Archive for the ‘Performance pay’ Category

Georgia at risk for losing $33 million of its Race to the Top grant over changes to teacher evals

In a letter this week, the U.S. Department of Education warns Georgia that it is at risk of losing $33 million of its $400 million Race to the Top grant because of its requests to alter its teacher evaluation plans.

According to Education Week:

If Georgia is unable to address the department’s concerns, it could lose roughly $33 million of its $400 million—the portion dedicated to implementing the state’s teacher-evaluation plan. Why isn’t the whole thing being put on high-risk status? Right now, Georgia has demonstrated sufficient progress on the rest of its plan, the department wrote.

Georgia isn’t the first state to see its Race to the Top grant put on high-risk status because of tricky teacher-evaluation issues. Earlier this year, Hawaii came close to losing its grant, in part because its union hasn’t yet embraced its teacher-evaluation plan. Hawaii was able to keep its grant, but it remains on high-risk status. And, unlike Georgia, Hawaii’s entire grant was put …

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Are the new national academic standards rotten to the (Common) Core?

apple (Medium)Here is another compelling and passionate piece from Pelham City, Ga., school chief Jim Arnold. (You can search the blog for other Arnold essays.)

Arnold takes on the new Common Core Standards, in which former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue played a pivotal leadership role through the National Governor’s Association.

By Jim Arnold

I must state from the outset that I am innately suspicious of the underlying motives or educational benefits of any initiative – Common Core included — supported by the Georgia governor who instituted austerity cuts in 2003, led Georgia to be one of the only states to use teacher furloughs to balance the state budget and consistently under funded public education in order to promote quality fishing.

Common Core is a standardized national curriculum. Why is this problematic? From an historical context, a centralized school curriculum serves the goals of totalitarian states. Jefferson warned us about that.

There are additional issues:

1) There are few …

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Grading teachers: In the news and in dispute. Will Georgia follow suit?

over (Medium)A critical study of the LA Times teacher ranking project was released today by the National Education Policy Center.

The question of teacher rankings has particular relevance to Georgia, which, under its Race to the Top grant, will begin assigning teachers effectiveness grades based in part on student test scores. There is no indication yet whether those grades will be made public, a decision likely to fall to the state Legislature.

In explaining its controversial teacher ranking system, the LA Times said:

About 6,000 Los Angeles elementary school teachers and 470 elementary schools are included in The Times’ database of “value-added” ratings. Third-, fourth- and fifth-grade teachers who taught at least 60 students from the 2002-03 through 2008-09 academic years were evaluated in the Times analysis. Most of Los Angeles Unified School District’s elementary schools are included. Test scores for charter schools that do not report directly to the district were not …

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UGA prof: The real educational crisis is manufactured educational crises

UGA professor Peter Smagorinsky has penned another provocative essay for us to discuss on whether all the laments about the state of education have an underlying purpose: To further profits and agendas.

By Peter Smagorinsky

I recently read a document about the need to improve high school writing instruction so as to prepare students better for the expectations that await them in college. Like just about every story written about education these days, the paper opened with the rhetoric of crisis. The argument goes like this: High school teachers aren’t doing their jobs well, because 32 percent of all high school graduates, according to some studies, are performing on writing tests at rates that do not meet the standards for quality writing at the college level. We therefore need to intervene to improve this horrid rate of success, so that kids can better compete in this global economy.

From there, the authors took their own direction. To them, what we need is more university …

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Student: Put down that cell phone and pick up a book

Here is another student essay from a Rockdale Career Academy 10th grader. The assignment was “an argumentative essay about the fate of America’s intelligence.”  This essay is by student Alexis Chisman.

By Alexis Chisman

In the dictionary, the word evolution means a change in the gene pool of a population from generation to generation by such process as mutation, natural selection and genetic drift. According to this definition, human beings in the world today have already made a major leap in evolution, having a physical structure more advanced than our ancestors. We have also evolved technology, creating items that make our everyday lives more accommodating, but what may be making our lives easier is also causing the standards of education into a death spiral. The inhabitants of America are losing intelligence because technology is growing while test scores are dwindling.

