr. Richard Buddin at The Rand Corporation has done work linking teacher evaluation with student learning. Moreover, The LA Times, The NY Times and Gotham Schools provide more info on teacher report cards. There’s a GCSU Economics prof who’s also done work in the area of value-added learning.

P.S. Should The Gates Foundation or another disinterested philanthropic entity finance a pilot study of the use of a teacher report card in GA? The pilot study would be conducted by another disinterested, out-of-state entity with a history of expertise in linking staff compensation with student outcomes among which would include, but not be limited to, student achievement and/or progress?

Dr. Craig Spinks /Augusta

December 29th, 2010
5:15 pm

OOPS! Please delete “among” from the penultimate line above.

We lost our way

December 29th, 2010
5:21 pm

@Catlady and other taxpayers who care. Not only do they get 17+K for 40 days but they are vested in the State Retirement System. They get One Year of credit service for 40 days of work. A state employee must work 12 MONTHS to get one year of service credit. Also in 2010 the State Retirement gave the retired lawmakers a cost of living raise of 3% .However they did not give the retired state employees a cost of living raise.They also get to use the state Health Insurance program for themselves and family. Than there is the big one which benefits all who leave or go into business–Inside Network. Check to see how many go into lobby or working for a large corporation.All the contacts made in the gold dome provides good paying jobs. You help me,I will help you! Good Ole boy system at its best!!

ScienceTeacher671

December 29th, 2010
5:24 pm

17+K for 40 days – wow. More per day than all but a few Ph.D. teachers make, eh?

catlady

December 29th, 2010
5:39 pm

Ms. Downey, are any of our legislators themselves former teachers?

TopSchool

December 29th, 2010
5:48 pm

@ we lost our way and @ catlady…
I think I get it totally…The Best of Buckhead.

I Really do Teach!

December 29th, 2010
5:48 pm

To: catlady

I believe Ellis Black has some educational background.

Dekalbite

December 29th, 2010
5:58 pm

Representative Lindsey,

If you want to start trimming educational expenditures, please start with the very bloated Georgia Department of Education (DOE).

Look at the figures below. *I calculated the benefits cost to taxpayers at 25%.

Here are the Georgia DOE personnel costs for the last 3 years of the recession:
2008: $50,022,380 (with benefit cost – $62,527,975)
2009: $51,182,443 (with benefit cost – $63,978,052)
2010: $48,590,037 (with benefits – $60,737,546)

Look what taxpayers paid in travel costs for this group. 82 of them spent in excess of $10,000 a year traveling. I guess there’s no recession at the Georgia Department of Education:
2008: $3,404,299
2009: $2,697331
2010: $2,610,083

Georgia taxpayers spent $60,737,546 on salary and benefits for the DOE in 2010. This is down by less than 3% from 2008. Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t we in the middle of the worse economy since the Great Depression, and weren’t our tax revenues down quite a bit more than 3%?

What percent did teacher pay decrease during that time?

What percent was cut from Local Education Agencies during that time?

According to the 2010 state salary and travel audit at Open Georgia, the state superintendent for the Office of Standards, Instruction, and Assessment Martha Reichrath makes $173,000 in salary and benefits. Dr. Reichrath’s retirement from DeKalb County Schools was no less than $66,000 (see 2003 Georgia state and travel audit). The Georgia Department of Education has so many former Dekalb Schools administrators that it’s become like an “old folks home” for DeKalb administrative retirees. Garry McGiboney is another state superintendent who retired from DeKalb County at more than $72,000 a year and is making $139,500 in salary and benefits at the DOE. The Georgia Department of Education just hired another retired DeKalb Schools administrator Tony Eitel a few months ago. Tony retired from DeKalb County Schools making at least 60% of $119,940 ($72,000 a year) so I guess he’s set as well. Are these folks double dipping or just adding to their already stellar retirement?

The DOE had 17 Deputy and Associate State Superintendents in 2008 ($2,500,000 in salary and benefits), but they’re up to 19 Deputy and Associate State Superintendents now. Exactly how many of these State Superintendents do we need?

How did Governor Perdue and the state assembly let this group of administrators get so numerous and spend so much of our tax dollars on personnel who do not teach children?

Are other posters as uncomfortable as I am with these expenditures?

source: http://www.open.georgia.gov/

TopSchool

December 29th, 2010
5:58 pm

Not let’s consider the track record of bankers and Wall Street and analyze what is wrong with this picture whereby they think they should take the lead in education reform. When they “reformed” real estate with subprime mortgages, and “reformed” Wall St. with derivatives it led us to where? And there goals were preserving the democracy or stuffing as much money in their pockets? Do we recall which one?

It is time we substituted “bilk” for “reform” and we will know exactly what is going on in education. Check out http://www.WhiteChalkCrime.com and http://www.EndTeacherAbuse.org if you REALLY want to know what is going on. The alternative is to watch education implode as did real estate; the same type of agenda is in place. However, when it implodes it implodes our democracy as they are connected at the hip. And then who will pick up the pieces? Do we want the greedy creating a civil society in their image? Better yet, would the greedy even entertain the need for a civil society when money and power are their chosen tools for navigating in this world? Money and power substitute for a civil democracy, the former purpose of an educated populace.

If all of this sounds way too incredible, just think Bernie Madoff and his sinister Ponzi scheme. All it takes is charm, connections, and greed and one can fool a lot of people. We have a bunch of mini Bernie Madoff’s at the helms of schools all over this nation with a press blaming teachers, unions, and parents rather than blaming these thieves in place to bilk all of us of the foundation of our democracy. (This is the same press that didn’t notice the subprime scam.)

This brilliant strategy of pitting parents against teachers and their unions is at the core of this Ponzi-like success for it is true that unions are at the center of the “reform” that is really bilking, while it is not true that the unions represent or even care about dedicated teachers. And it is not true that the unions are on a different side than these mini Bernie Madoffs. As the unions and administrations play good cop, bad cop while reforming, no bilking, our schools with the media’s blessings, the public is left clueless.

Become educated or expect an end to public education as we know it. Yes, the unions deserve our contempt, but not unless their bed partners – the administrators and school boards – are held in contempt equally. Learn about White Chalk Crime. It makes Bernie Madoff’s antics seem like nothing. There is organized crime in education that Diane Ravitch has yet to bring to the surface. It keeps Diane Ravitch from television, stuck at the right fork of the road where if she could venture down it, her dedication and brilliance could solve these problems.

Instead we all speak in circles while our schools are being “reformed/bilked.” Time to focus on White Chalk Crime as only then will any of this change.

Posted by: teacherkh | December 28, 2010 11:06 PM | Report abuse

My friend Karen at her best…Bite down and go to the bone… and keep on breathing!

TopSchool

December 29th, 2010
6:02 pm

Maureen …Do you think many in the media are part of the problem?

TopSchool

December 29th, 2010
6:04 pm

catlady

December 29th, 2010
6:07 pm

Scienceteacher: And look at their benefits, plus great deal for retirement pension! How about a research report on that?

TopSchool

December 29th, 2010
6:11 pm

“There is organized crime in education that MAUREEN DOWNEY has yet to bring to the surface. It keeps MAUREEN from television, stuck at the right fork of the road where if she could venture down it, her dedication and brilliance could solve these problems.”

AND COULD WE PLACE ANY EDUCATION REPORTER’S NAME IN THIS QUOTE…
makes me wonder about the politics of all of these issues.

TopSchool

December 29th, 2010
6:15 pm

Karen Horwitz
Teacher … Author … Activist … Pioneer

Private School Guy

December 29th, 2010
6:17 pm

The root of this problem is that far too many administrators are doing a lousy job and have no clue as to who is a good teacher and who is a bad teacher. They also have limited power as bad teachers are just shuffled around and sent to schools where the administrators have no choice in the matter. Public schools need to put more administrator jobs on the line. There should be the same percentage of administrators let go as there are teachers fired.

TopSchool

December 29th, 2010
6:34 pm

@ Dekalbite December 29th, 2010 5:58 pm…

How do you ask?

Because they all have their fork in the BUCKHEAD PIG…
http://www.TopPublicSchoolCorruptionAtlanta.com

ScienceTeacher671

December 29th, 2010
6:37 pm

@Private School Guy, you assume that the basis of the problem really is incompetent teachers.

@catlady – there they are with that generous salary and more than generous benefits, yet they are trying to balance the budget by cutting our childrens’ education. Despicable, don’t you think?

ScienceTeacher671

December 29th, 2010
6:49 pm

OMG. The filter got my post! First one all week!

HS Math Teacher

December 29th, 2010
6:51 pm

I’ve read most all the posts on this topic (except a couple of juvenile remarks) , and I took note of several areas of concern. I don’t care how redundant my posts are…I just know what I know, and I’m convinced that if the problem with promoting kids without merit is dealt with seriously, most of the “areas of concern” posted here would be remedied. I’m not an overly complex person, and my mind doesn’t stay cluttered with things that don’t amount to a hill of beans. The social/committee promotion issue is paramount with me. I’ve brought this up in a teachers meeting back in the 90’s, and the principal we had at the time just rolled his eyes and said, “Look, we always hear that, and someone’s always pointing the finger down the hall.” Ends up that he’s been tossed about from school to school and ain’t with us any more. I think he’s now a night manager at Bi-Lo’s or selling hot dogs at the beach….not really sure, and don’t care.

Having STATE MANDATED promotion policies with real teeth WILL bring about the following positive developments within 3 to 5 years (you may be able to think of additional ones that I overlooked):

1. Parents will be the first to take note (if you’ve bothered to read anything I’ve posted on here, I’ve never blamed parents). When they learn that raising hell and stomping feet won’t get their kid promoted, they’ll start doing the things they need to be doing.

2. Kids will take note, once they REALLY SEE IT HAPPENING. If they know that Summer School won’t be as easy to go through as a $2 car wash, and the only way to advance is to pass whatever course it is they failed, they will finally start applying themselves.

3. Unruly kids whose behavior has disrupted classes and caused their own failure will eventually shape up and straighten up.

4. Kids who are chronically absent, and forge notes from home will start coming to school when they know they won’t get a free pass.

5. Teachers will finally start getting some, or most of the respect that hasn’t been shown in the past…from the kids…and the parents. Both parties will realize it is the teacher who teaches the subject they must know & pass, and it is the teacher who will grade their papers. The TEACHER will become very important when they hold the keys to success.

6. The stress level that all teachers endure that come with doing the heavy lifting, i.e., trying to catch kids up, and bring them somewhat up to grade level will be mostly gone. Teachers’ jobs will eventually become a delight, and they will just flourish in a pleasant, productive teaching & learning climate. This will result in low teacher turnover, and absenteeism, saving the state’s schools millions of dollars a year.

7. Colleges, Technical Academies, Employers, etc., will start getting high quality high school graduates. Gone will be the days of students who are allowed to slip through the education system and can’t read on a 9th grade level, and cannot understand basic mathematics.

8. The dropout rate will dramatically go down, even if the rigor gets tougher! There will be pain & suffering for one or two years in the lower grade levels, with loads of kids who will fail; however, by the time they get in high school, they will be able to climb the ladder all by themselves. The reason the dropout rate is so high now is that kids have learned one set of rules of how to get promoted in grades 3 through 8, then they are hit with another set of rules in high school (you have to pass each course – PERIOD).

9. High school students in the near future will suffer less emotional distress when they know they are fully equipped to master subjects at grade level. High school students already go through a lot of stress just trying to find their way in their teen years. They will be happy, healthy, and productive.

10. The state will be able to stop spending millions of wasted taxpayer dollars on educational experts, workshops, and other ancillary programs that are for the most part useless.

11. The state’s overall education system will eventually not be so weighed down by the poorly performing schools in the inner city, and rural areas. It is in these geographic areas where social promotion takes place the most. Our state’s standing among other states will rise.

12. If there are bad teachers, and I know there are some out there, it will become clearly apparent in a system that rewards merit. Bad teachers can easily hide behind the veneers when kids just get shuffled along in a broken system. Bad teachers will stick out like a sore thumb in a system that really works.

Last Note: Our policymakers, legislators, and …. “others”… need to start drinking the Kool-Aid from the Theory Y school of management, instead of Theory X. You’re dealing with a lot of folks who know how to run their households, know how to fix their own cars, and fix what’s wrong in their own classrooms. The problem is in POLICY, and that can’t be remedied by teachers alone.

