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Effective Measures


Just when you were getting used to the idea of a Highly Qualified Teacher requirement, a high-profile panel comes along and says what we really need is a Highly Qualified Effective Teacher requirement. A much-anticipated report by the Commission on No Child Left Behind, a bipartisan panel convened by the Aspen Institute to advise Congress on refurbishing NCLB, recommends that states be required to set up systems to track teachers’ effectiveness based on student achievement data over time, as well as principal and peer evaluations. Under the plan, if a teacher does not achieve “HQET status” after five years (including three years of specialized professional development), his or her principal would be required to notify the parents of students in the teacher’s classes. Teachers who fail to attain HQET status after seven years would no longer be allowed to teach in a school receiving Title I funds. ''The Commission believes that it is time to raise the bar and allow all teachers to demonstrate their effectiveness in the classroom rather than just their qualifications for entering it,'' the report says.


I do agree as professional educators
we must keep abreast of our profession. We took an oath. We should go beyond "staff Development" provided by our schools/pricipals.We must keep furthering our own education for staff development is redundant and useless in as far as NCLB and assisting "THE CHILREN." The child get lost .Yet, I question who are ensuring that Administrators are "HIGHLY QUALIFIED?" And were does their accountability lay besides pushing papers and pushing blame on their faculty and holding NCLB as a threat? Who over sees them? They are mainly concerned with TEST SCORES. They should be accountable far beyond test out comes.

I agree that teachers should be highly qualified AND effective. I am upset though. Most teachers are continually "upgrading" themselves by professional development, workshops, etc., and we are expected to always be on top of our game, BUT we are never compensated for it respectably. A teacher must be so much more than just a teacher yet we are very poorly paid. Teachers are the foundation of this great nation and I think it is high time we start getting the credit we deserve.

How this is measured would be very difficult. However a more authentic measure would measure each individual student's growth over time. This way, all schools would be expected to show growth in all students. This means not saying that students have learned when they come in already knowing what was being taught.
Additionally, if students are given vouchers or other paths to private schools, those schools should also be measured and held accountable as soon as they receive these funds. Who holds them accountable? Their teachers do not even have to be certified, so how do we know whether or not they are even qualified? No one measures their effectiveness and yet funds from public schools are given to private schools based on NCLB.
We should also hold legislators and politicians to the same accountable. How many of them would be considered highly qualified and highly effective?

I am a highly qualified mathematics teacher with 20 years experience. But recently have been deemed ineffective. I am constantly given classes with students who are at risk, special needs, or deficit in mathematics whereas the effective teachers are given gifted classes, highly motivated students, department chair positions. My job is much more difficult because of the types of students I teach whereas others are given an easier load.
How do we even the playing field in class scheduling. Students in my school ddistrict or misplaced in courses, minority and disadvantaged are thrown wereever there is space as opposed to where their abilities say they should be.
Mainstreaming is a thing of the past and Tracking still exists.

What is the desired outcome? Better learning for students? We know that half of student acheivement comes from teacher quality. How will you control for the other half? Formative assessment is a more authentic way for teachers to embrace and reflect on their practice. We move in our practice when we own that growth and development. Who will conduct the assessments? What training and experience will they have in the process of being an educator and in being an assessor? Being a better teacher is a good thing. Who gets to decide what makes a better teacher?

This would take so much time. If, as is usually the case, there is no more money for local schools to provide time and systems to implement this requirement, then it will be one more "accountability" measure that takes away from the students. I'm glad I'm retired!

My concern with this is the problem of the states developing and using testing measures that are valid and reliable. As a special educator with many years of experience I have found that state tests for elementary students averaged a readability level of nearly TWO years above the students' grade level. In addition, I, as well as other teachers, have found errors in content and in mathematical calculations used by the testing institution as answers for the tests. Until there is more accountability on the part of the state and local school districts for how these testing measures are developed and reviewed PRIOR to being used, I really do not think it is fair to determine teacher effectiveness based on such unreliable measures.

I would like to finally see administrators and school boards measured on their effectiveness. With over 30 students in a class (not counting several special needs students and their no-training-required assistants), weak budgets, no leave time/substitute teachers for FT teachers' professional develpment, no funding or rewards for attempting National Board Certification, ETC., ETC., ETC., why do the fingers get pointed at teachers all the time. If teachers are not up to par, I look at the weak administrator who hired and did not develop that teacher properly. I look at the school board who pays less than a worker on the back of a waste removal truck. We need to look at effective measures for school board members, principals and superintendents. That's the ticket!!!

