Union President blasts ‘not credible’ data dump

New Haven’s teachers union president Wednesday boycotted the unveiling of new school data that he called a glossing-over of serious problems—and that district officials hailed as a sign of success, the New Haven Independent reports. The union president, David Cicarella, avoided a press conference Wednesday at Ross/Woodward School where top officials gathered to announce results of annual “school climate” surveys taken by parents, teachers, students and staff. The district initiated these surveys as a key way of evaluating the success of New Haven’s ambitious school reform drive. (Click here to view school-by-school results.) Superintendent Reggie Mayo announced that all of the city’s 43 schools and transitional programs scored “satisfied or better” on the district’s rating scale. Satisfaction scores “rose significantly” in 18 schools this year, and dropped significantly in four schools, he announced.

“Feedback is getting stronger, and it’s getting better,” Mayo announced…

Click here for the full story…Read More

D.C. schools to use data from teacher evaluation system in new ways

Although the main purpose of the District’s new teacher evaluation system is to rate teachers’ effectiveness, officials are beginning to use the fresh troves of data it generates for other purposes, such as assessing administrators and determining which universities produce the best- or least-prepared teachers, reports the Washington Post.

“There are hundreds of human capital questions you need to answer to effectively run a school district,” said Jason Kamras, personnel chief for D.C. public schools and the main architect behind the evaluation system, called IMPACT. “And for the first time, we have really good data allowing us to answer those questions. There is a bigger picture we are now able to understand.”

Across the country, education reformers have been pressing for more rigorous, quantifiable ways to evaluate teachers, and the District’s new system is in the vanguard of that movement, even as unions and education experts question its merits. Now in its second year, IMPACT uses five classroom observations to rate how effective a teacher is in nine standards – including explaining content clearly and engaging students – deemed essential to good teaching. Certain teachers are also judged on whether their students’ test scores sufficiently improve – a metric known as “value-added.” All of the numbers are crunched into a teacher’s annual rating, ranging from ineffective to highly effective……Read More

Duncan: Schools should disclose more teacher data

Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Aug. 25 urged schools across the country to disclose more data on student achievement and teacher effectiveness, saying too much information that would help teachers and parents is being kept out of public view, reports the Associated Press. Duncan said schools too often aren’t disclosing years of data on student achievement that could not only help parents measure a teacher’s effectiveness, but also would help teachers gain better feedback. “Too often our systems keep all of our teachers in the dark about the quality of their own work,” Duncan told an audience in Little Rock, Ark. “In other fields, we talk about success constantly, with statistics and other measures to prove it. Why, in education, are we scared to talk about what success looks like?” Duncan, who spoke at a lecture hosted by the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service and the Clinton Presidential Library, said his remarks were prompted by a Los Angeles Times series analyzing teacher performance. The newspaper took seven years of student test data from Los Angeles and developed a “value-added” analysis to show which third through fifth grade teachers were making the most gains. The newspaper plans to post the results on its web site in a searchable database, prompting complaints from some teachers. Duncan said he’s not advocating posting the results online, but he noted that some teachers said their districts had never provided them with such data. Duncan said more than 2,000 teachers asked the newspaper for their scores. “The fact that teachers did not have information like this for all those years is ridiculous,” he said. “Local school districts, in real partnership and collaboration with their teachers, must decide how to share this information, how to put it in context, and how to use it in order to get better.”

Click here for the full story

…Read More