TopSchool

December 29th, 2010
6:58 pm

I know who has the power to make policy change…MAUREEN DOWNEY

Maureen has the power in her pen…

’cause all of us surely have used all our ink up!

I know I has…and I don’t know nothin according to Atlanta Public Schools.

TopSchool

December 29th, 2010
7:00 pm

From Buckhead to Bankhead Highway…The REAL ISSUES IN ATLANTA PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Maureen Downey

December 29th, 2010
7:01 pm

Science, You are a free agent now.
Maureen

Maureen Downey

December 29th, 2010
7:03 pm

@catlady, Yes, several are teaches and many more are either married to teachers or are the child of a teacher, including our new governor.
Maureen

TopSchool

December 29th, 2010
7:13 pm

I think they are all cousins…or relatives in some strange way.
I just hope we are all not fooling ourselves if we have HOPE that any of this will ever change.

I did meet with Ralph Long…nice man…
and we scheduled another meeting…
I still have HOPE something I gathered in my APS research will help someone… somewhere.

ScienceTeacher671

December 29th, 2010
7:16 pm

@Maureen, thanks!

@Maureen & catlady, are any of the legislators who are teachers or spouses of teachers actually on the education committee?

@HS Math Teacher, I agree with you about the solution to the problem, and think the cut scores on the CRCT should be raised as well. Of course, the parents of the children who fail will all claim it’s because their children “don’t test well.”

HS Math Teacher

December 29th, 2010
7:23 pm

Science: Yep…we’ve heard that before.

Also a Career Switcher

December 29th, 2010
7:34 pm

@Career Switcher- I nominate you to meet with the DOE and Rep. Lindsey. Each and every idea you mentioned is right on the money (and most of them don’t cost a thing). I’m a third year career switcher and I am shocked at the inefficiencies present in education. What is even more frustrating is how we are micro-managed and constantly given more data to track, meetings to attend, reports to make (most of which are never read).

ScienceTeacher671

December 29th, 2010
7:39 pm

I have a hard time believing that a student would get stressed enough to fail a test which measures such sub-minimal competencies as the CRCT. However, if students actually had to pass the CRCT for promotion, without exception, the pressure would eventually be on the students, rather than on the teachers or the school system.

The biggest problems I can see are that some special education students will never pass the CRCT, EOCT or GHSGT, and at some schools that will exceed the percentage allowed to take alternative assessments. Also, it might be necessary to set aside alternative schools for students who are “too old” for elementary or middle school and have not yet attained the skills for the next level.

ScienceTeacher671

December 29th, 2010
7:42 pm

Have Jeff Hubbard or Tim Callahan had anything to say about this yet? Maureen, have you asked either of them to comment?

HS Math Teacher

December 29th, 2010
8:01 pm

Science Teacher: I think you’re right. At some point you’ve got to call a spade a spade. We’ve been told to mainstream all these kids, and we all know what happens. Educational leaders at the top call it “raising the bar”…fostering “high expectations”, etc. The problem is that when the rubber meets the road, reality bites. These poor kids (sp. ed.) top out, and undue stress is put on them. I think mainstreaming these kids may be well & fine up to a point; however, we need to separate them when the warning lights come on. Alternative learning sites, career academies…whatever…we need to do WHAT WORKS. I’m sick of trying to hammer a square peg into a round hole. Co-Teaching only helps a little, and occasionally the special ed. teacher will go too far helping the kids take their tests, and I can tell when I grade them (erasures galore with correct answers in place).

Instead of following a Japanese model, where all kids look like no. 2 pencils coming out of a pencil factory, we need to follow Germany’s model. We need to do some segregating and separating at some point before 9th grade, and help the kids REALLY LEARN SOMETHING BENEFICIAL that will help them later in life.

TopPublicSchool

December 29th, 2010
8:03 pm

Career Switcher December 29th, 2010 1:15 pm
These decisions and mandates do not come from teachers, and teachers are often powerless to do much about them. Your comments and suggestions should be addressed to administration and central office. The day that I look my principal in the eye and state that I am giving a 0 and it will stand and that I am demanding a disruptive student be dealt with will be the first day of the end of my career. You see, that is the dirty little secret in education…you do not go against the status quo, and if you do, you will no longer be employable. I have seen those who speak up or disagree with administration quickly branded trouble makers and be given teaching assignments outside their area or even several subjects to teach at once. I have seen them be given higher loads of unruly students in their classes, and bad, undeserved evaluations.

And YET WE EXPECT THESE ADMINISTRATORS TO EVALUATE US FAIRLY…The problems are systemic and NATION WIDE…

Check out http://www.WhiteChalkCrime.com and http://www.EndTeacherAbuse.org if you REALLY want to know what is going on. The alternative is to watch education implode as did real estate; the same type of agenda is in place.

This recipe is nothing new… “Your comments and suggestions should be addressed to administration and central office”

THE CENTRAL OFFICE AND THE ADMINISTRATION IS WOVEN INTO ALL OF THIS …POLITICALLY…

You have a good base of knowledge…now ASK THOSE OF US THAT HAVE CHALLENGED IT ALL THE WAY TO FEDERAL COURT…and we will fill in the BLANKS for you.

Hide and Watch…and if you want to collect your “paycheck” you will need to continue to sell your soul and keep silent about what you know. THIS IS PUBLIC EDUCATION AT ITS BEST.

http://www.TopPublicSchoolCorruptionAtlanta.com

The media will carefully pick and choose what they will print. Maureen still needs to collect her paycheck and pay her bills, too.

Wandless

December 29th, 2010
8:09 pm

One needs to be really careful when considering holding teachers responsible for whether students are learning effectively. There are so many variables that come into play here, including but not limited to; socio-economic status, motivation, and aptitude. The issue of aptitude is a hot topic that no one seems to want to address, due to potential racial and social overtones. The state of Georgia gives a Cognitive Abilities Test (cogAT) to students in certain grades. This test measures a student’s innate ability to reason; verbally, quantitatively, and nonverbally. The test can also be used to predict a student’s future academic success. In Georgia, it is used along with the ITBS, to flag students for “gifted” programs. The fact that the test is given, its purpose should not just be used to assess only in this limited fashion. In many low performing schools, the test results from the cogAT scores reflect the results on other norm referenced, as well as standardized test (ITBS). I suggest that we use these scores from the cogAT test in combination with whatever comparative test will be used to judge teachers. When the comparisons are done and, then look for disparities in the student’s innate potential to learn and their performance on the chosen test to judge for teacher performance. Then analyze the data, let’s look to see if both of these test scores match up. For example, if a student’s total cognitive score is the 30th percentile, compared to others in the norm referenced group, then one would expect that a score of 30th percentile for this particular student is reasonable. This seems to be a reasonably fair way, to put all teachers on a leveled playing field. This could potentially eliminate those teachers who work in Title1, and other type schools, from being at a disadvantage regarding test scores, and ultimately their teacher effectiveness. If we are going to judge teacher effectively, let’s use all available data to do so, including a student’s innate ability to learn.

TopPublicSchool

December 29th, 2010
8:38 pm

WISH I COULD FIND THE education bubble to JUMP back IN AGAIN.
oNCE YOU’VE TAKEN A bite of the REAL Public education APPLE …
you can’t re-enter the “secret garden” again.

Georgia Teacher

December 29th, 2010
8:40 pm

I have taught high school science in Cobb for 25 years. I have always gotten stellar evaluations and have genuinely loved my profession. The bottom line is that it’s getting less and less about the kids and more and more about bureaucracy. It’s tragically ironic and sad. My great aunt was a principal, my mom a teacher, and now my daughter has been considering the profession. Sadly, my advice to her is not to do it.

ScienceTeacher671

December 29th, 2010
8:44 pm

@HS Math Teacher, in the past couple of years I’ve had coteaching classes, and there have been students in those classes who had IQs in the 60s all the way up to students who could have been in the honors classes but either didn’t want to expend the effort or couldn’t fit those classes into their schedules. ALL of the students were “expected” to master the standards and pass the EOCT, but you know that for a student with an IQ in the 60s who is reading and doing math on a 1st or 2nd grade level it “just ain’t gonna happen”, and it’s really cruel to put the poor student in a class that is so far over their head, with expectations they clearly cannot reach.

To the credit of the poor students who were so out of their leagues, they were not rude, disrespectful, or disruptive, but they were totally lost. I don’t know who Rep. Lindsey and Rep. Morgan would blame for the fact that these students did not pass the EOCT, me or the SpEd teacher in the room, but the tragedy is that the students were expected to succeed in a college prep class, instead of given a class appropriate to their needs.

catlady

December 29th, 2010
8:47 pm

Ms. Downey please list the legislators who have been in the K-12 classrooms and when they taught. (I am the daughter, granddaughter, and mother of a teacher in addition to teaching for almost 4 decades myself) MY experience would be the most relevant, as a representative of the citizens of this state.

Dr. Craig Spinks /Augusta

December 29th, 2010
8:55 pm

To find an example of the L.A. teacher’s report card, Google “RAND Corporation” and “teacher report cards.” The 7th item on the resultant Google list relates to a report card for an L.A. teacher, Patricia Malone Schwarz.

oldtimer

December 29th, 2010
9:27 pm

@ what’s really going on; That is why school choice should be an option.

HS Public Teacher

December 29th, 2010
9:28 pm

@What’s Really Going On…..

Honestly, if this teacher report card thing does pass, I won’t care what is on it, because I will be moving that very day out-of-state. It will be the last straw for me in this pitiful republican-run State of Georgia that is determined to totally ruin education. There has not been a single step in a positive direction regarding education in the last 8+ years. Every single thing done has brought Georgia backwards and our children to their knees. Hear the laughing? That is the rest of the Country laughing at Georgia!

Let me clearly state MY teaching abilities. Last year, I taught biology. All 100% of my students passed the End-of-Course test. The average of all of my students on that test was 91. The state average was something like 71. I had the highest average of all teachers in my school and my school system. And that includes the AP biology teacher and another teacher with over 30 years of experience in my school.

What am I personally afraid of? NOTHING!

What am I professionally afraid of? The continued degredation of the teaching profession in Georgia.

What am I most afraid of? The future of children forced to grow up in this bass-ackwards State!

Toto: speakin' the truth to power

December 29th, 2010
9:29 pm

I am not a public school teacher, but here is my grade for Rep. Lindsey’s response: F

All Representatives swear an Oath of Office to uphold the Georgia Constitution, which incorporates the amendments to the Federal Constitution. The State of Georgia Constitution upholds both the First and Fourteenth amendments. Separately, it added in a compulsory ATTENDANCE law in 1916. The Representative’s job is to consider the Constitutionality of whatever law is proposed or voted on. JUST WHAT IS THE CONSTITUTIONAL BASIS FOR THIS NEW LAW YOU PROPOSE TO BURDEN THE CITIZEN-TEACHERS WITH? And while you are at it, what is the Constitutional basis for the ADDED-IN Compulsory Attendance Law? The public schools are a mess because they are built on Unconstitutional SAND! Please read the following:

“Parental Interests and Objections to Compulsory Attendance Laws

The deference given by the Court to parental guidance of their children’s lives implies that parental interests are extensive. The character and extent of parental interests can be examined from the standpoint of the claims parents typically raise against the state compulsory attendance laws. Parents often allege that compulsory attendance laws violate the Free Exercise of Religion Clause and the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause; parents also allege the statutes are unenforceable because they are unconstitutionally vague and they violate the due process requirements that a neutral and detached magistrate make the decision when a person comes to the government for a decision.” p.464

Please refer to pp. 464-472 for a detailed discussion of this topic in GEORGIA STATE UNIVERSITY LAW REVIEW
http://digitalarchive.gsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2933&context=colpub_review

The REAL solution is to REPEAL THE COMPULSORY ATTENDANCE LAWS!
This is the only way to cut off funding CORRUPTION and ward off BANKRUPTCY if it isn’t already too late.

HS Public Teacher

December 29th, 2010
9:34 pm

Hey You Republicans….

