Archive for the ‘Performance pay’ Category

Teachers refuse to give test, but aren’t there some tests that are worth giving?

crcted.0920 (Medium)Teachers in Seattle are taking a stand against standardized testing by refusing to administer a required district-wide test.

What’s odd to me is the test Seattle teachers are choosing to protest, which is the Measure of Academic Progress. The high performing City of Decatur Schools uses MAP testing as well, giving it three times a year to see where students begin, where they are mid-year and where they are at the end of the year.

My kids attend Decatur schools and are not intimidated by MAP testing as it has been part of their education for a long time.  Nor are they overly concerned with the scores, which they get instantly as the test is taken on a computer. I would be interested in what other Decatur parents out there think about MAP.

As to the comment within the news story below that algebra students see geometry on the test, my kids tell me that the challenge of the questions on the MAP test increases depending on how well a student is doing. If they get a question …

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Can we really measure effective teaching? Yes, says new Gates Foundation study.

downeyart0726 (Medium)After three years of research and an investment of $45 million, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation believes it now knows how schools can fairly and reliably measure effective teachers.

While student test scores are part of the solution, scores alone are not enough to gauge how well a teacher is performing, according to the Gates-funded Measures of Effective Teaching Project.

Released Tuesday, the final report from the MET Project says a three-prong approach, multiple classroom observations, student surveys and student growth as measured by  state test scores, provides a good picture of how effective a teacher is. The project found that an accurate observation rating for a teacher requires two or more lessons, each scored by a different certified observer.

The report will likely resonate in Georgia, which is in the midst of rolling out a new teacher evaluation system funded by the state’s Race to the Top grant. Georgia is spending millions on its new evaluation system, which …

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New evaluation system finds less than 1 percent of teachers are ineffective

Under the state’s prior teacher evaluation system, less than 1 percent of teachers were rated as unsatisfactory. So, the state used some of its Race to the Top millions to create and pilot a new evaluation system that was  purportedly more comprehensive and more honest in its assessment of how effective teachers were in their classrooms.

While the old evaluation system rated teachers as satisfactory/unsatisfactory and didn’t judge them by students’ academic progress, the system being piloted contains four different ratings: exemplary, proficient, developing/needs improvement and unsatisfactory.

The AJC has a good story today about the initial findings of the pilot, which the newspaper obtained through an Open Records request.

Even under this new system, less than 1 percent of Georgia teachers were classified as ineffective and one in five earned the top rating of exemplary.

The story notes that identifying and removing bad teachers has taken on increasing importance, …

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Making “my child the teacher” as impressive as “my child the doctor”

When it comes to bragging rights, most parents would still prefer to announce, “My child the lawyer,” rather than, “My child the teacher.”

Would such attitudes change if the U.S. teaching corps became more selective?

The American Federation of Teachers is endorsing an entrance exam for new teachers similar to the bar exam that novice lawyers must pass and the medical boards that newly minted doctors must pass.

“It’s time to do away with a common rite of passage into the teaching profession — whereby newly minted teachers are tossed the keys to their classrooms, expected to figure things out, and left to see if they and their students sink or swim. This is unfair to both students and their teachers, who care so much but who want and need to feel competent and confident to teach from their first day on the job,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.

The education debate in Georgia has skirted the question of improving teacher …

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“I don’t love teaching because my job is no longer teaching.”

North Carolina teacher Kris Nielsen wrote a provocative and lengthy essay for his blog Middle Grades Mastery.

It begins:  “I love teaching. Or, I did love teaching. I loved teaching when my job was to teach. Now, I don’t love teaching, because my job is no longer teaching.”

Nielsen began teaching in 2006. He taught sixth grade earth science, writing, “I created my own curriculum, based loosely on the New Mexico state standards. My kids loved it! I kept them busy with hands-on, student centered learning that built vocabulary and concepts along the way.”

Nielsen  moved to Oregon and a job he enjoyed, but was let go after two years when his district slashed 350 jobs to cut costs.

Nielsen chronicles a frustrating job search that led him and his family to move cross country to the vaunted Charlotte-Mecklenburg system. He shares his growing disillusionment with the profession.

