May 2010 Archives

ED to Expand Salary-Data Collection

Michele McNeil has a very important post up on the U.S. Department of Education's plans to expand a data-collection requirement in the economic-stimulus bill. The requirement essentially asks districts to provide information on disparities in expenditures on schools in the same district. Much of those disparities are caused by differentials in educators' salaries that often aren't taken into account. As she writes, the expanded collection will be part of the Office of Civil Rights' biennial data collection, and might even become an annual requirement. The odds are that, armed with this information, the administration can make a good case ...

NEA Defines a 'Competitive Compensation Schedule'

In comments on a federal performance-pay initiative that's poised to expand, the National Education Association urged the Department of Education to require participating districts to prove that they've established a "competitive compensation schedule" before instituting a performance-bonus system. I've always wondered what the union's vision of an ideal compensation schedule consists of, and this document essentially lays that out. Apparently, the union feels that teachers' baseline salaries should be equivalent to those seen in other professions, or at least $40,000. No surprises there, since the $40,000 figure has been a core part of NEA's national salary initiative for ...

Fla.'s Crist Endorsed by Union

Earlier this year, when Florida Gov. Charlie Crist supported SB 6—which would have put all teachers on annual contracts and tied half of their pay and evaluations to student test scores—he was Public Enemy No. 1 for the Florida Education Association. But, at the last moment, the then-Republican governor changed his mind and vetoed the bill. Public adulation by the FEA followed. And now Crist is reaping the FEA's support in the political arena: FEA took the unusual step of endorsing both Crist, now an independent, and a Democrat for a Senate race this fall at an AFL-CIO...

Civil Rights Concerns Over Seniority-Based Layoffs

A new analysis asserts that high-poverty, high-minority schools stand to lose more teachers through seniority-based layoff policies.

Student Perceptions of Teacher Effectiveness

Over the past year or so, we've talked a lot about principal, administrator, and peer reviews of teachers here at Teacher Beat. But what about students themselves? Can they offer valuable insights into which teachers are the most effective? Quite a few school districts, New York City among them, perform comprehensive reviews of the school environment that include student-survey information. Typically, though, these surveys take place at the building level, rather than at the individual classroom or teacher level. But a few instances of classroom-based surveys, including questions about specific teachers, do exist: The Knowledge Is Power Program schools use ...

'One Test on One Day' for Teacher Evaluations

According to colleagues and sources who attended the Education Writers' Association recent conference, National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel took the opportunity during a panel discussion to reiterate that it's "absurd" for districts and states to think that it's possible to use "one test on one day" to evaluate a teacher. I am genuinely perplexed: I have not heard of a single district that's proposing to use just one test score to evaluate a teacher. The whole point of value-added measures of student growth is that they require at least two scores at different points in time to get ...

School Factors May Influence Teacher Effectiveness

Teacher effectiveness may be determined, in part, by what and who they are teaching, a new working paper finds.

UPDATED: The Magic Number in Teacher Evaluations

Colorado's tenure and evaluation-reform bill passed with most of the core details intact, making what are probably the most aggressive Race-to-the-Top-inspired teacher-quality policy changes to date. The law includes a requirement that teachers be deemed "effective" three years running to earn tenure and a provision that would cause teachers to revert to probationary status if they have two successive "ineffective" ratings. (An appeals process will be granted to such teachers.) Effective teaching will be defined by making student-achievement growth at least half of the evaluation. New York officials, in the meantime, have struck an agreement that would base 40 percent ...

Another NEA-AFT Split on Race to the Top?

As goes Colorado so goes the nation? Right on the heels of the news that the Centennial state's National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers affiliates are on different pages about tenure legislation in that state—which is seen as a key element of its Race to the Top bid—an analogous situation is developing in Maryland. The state is working on a plan to make student-achievement growth part of a new system of teacher evaluation. In its RTTT application, the state plans to make student growth 50 percent of the teacher rating, although test scores wouldn't be more ...

Defining 'Job Embedded' Professional Development

The term "job embedded" professional development is a big one in our field these days. It reflects the common-sense and increasingly influential idea that post-baccalaureate teacher training should be responsive to teachers' day to day practices in school and their own students' needs. The term has also shown up in a lot of recent legislation, including the economic-stimulus bill. Unfortunately, for journalists like me, it's also a clunky, jargon-y term that doesn't do a very good job of conveying what the practice actually consists of. Fortunately, the National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality, which is housed at Learning Point Associates; ...

Colorado Unions Split on Tenure Bill

Oh, snap! There's a bit of a disagreement between Colorado teachers' unions over the tenure bill making its way through the state legislature. Why? Because the state National Education Association affiliate won't support the bill but the state American Federation of Teachers, which is admittedly much smaller, has endorsed it. The AFT has decided to throw its weight behind the bill because of new amendments, expected to pass, that would: insert a due-process procedure for teachers that revert to probationary status after poor evaluations; maintain seniority as a tiebreaker when laying off "effective" teachers; include teacher input in placement decisions; ...

TFA Plans Detroit Return Over Union's Objection

The popular Teach For America program is returning to Motor City, where 100 new graduates will apply for positions in the school's beleaguered public schools. This is a big deal for the organization, which hasn't had any placements there since 2003. Robert Bobb, the emergency financial manager for Detroit Public Schools, has been a supporter of the move. The teacher-training group put out a four-paged press release announcing the news, and everyone but your mother is quoted in it: Bobb, TFA founder Wendy Kopp, University of Michigan professor Deborah Ball, and Governor Jennifer Granholm all praise the move. Noticeably absent ...

Colorado Tenure-Reform Bill in Spotlight

Colorado lawmakers are debating a bill to make test scores count in teacher and principal evaluations and make it easier to dismiss ineffective educators.

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