Ever considered the co$t to the tax payers for giving teachers “report cards”???? Let’s see, the repulicans will need:

1. A ‘teacher report card’ czar in the department of education.
2. This new czar will need a secretary and a staff of about 8.
3. This new czar will need to travel the State a lot, so let’s give him a State automobile and expense account.
4. The staff of about 8 will need consultants to decide how to create this report card. You know…. what will be on it, how they will measure them, etc.
5. The staff of about 8 will need their own IT staff and hardware/software to calculate and store this data on every teacher.

Gee! I wonder what the total cost per year will be for this little card?

teacher&mom

December 29th, 2010
9:37 pm

There is an excellent Huffingtonpost article that addresses poverty. It is a good read. If Rep. Lindsey really wants to improve education in Georgia, he should take an honest look at how our high poverty rate affects our schools.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-klonsky-phd/the-year-they-begain-call_b_801931.html

The following comment on the article is excellent and very applicable to this discussion.
“As you aptly point out, poverty and its associated effects are not “excuses” but brutal reality. Until the administra tion shines a bright light on poverty, and develops effective programs where students of poverty receive intensive interventi ons, to include bringing parents into the classroom and their children’s learning, all of the other efforts championed by the admin are doomed to failure and a massive waste of time and money. This is not to condemn the efforts, per se, for many hold great promise. However, unless the PRIMARY factor is addressed, no amount of improvemen t in the other factors such as teacher effectiveness, curriculum , funding, and etcetera will matter.

Trite sayings, dismissive gestures, and shotgun strategies only serve to worsen our nation’s educationa l plight. We expect more from President Obama, Arne Duncan, and this administra tion. Activity is not progress. Honesty, focus, commitment , these will turn the tide.”

Mary Thomas

December 29th, 2010
11:07 pm

Please allow Teachers’ to Teach, and place less emphasis on test/Test/test, and more Test….this is not Teaching……

Wandless

December 29th, 2010
11:31 pm

These teacher evaluations are being used to deflect attention and responsibility for the dismal state of education in Georgia, and nationally. Research has shown that the biggest barrier to student success is indeed poverty. Children living in poverty do not have basic needs being met: health care, nutrition, personal safety and supportive home environments. No child left behind is a joke, because in America many children are left behind. It seems to me that the political and economic systems are not effectively meeting the needs of these children and their families. Deflect the problem on to teachers, and watch the decay as our schools continue to fester, and our schools decline even further. To the legislators that want to facilitate change, why don’t you look at the real issues and pass legislation to really effect change in the lives of these children? The alleged massive failure of teachers is the least of this country’s problems.

Fled

December 29th, 2010
11:33 pm

Representative Lindsey is a good example of his type. He wants to be praised for his so-called ideas and discounts immediately any reaction but praise as being a big “stream of consciousness” too complex for him to handle. Sorry, Rep. Linsdey, but you are going to learn soon, if you don’t already know, that negativism is an entirely appropriate response to people like you.

As I read the long list of things that he wants to “accomplish,” I could not help but think that he represents to worst of us. He brings to mind two lines from Yeats, though I doubt if he knows who Yeats is. Obviously, he has never been in a classroom and has no idea of that which he speaks. But for $17K a year, filled with delusions of grandeur, he is coming in as a saviour to rescue us from ourselves. Unfortunately for Rep. Lindsey, such things only occur in low-budget movies, you know, the kind that Ronald Reagan starred in.

I do agree that the status quo is unacceptable. I mean, the way that republicans always think they know the answers and, in spite of their overwhelming intellectual deficits, want to tell us what we must do and how we must do it—and then to hold us responsible for the inevitable and ugly failure of their plans.

Georgia is already bleeding teachers. Where I work, and we have teachers from all over the world, the largest single group is from Georgia. These are fine people and fine teachers the type who really make a difference in the classroom. Without exception, every one of these fine people is disgusted by people like Rep. Lindsey and his/their deficient approach to education. We voted with our feet, and we have no confidence in you and your fellow republicans.

You are the unacceptable status quo, not us.

d

December 30th, 2010
12:10 am

Just got my EOCT scores…. 63% passed. Not thrilled, but I guess not too bad when you consider the fact that between the 64 students I have on my roster for the 3 classes I taught last semester, I had a combined 564 absences (and really since this is a block schedule, that would be the equivalent of over 1,100 days). I’m just waiting on the email ordering me to professional development since I must be such a horrible teacher.

d

December 30th, 2010
12:11 am

Oh, and of course, I have to take the state’s word that the test really covers the GPS since I will likely lose my certificate if I look at the test itself. Gotta love giving an assessment that I will never be allowed to see!

d

December 30th, 2010
12:15 am

I have a proposal (and this isn’t sarcasm here). I wonder if a public display of any employee’s evaluation would pass Constitutional muster if we’re dealing with just one particular profession. So therefore, I suggest that the “report card” bill order that every employee evaluation given to anyone in this state – in public or private industry – be published. I should be able to know if my cashier at Home Depot is performing his or her job accurately and if there has been a past issue with his or her customer service, I can make sure to select a different register to go to.

Teacher4ever

December 30th, 2010
6:32 am

The New York and LA cases confuse the issue. No one in Georgia is stating that teacher evaluations are going to be public. By bringing up these cases, you are adding extra heat to an already controversial subject.
Currently, we have a system of teacher evaluation that is almost completely subjective. Adding an objective component could improve the evaluation process. I don’t want to be evaluated completely on someone’s opinion. If my boss doesn’t have objective criteria to evaluate me, I bring my own data into the evaluation meeting. The days of teachers closing their doors and teaching what they want and being evaluated on a couple of 15 minute classroom inspections is over. Our schools are broken, we need to have new ways of improving classrooms. the value added model won’t solve all of our problems, but could help us find out where to make improvements.

s2k

December 30th, 2010
8:04 am

Forget schools needing more money. Yes, we need to be funded, and yes, it could always be funded more. But it isn’t.

Forget blaming parents. Yes, parents should be teaching their kids morals, values, the alphabet, etc. and yes, I’d venture to say the majority of parents do.

Here’s the argument, guys: I REFUSE to be “held accountable” for the hormonal vagaries of adolescents.

They’re going through a breakup and they come to class crying – they don’t care about the test that’s going to affect my income.

Their parents are divorcing – their minds are on who they’re going to live with, after – they could not care any less about the test that’s going to “prove” I’m an effective teacher, which will then be published in the newspaper for the world to see.

I’ve had a kid miss the final exam because he was in YDC – so of course he never took the final, and of course he was still on my register, so OF COURSE he counted to my failure rate. And there was no place on my “effectiveness form” where I could indicate WHY this particular kid failed the final.

I’ve had kids Christmas tree the final because they had an A in the course, and because the final is weighted so lightly, failing the final would not impact his A. But failing the final counts against ME. I don’t get an A, let alone even get to be in on the conversation with the BOE suggesting we make final exams actually count for something other than moonbeams and world peace.

Let’s talk about THIS aspect of any “teacher effectiveness” measures, shall we? That when you get right down to it, holding teachers accountable for the test scores of their students is akin to rating doctors based on the health of their patients.

justbrowsing

December 30th, 2010
8:04 am

@Teacher4ever- my hope is that something of this nature is not made public. It is interesting though- the thought that the data might refute what someone would choose to present about a teacher. It could be the lifesaver that many need.

Peter Smagorinsky

December 30th, 2010
8:09 am

Yet another highly contentious education issue, which I suppose is redundant (sorry for the fancy words, Dr. No).

The Athens paper ran an editorial this morning about giving parents a role in teacher evaluations: http://www.onlineathens.com/stories/123010/opi_763261692.shtml

The ABH editorial board is in favor of this proposal as a way to involve parents in the conduct of their kids’ education. I’m sure that grade inflation would reach new heights under this plan, since hard-nosed teachers would issue low grades, get low rankings, and then be perceived as bad teachers.

On the other hand, it’s probably no worse than determining merit by looking solely at test scores.

Teacher for Life

December 30th, 2010
8:12 am

Did anyone know who Representative Lindsey was before he said something about Teacher Report Cards? @ d…checking on constitutionality of it now. There is something here that runs counter to our laws. This grading of people in only one profession for all to see. Got one lawyer on it … Believe me, we are smart; we are invincible, we are “Teachers”…they will not make us grovel on the ground if I can help it. Finally gave me something to do, my school is boring the mess out of me. Scripted learning is for robots… Back to the subject at hand! Thank you Representative Lindsey! I get to really steep myself in research and sharpen my fighting tools!

I belong to an old and honorable profession. I studied 4 additional years after college to prepare for this profession. I will not let people who are clueless about how teaching calls us to dishonor this profession. My students deserve an intelligent and capable professional who is committed to turning on that light bulb for each child. Accountability is multi-faceted and is not the sole domain of the teacher. We are not the sole influence on a child. If we really were, this entire conversation would be moot, now wouldn’t it?

Test scores are test scores. After a hundred years of public education in America, it does not take a rocket scientist to confirm what we already know.

Teacher for Life

December 30th, 2010
8:21 am

Did anyone know who Representative Lindsey was before he said something about Teacher Report Cards? @ d…checking on constitutionality of it now. There is something here that runs counter to our laws. This grading of people in only one profession for all to see. Got one lawyer on it … Believe me, we are smart; we are invincible, we are “Teachers”…they will not make us grovel on the ground if I can help it. Finally gave me something to do, my school is boring the mess out of me. Scripted learning is for robots… Back to the subject at hand! Thank you Representative Lindsey! I get to really steep myself in research and sharpen my fighting tools!

I belong to an old and honorable profession. I studied 4 additional years after college to prepare for this profession. I will not let people who are clueless about how teaching calls us to dishonor this profession. My students deserve an intelligent and capable professional who is committed to turning on that light bulb for each child. Accountability is multi-faceted and is not the sole domain of the teacher. We are not the sole influence on a child. If we really were, this entire conversation would be moot, now wouldn’t it?

Test scores are test scores. After a hundred years of public education in America, it does not take a rocket scientist to confirm what we already know about testing children. You can’t measure a teacher by a child’s test score. You can only measure the child.

For all of you who had that teacher who forced you to work or who couldn’t control the class because they had too many kids with no home training, get a life. You can make a difference in your child’s education if you remain involved.

And finally, no matter what you do be they Report Cards, Teacher Police, mandatory 50 hour weeks for teachers, Parent Oversight Committees, …you will never have the 100% perfect teaching force you seek. You are human and so are we.

Dr NO

December 30th, 2010
9:00 am

LOL…what a diatribe…LOL.

You GO GIRL!

Dr. Craig Spinks /Augusta

December 30th, 2010
9:07 am

Teacher and Mom, I agree that we must have interventions which are effective in helping kids from poverty succeed in school. Unfortunately, what we have is a history of well-intentioned interventions whose successes, I fear, are suspect. What are we doing to insure that these interventions actually improve the academic and social skills of the kids who participate in them? Are these interventions evaluated by disinterested, out-of-state entities with appropriate expertise? Is renewed funding denied to those interventions with unproven success in helping poor kids learn? Have many of these well-intentioned interventions contribute to the self-perpetuating educracy problem rather than contribute to a solution to the problem of under-performance among poorer kids?

S2K, teacher accountability without student accountability is fatuous. Students need to be held accountable for their learning. Let’s make final exam and standardized test scores count for a lot more of the students’ grades than these scores now do. By the way, does 60 continue to be the lowest grade that can be written on a student report card?

Dr. Craig Spinks /Augusta

December 30th, 2010
9:12 am

“(C)ontribute” to “contributed” in both places in line 10 above.

Dr NO

December 30th, 2010
9:13 am

The only way to eleviate the poverty issue is to take these kids out of poverty via moving them to an orphanage and getting them away from their sorry parents.

Yes some might *gasp* at the idea, however, these sorry, lazy parents who enjoy living in poverty are a true detriment to their own offspring.

These young childrens minds need to be changed, they need some kind of constant in their life and a code or morals/ethics that their parents are unwilling to give them.

Eliminate the dead head parents then cull out the sub-par teachers and these children may stand half a chance. One can toss more dollars down the bottomless pit but it will do no good. These childrens entire environment needs changing and if that means taking them from their parents then thats one step in the right direction.

Dr. Craig Spinks /Augusta

December 30th, 2010
9:17 am

Teacher for life, kids need their parents to be involved in their educations. I’d suggest that parental involvement extend to regular visits to kids’ classrooms during the instructional day rather than being limited to PTA meetings, ball games, Christmas programs and other more traditional means of involvement.