Here is an excerpt of his blog. Please try to read the full essay before commenting:

What they didn’t …

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Rating teachers: Ruining the profession and running off good people

With teacher ratings becoming a reality, many people are expressing concerns about the impact on the profession. I read two great pieces this weekend that I want to share here. (Also, please read the column I ran Friday from a charter school principal in Atlanta about his concerns over the low value-added score given his school.)

In an op-ed in The New York Times, Deborah Kenny, chief executive and founding principal of Harlem Village Academies and the author of “Born to Rise: A Story of Children and Teachers Reaching Their Highest Potential,” joins the chorus of concern, noting that her charter school once dismissed a teacher whose students posted great scores on tests. But the teacher derided students and was so negative to be around that other teachers were considering quitting. Yet,  under rating models based largely on student scores, that teacher would have been rated at the very top, Kenny says.

Kenny — who calls herself an opponent of teacher tenure and runs a …

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“The more time spent by teachers on measuring their own effectiveness, the less effective the teachers become.”

I have been hearing about the new Student Learning Objectives from teachers statewide, including this note from a teacher in central Georgia:

I was wondering what you might be able to tell me about Student Learning Objectives or SLO’s (called “Slows” by the teachers).  I teach kindergarten and have never seen anything in my life that seems to be such a waste of time.  I understand why they are “needed,” but they take up to 10 days to administer at the beginning of the year, and then up to 10 days at the end of the year.  This is a total of 20 days basically wasted administering these tests.  And it’s not just in kindergarten, but all elementary grades (Pre-K through 5) for the Teacher Keys Evaluation System (TKES).

My kids come into kindergarten hardly knowing anything, and now I have to waste up to 20 days of valuable instruction time administering these tests so that there are “valid and reliable” tests to use with TKES to be sure I’m at least a “proficient’ educator. ” …

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Chicago strike ends, but debate continues over how we regard and treat teachers in America

A relieved Chicago sent its children back to school today as teachers agree to tentative contract. (AP Images)

A relieved Chicago sent its children back to school today as teachers agree to tentative contract. (AP Images)

Today, 350,000 students return to school in Chicago where the striking teachers’ union has agreed to a tentative contract.

Much commentary has been written about the seven-day strike but I found this piece by New York Times columnist Joe Nocera among the most interesting. He talks to noted education researcher Marc Tucker, quoted here on the blog a few months on why Finnish schools perform so well.

An ongoing frustration with education debates — including many on this blog — is that we focus on things that don’t matter, that appeal to ideologues and bumper sticker voters who don’t have time to read the fine print.

Georgia is now in a frenzy over a charter school amendment that will do nothing to dramatically alter school transformation. Millions will be spent in the battle, a fair share coming from for-profit education companies that see Georgia a potential new market …

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Panel questions on teacher morale and an answer in my in-box

over (Medium)I participated in a PAGE panel today on education, along with my AJC colleague Nancy Badertscher, TV reporter Donna Lowry of 11 Alive and Macon Telegraph editorial page editor Charles E. Richardson. (Georgia school chief John Barge and education guru Phillip C. Schlechty were among the speakers at the PAGE program, and I will write up their comments later tonight.)

Several audience questions  to my panel touched on the current state of teacher morale.  When I returned to work, I found this email waiting for me in my in-box. It spoke directly to the questions asked by the panel audience.

The teacher who wrote it asked to remain anonymous:

I  just wanted to express my thoughts on the most recent  “Get Schooled” blog message to the President.

I am a high school special education teacher. I also work with many general education students. I have taught for 11 years and have many friends and acquaintances who have taught anywhere from three years to 20-plus.

In my 11 years as …

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Putting value-added model to the test: Study finds student scores can predict teacher effectiveness

I joined a conference call today with researcher Marcus A. Winters about his new study, “Transforming Tenure: Using Value-Added Modeling to Identify Ineffective Teachers.”

In the study released a few hours ago, Winters examined one of the most controversial approaches to teacher evaluations: Using student test scores to identify how much an individual teacher contributes to a student’s progress over the years.

Known as the value-added model or VAM, this approach appeals to lawmakers. However, educators argue that it’s not reliable because it ignores the many variables involved in a classroom.

A senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and an assistant professor at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs, Winters examined teacher data and VAM scores in Florida and found that a value-added model did predict which teachers were effective in future years in raising student achievement, but cautioned that the model should not be used in isolation to determine a …

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