How a charter network evaluates teachers

Evaluating teachers’ effectiveness is a priority for the Aspire network of 37 charter schools, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. It’s not just about test scores.

When Eva Kellogg’s bosses evaluated her performance as a teacher, they observed her classes. They reviewed her lesson plans. They polled her students, their parents and other teachers. And then they took a look at her students’ standardized test scores.

When the lengthy process was over, the eighth-grade English teacher at Aspire Lionel Wilson College Preparatory Academy in Oakland had received the highest rank possible.

She was a master teacher.

And based on her job performance, she got a $3,000 bonus as well as a metaphorical front-row seat at one of the biggest battles in public education: how to evaluate teachers and whether to give good ones a bigger paycheck.

Forty percent of a teacher’s score is based on observation by the principal, 30 percent on students’ standardized test scores and the rest on student, colleague and family feedback, as well as the school’s overall test scores.

Teachers are ranked as emerging, effective, highly effective or master. Bonuses range from $500 to $3,000.

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  1. If you look at the scores for Aspire over the past two years, it’s clear that the same percentage of kids have been proficient or advanced (around 45% for economically disadvantaged Hispanics, which is very much an outlier).

    So she got a strong group to begin with, got paid less to teach them, went through a strenuous eval to get an additional $3K. That’s a lot of work and still not much evidence of anything other than selection bias.

  2. The scores you look up in California’s CST reports.

  3. Not just Aspire. Three middle schools in Oakland USD use this system (minus the cash bonuses).

  4. “OK, so there are no such scores. Good to know.”

    Yes, there are. I looked them up. Google California CST scores. Pull down Alameda for County and Aspire Lionel Wilson. That will give you 2013 scores. You can select Economically Disadvantaged by Ethnic Category, HIspanic. Then click on Previous years for 2011 and 2012.

    Actually, I think you’re a bot program, so all this might be beyond you. But other readers might want to know.

    • OK, I’m getting the drift here.

      This complicated Innertubes technology has you buffaloed but you don’t want to admit that what with your imposing intellect and all. Here, I’ll help you. You don’t need to tell anyone.

      So, I should go to and select “Alameda” from the County drop-down, “Aspire Lionel Wilson College” from the district and school drop-downs, “Ethnicity for Economically Disadvantaged” from the group drop-down and “Hispanic or Latino” from the sub-group drop-down and then click “View Report”.

      Or, you could have just linked right to the search results –

      Not bad for a bot program, hey?

      All things considered I think you would have been better off to leave the lame-ass insults in the school yard and link to the page.

      But as a bot, what do I know?

      • This from the idiot who called me a liar because he was too stupid to figure out the process himself.

        • And another noble defender of the extant public education system is reduced to spluttering insults when challenged.

          A couple of points.

          First, this idiot knows how to post a link, modest skill though that be.

          Second, this idiot knows how to write decent set of instructions. A similarly modest skill.

          Third, this idiot knows that when you make an assertion you’d damned well better be ready to back it up because not everyone views your every utterance and keystroke as the Fabergé eggs of wisdom with which you seem to regard them. Since on the Internet know one knows if you’re a dog, or a liar, it’s up to you to prove yourself in either case.

          Finally, your initial assertion has no support in the CST results – “So she got a strong group to begin with”.

          Since there’s no mechanism for selecting students there’s no method of assuring “a strong group” so the rather more likely reason for Aspire Lionel Wilson College Preparatory Academy turning in such good results is that the school’s that good.

          • Roger Sweeny says:

            allen: What scores would those be? There are none referenced in the article.

            Cal: The scores you look up in California’s CST reports.

            allen: OK, so there are no such scores. Good to know.

            Cal: Yes, there are. I looked them up. Google California CST scores. Pull down Alameda for County and Aspire Lionel Wilson. That will give you 2013 scores. You can select Economically Disadvantaged by Ethnic Category, HIspanic. Then click on Previous years for 2011 and 2012.

            At that point, allen, an honorable person have felt embarrassed for jumping to a wrong conclusion and for having implicitly called Cal a liar trying to defraud the readers of this comment thread. You could then have apologized or just thanked her for telling you exactly how to find the statistics you asked about.

            You still can.

          • This isn’t a court of law, Roger. Cal makes an assertion and it’s untrue until proven true. The task of proving it true falls to Cal. No proof? No reason to extend any credence to the assertion thus making the assertion a lie by default.

            So I’m not embarrassed because I have no reason to be since I didn’t jump to any conclusion.

            By the way Roger, how did you view Cal’s evidence-free assertion? You know something about Cal that’s not readily apparent like Cal’s posts are inherently true and accurate? Feel free to share.

          • Roger Sweeny says:

            You may not have jumped to any conclusions in your own mind but you said, “OK, there are no such scores” when she said,”The scores you look up in California’s CST reports.”

            You are flat out saying that she is citing to scores that do not exist. That is calling her a liar.

            If you had meant, “It is up to you to prove to me that those scores exist. I won’t believe you until you post a url with instructions on how to use the site,” then that’s what you should have said. It’s not an unreasonable request. If she was being honest in her original assertion, she had to be getting test scores from somewhere.