Teacher for Life

December 30th, 2010
9:48 am

You are absolutely correct Dr. Spinks.

teacher&mom

December 30th, 2010
9:49 am

@Dr. Spinks — ” Unfortunately, what we have is a history of well-intentioned interventions whose successes, I fear, are suspect”

I agree. A few years ago, the school where I worked decided to apply for a grant to address the issue of educating students from poverty. We were awarded the grant and worked closely with the Ruby Payne folks to implement home visits, school-wide interventions, identifying giftedness in poverty, etc. It was working, but closing the achievement gap is tedious and exhausting. The phrase “two steps forward and three steps back” comes to mind. We were making steady but slow progress. Then the letter arrived notifying us that all grant funds had been eliminated. They pulled the rug out from under us and never looked back.

I often use analogies in my classroom. Here’s one for our current situation:
A teacher, a politician, and a CEO are playing cards. Each round the teacher is given fewer and fewer cards, yet expected to “win” the round.

If s/he loses the round, they are removed from the game.

If the teacher complains, the politician remarks, “the “status quo” is not acceptable.”

The CEO tells him/her to “get a job in the real world.”

Then the CEO and politician look at each other and smirk about school of education graduates and bottom third SAT scores. *Wink, wink*

” Hand us another card. No, give us two cards this time. We have every confidence in your ability to perform.”

What's really going on

December 30th, 2010
9:57 am

To @HS Public Teacher… and other highly competent educators on this blog who are at your wit’s end with the direction that education is heading in GA and the nation quite frankly. I’d challenge anyone to go to the major newspaper of pretty much any medium to large city and NOT find an education blog that is heated over some asinine curriculum mandate or any number of other issues. So although there’s grass on the other side of the fence, it definitely isn’t always greener. And when you look at the source of so many reforms, the national momentum, and dollars (government and private) behind them, it’s inevitable that they will eventually come up in just about every public school system in the nation. With last year’s RIFs due to budget cuts (another major cluster in most school districts…) we lost many good teachers, some of which were on this blog posting about plans to leave to teach in other countries. There seemed to be just as many educators out there who were essentially saying “been there, done that” and now I am back teaching in the US somewhere. It’s every teachers own prerogative to take whatever action is needed in order to feel secure, and teach in an environment that you feel respects you as a professional. However, moving to another state or district to escape bad decisions seems like a zero-sum game. No matter where you go, it seems that you’re one Bad Administrator, or influential politician with a focus on Education away from another decision that you may take issue with.

That said… I’ve a different proposal for you all that will allow you to remain in the profession in GA, perhaps in a more palatable teaching setting than you are currently in. Politics and rhetoric aside… why don’t you all organize and come together to set up charter schools and show the bureaucrats how it’s done when competent teachers have a little autonomy to do things that you feel actually make sense! Of course you will still have to have the kids take CRCTs annually, but all the other ridiculous tests, meeting to talk about meetings, useless professional development and the like can completely go away for you, and what’s more you can be in control. Of course charters will bring on other issues, largely financial, but they are not insurmountable especially if you have the right people on your team that can help secure outside funding. Thoughts…? Any takers?

teacher&mom

December 30th, 2010
10:16 am

May I add that I have yet to meet a teacher that does not take their CRCT/EOCT results seriously. There seems to be an assumption that teachers could care less about the results and the test results are not discussed during annual evaluations.

teacher&mom

December 30th, 2010
10:18 am

@Peter S. – I read the article and I agree that parents should have a voice. I’ve had experience with parent surveys. They can actually be a powerful tool along with opening the classroom doors for visits. I’ve seen parents come in for visits and notice the lack of supplies, students having to share materials, PE classes with 50+ students, etc. Those same parents went home and made a few phone calls to board members. We actually had a para pro hired mid-year to help reduce the teacher/student ratio in one class as a direct result of a parent visitation day.

Savvy teachers will align with parents to make needed changes. Trust me, it works.

Nikole

December 30th, 2010
10:44 am

@ What’s really going on
December 30th, 2010
9:57 am
Teacher-Led schools! That is my dream that I hope to fulfill one day. As a 5th year teacher, I think I need a bit more experience under my belt.

oldtimer

December 30th, 2010
10:48 am

Ok…put all the kids in group homes, let the “state” raise and feed them. Remove parents…Maybe then things will improve..LOL

Retired Teacher 2

December 30th, 2010
10:57 am

The quality of the teacher is the primary factor in student success and achievement. We as educators can blame everyone else but the research is clear. It’s not money; it’s not parents, but us! The students with money and supportive parents can make it without us. Most students from “good homes” (as we call them in the teachers” lounges) would pass the EOCT, GHSGT and CRCT if they were administered as a pre-test. If there was value added based on progress, the good teachers should run to low SES situations; unless teachers begin telling students to “Christmas Tree” the pre-test and basically sabotage these efforts.

Retired Teacher 2

December 30th, 2010
11:02 am

I’m waiting on my colleagues to rip me a new one!!!! However, the evidence is on my side.

Echo

December 30th, 2010
11:21 am

@ retired teacher, cite your sources. For every bit or “research” you find I can find 3 that say parent and home life are the biggest factors in a child’s academic success. Good teachers are important and bad teachers do a lot of damage. One of the problems I always see with “educational research” is the “researchers” don’t know how to do research or design a valid study.

ScienceTeacher671

December 30th, 2010
11:23 am

@Retired Teacher 2: The quality of the teacher is the primary factor in student success and achievement. We as educators can blame everyone else but the research is clear. It’s not money; it’s not parents, but us! The students with money and supportive parents can make it without us.

Can you not see that your two points are contradictory? The primary factors in student success are family structure and socio-economic status – you just said so yourself! :-)

HS Math Teacher

December 30th, 2010
11:29 am

Retired Teacher 2: I don’t have a problem with being evaluated “objectively” (using a pre & post test) by my boss, the principal; however, I don’t want my results posted on the internet for all to see for a year, until the next report comes out. If a parent has a kid in the school, and wants to see the teacher’s rating, then fine, let them see it. Just don’t hang it out on the laundry line. The only purpose this proposed measure can serve is to motivate by fear.

Every school’s standardized test performance is already on the internet (gaosa.com), and the parents in the community know who the teachers are that teach the subjects (at my small school, it’s readily apparent who did what).

Sure, a good teacher can make a big difference in a child’s education; however, a teacher has a right to certain level of privacy. I don’t care if my results were stellar every year; I still don’t think everyone in the world ought to be able to click on the internet, and see my personnel file.

Lastly, I’ll confess that if I were RETIRED, I wouldn’t care as much.

FirstYearTeacher

December 30th, 2010
11:45 am

As a first year teacher, I feel completely overwhelmed. As a student teacher I was pretty sure I could change the world. “Who cares about all the paperwork, I will focus on changing lives!” It only took about a day for me to figure out that I was wrong.

When am I supposed to teach? Maybe if I didn’t have to document the fact that I am doing what I say I’m doing I could teach. Or maybe if I only had 28 students instead of 29! Maybe if I had more than 45 minutes of planning….maybe if I didn’t have old textbooks that don’t even correlate to the mandated standards I have to teach. Maybe if I had a curriculum to go with the standards. Maybe if I had parents who actually disciplined their children. Maybe if students actually had consequences! Maybe…if I didn’t have a student who tells me “no” when I ask him to try. Maybe someone could even pay me for all the papers I’m grading and lessons I’m planning at night and on the weekends, even over my coveted Christmas “Break”. Thank heaven I have an administration that supports me, students who do try, and teachers who help me or I wouldn’t have survived the first semester!

The sad thing is, I’m a good teacher. I am willing to do all these things with the small hope that maybe at least one student will be positively affected. I am telling you right now, if you want to grade me, please help me first!! I don’t know how, some previous suggestions like holding students or parents accountable might work. Something! All I know is, if something doesn’t change, it won’t be only the “report cards” that send me (and every other teacher in it for the right reasons) away. It will be the fact that I get criticized when I am trying to help. It’s not that I don’t need to be held accountable or even that I care if the public knows…the bottom line is that it is disrespectful. I receive that everyday from students, now I know why they think it is okay. A previous comment summed it up best, “If you’re going to spray the roaches with roach spray, don’t spray everyone in the kitchen”.

I would say more but I have to get back to work!

Dr NO

December 30th, 2010
11:48 am

If you are a first year teacher how do you know you are a good teacher? The two dont necessarily go hand in hand.

teacher&mom

December 30th, 2010
12:37 pm

http://www.npr.org/2010/12/29/132416889/chinese-top-in-tests-but-still-have-lots-to-learn?sc=emaf

China has emphasized testing long before NCLB. I find it interesting that the Chinese are beginning to see the damage standardized testing creates.

“As long as the gaokao scores are what get you, a student, into college — and those are the scores that also rank the high schools — parents and principals and teachers can’t afford to really experiment with a kind of learning that encourages independent thinking, and perhaps, learning from mistakes,” she says.”

Institute a teacher report card system, and you will discourage experimentation with classroom learning that encourages independent thinking. Have we not learned anything from NCLB?

Peter Smagorinsky

December 30th, 2010
12:48 pm

@Echo (”One of the problems I always see with “educational research” is the “researchers” don’t know how to do research or design a valid study.”): That’s a pretty remarkable claim. The American Educational Research Association has about 25,000 members. Are you really saying that you have read the research that all have conducted and so can make such a sweeping claim? What is your own background in knowing “how to do research or design a valid study”? Please help us understand your knowledge of educational research in its entirety so that we can act responsibly on your claim.

teacher&mom

December 30th, 2010
12:50 pm

http://www.npr.org/2010/12/29/132408943/georgia-schools-offer-lesson-in-living-with-cutbacks

Rep. Lindsey….let’s say your teacher report card system is in place. Who is at fault if Franklin County experiences a dip in test scores due to the budget crises? Should we blame the teachers of Franklin Co. for the actions (or inactions) of the GA legislators? Are they to blame? Would you in good conscious give them a failing grade it their students test scores decline? Would you accuse them of maintaining the “status quo” or using demographics as an excuse?

I do not teach in Franklin County but I suspect this is a hard year for the teachers, students, administrators, and parents. I imagine the longer school days are difficult and the loss of 20 instructional days has many teachers wondering if they can adequately cover all standards by April. I bet they are trying their best to minimize the negatives and capitalize on the positives.

Can you imagine how the teachers in Franklin County would feel if at the end of this school year, they received a lower grade on their teacher report card?

Lisa B.

December 30th, 2010
12:55 pm

I hope Rep. Lindsey reads this blog. Some great ideas have been posted. I especially like the idea that students should have to pay for classes they repeat :-)

Lisa B.

December 30th, 2010
1:05 pm

Teacher&Mom, numerous Georgia schools systems cut days from the academic calendar this year to save money. My system lopped off 20 days of instruction, and we are all concerned that the few additional minutes added to each class will not make up the missed days. As you pointed out, we are aworried. We worry that student achievement will drop as a result of the cuts, and that teachers will be held accountable for not being able to perform at the same level with a month less of instructional time. We worry the shortened calendar will hurt the students, especially the youngest.

Lisa B.

December 30th, 2010
1:31 pm

Developing a fair way to “rate” or “compare” teachers is daunting. The teachers and admin I work with have discussed this topic at length, and there are many problems. It is unfair to use test scores alone, because the students come to us with varying abilities. Also, not all teachers teach tested subjects, or tested students.

How are PE, Art and Music teachers rated? New laws state that PE teachers have to maintain fitness folders on students. They weigh students and note BMI at the beginning of the year, then weigh and note BMI at the end of the year. During the year, PE teachers teach students the importance of healthy diet and exercise and instruct them to implement those practices at home. PE teachers can be rated by the results. After all, reading and math teachers have always expected kids to read and practice math facts at home, so this is fair, right? (Sarcasm intended).

The CRCT is not a fair way to rate teachers, because, for example, on the 4th grade math test, students need 34 out of 60 questions correct to pass. 5th grade students need 30. 7th grade students must have 29 out of 60 correct answers to pass the math CRCT, while 8th grade students have to have 32 out of 60 on a substantially more difficult test. As a result, CRCT math scores drop in 5th and 8th grades, (where most schools put their strongest teachers because these are benchmark years when students are required to pass for promotion). Should those teachers receive lower ratings because student test scores drop in those grades?

