Hawaii was one of ten winners in round two of Race to the Top, and with its $75 million grant came the mandate to develop a new teacher evaluation system that includes measures of student performance. Hawaii, like Washington DC, has a single school district, albeit for a much broader and more diverse geographic area. This means that a single entity, the Hawaii Department of Education, is responsible both for complying with the RttT terms and for implementing the new evaluation system, a situation no other entity except the District of Columbia is facing. The problem is that teacher evaluation ...


I get a lot of education-related email at my Gmail address, so I often see education-related ads of all kinds. But this one takes the cake: Yes, MassMutual, an insurance company, is actively, explicitly recruiting former or would-be-former teachers to sell insurance. You can see the pitch, complete with a video testimonial from an ex-teacher, on their website. It's not really surprising, given the number of people who leave the profession each year, that "secondary markets" have developed for teaching skills. Since no one majors in insurance sales in college, it makes sense for insurance companies to identify potential career-changers ...


US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan made headlines today by suggesting that teachers should earn between $60,000 and $150,000 per year, in an address to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards last week. His comments on overall salary were what drew the most immediate attention on Twitter, but a closer look reveals that he's beating the usual drums: Merit pay and the end of seniority. In the speech, he mentioned the "top-third" recruitment strategy used by top-performing nations such as Finland: We have an amazing chance to modernize the teaching profession and expand the talent pool. But ...


Last week, NYC announced the end of its merit pay program after 3 years and $56 million. It's good timing—the Atlanta cheating scandal has cast a pall over any attempt to tie compensation to test scores. The Times reports: The decision was made in light of a study that found the bonuses had no positive effect on either student performance or teachers' attitudes toward their jobs. ... Weighing surveys, interviews and statistics, the study found that the bonus program had no effect on students' test scores, on grades on the city's controversial A to F school report cards, or on the...


The Atlanta cheating scandal has sparked a national debate about the wisdom of accountability based on high-stakes testing. As I argued in my last post, I don't think tests themselves are the problem; it's our accountability structures that need to be rethought. Here's my take on what we should do to fix accountability. Make it local. No agency is more poorly equipped to hold schools accountable for their performance than the U.S. Department of Education. With nearly 100,000 schools in 50 states and other jurisdictions, federal-level accountability cannot be anything other than a clumsy tool. But when students ...


@eduleadership In the wake of several major cheating scandals, most notably Atlanta's, several prominent voices, including Yong Zhao and Diane Ravitch, seem to be calling for an end to standardized testing. It's easy to understand why. In what future generations will cite as a textbook case of Campbell's Law, standardized test scores have been treated as the goal of education itself, rather than one among many ways of gauging our progress. Because of this distortion, educators' behavior has been focused on raising test scores by any means necessary rather than on improving the substantive educational experiences of students in legitimate, ...


@eduleadership Bill Turque at the Washington Post reports today that the District of Columbia has fired more than 200 teachers as a result of negative evaluation ratings: Those fired amount to nearly 6 percent of the 4,100 teachers in the city school system. They were dismissed for poor scores on the evaluation system known as IMPACT, which grades teachers on five 30-minute classroom observations and their compliance with nine broad standards. These include ability to express course content clearly, teach students with differing skill levels and manage time effectively. For some teachers, half of their appraisal is contingent on ...


@eduleadership As Nicholas Kristof noted a few months ago in the NY Times, the quality of the teaching profession was long subsidized by discrimination and other barriers preventing talented people from entering other fields: Until a few decades ago, employment discrimination perversely strengthened our teaching force. Brilliant women became elementary school teachers, because better jobs weren't open to them. It was profoundly unfair, but the discrimination did benefit America's children. These days, brilliant women become surgeons and investment bankers -- and 47 percent of America's kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers come from the bottom one-third of their college classes (as measured ...


@eduleadership It's DC all over again. EdWeek's Christina Samuels writes on the District Dossier blog: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has published on its website the entire 400-page state report that alleges that principals and teachers changed student answers on state tests in order to get higher scores. ... The conclusion in the report is scathing and unequivocal: "Without question, cheating occurred in [Atlanta Public Schools] on the CRCT in 2009 and previous years. The erasure analysis is no longer a mere red flag, but is supported by confessions and other evidence of cheating in 78.6 percent of the elementary and middle ...


@eduleadership When critics think about the merit of public schools, they're often thinking simultaneously about performance at both ends of the spectrum. On the bottom end, we want to make sure that Johnny can read. We have a variety of assessments that give us data about our progress toward this mission. On the top end, we want to make sure that our schools are allowing students to become all that they can be. In most cases, schools aren't adequately fulfilling this mission—though we don't have very good data, because we fail to ask the right questions. This failure is increasingly...


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