            When you refer to Cal’s “evidence-free assertion,” I assume you mean her initial statement that, “If you look at the scores for Aspire over the past two years, it’s clear that the same percentage of kids have been proficient or advanced (around 45% for economically disadvantaged Hispanics, which is very much an outlier).”

            I know that Cal teaches in California so I figured she was referring to some California state tests. I didn’t know what the tests were or whether she was interpreting the results correctly. My impression from reading her over the years is that she might well be right but I did not care enough to ask for clarification or go try to find the data myself.

          • Roger, you seem intent on dragging this thread out endlessly by repeatedly covering the same ground. Feel free to do so. I’ve already made my position clear and feel no need to do so repeatedly.

  5. So 40% of her score was based on observations by a school administrator. No information on how administrators were evaluated. I don’t find principals, as a group, to be much more than concentrated doses of conventional wisdom.

  6. I didn’t feel like going back and building the URLs for each search. Nor did I think I need to. I said “If you look at the scores…” which means I expected people to go look at the scores.

    “Finally, your initial assertion has no support in the CST results – “So she got a strong group to begin with”.

    Yes, it does. IF YOU LOOK AT THE SCORES (do it yourself), 7% of California Hispanic economically disadvantaged kids in 8th grade have similar scores. So she got an incoming class of low income Hispanics that was considerably (6 or 7 times) more proficient than the California average.

    • Deirdre Mundy says:

      Which might explain the lower pay. More proficient kids are easier to teach, and kids who like school mean more pleasant working conditions. So she may have consciously opted for lower pay in exchange for a less stressful, more pleasant classroom environment.

      • It might. If she has loans to pay off, she needs to work in a Title I school. Charters are a good way to meet that requirement, if you don’t mind the thought control. Charters are pretty ruthless at ideological purity.

    • Just imagine how much time you would have saved yourself if you’d simply provided what you consider support for your claim initially.

      Oh, and “building the URLs”? Seriously? I’m not sure the word “trivial” captures the essence of the task although your description conjures images of the Hebrews building the pyramids.

      “Charters are pretty ruthless at ideological purity.”

      Yes, it’s practically their defining characteristic. Why not two miles from where I sit typing this missive there’s a charter school run by militant Quakers. They’re teaching the kids to beat up anyone who doesn’t share their belief in non-violence.

      I’d “build a URL” but mocking the deserving always leaves me exhausted.

      • Roger Sweeny says:

        allen, this is a true story and a parable.

        At the end of the 2011 season, the Boston Red Sox had an epic collapse. The long-term manager had become somewhat burned out and allowed an indulgent culture to develop among some of the players.

        He was fired and Bobby Valentine was hired. “Bobby Vee” was universally recognized as smart and knowledgeable. He had been a manager in the past but for the last several years had done analysis and commentary for TV. He was entertaining and a bit of a character.

        One of the first things he did the next spring training was to have the team practice some basics. But it didn’t come across as “we need this to win.” It came across as “you guys need to know who’s boss.” The team did poorly all season. And the news was often about Bobby Vee. Things he’d said or done, often clever, sometimes insulting. He’d wind up saying he was misunderstood, at a few points denying what someone had recorded. The team, which seemed to have a lot of talent, was losing a lot more than it was supposed to. The atmosphere around the team was negative and fans were turning off. More and more they asked, “Why is this happening? Why is he acting this way?”

        And a few people close to the team said, “Bobby Vee has to be the smartest person in the room.”

        The season ended with the team in last place and Bobby Vee was let go the next day.

        He was replaced with John Farrell. At spring training, players said that they felt Farrell had their back, that he was more a father than a boss. During the season, there was none of the drama and trauma of the previous year. Completely unexpectedly, the team went to and won the World Series.

        • Gosh thanks Mr. Sweeney! Me and the other palookas around dis place will rake your leaves and treat you swell from now on!

          As a wise, Father Flanagan, who with humor and humility imparts important lesson to the unruly lads who look up to him you leave a bit to be desired, Roger.

          To get back to the original post, I know it’s a radical departure from past practice for a school to treat a teacher as if they’re skill has value, and put a value on it, but that’s the future.

          If you want to try to put your Father Flanagan persona to work why don’t you delve into the reason teaching skill has essentially no value in the traditional, public education setting and even more interesting, that no one seems to see that as an odd situation.

          • Roger Sweeny says:

            1. It’s Sweeny, not Sweeny.

            2. It’s “their skill,” not “they’re skill.”

            If you’re going to snark, at least get your spelling right.

            Oh, wait, I know. It’s worth your time to mock the deserving but it’s not worth your time to proofread.

          • Roger Sweeny says:

            And there I go, messing up the proofreading myself. I should have typed

            1. It’s Sweeny, not Sweeney.”

            Boy, am I embarrassed.

          • Think of it as a teachable moment while I savor the irony.

  7. Mike in Texas says:


    That’s why I don’t post before I’ve had several cups of coffee.

    As for arguing with Allen, don’t waste your time posting facts, or links to the facts, Allen doesn’t understand the difference between a fact and his own beliefs.

    • Why don’t you just call me a poopie-head and be done with the pretext that you’re an adult, regardless of your calendar age?