So if we can’t use the CRCT, can we develop some sort of pre and posttest system to measure growth during the school year? We added those tests this year. A couple of problems have already arisen. Obviously, the pre and posttests must test the entire curriculum to be taught in the subject during the year. That means most students will “fail” the pretest. That means it would be unfair to use the score as a grade, which means many of the students will not bother to try or even take the test. For example, an 11th grade student I know scored 9% on his Physics pretest. I was astonished, since he’s good in science, and I thought he had a good bit of previous knowledge about the content. When I questioned him, he said the test didn’t count for a grade, so many students simply bubbled in random answers. I expect the boy’s posttest at the end of the year will show massive improvement, unless that test is not for a grade either. Students will take seriously the end-of-course test, finals, etc., but many will not waste their time with work that is not for a grade. Middle school kids think the same way. So what good are the pre and posttests if the students don’t bother to try? What use is the data?

I also hear about students who collectively chose to bomb posttests to hurt a particular teacher. After all, we give the kids lots of power when tests are used to grade the teachers rather than the students.

ScienceTeacher671

December 30th, 2010
2:14 pm

What really bothers me is that legislators tend to say, “Here are the solutions, but I am going to seek teacher input before implementing them,” and then berate teachers if they disagree, rather than saying, “Here are the problems, teachers, what can we do to fix them?” which is what they would do if they really cared what teachers think and valued their input.

Of course, when the legislators start with the assumption that teachers are the problem, what else can we expect?

Dr. Craig Spinks /Augusta

December 30th, 2010
2:21 pm

First-year teacher, hang in there. Have you developed a friendship with a more experienced faculty member who shares your commitment?

Nikole

December 30th, 2010
2:38 pm

My letter to Rep. Lindsay, Morgan and Millar will include the following:
I will volunteer to help develop a public teacher’s report card. This report card should include the following:
1.School demographics (title 1, free-reduced %, ESOL %, etc.)
2.Professional development the teacher participated in- On another note, I would suggest that lawmakers target this area as a means of improving achievement. Many teachers at my school would welcome prof. dev. on teaching science, however, we keep getting sessions on word walls or graphic organizers, things we already do.
3. Avg. time “clocked in”
4. Avg pre/post test scores for each student, showing the disparity among where they started.
5. Next to each of these students’ scores should be the % of parent conferences or phone conferences their parent participated in.
6. # of disciplinary actions for each of these students
7. current graduate classes or majors of teachers w/ advanced degrees
8. committees chaired and served on
9. % of students in the class eligible for EIP services- eligible, not just those being served. There is a limit on the # that can be served at one time.
10. % of students in Tiers of Intervention
11. extracurricular activities and clubs teachers participate in

Any more suggestions of things I should add to my list before drafting my email?

Dr. Craig Spinks /Augusta

December 30th, 2010
2:55 pm

Lisa B.,

Students should receive the report card grades they earn, no matter how bad. Is the 60 minimum report card grade still in effect? Students should not earn promotion or credit until they earn acceptable scores on appropriate standardized measures. Kids whose standardized test scores suggest that they haven’t mastered given content don’t need to be promoted to the next grade or sequential course where mastery of that content is needed. We have more than enough dropouts and high school graduates who can’t read, figure, or write at levels required for adult living. We don’t need to add to their numbers.

Science Teacher 671, surely we can find some receptive ears among the scores of state legislators and their aides. Don’t give up.

ScienceTeacher671

December 30th, 2010
2:57 pm

Nikole, why should they spend money the state doesn’t have developing teacher report cards when education is already dramatically underfunded?

Why should they spend money the state doesn’t have developing teacher report cards when they’ve defunded the NBCT program, which has research backing its effectiveness?

Why should they spend money the state doesn’t have developing a teacher report card when we don’t have a surplus of teachers to replace “incompetent” teachers if we identify them?

Why should they spend money the state doesn’t have developing a teacher report card when a major part of the problem now is that our testing standards are so terrribly low, and students who can’t meet even those subminimal standards are promoted anyway?

I could go on, but perhaps I’ve made my point?

Nikole

December 30th, 2010
3:03 pm

@ Science Teacher—I absolutely agree, and I would bet money that this report card never happens due to money. If the report included all of the things I mentioned, legislators would have to dedicate money to something other than blaming teachers. Certain patterns and themes would emerge that they would have to deal with, and we both know they don’t really want to invest money into issues that truly impact achievement.

teacher&mom

December 30th, 2010
3:42 pm

@ST 671. Your 2:14 post is right on the money. BTW – Lindsey and the Morgans will have a conference call today with Sen. Johnson (CO) for ideas about how to get educators on board.

@Nikole – I’m not so sure money will stop them. They’ll either re-direct funds or let local systems pick up the tab. Based on the past 8 years, they really have no qualms about gutting the education budget.

I love teaching. I hate what it is becoming.

December 30th, 2010
4:07 pm

Nikole,

To your list you might add:

Number of Gifted students identified in the class
Number of ESOL/ELL students in the class
Number of Inclusion children in the class

I wrote my own letter of comment which turned out to be 11 pages, and still did not include everything I wished to say. :)

What's really going on

December 30th, 2010
4:13 pm

Dr. Craig Spinks /Augusta

December 30th, 2010
4:28 pm

ESSENTIAL QUESTION: Has any competent, disinterested organization determined that use of any type of teacher report card has been linked to statistically significant and educationally substantial improvements in student learning?

ScienceTeacher671

December 30th, 2010
6:46 pm

@Dr. Craig Spinks, I wish we could get our teachers’ organizations to take a pro-active approach to such legislation during the upcoming session. Perhaps they’ve made plans to do so already, but it would be nice if they’d let the membership know if so.

@Nikole, I get your point. No, I don’t think they want to invest money into things that would really impact achievement, and I do think they want as many excuses as possible to make teachers into the boogeymen of education.

teacher&mom

December 30th, 2010
6:56 pm

Well Dr. Spinks….I have spent an entire afternoon searching for research linking teacher report cards to student achievement levels. If it is out there, I can’t find it. So I switched gears and started to look at VAA (Value-added assessments). Basically, what Rep. Lindsey is proposing is a VAA in the form of a publicized report card.

The U.S. Department of Education (http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pubs/20104004/) released a study this past summer that stated: “The results suggest that policymakers must carefully consider likely system error rates when using value-added estimates to make high-stakes decisions regarding educators.”

Another article (http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=data_driven_education) had this to say about the LA Times release of teacher VAAs and the dangers of using VAAs in high stakes evaluations.

“A recent report from the Economic Policy Institute reveals that VAA results vary widely depending on the methodology used and produce inconsistent results from year to year. One study found that, even when using the same methods, a third of teachers ranked in the top 20 percent one year dropped to the bottom 40 percent the next. Scholars also routinely point out that these models apply to idealized circumstances in which students are randomly assigned to classrooms and students at all levels learn at the same pace. Because these kinks still need to be ironed out, various scholarly organizations — including the National Academy of Sciences and even the RAND Corporation — have said VAAs shouldn’t be used as the sole, or even the primary, tool for evaluating teachers.”

Do you think Rep. Lindsey and the Morgans will proceed with caution?

Private School Guy

December 30th, 2010
7:00 pm

First of all teachers do not draw a paycheck from the state they are paid by the local school systems( a portion of the money comes from the state but this complicates the matter). So can the states tell the local systems who needs to be fired? If police officers were rated would the state be able to do the same thing with local cops? What about firemen, road construction crews etc. How would this effects teachers in Georgia’s private schools? They are certified by the state PSC but would not or could not be graded. It looks like the attorneys and professional groups will have a field day with this plan.

Ed Johnson

December 30th, 2010
10:50 pm

@teacherandmon (“BTW – Lindsey and the Morgans will have a conference call today with Sen. Johnson (CO) for ideas about how to get educators on board.”):

Indeed, true to their nature, Lindsey and Morgan are concerned “about how to get educators on board.” Again, http://tinyurl.com/2v3kzs9.

Lindsey’s and Morgan’s behavior is symptomatic of the recurrence of a well-known dynamic: paint some group of people the losers, a source of society’s ills, and the object of contempt and ridicule. Their wanting to get educators on board is the same dynamic as, say, Hitler and the Nazi wanting to “get Jews on board.”

Nonetheless, Lindsey’s and Morgan’s behavior offers teachers the moral high ground. Teachers, take it!!!

ScienceTeacher671

December 30th, 2010
10:53 pm

I still think the biggest problems are social promotion and failure to test students who have been in “tiers” for up to a decade…but I did find data submitted by the GaDOE showing that 2.3% of Georgia teachers in core classes are not “highly qualified”. (Reference, see http://www2.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/consolidated/sy08-09part1/ga.pdf starting on page 43.)

A couple of caveats:

(1) These figures only show the number of teachers who aren’t considered “highly qualified”. Many teachers on provisional certificates are counted as “highly qualified” as long as they are working toward full renewable certificates, but they may not have completed all coursework or they may be teaching out of field. So far I haven’t been able to find data to show how many teachers are provisionally certified.

(2) These figures are from 2008-2009 school year, which is before furloughs, paycuts, larger class sizes, and cutting the number of days in the school year. It could be that since so many teachers were let go from some systems, there’s not as much need now to hire unqualified teachers, but I do know that our system has at least math, science, and special ed teachers on provisional certificates.

Some teachers on provisional certificates are great. Others don’t last long. My point is simply that systems are not supposed to hire uncertified teachers if they can find certified teachers, so obviously in Georgia we have a shortage of certified teachers.

If you have a shortage of certified teachers, and you’re worried about the quality of teachers, paycuts and furlough days would seem to be counterproductive, would they not? And what point would “teacher report cards” serve?

Teachers Must Take A Stand

December 31st, 2010
12:38 am

There are several issues that need to be addressed when considering reforms to the educational system in the state of Georgia:

1. There should be mandate set in motion that requires Rep. Lindsey and all members of the state legislature to become substitute teachers for approximately one month before continuing this dialogue on education. They should do so at the elementary, middle, and high schools levels. It has been my experience that one should never make judgments about another unless they’ve walked in that person’s shoes. So, in order to make fair and accurate decisions about the state of education, one should be very familiar with what goes on in the day in the life of a teacher.

2. The bullying mentality levied against teachers needs to stop! When we have continued discourse about illuminating bullying in the schools, that conversation should include teachers as well. So now, it appears that Rep. Lindsey and the state legislature get to join in with school administrator to continue this dreadful reign of bullying against teachers in the state of GA. There are no “true” unions here in our state to protect teachers’ rights. As a result thereof, I have never seen so many unhappy, educated, and brow beaten individuals in my life! I’ve relocated to GA from a state that has a strong union. Teacher morale is much higher where I am from as we felt some level of comfort knowing that our rights were protected. My jaw drops on a continuous basis as I watch administrators throw their weight around by unjustifiably bullying teachers. If you have an opinion, question the status quo or refuse to go along an administrator’s program, you become a target. How productive is that? I believe that happy individuals are more productive, especially when they are treated with respect and dignity, something that is lacking here in GA. You cannot beat productivity out of anyone! A teacher report card will do nothing more than further damage an already fragile teacher morale.

3. All teachers’ voices need to be heard! We are the ones down in the trenches fighting for education and are the true experts when it comes to education. If Rep. Lindsey really wants to see effective educational reform, he needs to push for a united front lead by teachers. That united front should to include all of the stakeholders in education (educators, politicians, school board members, parents, students, local business owners, community groups and leaders, professional organizations, youth organizations, and the media).

4. Teachers need to be provided with the necessary tools/resources that allow them assist student who come to school with an array of social issues/baggage (there are so many children with personal issues). We need to teach the whole child. But, it is quite difficult to do so when we are required to dig through the layers of issues that a child may be experiencing. We should consider Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs when educating children. Basic needs should be met before we can expect the learning process to begin. These basic needs should be met at home, so parents take responsibility!
.
Finally, a report card for teachers is not the answer to improving education and is utterly ridiculous! I am tired of being a scapegoat for all the ills in education as a result of many circumstances beyond my control! “United we stand, divided we fall!!” We are in crises mode, so let’s all come together and stop the finger pointing.

You've got to be kidding!

