By Chad Aldeman
As states revamp their teacher evaluation systems, they continue to search for that magic number: the percentage of a teacher evaluation rating that should be based on student academic performance. Here’s how this has played out over the past month:
•The Ohio State Legislature voted to lower the weighting for student growth from 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation to 42.5 percent. Why the seemingly random choice of 42.5 percent? Because the state Senate wanted it revised downward to 35 percent and the House wanted to keep the weighting at 50 percent. Legislators compromised on 42.5 because it lies smack dab in the middle of 35 and 50.
•In New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie signed an executive order mandating that statewide exams account for 10 percent of a teacher’s evaluation this upcoming school year rather than the previously decided upon 30 percent. It will climb to 20 percent in 2015-16.
The issue here isn’t whether 10 or 35 or 50 percent is the right amount of student growth in teacher evaluations. No one knows for sure what that number is, and no one knew it when states set their initial student growth weightings either.
via The Politics of Teacher Evaluation Formulas – Education Next : Education Next.
By John Fensterwald
The teacher tenure, seniority and dismissal laws that the nonprofit organization Students Matter wants a judge to overturn are essential to create a “professional, stable workforce” and attract teachers into a profession with low pay and difficult conditions, a state deputy attorney general said Monday at the start of the much-anticipated Vergara v State of California trial.
via In landmark trial, both sides debate whether teacher protection laws fail students | EdSource Today.
By Laurel Rosenhall
A ballot measure submitted by a political consultant for education advocate Michelle Rhee seeks to remove seniority as a factor when California school districts lay off teachers, requiring instead that decisions be based on performance and student test scores.
That approach has been at the core of Rhee’s advocacy efforts as head of StudentsFirst, a national group headquartered in Sacramento. Rhee, who is married to Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, has said she established the group to try to counter the influence that teachers unions have in decisions about public education. Unions generally reject the idea that teachers should be rated based on their students’ test scores, and prefer contracts that call for the most recently hired teachers to be the first let go during layoffs.
via California measure would replace seniority with performance for teacher layoffs – Capitol and California – The Sacramento Bee#mi_rss=Education#mi_rss=Education#mi_rss=Education#mi_rss=Education.
By John Fensterwald
Score one for Michelle Rhee and performance pay.
A study released Wednesday of the controversial teacher evaluation system that Rhee initiated when she was chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools has found that both its threats of dismissal and big pay incentives worked as intended. Within its first three years, the system led to increases in the retention and the performance of effective teachers while encouraging ineffective teachers either to quit or improve.
via Stanford professor finds Michelle Rhee’s teacher evaluation system was effective | EdSource Today.
By Michele McNeil
The U.S. Department of Education continues to quietly approve—and negotiate over—states’ teacher-evaluation systems as part of its No Child Left Behind Act waiver process.
via More NCLB Waiver States Get Federal Approval for Teacher Evaluations – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
By Alyson Klein
Big news of the week is that the U.S. House of Representatives may consider a long-stalled bill to renew the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. (It’s set for possible floor consideration on Thursday, according to the House schedule.)
UPDATE: House leaders are doing intensive outreach on the bill today. Advocates say it looks like the vote count is going to be close. If GOP leaders don’t have enough support, they could pull the bill from consideration this week. After all, there are two other bills scheduled. “They have a back-up bill and a back-up to the back-up,” one advocate said.
via Lawmakers May Debate Testing, Teacher Evaulations in NCLB Renewal – Politics K-12 – Education Week.
By John Fensterwald
For the second straight year, legislation to quicken and simplify dismissal procedures for teachers is in danger of running aground.
Last year, the state’s teachers unions thwarted a sweeping rewrite of the dismissal law that they argued was excessive. This year, teachers groups have signed on, but groups representing districts and administrators are objecting that the legislation would be ineffective, even counterproductive. Los Angeles Unified supports several amendments but is supportive overall, Edgar Zazueta, the district’s chief lobbyist, said.
