December 2010 Archives

@eduleadership In this editorial, Collin Hitt of the Illinois Policy Institute argues that strong teacher tenure protections create a vicious cycle in teacher evaluation: In a nutshell: Today, teacher evaluations are not used to inform personnel decisions. Therefore, on balance, they are not conducted with earnest (sic). Therefore, they lack accurate information. Therefore, as poor meters of quality, they have no business being used to inform school-level policy. Therefore, they cannot be used to inform personnel decisions. In other words, principals are smart enough to know that the evaluation process itself is an ineffective way to get rid of a ...


@eduleadership What role should parents play in the evaluation of teachers? This editorial from the Athens Banner-Herald argues that parents should have a substantial voice in teacher evaluations: Any meaningful assessment of schools and teachers must include massive and sustained input from parents. Parents are uniquely qualified to serve as arbiters of accountability and funding issues. Even the most nominally involved parents can talk about the condition of their children's schools, and about what they hear from their children about whether their teachers are engaged and, in turn, engaging students in learning. Several commenters, however, take issue with the claim ...


This brief story on how South Korea responds to unsatisfactory teachers caught my eye last week: The education ministry said today that more than 900 of them are required to take a 60-hour session aimed at improving their teaching skills while the rest will have to participate in a six-month training program. The ministry said should those in long-term programs be evaluated poorly again the following year they will be assembled to take part in specialized training programs while not being able to teach during the programs. This year's evaluation consisted of peer assessment and students' as well as parents' ...


@eduleadership What responsibility do teacher education programs have toward public school students? When a teacher education program's own self interest or the interest of its enrollees conflicts with the interests of K-12 students, what is the ethical course of action? Teacher education programs (TEPs) operate, as Katherine Merseth of Harvard has said, as "cash cows" for universities. Would-be teachers, lured by the hope of stable middle-class jobs, are promised professional preparation and placement services in exchange for their tuition dollars. Within the university environment, TEPs compete with other academic departments for students. Given that broader labor market conditions determine how ...


Value-added has become both poster child and whipping boy in the debate on how to improve teacher evaluations. This editorial from some very bright people makes a very sane case for not giving up on VAM ("Value-Added: It's Not Perfect, But It Makes Sense," EdWeek, December 15). The authors argue that, while not perfect, VAM is still very useful and should not be ignored. Among their key points: Teachers are vastly overrated on performance evaluations, with over 99% receiving satisfactory ratings.VAM isn't perfect, but the solution is to improve it, not stop trying to use it.Teacher evaluations get ...


@eduleadership The Measures of Effective Teaching project, funded to the tune of $45 million by the Gates Foundation, has released its first of four reports. While the report is full of intelligent insights, it makes a number of astounding logical leaps to justify the use of value-added teacher ratings, and I can already see how the study will be used to make the case for sloppy valued-added teacher evaluation systems. This is an ambitious study, and a very well-designed one at that. I can't imagine a better-funded or better-designed study of teacher effectiveness measures; top-notch researchers and the use of ...


The National Association of Elementary School Principals reported to members via email and blog post on Friday that the Department of Education has backed down from including student academic growth, as measured by standardized test scores, from its definition of "effective" and "highly effective" principals: In September, the Department of Education proposed definitions of "effective" and "highly effective" principals—a scant 200 words that, if enacted, could be used to determine which districts and schools are eligible for federal discretionary education grants. NAESP strongly opposes the definitions, which represent another attempt to hold principals accountable for outcomes far behind their...


Years ago, Sears had an ad campaign with the slogan "Come see the softer side of Sears," an apparent attempt to remind customers that they sell clothes and linens, and not just tools and electronics. When it comes to performance in public education, I think we need to undertake a similar campaign, to remind the public that performance is about the "softer" dimensions of schooling as well as the "hard" data points like test scores. I believe, as a public school principal, that school culture matters, that respect and humanity are essential, that it makes a difference when students feel ...


The reaction to my first few posts has confirmed my impression that performance is a difficult issue to talk about in education. Consider this comment from an anonymous reader on Anthony Cody's thoughtful analysis of my post on economic incentives: So much wrong here on the part of Mr. Baeder - "it is intuitive to people in most industries that one's pay should be commensurate with one's contribution to the organization" assumes education is an industry (it is not); that most people find the connection between work and pay "intuitive" (not true - pay is rarely mentioned, even in industry, ...


In a comment on my recent post on merit pay at LeaderTalk, reader Tgoble outlined a system for paying and promoting teachers based on their performance that I think deserves more attention. I will draw heavily on this description to make, for the sake of discussion, a proposal of my own: I agree, merit pay is coming and with it certain controversy. I would like pay, overall, to be based on several factors: experience, results, collegiality, innovation, and level of education to name a few. I would propose a six level system: novice, novice 2, professional, professional 2, master teacher ...


How might new economic incentives impact educator performance? There are plenty of plans afoot to restructure teacher and principal compensation (many of which are some version of merit pay), but what economic role might these plans actually play? First, whether we like it or not, economic incentives are already impacting the teaching and school leadership ranks. Educators are employees, and employees have a choice of both their industry and their employer. Some very good educators feel they have little choice but to leave the profession for reasons unrelated to their love of or success in teaching. The perennial shortage of ...


Welcome to On Performance. The purpose of this blog is to discuss issues of performance in public education, from teacher evaluation to principal accountability to the changing shape of compensation and the education labor market. This is an unparalleled time in public education—never has the focus on educator performance been more sustained or intense. In the 1980s, A Nation at Risk sparked national concern over the quality of our nation's public schools. However, the focus at that time was on national competitiveness and policy, not on the performance of individual educators. Today, the calls for reform are equally loud,...


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