December 31st, 2010
6:08 am

@ Teachers Must Take A Stand
December 31st, 2010
12:38 am

You make too much sense. Unfortunately, attitudes are the hardest to change. Most of Georgia’s teachers have been beaten into submission and no one in GA believes me when I tell them it is much better in northern states with unions!

teacher&mom

December 31st, 2010
8:36 am

@Ed Johnson – You are correct. I have found that the moral high road works for me…at least it allows me to sleep at night and hold my head up high the next day without fear of being exposed for “twisting the truth” or stabbing folks in the back.

@ST671 – Isn’t it interesting that the data you seek is either well hidden or nonexistent? Students in a Title I school are supposed to be notified by the school if their classroom teacher is not highly qualified. Parents are given the option of asking for a different teacher. I once got “the letter” about three weeks before the end of the semester.

I propose that every teacher contact their local representative. Sen. Lindsey and the Morgans will need every single vote they can garner for this bill. Divide and conquer.

Educate your representative with information about VAA’s and the data that indicates they are not adequate measures for high-stake decisions (such as a PUBLICIZED teacher report card). Make sure you include your sources.

Point out to your legislature how the educational budget for the past 8 years has affected you and your students. When was the last time you were able to purchase supplemental learning materials? When was the last time the librarian was able to purchase books, DVD’s, etc.? What is the computer/student ratio in your building? Give them numbers and figures. It is hard to argue against the fact that I have six working microscopes for 175 students or my annual budget for lab supplies has been less than $500 for the entire department. Can they support giving our technology teacher a failing grade when she has 28 computers and 35 students in the class?

List the number of teachers in your building that are not highly-qualified. If your school happens to have a large number of alternatively certified teachers who teach for a few years and then leave, make note of that. If your school has seen a high number of early retirements of teachers leaving the profession, tell your representative.

Break down your parent conferences. If you work at a school where parents consistently do not show up for conferences, take the time to compile the data. Better yet, put it in an excel file and create data tables.

I understand that one teacher can not compile all of the above information on his/her own. When you go back to work next week, talk with your fellow teachers, organize, and divide up the tasks. Then gather all the information into a document and send it to your representative. Better yet, invite your representative to lunch in the school cafeteria and give him/her the report.

Think about it.

Dr. Craig Spinks /Augusta

December 31st, 2010
9:15 am

Teachers Must Take a Stand,

In item 1, you mentioned something that triggered a memory. Over 10 years ago, Rep. Ben Harbin of Columbia County sponsored a bill requiring each administrator to spend 5 days per year in the classroom. The measure was later tweaked without Harbin’s knowledge to allow administrators to complete professional development courses in lieu of spending time in the classroom. Two rhetorical questions: (1) Who tweaked the bill? (2) Why was it tweaked? The answers from a retired 31-year teacher: (1) the administrators’ lobbyists and (2) admins who didn’t want to experience the student disrespect, disruption and apathy toward learning which they knew characterized (and still characterizes) too many of our public school classrooms.

By the way, what are GAE and PAGE lobbyists doing to improve learning conditions for students and working conditions for teachers?

ScienceTeacher671

December 31st, 2010
10:20 am

Teacher&mom, funny you should mention the local representatives. Last year before the beginning of the legislative session, a teacher in a neighboring county organized a forum to discuss furlough issues, etc. with our local representatives. A state senator and 2 representatives were supposed to attend.

There was standing room only, with teachers from 3-4 counties, the superintendents from at least two counties, plus the local media – except that the state senator and one of the representatives didn’t show up!

Warm & fuzzy, eh?

Dr. Craig Spinks /Augusta

December 31st, 2010
11:18 am

ScienceTeacher 671, who was the legislator who did attend? Was he persuaded to work to resolve the issues teachers raised? Also, who were the legislators who didn’t attend? Individual teachers and TEACHER ORGANIZATIONS must support legislators who are sympathetic to improving learning/teaching conditions in GA and must oppose those legislators who are unsympathetic. Let’s start by naming on this blog the two legislators who didn’t show up at the forum mentioned above. Let’s continue by paying membership dues only to those teacher organizations which have demonstrated successes in obtaining better learning and working conditions in our schools. As Zell used to say, “Politics is simple: it’s about what I can do for you and what I can do to you.”

Happy Teacher

December 31st, 2010
11:34 am

Teachers: It’s all parents/administrations fault.
Parents/administration: It’s all teachers fault.

Couldn’t it be that both are right and that we need to start working as a team on this? Teacher report cards won’t be perfect, but they could easily be an exemplar of teamwork at a time when it is desperately needed.

And again, why are so many just willing to give up on “bad kids” and ready to stamp them as impossible to teach? They are the ones that it is MOST important we get through to. They are the ones we cannot give up on, yet so many declare them lost causes too easily.

teacher&mom

December 31st, 2010
11:34 am

@ST671— that is shameful. Their names should be publicized for all the same reasons they claim they have the right to publish our names with a grade beside it.

@Dr. Spinks – excellent advice.

My family visited Colonial Williamsburg a few years ago and this effort is just a modern day version of the public stocks, pillories, and whipping posts. Perhaps it would be cheaper to install public stocks on the courthouse steps and rotate “failing” public servants on display. I say this with a great deal of sarcasm but I swear, I do think there are folks out there who would relish the idea.

ScienceTeacher671

December 31st, 2010
11:48 am

Dr. Spinks, Rep. Al Williams is the legislator who attended, and seemed sympathetic to the issues raised by the educators and parents who were there. State Senator Earl “Buddy” Carter let organizers know he would not be coming 2-3 hours before the forum was to begin. Representative Ron Stephens was not even that courteous; he just didn’t show up.

http://beta.coastalcourier.com/archives/18765/ Archives telling that the event would occur. I can’t find any of the news articles that appeared after the event, but if you’ll scroll down here, there is a letter to the editor from the event organizer telling about the legislators who did not attend:
http://savannahnow.com/opinion/2010-01-09/letters-editor-saturday

teacher&mom

December 31st, 2010
11:52 am

@Happy Teacher — would you be content to receive a failing score and have that score published? What if you knew the current instrument being used to grade your teaching abilities is known to identify a teacher as superior one year and inferior the next?

Here’s the deal. We need to improve teacher evaluations. No doubt about it. VAA’s have merit because they take into account SES, class size, ESL, etc. However, even the supporters of VAA’s urge caution in using them in high-stakes situations. The data on VAA’s also indicate a minimum of three years of data is needed before assigning a score. Also, the data needs to be from pre-post tests, not once-a-year standardized tests. The CRCT’s and EOCT’s are not designed to support VAA’s.

If the state decides to implement pre/post assessments, the process of developing accurate tests will take a minimum of three or more years. Once VAA’s are implemented there should be at least three years of data collected before assigning the initial assessments to individual teachers. Then, in all fairness, the teachers and administrators should be given a two-three year time period to analyze their VAA’s before anything is released to the public. You are looking at a 10-year implementation period to develop a strong, better evaluation tool. Publishing scores too early in the process will not benefit anyone.

Please stop with the teacher vs parent soapbox. It isn’t all the parents’ fault. I don’t ride that bandwagon. It is non-productive. I do wish we would spend more time and effort on identifying best practices with our neediest students. This report card initiative will not identify best practices, in fact it may inhibit best practices because the teacher who receives a poor grade may resort to more test prep and more narrowing of the curriculum because it is a safety net that will ensure passing CRCT/EOCT scores.

I don’t give up on those bad kids. I teach those kids…quite successfully.

ScienceTeacher671

December 31st, 2010
12:02 pm

Happy Teacher, I ditto what teacher&mom says, and add that I am also successfully teaching “those kids”, but I could use some help I’m not getting. Instead it appears I’m being blamed for the students who don’t succeed.

I would like to know how our state plans to finance the development plan teacher&mom outlines when we apparently can’t even afford a full 180-day school year now.

In the meantime, I could do a much better job of teaching my students if the General Assembly would repeal that committee-promotion clause. My students do much better on the EOCT when they are able to read it.

Happy Teacher

December 31st, 2010
12:28 pm

I’d be fine with it because: “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.”

t&m and ST671, go back and read the comments of SO many teachers on this blog who only want to be evaluated if they have perfect kids in their class. It’s quite sad… If that’s not you, then great, but it is a large voice on this blog.

Dr. Craig Spinks /Augusta

December 31st, 2010
1:40 pm

Rep. Al Williams attended a teacher-sponsored legislative forum early this year in coastal GA.

Rep. Ron Stephens and Sen. Buddy Carter did not attend.

Let Tom Wommack at twommack@pageinc.org and Sandy Schwellinger at sandy.schwellinger@gae.org know how well your legislators listen to you and your colleagues.

ScienceTeacher671

December 31st, 2010
1:46 pm

HT, that’s not how I read the other teachers’ comments, and I suspect that you also read one of mine as negative when I asked if I would be rated lower on the report card, since I teach “at-risk” students, than the teacher at our school who teaches only honors students.

Because frankly, I don’t trust this legislature to actually go to the trouble and expense to measure anything but the post-test scores.

Old Timer Educator

December 31st, 2010
2:09 pm

I’ve been waiting to collect my thoughts on the subject before posting. Wasn’t sure if this blog or the previous one would be the best to post in, so I chose the latest one. I guess my opening question would be, what is the real motivation for these report cards? What will they accomplish? If this man has any thought that it will encourage teachers to work harder he, and those on his committee, have no clue what’s going on in the classrooms. I’m blessed to be a part of GCPS and I can tell you from personal observation that the teachers are already working themselves into an early grave. I’ve worked mainly with high, with a few middle, school teachers and in almost thirty years I’ve never seen a group that works harder, longer, and more enthusiastic than these men and women. I feel it pointless to insert a caveat but having read some of the previous posts, I guess it is necessary. No, all of the teachers aren’t perfect….and those have been documented, are going through the remedial process, and will either have to improve or will be asked to leave. If there are schools where this process if not working, then that is the responsibility of the administration and that’s where the focus should be. But let’s get to the basic problem here. It was stated in the article that a large percentage of students were dropping out and it was unacceptable. Before we can enter a discussion about teacher report cards, we need more information. What happened to these students? Did they join Job Core? Did they get a GED? Are they now a part of the work force? Are they on welfare or in jail? It is so easy to get caught up in the raw data, but it’s not the complete story. I’d like to suggest to our politicians that high school as we have now is not the answer for everyone. I do not believe it is a failure of the schools, I believe it is a failure of the DOE and the system we have in place. You want other suggestions – here are some: offer other alternatives to high school completion. Vocational training, apprenticeships, on-the-job training, and tech school. If a student has dropped out of high school, but has gone on and completed their GED or Job Core or some other alternative course, those students have NOT failed and should be considered successful. Also, there are a large number of Hispanic students that drop out when they reach the age of 16 because they are illegal and they see no reason for finishing high school when they don’t see any option for them after graduation. It is a shame. It is heart-breaking. But it is NOT the responsibility of teachers to fix the societal problem of illegal immigration. To hold them responsible for this is almost criminal. I would suggest to parents, teachers, and administrators that the first question to ask in any meeting on the topic of teacher report cards is – what happened to the kids after they dropped out. Let’s look at the real statistics. I can share a little secret with you – my high school would consider me a dropout. I’d be part of their stats that they’re trying to throw in your face. I had 1/2 credit of one subject to complete graduation requirements. I wanted to start a program at a local community school and if I could go ahead and graduate, I could attend it. It was not considered early admission, so according to them I was a “drop out.” I did not return the next year for that half credit. Instead, I took the GED and entered the program I was interested in. Since then, I’ve obtained a BS in the hard sciences, earned a minor in education, and have received both a master’s and specialist’s degree from a brick and mortar research university. So, for those interested in the subject I suggest we do a little bit more investigation before we roll belly-up and let these politicians try to tell us our job.

I love teaching. I hate what it is becoming.

December 31st, 2010
3:48 pm

Happy Teacher,

QUOTE: “..go back and read the comments of SO many teachers on this blog who only want to be evaluated if they have perfect kids in their class. It’s quite sad… If that’s not you, then great, but it is a large voice on this blog.”