Effort to shorten process of firing teachers faltering again | EdSource Today.
Breaking new ground in California, San Jose Unified has adopted an innovative teacher evaluation process that gives teachers a role in reviewing their peers and greatly revises the current – and some say outmoded – method of measuring teacher success.
The new system would deny automatic raises to unsatisfactory performers and give evaluators the option of adding another year to the probationary period for new teachers – a provision at odds with the state teachers union. Bucking a national trend, the new system will not use standardized test scores as a direct measure of performance.
via San Jose teachers, board adopt landmark teacher evaluation system – by John Fensterwald.
By Jeremy B. White
Legislation that would alter how California schools judge teachers flunked another test on Tuesday, failing to advance for the second time in a week.
The Senate Education Committee decided to reconsider the bill after deadlocking last week. The bill’s author, Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, said he had altered his legislation to try to persuade opponents to shift their stance.
via Bill to alter evaluations of California teachers fails again in Senate.
The Vallejo City Unified School District (VCUSD) working in collaboration with the Vallejo Education Association (VEA) is seeking to enhance the evaluation process that is currently used for its certificated staff. This effort came about after the release of the California Teacher Association’s (CTA) Teacher Evaluation Framework in 2012.
According to the CTA website, “the goal of any evaluation system is to strengthen the knowledge, skills and practices of teachers to improve student learning.” With this in mind, a team of teachers, site administrators, district administrators and VEA leadership has worked since the beginning of the school year to develop a system that will be more robust than the current evaluation system.
via The Vallejo City Unified School District (VCUSD) working in collaboration with t….
By Benjamin Riley
What if I told you that:
- There is a major national education reform under way, with its origins in California;
- which may result in the creation of a national “bar exam” to enter the teaching profession;
- and yet few in the education community seem to be paying attention to this effort or weighing in on whether it’s worth supporting?
via New teacher assessment: much promise, many questions – by Benjamin Riley.
I find it so irritating when you know in advance that you will despise a person, yet when you finally meet them, they turn out to be articulate and funny and they make a lot of sense.
Michelle Rhee led the Washington, D.C., schools for three turbulent years. The schools were in bad shape. Only 50 percent of students graduated, most students were at least one grade level behind, and the district was burning through money.
Her job was to turn things around, and she was brutal. She immediately fired 36 poorly performing principals, 120 office staff, and closed 23 schools. She then turned to the teachers: Good teachers (love those standardized tests!) got big bonuses. Poor teachers — 250 of them — were fired.
via Ernest Kimme: Michelle Rhee is charming, but where is her evidence.
By John Fensterwald
Breakthrough agreements in two California school districts and a much anticipated report on improving teacher effectiveness have raised expectations that it might actually be possible to amend or rewrite the state’s outdated and ineffective state law on teacher evaluations in a way that can work for both unions and school districts.
Prospects looked bleak four months ago. A frenetic effort to rewrite California’s 40-year-old Stull Act died when Assemblymember Felipe Fuentes, a San Fernando Democrat, withdrew his bill to reform teacher evaluations (AB 5) amid recriminations and a power struggle between labor and management – teachers unions and superintendents. One key sticking point: who on a district level would decide which elements in an evaluation system should be used and how much they’ll count.
via EdWatch 2013: Teacher evaluation law will be taken on again – by John Fensterwald.
From guest blogger Liana Heitin
For several years now, teacher evaluation has dominated education-policy discussions in statehouses and otherwise. But for the most part, the country’s 430,000 special education teachers have been left out of the discussion.
The Council for Exceptional Children is trying to change that. In October, the advocacy group released a paper detailing its position on special education teacher evaluation. And today, about 30 leaders from membership organizations, state and local education offices, and schools gathered in Arlington, Va., to discuss the CEC’s recommendations.
via Group Tackles Evaluation of Special Education Teachers.
