27th 2011
Cincinnati Study, Step Up for Colorado, Bolster SB 191 Implementation Success

Posted under math & PPC & Principals & reading & Research & State Board of Education & Teachers

There’s more to creating good policy than just passing a good law. This is especially true when it comes to big changes, like Colorado Senate Bill 191′s push to update how teachers are evaluated and retained. It wasn’t that long ago I expressed my concerns about the implementation.

A couple weeks ago the co-chairs of the State Council on Educator Effectiveness presented their recommendations to the Colorado State Board of Education. One of the presenters expressed a hopeful confidence that the 50 percent of teacher and principal evaluations based on observed performance would match up with the 50 percent based on student growth.

The good news, as reported by Education Next, is that new research by Thomas Kane and colleagues shows creating such an effective evaluation system can be done — because in a sense, the Cincinnati Public Schools’ Teacher Evaluation System (TES) already has done it:

We find that teachers’ classroom practices, as measured by TES scores, do predict differences in student achievement growth….

…[C]onsider a student who begins the year at the 50th percentile and is assigned to a top-quartile teacher as measured by the Overall Classroom Practices score; by the end of the school year, that student, on average, will score about three percentile points higher in reading and about two points higher in math than a peer who began the year at the same achievement level but was assigned to a bottom-quartile teacher….

The results presented here constitute the strongest evidence to date on the relationship between teachers’ observed classroom practices and the achievement gains made by their students. The nature of the relationship between practices and achievement supports teacher evaluation and development systems that make use of multiple measures. Even if one is solely interested in raising student achievement, effectiveness measures based on classroom practice provide critical information to teachers and administrators on what actions they can take to achieve this goal.

In other words, Colorado’s SB 191 has all the potential to make a positive difference in identifying and keeping effective classroom teachers. A close and careful look at Dr. Kane’s research on Cincinnati’s TES certainly is in order. It can be done. And there’s no reason why Colorado can’t allow for the creation of an even better aligned system.

By the way, you know I’m not the only one who is pushing for this new system to succeed. Have you heard of the group Step Up Colorado? It looks like they are launching a media campaign to help ensure public support for effective implementation of SB 191:

Good for them.


3 Responses to “Cincinnati Study, Step Up for Colorado, Bolster SB 191 Implementation Success”

  1. Christina Jean on 11 May 2011 at 5:51 pm #

    Ed- I am so appreciative that you’ve raised concerns about how the state of Colorado will implement SB191, and your thoughtful consideration of aligning evaluation with student outcomes. I’m an educator affiliated with the Denver New Millennium Initiative founded by the Center for Teaching Quality—http://www.teachingquality.org. We are committed to seeking avenues for teacher accountability that are responsive, flexible, fair, and work toward creating and educational system that links teaching effectiveness measures to student learning outcomes. Tom Kane’s findings, as you mention, are quite promising and have the opportunity to move the teaching profession forward. As a member of a group of young teachers striving toward a creating new paradigm about the work of K-12 educators, I think this research has the ability to help teachers strengthen our practice.
    However, I was really surprised at the video with which you ended your post. It didn’t seem to match the thoughtful, civil tone of your post about teacher evaluation. I take umbrage with the image of public educators as unprofessional, lazy, intentionally not meeting the needs of their students, and impeding the work of determining fair and respectful ways to help every teacher become highly effective. In the course of my career I have yet to meet a teacher who goes to work with the intention of providing children with a sub-par education. Not every educator is effective, but stamping those who are underperforming as “bad teachers” and firing them is not the answer. Unfortunately, their places may be filled by even less well-qualified individuals, until we really fix the teacher prep pipeline. When teachers are ineffective, administrators have a responsibility to make a reasonable effort to help them improve—and then, if necessary, to counsel them out of the profession with dignity and respect. Furthermore educators have a responsibility to reflect on their practice, taking steps to continuously learn, grow, and improve in order to best serve children.
    The educators I know and work with, myself included, are not opposed to holding teachers accountable for student achievement. Nonetheless, children deserve better than to have so-called teacher effectiveness measures pushed through at breakneck speed without full consideration of the possible consequences on students, teachers, schools and communities. I hope that the individuals at Step Up Colorado can appreciate that a measured, thoughtful approach to education reform in which all stakeholders are present to collaborate and offer suggestions about implementation provides Colorado’s students with a better end result, and an example of how people with different opinions and perspectives can come together to compromise and create something meaningful.

  2. Braden on 16 May 2011 at 4:02 pm #

    Hi, Ed. I want to share with you a sneak-peek of a report authored by 20+ Denver-area teachers (including Christina Jean, who commented on this post) on the implementation of SB 191… but I can’t figure out how to reach you. If you’ll send me your email, I’d be glad to send you an embargoed copy of the report, which will be released on Wednesday. Thanks! Braden (bwelborn@teachingquality.org)

  3. Ed is Watching » What’s Left Unsaid in CTQ Report on Implementing Colorado SB 191 on 20 May 2011 at 1:17 pm #

    [...] few weeks ago I posted some thoughts about Colorado’s implementation of the educator effectiveness law (SB 191) — including [...]

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