I find it disheartening that you could read post after post from teachers pointing out the potential flaws in this proposal, and come to such a narrow-focused conclusion. There are too many unanswered questions and inherent weaknesses in the proposed “teacher report card” to just accept it without question. The report card idea is being presented as though is has some actual integrity and statistical validity, when in actuality there is very little data suggesting it is effective in improving student performance, and what little data there is suggests it is, in fact, deeply flawed! Unless those who put forth this proposal are willing to actually address these shortcomings, I have no intention of jumping on board yet another “feel good” bit of legislation which does nothing to address the very real and complex problems which face our educational system. When politicians put suggestions which have a REAL potential to improve the quality of our educational system, then I will be the first to embrace change. I am no fan of the status quo either, but a teacher “report card” is not something that truly addresses the difficulties faced in the educational system. It is an exercise in smoke and mirrors which only drains further money from the system, puts in place more bureaucracy and increases teacher stress and administrative burdens! There are already evaluation tools in place to identify poor teachers, and there are sanctions available to deal with those poor teachers. There is no need for a teacher “report card” other than for political showmanship! Let us use the tools that are in place to get rid of poor teachers and drop this blame-game mentality!

Lisa B.

December 31st, 2010
4:32 pm

Old Time, I think the reason for rating teachers is so that those who rate the highest can be paid accordingly, and those who rate the lowest will receive less pay. Bill Gates says over and over in his videos on education that the best teachers should receive the highest rewards. Gates has a huge influence over the latest trends in education. Many higher ups are enthralled with Gates. Merit pay proponents are driving this train.

Mikey D

December 31st, 2010
4:49 pm

Because Bill Gates is such a renowned expert in education…

Dr. Craig Spinks /Augusta

December 31st, 2010
4:54 pm

ScienceTeacher671,

Do many still believe that committee-promoted students are being done any favors? A student who has not met the standards* for the knowledge, skills and attitudes(K/S/A) prerequisite for success in a subsequent course or grade should not be placed there by committee. A committee-promoted student will likely fail later courses and grades until s/he drops out at 16 from a middle or high school where s/he doesn’t have the K/S/A to succeed.

Kids don’t deserve to be placed in grades or courses where they don’t have good chances to succeed. Their classmates and teachers deserve better, too.

* CRCT “standards” are so low that meeting them might mean that a student not only is not ready for his/her next course or grade but also could probably use a thorough review of the one s/he is finishing.

Dr. Craig Spinks /Augusta

December 31st, 2010
5:00 pm

Teachers Must Take a Stand,

Item 3 in your 12:38 AM post contains excellent points!

teacher&mom

December 31st, 2010
5:38 pm

@HT – “I’m fine with it because: “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.”

I have to wonder if you are fine with it because you are convinced you will get a high grade? If so, what are your thoughts about the EPI report below?

“A recent report from the Economic Policy Institute reveals that VAA results vary widely depending on the methodology used and produce inconsistent results from year to year. One study found that, even when using the same methods, a third of teachers ranked in the top 20 percent one year dropped to the bottom 40 percent the next.”

You may be fine with possibility of a high ranking one year and a low ranking the next. I’m not. An assessment that is recognized as being inconsistent is not a fair assessment.

Can you imagine the damage to a teacher’s career if his/her ranking dropped to the bottom 40%?Despite the evidence that says the ranking may be inaccurate it is still published because Rep. Lindsey decided to forge ahead with a bill that failed to consider this possibility.

I live in a small community. Every time I step out the door, I will encounter a parent, student, or past/former student. This “report card” will follow me wherever I go (like a scarlet letter). Do you think the community will understand the degree of error in identifying teachers ratings? Do you think they will take the time to read the research and data behind VAAs and understand that maybe the ranking may be incorrect? Do you think the report card rating will be a benefit to me in the next school year when I try to build a partnership with my parents or will the “score” prove to be a roadblock. I suspect that my efforts, assignments, test grades, etc will no longer be judged on their own merit but based on my “score.”

FirstYearTeacher

December 31st, 2010
5:47 pm

Dr. NO – You are right, being a first year teacher and a good teacher don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand. Neither do teaching for 10 years or even 30 years and being a good teacher. By “good” I simply mean that I care. I have years and years of learning to do, that’s for sure. That’s why I’m a teacher! : )

Dr. Craig Spinks – Yes, as I briefly mentioned, I have an administration who supports me and teachers who help me along the way. They have been in my shoes and try to point me in the right direction. I know all first year experiences are learning ones and can be difficult, in any job, and especially teaching. Thank you for your support also!

ScienceTeacher671

December 31st, 2010
6:02 pm

Frequently I think that Happy Teacher despises other teachers as much as the legislature does.

ScienceTeacher671

December 31st, 2010
6:23 pm

Dr. Craig, I don’t anyone at the high school level who thinks that committee-promoted students are being done any favors, and you’re correct – a student who just barely passes the 8th grade CRCT will not have the reading skills to adequately read and comprehend a 9th grade science textbook. Since the GaDOE says the reading level of the EOCT is “appropriate for the grade level and subject matter” I’m not certain that such a student will be able to read and comprehend the EOCT, either.

I’m not sure that all middle school teachers are aware of how the low skill levels will impact high school performance, but social promotion is also age-related. What seems to happen is if the student is 16 or close to it, s/he will be promoted to high school no matter how low the scores.

In my opinion, any student who is promoted to high school working 4 or more years below grade level, in other words any committee-promoted student, ought to be automatically tested for learning and intellectual disabilities that might be causing such a significant deficit. Instead, it’s almost impossible to make that happen. My co-teacher & I gathered all sorts of data on such a student last year (had failed the CRCT each year since 3rd grade) in hopes of having the student tested, but the board-level people refused because the student had poor attendance. That student is now a drop-out.

teacher&mom

December 31st, 2010
6:23 pm

ScienceTeacher671

December 31st, 2010
6:25 pm

Apologies for typos in my 6:23 post…a preview pane or editing capability surely would be nice…

ScienceTeacher671

December 31st, 2010
6:28 pm

t&m, I can’t “hate”, though – I remember (vaguely) when I was young and knew everything! ;-)

HS Math Teacher

December 31st, 2010
6:39 pm

Science: Don’t apologize for that. I happen to think that people whose nostrils I can see all the time are not very attractive.

ScienceTeacher671

December 31st, 2010
6:47 pm

Happy Teacher

December 31st, 2010
7:15 pm

Happy Teacher

December 31st, 2010
7:30 pm

And I just feel sorry for the teachers that give up so easily on students who desperately need the most help.

And I do think that this profession needs an infusion of teachers with a never-say-die mindset to get us out of this morass that the previous generation has led us to. So scoff away, assured in your supreme knowledge of everything…

Dr. Craig Spinks /Augusta

December 31st, 2010
8:19 pm

The chairs of our legislature’s committees responsible for Education issues are:

Rep. Brooks Coleman brooks.coleman@house.ga.gov

Sen. Dan Weber dan.weber@senate.ga.gov

ScienceTeacher671

December 31st, 2010
8:43 pm

Dr. Craig, thank you. I wish I felt confident that our teachers’ organizations were doing all they could and should be to represent us and the children of Georgia.

HS Math Teacher

December 31st, 2010
9:56 pm

Brooks Coleman is indeed a character. I remember something about him having a life-long fascination with Roy Rodgers, or some western icon.

d

December 31st, 2010
10:32 pm

Coleman is someone who can be worked with. If I’m not mistaken, GAE endorsed his reelection.

On topic, however, I don’t think the issue most of us have is in the evaluation of teachers, but the methods that are likely to come out of a General Assembly who is largely ignorant to the underlying causes of the problem – and therefore the appropriate solutions to those problems and then the publishing of that information for the general public. As has been stated by GAE’s legislative team, how many other people have their performance appraisals out for public review? If there really is a problem in my classroom, then it is the job of my principal to first get me all the help that can be given and then if, and only if, that doesn’t work, help transition me to a new career. Frankly, the General Assembly has much bigger problems to tackle this session, but I sure would like to see the members educated on the tracked systems of Europe and Asia that we are so often compared to as well as the underlying causes of the problems we face every day in a classroom.

teacher&mom

December 31st, 2010
11:42 pm

@HT— your 7:30 PM post is the similar to the rhetoric that was employed to silence the NCLB naysayers. I find it sad that you are so disrespectful of the previous generation of teachers. I strongly disagree that they are responsible for this “morass.”

I’d like to direct your attention to this link:
http://yong-zhao.com/2010/12/29/john-richard-schrock-why-doesnt-china-get-off-the-teach-to-the-test-system/

In case you decide to not read the article, may I point a few thoughts from the article:

“The American teacher was always unique in deciding what to teach, when to teach, and how to teach it…and the variability in creative questioning has gained us 270+ Nobel Prizes. (Score for China-educated doing research in China is zero…but that will soon change due to many who return after receiving a graduate education in U.S.) But now, partly from test envy and international ignorance, we have headed down a path to standardization in testing that we will not be able to get out of in our lifetime.”

“And today, even at the college level, professors are now seeing forces to standardize what we teach, under the rubrics of seamless articulation, competency-based learning, and state directives to increase retention. Having destroyed professionalism at the K-12 level, American educationists are now ready to apply the external-tests-are-everything paradigm to the best university system in the world.”

Who is responsible for educating the 270+ Nobel Prize winners? Could it be the same generation of teachers you hold in such low regard?

I’m not sure anyone can claim “supreme knowledge of everything.” I have learned that humbleness is a virtue and I still have a thing or two to learn from the previous generation.

teacher&mom

December 31st, 2010
11:47 pm

@d – Isn’t it interesting that according to FERPA, posting a student’s paper with their name AND grade is a violation? I can post a graded paper w/o a name or a paper with a name but no grade. One would think the same logic would apply to posting a teacher’s name with a grade attached.

I love teaching. I hate what it is becoming.

January 1st, 2011
8:53 am

Happy teacher,

I have never “given up” on any student, nor do I recall posts here in which teacher have claimed to do any such thing. If anything, one of the concerns about a “report card” which will base your value (and most likely eventually your monetary worth) on student performance, is that it will drive good teachers out of classrooms and schools in which such students preside. Maybe YOU have other means of monetary support, but I am making on my own, and if my paycheck gets much smaller, I may lose my house and everything I have worked for my whole career! My tendency to martyr myself to the system only goes so far!

I didn’t do ANYTHING to lead us into this “morass” as you say. I have spent my entire career fighting to do right by my students and using the best teaching techniques available – techniques I now have less and less time to apply due to all the time I must put into district mandates which I feel do NOTHING to benefit my students.

I have also always had a never-say-die attitude, but it has gotten to the point where I am finding there is a direct conflict between time spent doing what I am told I MUST do, verses time spent doing what I know works best with my students, even those you seem to feel I would just toss aside because they aren’t “easy” to teach. (Those children are the ones I MOST enjoy working with do to the challenge and reward.)

For several years, I have been willing to do what is asked of me without complaint. I have resigned myself to hours spent after school and on the weekends for which I will never be compensated. I know I will never be able to take those grand vacations, or afford a new car, but that was always okay because what I did, I did for my children.

However, now, much of what I do has very little to do with actually teaching my students, and too much to do with trying to make the system look like it is working, when it is not. When my students start to suffer, because I simply cannot do all things that are asked of me, and something has to give, then I am going to start speaking up. I am burning out, and I am a “good” teacher. It isn’t teaching that will drive me away; it is knowing I am being forced to sacrifice my students to the system. Maybe you consider that the mark of an educator who is seeking to take the easy path, and who is resistant to change. I consider the mark of an educator who CARES about every child and is doing their best to push for quality education in a society that seems bent on totally destroying the public education system.

ScienceTeacher671

January 1st, 2011
9:22 am

@I love teaching. I hate what it is becoming. Well said! VERY well said!

@Dr. Craig Spinks /Augusta Thank you! I’m a bit reassured on seeing that Rep. Coleman has been in the classroom and has an educator’s background, and that d has a good opinion of him. Hopefully that will be helpful. I will be contacting them, plus the legislators in my district.

@teacher&mom, excellent points as always.

@Happy Teacher, “So scoff away, assured in your supreme knowledge of everything…
Pots and kettles come to mind here. I’m not sure you’ve read, or at least comprehended, anything that has been addressed to you. You seem to be convinced that you are the only teacher on this blog who cares about at-risk children. I guess you think the rest of us are only in this for the money?.

teacher&mom

January 1st, 2011
10:04 am

@I love teaching….Powerful writing. May I suggest you put that in the form of a letter to the appropriate representatives? Wow, you summed up everything I feel right now about the teaching profession.

