Strike highlights division on teacher evaluation

Critics note there is little, if any, evidence that basing evaluations on test scores will improve student achievement, and they argue it is being implemented at a large scale too quickly.

One of the key disagreements driving Chicago teachers to the picket lines this week is also a central component of President Barack Obama’s education policy: evaluating instructors in part on how much their students improve.

Through its $4 billion Race to the Top competition and No Child Left Behind waivers, the Obama administration has encouraged states to change how teachers are assessed and include data on student growth as a component. That policy has hit a nerve in the education community, and not just among the unions.

Critics note there is little, if any, evidence that basing evaluations on test scores will improve student achievement, and they argue it is being implemented at a large scale too quickly. Those in support of the revamped evaluations argue that far too many teachers are retained and given above-average reviews without any real assessment.…Read More

School groups craft seven-part plan for improving teaching

Under the goals outlined, teachers would receive rigorous training before they enter the workforce and throughout their careers, and they would collaborate with administrators on issues such as career advancement, dismissal, and selection.

National, state, and district education leaders have convened at a conference this week focused on establishing better labor-management collaboration to ensure that teachers are respected, supported, and equipped to prepare students for the increasingly competitive global economy.

Held from May 23 to 24 in Cincinnati, the 2012 Labor-Management Conference continues the work of a first-of-its-kind national conference hosted in Denver last year. This year’s event, titled “Collaborating to Transform the Teaching Profession,” showcases successful examples of labor and management working together to strengthen the teaching profession.

In particular, the conference aims to develop better recruiting tactics and improve teacher preparation and career development. Toward that end, participants are set to approve a seven-part plan to improve the teaching profession.…Read More

Tougher teacher evaluation system prompts schools to ban student teachers

Williamson County Schools spokeswoman Carol Birdsong said schools can’t risk interference for teachers when 35 percent of their evaluations are based on student learning gains on standardized tests.

Tennessee’s new teacher evaluation system has prompted some school districts to ban student teachers from working in core high school subjects, college education officials say. The reason: So much of a teacher’s evaluation is now based on student test scores that some teachers don’t want to cede control of their classroom to a student teacher.

“It’s nothing but the teacher evaluation system that’s got them tied up in knots,” James Stamper, director of student teaching for Belmont University, told The Tennessean. “We all had to have somewhere to start.”

Recent changes in state law—including teacher evaluations and toughening the curriculum—allowed Tennessee to win $500 million in the national Race to the Top education grant competition.…Read More

New teacher evaluation framework promises to serve students, and educators, fairly

“We have seen over the past few months a strong backlash against unions and collective bargaining. … (But) essentially, improved labor-management relations are in the best interest of every district.”

Learning Leadership column, Sept. 2011 edition of eSchool News—The principal of P.S. 147 in Cambria Heights, N.Y., offered me a sixth-grade teaching position in September 1968. It was to be my first regular teaching assignment. Several weeks into the school year, Al Shanker, then president of the New York City United Federation of Teachers, called for a teacher strike. For several weeks that fall, I found myself walking the picket line with Al and my fellow teachers. As the strike progressed, unsettled, I took a job on Wall Street to make ends meet. I was getting married that January, and I had bills to pay.

Fortunately, the strike came to an end before the holidays, and I resumed my teaching career. I experienced another teacher strike in New York City before I left the classroom and then several others after I became an administrator. During the 30 years I spent in New York, the unions and collective bargaining were very much embedded in every aspect of education. Negotiations often were contentious and bitter, particularly if they culminated in a strike. As a superintendent, I learned to work with the unions and walk that fine line between teacher compensation and working conditions and my responsibility to the taxpayers and the students we served. Harmonious relationships were always in the best interest of the students, as long as both sides were fair-minded and willing to compromise.

In February, the American Association of School Administrators co-sponsored a conference in Denver along with the U.S. Department of Education, the two teacher unions, the National School Boards Association, the Council of Great City Schools, and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. The conference focused on how labor-management collaboration could lead to enhanced student learning. Education Secretary Arne Duncan is a strong proponent of that process, and he invited 125 school districts from around the country to participate in the conference with teams consisting of the superintendent, the union president, and the school board president. Amazingly, more than 200 districts applied to attend the conference.…Read More

Teachers sue over new state ratings system

New York’s new teacher-evaluation system–designed to rate them based in part on student scores in reading and math–is in jeopardy after the state teachers union filed a lawsuit challenging its legality, reports the New York Post. The lawsuit, filed yesterday in State Supreme Court in Albany, signals a major rift in cooperation between the union and the state Education Department–which had worked together to win nearly $700 million in federal funds through the Race to the Top competition…

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Tests for pupils, but the grades go to teachers

New York City education officials are developing more than a dozen new standardized tests, but in a sign of the times, their main purpose will be to grade teachers, not the students who take them, the New York Times reports. Elementary school students would most likely take at least one or two additional tests every year, beginning in the third grade. High school students could take up to eight additional tests a year, and middle school students would also have extra tests. These would be in addition to the state English, math and Regents exams that students already take…

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