Archive for the 'Principals' Category

April
16th 2014
How to Avoid the Munchkins: A Little Tenure Reform Advice for Kansas

Posted under Innovation and Reform & Just For Fun & learning & Principals & State Legislature & Teachers

The teachers union may have ordered the death of its own bill to weaken mutual consent for teacher placement. But HB 1268‘s twin, the CEA’s lawsuit to enshrine tenure protections as a state constitutional right, lives on.

Meanwhile, a glimpse across the eastern border reveals the winds surrounding this debate are blowing in a very different direction. A weekend article from the Kansas City Star reports that Kansas leaders are having a heated debate about some late-developing significant tenure reform:

For generations, the state promised that before getting canned teachers could get an appeal. If a hearing officer disagreed with the teacher’s bosses, the instructor stayed in the classroom.

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March
25th 2014
Opponents’ Best Shot? Maybe Thompson Should Look at Innovating Educator Pay

Posted under Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Journalism & Principals & Research & School Board & Teachers

A month ago my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow wrote a Greeley Tribune op-ed, explaining that some local school board leaders have picked up the ball dropped by state lawmakers and are making progress on rewarding top-notch educators. He noted work going on in Jefferson County, Mesa 51, and Adams 12.

But based on a letter that appeared in last week’s Loveland Reporter-Herald, it looks like he should add Thompson School District to the list. I hesitated at first about whether to use the letter as a foil, justifiably concerned that some might wonder if I planted the meandering, logically-flawed piece in the newspaper as a straw man to beat up.

Well, let me put the rumors to rest. This 5-year-old prodigy didn’t plant the letter, but I am prepared to beat up its five fragile arguments, one by one: Continue Reading »

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February
18th 2014
HB 1262 Incentive to Reform Educator Pay Certainly Has Caught My Attention

Posted under Education Politics & Innovation and Reform & Principals & Research & School Finance & State Legislature & Suburban Schools & Teachers

Do you want to know how to get my attention? (Besides gift-wrapping a new Star Wars Lego set, bringing home a box of piping hot pizza, or asking if I want to go to the Colorado Rockies game, that is.) Write something like this in the introduction of your education policy report:

If a rational system of teacher compensation, aimed at recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers, were designed from scratch, it is unlikely it would bear any resemblance to the system that is currently in place.

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January
21st 2014
Colorado and Washington, DC: A Tale of Two School Principal Evaluation Systems

Posted under Innovation and Reform & Principals & Research & School Accountability & Teachers & Urban Schools

Crafting policy often can be much more art than science. Several years back research showed us that educator evaluation systems were not making meaningful distinctions, and that 98 or 99 percent of teachers were rated effective on a two-tier scale. As a result of such findings, the move to update evaluations has been a big agenda item in many states, with Colorado one of the pioneers.

You know what I’m talking about… SB 191? Right. A core piece of the legislation required that at least 50 percent of the evaluation must be tied to measures of student academic growth (including multiple measures beyond the state assessment regime). School districts could use their own systems that abide by the standard. But most districts adopted the state’s model plan, which clearly defines the other 50 percent of the evaluation.

One of the great strengths of SB 191 was that it focused on upgrading evaluations for school principals, parallel with teachers. Union officials thrive off the fear that building leaders might subjectively and unfairly target instructors. That (real or apparent) threat is greatly diminished if a principal is rated on the same standard. Continue Reading »

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January
2nd 2014
Colorado K-12 Policy and Trends: Eddie’s Eight Emerging Questions for 2014

Posted under Courts & Edublogging & Innovation and Reform & Just For Fun & learning & Online Schools & Parents & Preschool & Principals & School Board & School Choice & School Finance & State Legislature & Tax Credits & Teachers & Urban Schools

Unbelievably, another new year is already underway, and I’m left to ponder what kind of hopes it holds out for Colorado kids and families seeking the best educational opportunities and outcomes possible. While I recover from the blissful batch of toys, games, and goodies, it seems like a perfect time to ponder what might emerge out of the chaos in 2014: Continue Reading »

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December
5th 2013
Weighted Student Formula Yearbook Highlights Better K-12 Funding Approaches

Posted under Innovation and Reform & Principals & Research & Urban Schools

When I hear “yearbook,” my thoughts turn to a page full of photos (including the goofy ones, you know who you are) of kids in the same class at school. But the Reason Foundation’s Weighted Student Formula Yearbook is somewhat different.