How could the brainpower of United States citizens possibly be ebbing? Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg …

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Is there a teacher in this room? Why don’t we ever recognize the great teachers behind the great students?

over (Medium)Here is another good piece by UGA professor Peter Smagorinsky. As always, his piece is provocative and worthy of discussion.

By Peter Smagorinsky

This week, Maureen Downey published “Rockdale student: Make students work for grades and limit reliance on technology” in her AJC Get Schooled blog. The essay was written by Jennifer Lee, a 16-year-old sophomore at the Rockdale Career Academy charter school in Conyers.

Jennifer wrote what I consider to be a mature and well-reasoned essay expressing her view that technology was producing lazy minds among her peers, and that along with other “security nets” such as summer school and credit recovery, they should be removed so that students may become more responsible for their actions and their consequences.

As of noon or so on May 25, there have been 53 “comments” posted in response to Jennifer’s essay. I am moved to write today after reading all 53, not so much to react to what they say, but to comment on what they don’t say, and what …

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Do classroom observations of teachers give us reliable info?

One of the foundations of Georgia’s new teacher evaluation system will be classroom observations by administrators, which are supposed to occur twice a year and last 30 minutes each.

There are already doubts about whether these classroom visits will occur given the time constraints on principals or whether they will yield reliable information on teacher effectiveness. (See comment from the leader of the DeKalb teachers group that he is hearing complaints these observations are not happening as required in the pilot program under way.)

Here is new research that will add to the concerns. This is from Indiana University School of Education:

Classroom observation measures don’t necessarily provide a clearer picture of teacher effectiveness than value-added measures based on student test scores, according to a review of the most recent report from the Measures of Effective Teaching Project’s large-scale examination of teacher evaluation methods. The review was led by Cassandra …

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NBC’s Education Nation: In Atlanta today with teacher town hall

NBC brought its “Education Nation” project to Atlanta today with a two-hour town hall meeting with teachers at the Georgia Aquarium.

The web-streamed event revisited the usual education topics, teacher effectiveness, career and college readiness, the global workplace, charter schools and the role of technology.

While each of the four panels had a theme, panelists often strayed, so the discussions traveled far and wide. The teachers on the panel and those in the audience were articulate and committed; they certainly put forth Georgia’s best face in education. Many were National Board Certified teachers or county Teachers of the Year.

One of the panelists was a Georgia Teacher of the Year, Jadun McCarthy, a Bibb County high school teacher. (I have quoted the outspoken and eloquent Mr. McCarthy frequently on the blog in the past; he was more constrained under this format than when simply loosed at a microphone.)

McCarthy credited Georgia with applying for and winning a waiver …

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DeKalb teachers group: Sign that contract if you want your job

I thought this memo from David Schutten of the Organization of DeKalb Educators to his members about the contract mess in DeKalb was worth sharing as it clears up several points.

While his memo speaks to the plight of DeKalb educators this week, his comment about the failure of administrators to spend the required time to do the new, more comprehensive teacher observations underscores a statewide concern.

When the state unveiled its plan for new teacher evaluations that will consider student performance and require increased classroom observation, I asked DOE whether it was a realistic, whether principals would be able to find the time to go into classrooms and watch teachers at work.

Schutten’s comments suggest that they are not finding the time –  even under a limited pilot model involving a handful of teachers. How can we expand this model to every teacher in every school?

Here is Schutten’s memo, which was written for members of ODE:

I met with Dr. Tekshia Ward-Smith, …

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Oops. DeKalb sends wrong contract language to teachers. Corrections going out.

I am baffled how a mistake of this nature could occur with something as critical as teacher contracts, but here it is:

MEMO TO: Certified Instructional, Supervisory, and Administrative Personnel

FROM: Dr. Tekshia Ward-Smith, Chief Human Resources Officer

THROUGH: Dr. Cheryl L. H. Atkinson, Superintendent

REFERENCE: Clarification Memo Regarding Employment Contracts for the 2012-2013 School Year

Thank you for your contributions to the DeKalb County School District. Please allow this memo to serve as clarification to the Employment Contract for the 2012-2013 school year you received on April 30, 2012.

Each year the District includes in the employment contract certain measures leading into the budget process. This amount generally reflects a lower amount due to the timing of the budget process and the State of Georgia required deadline for contract issuance. According to state law, the deadline for contract issuance is before the deadline for the final adoption of the operating …

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