By John Fensterwald
Facing a court-ordered deadline, Los Angeles Unified and its teachers union have agreed on a framework for evaluating teachers that will include using student scores on local and state standardized tests – but only to a limited, as yet undetermined extent.
The tentative agreement announced Friday, responds to a Superior Court ruling in June that found the district had failed to comply with a state law requiring that measures of student academic progress be factored into a teacher’s performance review. Although Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James Chalfant’s ruling applied only to Los Angeles Unified, the state’s largest district, many, if not most, districts in California also ignore that provision of the Stull Act. These districts should “take notice,” said Bill Lucia, president and CEO of the Sacramento advocacy organization EdVoice, which sued the district and United Teachers Los Angeles a year ago on behalf of a half-dozen unnamed parents.
via Los Angeles Unified, union cut deal on test scores and evaluations – by John Fensterwald.
By John Fensterwald
In Los Angeles Unified, novice teachers tend to be assigned students who are academically farther behind those assigned to experienced teachers. Before they depart, usually after only two years, Teach for America teachers have a bigger impact on students than that of other new teachers. And National Board Certified teachers significantly outperform other teachers in LAUSD.
These are among the findings of an extensive seven-year study of about a third of teachers in LAUSD by the Strategic Data Project, which is affiliated with the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University. Researchers have conducted similar analyses of teacher recruitment, development and retention patterns in three dozen school districts and charter organizations nationwide, under work funded by the Gates Foundation. LAUSD’s report, which was released Wednesday, could become a key resource as the district and United Teachers Los Angeles negotiate changes to teacher evaluations and other parts of the teachers’ contract.
via Analysis shows differences in teacher effectiveness in LAUSD – by John Fensterwald.
By William Slotnik and Joan McRobbie
By now the consensus is clear: California needs a better, more systematic way of supporting and ensuring teacher effectiveness. Though the teacher evaluation bill, AB 5, collapsed again in August, there is wide agreement on the state’s responsibility to ensure that every student has an effective teacher. Moreover, good teachers welcome accountability and they want and need support. As the 2010 Accomplished California Teachers report noted, every teacher wants to know “How am I doing?” and “How can I do better?”
Efforts here in California to structure a workable evaluation system have run into the same sticking points bedeviling states across the country. The design challenge is to ensure both accountability and support as anchors of high-quality evaluation. What are the right components? Which policy decisions belong at the state level and which should be determined locally? Should student growth be part of teacher evaluation and, if so, how should that growth be measured?
via Student-centered teacher evaluations focus on learning goals – by William Slotnik and Joan McRobbie.
By John Fensterwald
The superintendent of San Jose Unified and leaders of the district’s teachers union have agreed on an innovative evaluation and compensation system that, if implemented, would be significantly different from any in California. With education groups in Sacramento and legislators still bruised over a grueling, failed effort to revise the state’s teacher evaluation law last summer, the San Jose plan offers hope that a progressive compromise on divisive issues is possible.
via San Jose Unified, teachers reach breakthrough evaluation, pay plan – by John Fensterwald.
At a time when California has cut funding dramatically for K-12 education – and may have to cut more after next week’s election – it makes no sense for school districts to leave millions in federal education dollars on the table.
Yet California school districts have had to struggle to win teachers union support for a new round of Race to the Top competitive grants specifically for school districts – as much as $40 million per district, depending upon size.
This competition – for districts seeking to improve academic performance with personalized learning for students – is well worth pursuing in these tough financial times.
via Editorial: Why is teachers union leaving money on the table?.
With school reform efforts combining with federal incentives to encourage more districts and states to change how they evaluate teachers, the Council for Exceptional Children today shared recommendations and views for how to evaluate special education teachers.
Federal initiatives including waivers from No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top not only have pressed for new evaluation systems, they push for teacher ratings to include student performance as a unit of measure.
However, special education teachers’ work may differ sharply from school to school, the CEC notes. They may co-teach, work with students one on one, act as consultants to other classroom teachers.
via States Must Tread Cautiously on Evaluations of Special Ed. Teachers.