I believe that our jobs are more at risk then others if it comes to this. I agree that we are not paid as much as we should be for all the professioanl development that we are required to have.I also believe we should test the effectiveness of everyone that deals with the students. How are the effectiveness of parents? Are they highly qualified? I love making a difference, but I am absolutely hate what it has come down to. Now I understand why many of my peers that I have graduated with have started teaching and ended up in other professions. We're losing good teachers due to the politics.

I'm a math coach at a middle school. I have taught language sheltered students for 8 years. This is what I see. I see good teachers teaching large classes with "regular" students. Regular students are language sheltered students and regular (not high achieving students). They are working hard with mediocre results. I see good teachers with "high achieving students" getting good results. The troubling part is that I see mediocre to bad teachers teaching "high achieving" students and they also get good results. My fear is that teachers will only want to teach the "high achieving students" so good results are guaranteed. This is NOT a positive for public education. We have underpaid teachers who are pressured to only teach high achieving students so that their jobs won't be threatened. There is something very wrong with this system.

I have been teaching for five years, and see with full clarity why many wonderful teachers are leaving the profession. This ridiculous requirement is simply one more addition to a long list of extraordinarily bad ideas. I teach all levels of students from gifted to severly below grade level. My gifted and honors students are high achievers, and rake in the top test scores. Students I have in 10th grade college prep. language arts who are reading at a 6th grade level don't often make the standardized cut (even when the tests are valid- which isn't as often as the politicians would like you to believe). Since I've jumped through the highly qualified teacher hoops, maybe I'm simply not effective because my struggling students only marginally improve. Since I can't seem to motivate the kid who has been absent for 8 consecutive days with unexcused absences- who is crying out in the hallway frantically dialing her cell phone to check the hospitals for her drunk mother, because she has already called all the bars and the jails- to do her research paper, I must not have a clue what I'm doing in a classroom. I'm sure it is just me. Give me an effective teacher course. That will solve it all.

Will they track test scores from different classes over a different set of years? I teach sophomores and only sophomores. Will they compare one class to another? Will they base my teaching over time with one year with a class, sometimes of transient students and absence problems?

Why do highly effective teachers seem to be the ones who can't wait to get out of the classroom and into administration? Some of us bust our buts to teach life lessons and career possibilities besides our curriculum, to students who say their, "parents never used that, why do we have to learn it?". Some of us don't coach sports. Some of us fail the football superstar who can't seem to do our classwork, let alone the homework. Are we not supposed to alert administration to students who they find really do have drugs on them at school, because it is a critical incident and will lower the school score? Make sure you are evaluated before the administrator who evaluates you gets their pink slip. Otherwise, you may be living in a county that says they can't find teachers in critical areas, while your resume is in each of their files and a substitute is “teaching“ the class. How many honors students can actually pass the college entrance test at the local community college without needing remedial classes?

It is imperative that we address the deficits and disparities in state testing across the nation before we get onto a new 'measure' for teachers based on profoundly unreliable and arbitrary tests. Multiple choice test containing poor quality test items and setting arbitrary cut scores are hardly the type of indicator that we want to use to gauge an entire profession.

I am a 20 yr veteran educator/reading specialist who currently works on a reservation. My experiences at school are very much like those mentioned here.

By the time I am well into my retirement years, there will be a national curriculum for students and teachers to follow. It would take away the current overriding issues if we had one set curriculum and set of teaching standards for the whole nation to practice. Other parts of the world have national exams to pass before matriculating students from one level to the next. Why don't Americans consider such a practice?

I meet and exceed the "highly qualified" requirements under NCLB, am an honors graduate in literacy and reading education, have taught jr. college remedial reading and ELL writing. It seems to me that as long as we splinter our thinking to the point of delineating pedagogic practices, that no matter how hard we all work to perfect our teaching, there will always be argument over what should be done as opposed to what has been done in education. Teacher's job is not limited to instruction; we wear too many hats, and entertain too many kinds of "audiences" on a daily basis in the classroom--is this a hinderance to our credibility and accountability? Unfortunately, yes!

Using student testing as a means of grading teachers is unreliable. First, if the test is low stakes for the students, most quickly figure out they don't have to try very hard. Second, parents (in California) allow students to skip the test through a waiver. Motivated parents like that generally have students who would have done well. Third, a teacher's performance is one of numerous outside factors outside of our control that influence student performance on test. Imagine grading a dentist on whether his patients brushed and flossed between checkups.

