Articles tagged with teacher evaluations

New poll finds strong support for local schools and teachers

The latest Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll on public education shows Americans continue to strongly support their public schools, want rigorous teacher evaluations, support Common Core standards, and are divided about the concept of school choice.

By a considerable margin, the poll showed that a lack of funding is viewed as the biggest challenge facing public schools, cited by 35 percent of Americans and 43 percent of public school parents. The survey’s authors noted that only 23 percent of Americans saw funding as a problem in 2002, the same year that 39 percent cited fighting, gang violence, and drugs as the largest issue in public schools. Only 14 percent of Americans cited those factors as problems in 2012.

Half of the Americans polled said they believe Common Core standards will improve the quality of education in their communities (including 46 percent of those identified as Republicans, 60 percent of Democrats, and 43 percent of Independents).

And for the first time in 10 years, support for charter schools dipped slightly, with 66 percent of Americans overall supporting the schools. But 44 percent of Americans approve of vouchers for private schools, a 10 percentage point jump from last year’s all-time low of 34 percent. And 70 percent of Americans favor giving parents of children in failing schools the option of mounting a petition to remove the administrators and teachers.

In a separate poll conducted by Gallup on the No Child Left Behind Act, more Americans said the law and its testing and accountability requirements have made education worse rather than better. Twenty-nine percent said the law has made school worse, 16 said better, and 38 percent said it hasn’t made much of a difference. Gallup’s annual Work and Education Poll, released Aug. 20, has shown similar results in recent years.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|August 22nd, 2012|Categories: Educational Finance, No Child Left Behind, School Vouchers, Teachers|Tags: , , , |

The week in blogs: When the numbers don’t add up

Sarah Wysocki, a fifth grade teacher at McFarland Middle School in Washington, D.C, was worried about how she’d fare under the district’s IMPACT teacher evaluation, writes Bill Turque in a disturbing article in The Washington Post.

Her main concern was this: Fourteen of Wysocki’s 25 students had attended Barnard Elementary, which had five times the number of advanced fourth-grade readers as the district average. Yet Wysocki said that some of those so-called “advanced readers” could barely read.

Were the scores –the scores from which Wysocki’s “value-added” evaluation would be derived — inflated? Despite the high number of erasures on Barnard’s test papers and a subsequent investigation, a district spokesman told Turque that “it’s just not possible to know for sure.” And so, despite glowing evaluations, and even suggestions that she share her teaching methods with colleagues, Wysocki got the low score she feared and was dismissed.

The Post story is one of several this week that call into question the kind of “value-added” teacher evaluation programs that are becoming increasingly common across the country. Of course, many of the previous evaluation systems weren’t so great, either. In a New Republic article titled The False Promise of the New York City Teacher Evaluations, author Simon van Zuylen-Wood notes that, under a previous evaluation system that relied solely on classroom observations, 97 percent of New York teachers were judged “satisfactory.” But the new system has apparently substituted new errors for old ones.

There’s more. Read the essay by William Johnson in the New York Times titled “Confessions of a ‘Bad’ Teacher.” Then see how some liberal parents — many concernebout what they consider a misplaced emphasis on testing and evaluation– are joining their conservative counterparts in the home schooling ranks, thereby removing some of the most high-performing students from public school.

With all this — as well as massive budget cuts and staff reductions — is it any wonder that, according to the latest MetLife Survey of the American Teacher,  teacher job satisfaction has fallen by 15 percentage points since 2009, and nearly a third of teachers are considering leaving the profession?

I didn’t plan to make this column so negative, but I think these things are important to point out. Certainly, most school districts value their teachers and treat them like professionals. But even with the best of intentions, grand ideas concerning testing, evaluation, and accountably — when applied clumsily — can end up harming the very professionals we need to support.


Lawrence Hardy|March 11th, 2012|Categories: Assessment, Data Driven Decision Making, School Reform, Teachers, Urban Schools|Tags: , |

The week in blogs: MIT tries turning down the pressure

Greetings, prospective MIT freshman. Ready for your first essay question?

“What do you do for fun?”

If you think that’s a trick question on the application of the ultra-selective Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stuart Schmill, MIT’s Dean of Admission, assures you on Inside Higher ED  that it is not.

“The truth is that we’re looking for balance,” the application says.

