@eduleadership In my recent post on curriculum-based assessments, I noted the value of having articulated, aligned curriculum with clear pacing guides: In the best-case scenario, rigorous state standards (and soon, national common core standards) are mapped closely onto a well-articulated, district-wide curriculum supported by robust instructional materials and professional development. The strength of such a system is that it actually specifies when and how each concept and skill will be taught. The realities of schooling may prevent students from experiencing exactly this scope and sequence of instruction, but it's better than a system in which a patchwork of individual decisions ...


@eduleadership Part of an ongoing dialogue with Steve Peha—see my original post, Steve's initial response, my first reply, and Steve's latest follow-up. Dear Steve, I think you're right to point to competence as a key issue in motivation, as Dan Pink explains in Drive. Certainly, increased competence should result in increased autonomy, in education as in any other profession. (I would add that feeling competent isn't enough, so I'll assume in this post that we're talking about actual—not just perceived—competence.) From a management perspective, failing to provide increased autonomy to your most competent people is foolish on...


@eduleadership Part of an ongoing dialogue with Steve Peha—see my original post, Steve's initial response, and my first reply. Steve writes: Justin, You had some great thoughts today. Looking for parallels with other professions is always worthwhile. And I love, of course, that you brought up Dan Pink's book and his ideas about Deci and Ryan's Self-Determination Theory. I think, within your analogies, there's a an interesting perspective--if we dig a little deeper. In Deci and Ryan's theory, autonomy plays a role but probably not the fundamental role. Before "autonomy" comes "competence." People need to feel "good" at their...


@eduleadership Dear Steve, Thank you for your thoughtful response to my recent post on curriculum-based assessment. You make a compelling case that over-standardizing teaching may have the unintended consequence of making it a less appealing profession: Imagine that you are a talented principal in Seattle and that your job consists of little more than doing what the state has written in a book for you to do. Everything that is important in your work is specified in such a way that you know when and what to do; your job is effectively standardized and is no different than the job ...


@eduleadership Reader Steve Peha emailed me today with a great response to my previous post that I will share (with his permission) in its entirety: Mr. Baeder, I enjoyed reading your piece today on curriculum. But something you said struck me in a rather visceral way and I wonder if you would consider it here: The strength of such a system is that it actually specifies when and how each concept and skill will be taught. The realities of schooling may prevent students from experiencing exactly this scope and sequence of instruction, but it's better than a system in which ...


@eduleadership Remember the phrase "guaranteed and viable curriculum" from Mike Schmoker's book Results Now? Curriculum matters—what we actually teach students day to day and over their years of schooling has an enormous impact on what they learn. This is obvious on its face, but I'm concerned that the recent focus on accountability and standardized testing is drawing attention away from the importance of curriculum, and of assessment within curriculum. In the best-case scenario, rigorous state standards (and soon, national common core standards) are mapped closely onto a well-articulated, district-wide curriculum supported by robust instructional materials and professional development. The ...


@eduleadership If you were worried that we're running out of proposals to fix education by taking it out of the hands of educators, rest easy. Washington House Bill 1593 would establish alternative routes to certification for principals, purportedly to address the shortage of qualified school leaders. However, a quick read of the bill reveals that it would place managers from other fields in principal positions with no required teaching experience. While I am sympathetic to the logic that leadership in other sectors should translate to successful leadership in education, experience does not bear this out. Over and over again, I ...


@eduleadership Washington state Sen. Rodney Tom (D-Medina) has introduced a bill (full text PDF) to require school districts to conduct layoffs based on performance ratings over the previous two years. This would overturn the near-universal practice of laying off teachers with the least seniority in their specific job category, as required by most collective bargaining agreements in the state. In short, the bill would require districts facing layoffs to lay off the teachers with the lowest two-year average performance rating. The most recent evaluation (i.e. last year's) would carry 60% of the weight, and the previous evaluation would make ...


@eduleadership The Wyoming legislature has proposed a pilot project to video-record teachers without warning for their evaluations, with the teacher, the principal, a parent, and an instructional coach all watching the video and using it as the basis of the teacher's evaluation. Since teachers would not know when the 60-minute video would be taken, and since multiple evaluators would rate the lesson, the rationale is that evaluations would be more reliable and accurate. Lawmakers seem to be expressing a frustration in principals' current effectiveness in evaluating teachers: "The system we have now is not working," [Republican state senator and sponsor ...


@eduleadership This past week, Washington released its annual list of the lowest-performing 5% of schools, which are eligible for state School Improvement Grants. I'm not sure when or why 5% was chosen as the magic number of schools that are unacceptably low-performing, but that figure seems to reflect an emerging consensus on performance in public education. This NY Times/Bay Citizen article on "grade inflation" in teacher evaluations reports that only 2.7% of San Francisco teachers received below-satisfactory ratings in the past five years, and that not a single tenured teacher has been fired in the past three years. ...


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