The problem is there is not a way to get qualified administrators into the education field. Well-educated people simply do not go into teaching--they know it pays to little. Consequently administrators in teaching are the worst of the worst. The lowest qualitiy students go to into teaching (embarassing ACTs, SATs, GREs)then on to administration. No respected academic has any regard for the education schools or majors in this country. (A friend of mine who teaches at Miami University points out that he would rather have "frat boys and sorority sisters" with real majors than education students in his classes.)

An education major is simply not rigorous academic training. It is not a demanding discipline hence you end up with administrators who have already compromised themselves in the very field they wish to administer.

It seems that once a person commits the academic fraud of accepting a degree in Education they have compromised their integrity from which it is very hard to recover. There are a few who have redeemed themselves, but a very few.

HQT standards, as the New York Times recently pointed out, are not being followed because of the engrained practice by administrators of "good-ol boy" hiring (nepotism, patronage, and favoritism of unqualified teachers.) It will take a generation to spin-out the "education-major" teachers and replace them with teachers who have had a rigorous academic background. But that will not happen until quality people (with real academic commitment) go into teaching.

While there may be a few teachers who are subpar, they got there because of a previously flawed decision by an administrator. There are no serious standards for becoming an administrator except he phony education school credentials. I have met very few administrators with integrity or a decent education. It is amazing how anti-intellectual they actually are.

My experience has also been that good managers in private industry are good at taking care of their people. This is rarely the case in the public schools because the administrators are so defensive about their own inadequacies. They actually prefer to call themselves administrators than managers because they do not want the responsibility that performing as a real manager requires.

I am highly suspicious when an administrator pronounces a teacher inadquate. They simply do not have the integrity to make such a judgement.

One last point: if we are going to get rid of teachers whose students are lower performers on the standardized tests we run the risk of getting rid of highly qualified teachers dedicated to teaching in the disadvantaged and desperate schools. These same teachers would have highly performing students in other schools--they choose to work in the most difficult schools in order to make the world a better place. But that is not a goal of administrators.

Testman, thank you for pointing out the lack of education actually taking place in educator courses.
I have an undergrad degree in a 'real' discipline from a rigorous and respected university. When I decided to leave corporate America due to an epiphany that I was not actually contributing anything socially meaningful to society, I was required to get a masters in education after exempting praxis I and passing praxis II (which a vast majority of folks with undergrad education degrees seem unable to do). I had been out of college for 8 years, and did not even need to study for the test which I passed with flying colors, the first time I took it, the day before my own wedding.
But I digress... I was utterly appalled to be taking masters level courses that were less rigorous and demanding than the AP literature, history, and physics courses I had taken in high school. These 'masters level classes', I can't even begin to compare with my undergrad work...
Because there is so much hoop jumping in supposedly 'highly' qualified teaching programs, no one seems to notice or care that those hoops are arbitrary, meaningless attainments which do nothing to make people highly qualified at anything except attend a class without drooling on themselves.

Irritated with the idiocy,

I did undergraduate at one of the nation's most selective universities. My father is a professor in a serious discipline at a serious university and all my brothers and I went to tough schools majoring in tough subjects. There is no respect for "Education" schools among real professors of real subjects. Education classes are bogus and phony courses taught by feeble-minded idiots. Teachers I know, who have Education degrees, who are honest, admit they just got the piece of rubbish because it boosts a teacher's pay--the degree's do not represent rigorous intelletual discipline.

I had to take courses at Antioch/McGregor to get my teaching license and I had never run into such a pack of idiots as they have in their Education faculty. These are all Ph.Ds in Education, but as I have said before, if one is ready to make the intellectual compromise in accepting a bogus education degree--one has compromised one's intellectual integrity.

I have available for viewing in my classroom, all of my school records. I encourage my students to study them. After my public school education I didn't have stellar SATs, or ACTs, but after university I had Mensa GMATs, GREs and easily passed the Foreign Service Exam in all areas. (I went into computer engineering for 20 years before I retired to have children.) I'm doing a public service commitment as an HQT licensed in Physics and Computer Science teaching in the inner-city public schools. I'm working on a book about this sitution in Education so I hope you will continue this conversation.

For all of those complaining and criticizing - if you're not part of the solution you are part of the problem.

If you're not teaching - stop criticizing those who do - and unless you were home schooled a teacher taught you how to read this post.

If you're teaching and complaining, become active in changing the system or stop whining because you are the problem - all talk and no action.

A teacher's best qualities are not what they know - that be gotten out of a book. It's their willingness, their dedication, and their time. Something some of you seem to be lacking.

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