Then, look at this: In the spaces where MIT asks applicants to list their AP, IB, or Cambridge classes, there are all of three spaces (although students can click a button to add more if they want.) The point is that MIT is trying, in one small way, to send the message that it’s not all about loading up on AP classes or signing up for every activity. Try telling that to some students at highly competitive high schools, who routinely enroll in five or more AP classes in a typical senior year.

MIT is on the right track. Question is, with most highly selective colleges looking at strength of program (that is, how may advanced classes a student takes) as a measure of student accomplishment, is MIT really going to give no edge to those with more college-level classes?

Speaking of trying to lay off the pressure, read Bill Gates in the New York Times on why public release of individual teacher performance assessments is not a good idea. And, also in the Times, see the insightful editorial “Shuttering Bad Charter Schools.”

Finally, in what can only be called The Best Twisting Left-Handed Over-the-Shoulder Pass in a Celebrity All-Star Game by a U.S. Secretary of Education, see the UTube video of Arne Duncan – former Harvard and Australian pro league basketball player — in a warm up to Sunday’s NBA All Star Game

Lawrence Hardy|February 26th, 2012|Categories: Curriculum, High Schools, Teachers|Tags: , , , |

The week in blogs: A gentleman’s C?

Education Week’s Quality Counts 2012 came out this week and with it the annual State of the States report card.  So how did the nation do?

“Overall, the nation received a grade of C across all policy and performance areas, which remained the same as a year ago,” writes Jim Hull, senior policy analyst for NSBA’s Center for Public Education.

 That’s the average. But if you want to know whether that’s a half-full C or half-empty one, you’ll need to read the details, which Hull summarizes in his EDifier blog. The good news: states have been taking steps to improve their standards. The not-so-good news: states haven’t been especially innovative in terms of teacher policies.

One big teacher policy issue, value-added teacher evaluations, received a boost this week from a Harvard/Columbia study of teacher effectiveness, writes Hull in his second blog this week. For another look at the study, read Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times. And for background, see the Center’s report “Building a Better Evaluation System.”

One critic of value-added is education historian and former Assistant U.S. Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch, who says in a recent blog that they “never” should be used.

Also read Ravitch’s post “NCLB Death Star,” which you have to admit — however you feel about the federal law that turned 10 this month — has a great title.

The Big Questions kept coming this week with a rather brave post by Jay Mathews, of the Washington Post’s Class Struggle blog, who revisits the issue of Intelligent Design and says (for a second time) that he thinks it should be taught alongside evolution.

After his first blog on the subject, Mathews received 400 not-so-nice e-mails. “Seventy percent of them said I was an idiot,” Mathews quipped. “Many added that I was a dangerous idiot.”

However, Mathews has an interesting reason for wanting Intelligent Design included. And — as you might expect — his post sparks a lively discussion.

 

 

Lawrence Hardy|January 13th, 2012|Categories: 21st Century Skills, Assessment, Center for Public Education, Educational Legislation, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Student Achievement, Week in Blogs|Tags: , , |

Teacher evaulation process needs evaluation

Photo courtesy Stockvault

Photo courtesy Stockvault

There’s a reason school districts still rely on the same teacher evaluation model that’s been around for half a century.

Many are not ready for anything more ambitious.

Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of local school leaders who do a great job of evaluating teachers.

It’s just that, with everything else there is to do in today’s public schools, the teacher evaluation process can get lost in the shuffle. You just assume it’s working fine.

That’s why there are principals out there who are not adequately trained to evaluate their faculty. And why there is little money out there to provide that training.

And why lots of mediocre teachers get a “satisfactory” rating each year—because principals don’t feel qualified to make hard judgments or prefer to avoid the hassles of dealing with a struggling teacher.

Of course, there also are those schools that just avoid the issue altogether. That reality was revealed in a new report that concludes the Boston Public schools “routinely neglect a basic task: evaluating teachers.”

According to the Boston Globe, the report, commissioned by the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education, found that “half the city’s approximately 5,000 teachers have not received an evaluation in the past two years, and a quarter of the city’s 135 schools have not conducted evaluations during that period.”
(more…)

Naomi Dillon|February 25th, 2010|Categories: American School Board Journal, Governance, Teachers|Tags: , |
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