Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Other thoughts from Vanderbilt.

More thoughts from the Vanderbilt conference on teacher effectiveness.

—Presenters brought up the difficulty, in value-added systems, in determining the teacher of record for a given student; they did not, however, offer much comfort in the way of solutions. This is a fine point always worth 

—Nearly all the districts you hear about that have experimented with merit pay are relatively large. Reporters should not ignore what is (and is not) being done for and by small districts in the implementation of Race to the Top and other reforms.

—Jeanne Burns of the Louisiana Board of Regents talked about the state’s value-added system designed to measure teacher preparation programs. One education school, she said, looked good overall, but their graduates did not get good results in elementary school language arts. The obvious question is: then what? 

—Asked what happens when the objective data from student tests conflicts with the results of evaluations, Tony Bagshaw of Battelle for Kids, which cosponsored the conference, said, “Folks, that’s gonna be a real challenge in the system.” Jason Kamras of the D.C. Public Schools said that district averages the objective and subjective. What does your district do, or plan to do?

—According to a study by Vanderbilt’s Peabody College, 60 percent of special education teachers agreed that achievement gains for their students should be a component of evaluation, but only 21 percent said standardized test scores should be a component. Most said that progress on the IEP should be considered. The complexities of special education and assessment are always worth considering, and there is no exception when it comes to merit pay.

—Analyses that have shown strong relationships between evaluation and value-added results in elementary school have not necessarily shown the same connection at the high school level.

—A recurring theme was the inability of principals to effectively oversee the evaluation and professional development of every employee in their buildings. This, people, is a story-ready topic. 

—And while the Vanderbilt conference did not address the hiring process, I’ll continue to emphasize how little school systems do to ensure quality at the front end. Take a look at this McKinsey & Co. report that just came out.

1 comment:

  1. The "inability of principals to effectively oversee the evaluation and professional development of every employee in their buildings" is a story-ready topic. I taught for 18 years and have two to three dozen principals and assistant principals. I had one who had about a year of total relevant teaching experience. When would they have time to start at sqaure one and learn something about teaching and learning? In high school, where value added scores are the most unreliable, how long would it take principals to learn the math and the social science, much less the educational factors, in order to interpret the test score part of the evaluation? (and how would they deal with the most obvious conflict of interest? Most principals, I bet, understand that their inability to enforce attendance and discipline policies are a huge impediment to increasing student performance, but how may want to go on the record with that common sense reality?) I guess principals in the inner city can learn about teaching and learning, the intricacies of new evaluation systems, value-added models, etc. in their spare time when not learning how to be a turnaround specialist.

    Why don't principals don't have time to step foot in classrooms? My principals worked 80 to 90 hours a week. Not one of them had time to even let classroom instruction enter their conscoiousnessness during long stretchs of time. Sure, when inspection teams come, the school mobilizes. But that just puts other crises on the back burner. So after the dog and pony shows, principals are even more divorced from the classroom.

    Why not let principals do their real jobs? Real world in the inner city, discipline should be their job #1,#2, and #3.It would make much more sense to empower principals to enforce discipline and attendance, which is something that most building adminstrators understand - even if they are powerless to address.

    Why do reformers who criticize educators for not doing their own jobs, keep pushing completely new jobs. Inner city high school principals as educational leaders? Who would have thunk it?