This yearbook is a one-of-a-kind look at 14 different school districts that use “portable student funding” (I like the term “backpack funding”) to make sure dollars are distributed fairly and transparently to serve real students’ needs. It also gives building principals more autonomy and responsibility to make budgetary decisions. Reason’s research gets updated every year, kind of like a school yearbook, but instead helps us to see which school systems are setting the pace in this area. Continue Reading »

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November
19th 2013
It’s Not Really as Simple as More Students for Better Teachers… Is It?

Posted under Innovation and Reform & Principals & Research & School Board & Teachers

Sometimes it’s the small ideas that deserve big attention. No single one of these ideas can solve all the problems and shortcomings in education, but reformers and transformers might find pleasing results from one such strategic change. That’s what we find in a newly released Fordham Institute study by Michael Hansen, “Right-sizing the Classroom: Making the Most of Great Teachers.”

What’s the result when a school shifts a few students from the weakest teacher’s classroom to the most effective teacher’s classroom? Hansen digs into years of 5th grade and 8th grade data from North Carolina to figure out how well the approach works: Continue Reading »

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September
30th 2013
Successful Education Reform Much Harder Than Just Passing New Policies

Posted under Education Politics & Innovation and Reform & Principals & Research & School Board & Suburban Schools & Teachers

All my education reform friends out there, you and I very likely have been getting too comfortable. Or perhaps just too naive, or maybe too lacking in ambition. Leave it to the American Enterprise Institute’s Rick Hess to splash a bucket of water in our faces. But trust me, we needed the dirt knocked out of our eyes and ears.

Last week, Hess penned for National Affairs his latest thoughtful piece chocked full of insights that many education policy advocates and insiders know, but few are willing to say. Given numerous observations like the following, I recommend reading “The Missing Half of School Reform”: Continue Reading »

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June
4th 2013
Discrepancies from Dougco Beg Question: How Many Union Members Remain?

Posted under Education Politics & Elementary School & Innovation and Reform & Journalism & Principals & School Board & Suburban Schools & Teachers

Douglas County School District continues to move forward with major system changes that recognize and reward performance in meaningful ways. And the press continues to pump up the controversy while leaving factual disputes unresolved. Today’s Denver Post turns attention to a DCSD elementary school where a principal misapplied the new employee evaluation standards, creating a false impression of how many teachers rate “highly effective.”

I already provided some clarification to that story, when it still only graced the pages of local newsprint. But the Post story includes an observation about a different Dougco elementary school that bears a closer look:

Parents at Saddle Ranch Elementary held a rally Thursday in support of the school’s teachers after they heard that about 18 of the campus’ 35 teachers were leaving the district. They said none of the teachers at the school were given a highly effective rating, and they believe those teachers are not being valued.

District officials would not comment on teacher ratings at the school, and said only eight teachers, including three retirees, have officially said they are leaving. [emphases added]

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May
24th 2013
Disputed Dougco Evaluations? Don’t Turn Up the Heat, Just Share All the Facts

Posted under Education Politics & Elementary School & Innovation and Reform & Journalism & learning & Principals & School Board & Suburban Schools & Teachers

Update, 5/28: I took off for the long holiday weekend, and came back to learn that Our Colorado News had updated the article on the Trailblazer teacher evaluation controversy, addressing some of the shortcomings I identified. I’d like to thank them for making an effort to improve the story.

If you can’t stifle dramatic local innovation at the legislature, there’s always the route of misleading newspaper articles. When it comes to the bold transformational changes going on in Douglas County, and the overheated political opposition that goes along for the ride, you almost have to expect it.

The local journalists at Our Colorado News have picked up the slack, publishing a story rife with relevant omissions to try to convey a conveniently crafted political message:

Trailblazer Elementary School Principal Linda Schneider says 70 percent of her teachers are “highly effective” under the Douglas County School District’s new evaluation system.

The district questions that finding, and is summoning all the school’s teachers for a second, independent review….

District-wide, about 15 percent of teachers are rated “highly effective,” according to information provided by DCSD.

Under the evaluations, each teacher is assigned a rating ranging from “highly effective” to “ineffective” that is tied to pay increases. “Highly effectives” could get a substantial raise, while “ineffectives” likely won’t see increases.

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