@ST671 – Thank you :)

teacher&mom

January 1st, 2011
10:40 am

I came across this: The school’s location is somewhere outside of Atlanta.

http://teacherleaders.typepad.com/the_tempered_radical/2007/09/living-a-silent.html

Does anyone believe giving Maggie a report card grade will improve the situation for her students? I would love to see our legislature tackle the solutions offered at the end of the article.

Dr. Craig Spinks /Augusta

January 2nd, 2011
9:40 am

Hopefully, the 26 school districts participating in the upcoming RTTT teacher evaluation process are representative of the 180 public school districts in our state. Moreover, any student standardized test scores used in calculating teacher grades should be weighted at least as heavily in calculating the final grades of the respective students who received the scores. Then we’ll have tests in which not only some of our teachers but also their students will really have “high stakes.”

ScienceTeacher671

January 2nd, 2011
3:16 pm

Dr. Craig Spinks, excellent idea about the weighting.

Meanwhile, in the article here (http://www.ajc.com/news/teachers-to-be-graded-792562.html) I read this:

Nationally, teacher evaluations are gaining attention as districts around the country look for ways to improve the quality of the teaching work force…“There’s not a lot of evidence that alternative evaluation systems make a difference, but there’s a lot of evidence what we’re doing today isn’t effective,” Goldhaber said.

So they don’t know if it works, but they are going to bet a lot of people’s careers on it anyway. For the children, of course.

And in a few years, with less and less accountability for students, some teachers fired for non-performance, and others leaving because the system won’t less us teach and gives us students without the skills or motivation to succeed, at some point when they have an even greater shortage of teachers and can’t fill the classrooms, some of our politicians and bureaucrats will address the public in their best Emily Litella voices:

“NEVER MIND!”

Angry Teacher

January 2nd, 2011
3:56 pm

Judging teachers by their students’ scores is crap! Those of us who teach special needs students and lower than average IQ levels do not meet with the same succes in test scores that teachers who only teach advanced classes or higher IQ students achieve. You can pass any leigislation you want, you can demand any sort of benchmark you want, you can berate teachers all you want, but you cannot teach high school students who do not want to be taught nor teach low IQ students who would love to learn but simply cannot do it to please somebody else’s ideas about what are acceptable standards. Common sense has left the educational demands on Georgia’s teachers. Anyone can make statistics and research reveal whatever they choose to prove. The bottom line is not all of the faults of Georgia’s educational system are the teachers faults. Fire the inept teachers and empower the teachers who give a damn. I’m tired of being judged by those in political power over me who don’t know what they are doing. Not one of those who are making these sort of assumptions and statements have ever broken up a fight, held a hand while the student reports to the policeman the previous night’s abuse, held a child who has just lost a parent, or celebrated a near-pass over some state-mandated test. They want to help education? Get a grip in the real world of what is going on in our schools. The future is there, not in their sound bytes.

any county

January 2nd, 2011
5:03 pm

You can’t measure growth with the CRCT. Growth model computer programs just generate “dirty data”. Get any of these computer guys in a room and ask real questions and you will see quickly that they are just making a buck and the programs don’t do as intended-accurately measure growth. With the CRCT changing from grade to grade, cut scores fluctuating,and some grades it is read to them, it is impossible to standardize this from year to year. Plus kids are not little machines. One kid sick and throwing up while taking the CRCT can tank a class average. Can you imagine the pressure on these kids to perform?

A little common sense is needed desperately! We don’t need to waste money on something that does not work.

Angry Teacher

January 2nd, 2011
6:40 pm

Why can’t anyone with common sense be one of the ones in charge of Georgia education? Schools are not a business! They are far more important than a business. They are the future of Georgia!

teacher&mom

January 2nd, 2011
7:03 pm

@Dr. Spinks, I have a teacher friend who works in one of the RttT districts. She says no one said a word about calculating teacher grades. They were told they would be looking at different ways to strengthen teacher evaluations but nothing was mentioned about pay-for-performance or teacher report cards.

I wonder if this is the case in all 26 districts?

teacher&mom

January 2nd, 2011
7:07 pm

The following article from the New York Times had this to say about efforts to rate teachers:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/27/nyregion/27teachers.html?_r=2&partner=rss&emc=rss

Below are a few items from the article:
“Down the hall, Deirdre Corcoran, a fifth-grade teacher, received a ranking for a year when she was out on child-care leave. In three other classrooms at this highly ranked school, fourth-grade teachers were ranked among the worst in the city at teaching math, even though their students’ average score on the state math exam was close to four, the highest score.”

“But the experience in New York City shows just how difficult it can be to come up with a system that gains acceptance as being fair and accurate. The rankings are based on an algorithm that few other than statisticians can understand, and on tests that the state has said were too narrow and predictable.”

“Yet a promising correlation for groups of teachers on the average may be of little help to the individual teacher, who faces, at least for the near future, a notable chance of being misjudged by the ranking system, particularly when it is based on only a few years of scores.”

teacher&mom

January 2nd, 2011
7:14 pm

Here’s more:

One national study published in July by Mathematica Policy Research, conducted for the Department of Education, found that with one year of data, a teacher was likely to be misclassified 35 percent of the time. With three years of data, the error rate was 25 percent. With 10 years of data, the error rate dropped to 12 percent. The city has four years of data.”

The most extensive independent study of New York’s teacher rankings found similar variability. In math, about a quarter of the lowest-ranking teachers in 2007 ended up among the highest-ranking teachers in 2008.

In math, judging a teacher over three years, the average confidence interval was 34 points, meaning a city teacher who was ranked in the 63rd percentile actually had a score anywhere between the 46th and 80th percentiles, with the 63rd percentile as the most likely score. Even then, the ranking is only 95 percent certain. The result is that half of the city’s ranked teachers were statistically indistinguishable.

“The issue is when you try to take this down to the level of the individual teacher, you get very little information,” Dr. Corcoran said. The only rankings that people can put any stock in, he said, are those that are “consistently high or low,” but even those are imperfect.
“So if you have a teacher consistently in the top 10 percent,” he said, “the chances are she is doing something right, and a teacher in the bottom 10 percent needs some attention. Everything in between, you really know nothing.”

“But Dr. Harris urged caution in reading too much into the early crop of rankings, and added, “As a general rule, you should be worried when the people who are producing something are the ones who are most worried about using it.”

teacher&mom

January 2nd, 2011
7:25 pm

According to today’s article in the AJC, “After three years, new teachers whose students aren’t showing enough academic growth on tests would not be recertified. Other teachers would be recertified every five years only if their students post the proper gains.”

Three years of data has a 25% chance of misclassifying a teacher. It takes 10 years to drop the error rate to 12%.

We could potentially end up with teachers losing their certificates before enough data has been collected to accurately classify a teacher.

Based on what I’ve read, the error rate increases when the percentage for standardized test scores is set too high. In NYC, test scores account for 25% of the teachers’ classification. Test scores in GA will make up 40% of the evaluation.

teacher&mom

January 2nd, 2011
7:37 pm

Am I the only one who reads the current information about VAA’s and thinks that maybe publishing a teacher report card is just a little insane?

Are we ready to start pulling teacher’s certification with only 5 years of data? What if the teacher switches grade levels or subjects? This happens all the time in my district based on class sizes and year-to-year needs within different grades. Middle school teachers may teach science one year, and LARTS the next. Some teachers may work in special education for a few years and then move into a regular ed classroom.

How the heck will they keep track of all that?

ScienceTeacher671

January 2nd, 2011
9:14 pm

Teacher&mom, those are excellent points, We also don’t know exactly what qualities make a teacher an excellent teacher, so we don’t know how to measure them.

As others have pointed out, we don’t know how many of the “bad” teachers are in their first couple of years and will be gone before getting clear renewable status or fair dismissal privileges. And no one seems to have any plan for attracting “good” teachers with which to replace the “bad” ones if we’re able to ferret out which is which

HS Math Teacher

January 2nd, 2011
9:45 pm

“There’s nothing more frightening than ignorance in action.” – Goethe

Career Switcher

January 3rd, 2011
2:07 am

Sunday’s AJC article mentions that 3 years of test scores will be used. I teach 8th grade, and I (and a few other middle school math teachers at other schools) have noticed that individual math scores rise a bit from 6th to 7th, and then tend to fall again in 8th. Of course, this is not scientific, and is merely based on my observations. I am not sure if this is related to the difficulty of the test or the curriculum (8th grade material covers a lot of new material, much of it algebra). How would this be accounted for? Does anyone else see similar trends across other grades/subjects with CRCT results? Just another point to ponder.

@Happy Teacher…I don’t recall anyone mentioning that they were giving up on “those” kids or that they only wanted to teach the advanced and honors students. I think most of us simply want to make sure that everyone understands that class loads typically aren’t balanced, and that there are many factors that go into test scores. If we are issued report cards, I would like to know that my class makeup will be included in my data/grade. I think that is only fair. If my grade weren’t somehow adjusted to reflect that most of my students came to me several years below grade level, can you imagine the parent outcry when a child is placed with me the following year (vs. one of the other teachers who teach higher percentages of advanced students)? What if the advanced students showed no growth, but still passed? What if my special ed students showed good gains, but did not pass? Do you realize that many parents and legislators who are not involved in the day to day workings of education often do not understand the ins and outs of things? And that we are attempting to use this board to offer constructive input on factors that should be considered when developing teacher report cards? Let’s hope that you never encounter an unfair administrator or end up with a group of students who, for one reason or another you are unable to reach. Apparently you are teaching in a fantasy world where none of your students miss 40 days of school, get arrested, or just resist any efforts you offer for an education. I can teach like my hair is on fire 180 days a year, provide counseling, offer encouragement, buy hungry children lunch, and still not reach 100% of my adolescent students. Sadly, I have come to realize that is the nature of the middle school population in a high poverty school. I do the best I can, as many of us do, always going over and beyond what I should do. But I don’t need anyone suggesting that I shouldn’t be trying to stand up and speak out about things that need to be changed or considered in this process!

lovetoteach

January 3rd, 2011
9:36 am

There have been so many interesting points brought up on this forum regarding teacher report cards. I am sure that I am repeating what others have said, but I will say it anyway! I have been a public school teacher for 19 years. I feel that I am very good at what I do and I still get excited going to work everyday. Do I need a report card to tell me what I already know? What my peers already know? Or the parents, who always already know? Every year, after the CRCT, I am given a break down of how every child performed. My professional goals for the coming year must be tied to my previous year’s scores. Heck, I could have told you how they were going to do while they were taking the test! Seriously, when a child is finished with the Reading portion in 8 minutes, I can pretty well assume s/he isn’t going to exceed. So now my “report card” will be public knowledge. Will it be published in the local paper like my salary was a couple of years ago? Or will it be online for a parent to have to look it up? Will this new evaluation be implemented for a few years and then be replaced by something else as we have seen in education too many times? I agree that changes need to be made to Georgia’s current educational system but I am unclear as to how much of an impact this will have. One change I would love to see is less reliance on the testing that we do. After several years of CRCT I fear that more and more children are better at testing than they are at thinking! They can eliminate answers, use clue words, and lots of other strategies to get the correct answer out of 4 given, but if I ask them an open-ended question I get the deer in the headlights look. What about the evaluations of those teachers who don’t test students? In my experience, public education is home to some of the most political, good ol’ boy shenanigans I have ever seen. So is my administrator really going to give an unsatisfactory evaluation to his golf buddy who happens to be the PE teacher and does nothing with his students except watch them play while he reads the paper? As I said before, I firmly believe that we will have report cards for teachers. I just hope that the powers that be take a bit more time to do this right. Unlike some of the other educational “reforms” that have come to pass in our state.

teacher&mom

January 3rd, 2011
10:28 am

@Maureen,
The Washington Post has an excellent OpEd today by Anthony Cody. Perhaps the AJC will contact Mr. Cody and post this article.

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/anthony-cody/the-bad-teacher-bogeyman-and-w.html

cricket

January 6th, 2011
12:37 pm

In case you haven’t figured it all out yet…teacher evaluations and accountability motivations revealed.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpmQZ5MXs8c&feature=more_related

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