Ultimately, details such as the quality of the feedback that teachers receive will probably determine whether they embrace the system.

I must apologize for my extended absence from blogging, thanks to a combination of delayed holiday travel and a sinus infection ('Tis the season to be, uh, jolly.) Fortunately, there's been a lot of interesting things going on out there on the Race to the Top. So we return to our regularly scheduled programming! At the end of last year, I did a couple of blog items on how state unions were responding to their respective state's Race to the Top applications. You can read a fuller version of what I wrote in those posts in this Education Week story. ...

Like half of Washington, D.C., I'm stuck at the airport waiting for a flight. Being the teacher-policy nerd that I am, here are a few items that have caught my attention as I've been scanning the news this morning. • The Detroit teacher contract was ratified by a 63 percent yea vote. Now everyone there can start dealing with all the other issues, like horrible scores on the NAEP and a new rubber room and the structure of performance-pay, peer-assistance, and peer-review programs. • Mathematica Policy Research has won a contract to evaluate the Teacher Incentive Program sites. (TIF, you'll...

• Apparently the contract under consideration in Detroit would create its own version of New York City's infamous "rubber rooms." • For an up-close look at the effects of central-office hiring processes, seniority provisions and working conditions, check out Emily Alpert's terrific three-part series in the Voice of San Diego. • Michele McNeil gives some Race to the Top application pointers over at Politics K-12. Finally, I'm heading back to Californ-eye-ay for some time with my family next week, so posting will probably be relatively light. Happy holidays from me and the Education Week team....

Florida's teachers' union will discourage affiliates from signing off on the state's Race to the Top plan.

To follow my previous post on the MOUs that states are beginning to create for their Race to the Top applications, it's quite interesting that some states are giving their teachers' unions seemingly much more leverage over whether or not the district will actually participate. Some states, like Colorado, are using the Education Department's model MOU wholesale. (It is in the appendix of the application). That one makes no reference to collective bargaining at all. Then there's Massachusetts' MOU, which adds this language: "Nothing in this MOU shall be construed to override any rights or duties as provided by collective ...

States want local unions to sign off on their Race to the Top Plans, but will affiliates agree to do so?

Misinformation about the details of a new contract agreement is causing concern.

Should there be two separate instruments for teacher improvement and accountability, or can the same instrument serve both purposes?

At the Center for American Progress, Raegen T. Miller, a policy expert (and former teachers'-union leader, natch) has an interesting paper up about "value-added" measures of teacher effectiveness. He has two major points: The term value-added itself, which comes from economics, is objectionable to some teachers. It probably needs to be changed reflect that teachers contribute to their practices in ways other than boosting test scores, and that the test scores themselves pick up factors outside of a teacher's control, he writes. He suggests the term "context adjusted achievement test effects" as an alternative. Second, systems that seek to incorporate ...

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