Teacher evaluation is a-changin’

Most states are using student achievement to evaluate teachers, according to Connect the Dots from the National Council on Teacher Quality. ”What is occurring more slowly are the policy changes that will connect the rich performance data from these systems to tenure decisions, professional development, compensation, teacher preparation, and consequences for ineffectiveness.”

NCTQ looks at teacher evaluation policies across the 50 states and Washington D.C. Louisiana is “connecting the most dots,” followed closely by Florida and Tennessee, NCTQ concludes. Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Michigan, Rhode Island and DCPS are also ahead of the curve.

Louisiana vouchers aid integration

The U.S. Justice Department is trying to block vouchers for low-income Louisiana students on the grounds transfers will increase segregation in 13 of the 34 districts under long-standing desegregation orders.

However, voucher transfers decrease segregation ”in the very districts that are the subject of the Department of Justice litigation,” according to a new study, reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Louisiana Scholarship Program allow low-income students in C-, D- or F-graded public schools to enroll in participating private schools at taxpayer expense. Ninety percent of transfer students are black.

Looking at the state as a whole, voucher transfers did not affect the racial balance of the receiving private school, the study says. And in the districts under desegregation orders, voucher transfers improved integration both in the public schools the students left and in the private schools they entered.

“The statewide school voucher program appears to have brought greater integration to Louisiana’s public schools,” write Anna Egalite (great name!) and Jonathan Mills in Education Next.

Louisiana court rejects voucher funding

Louisiana can’t use per-pupil funding to pay for school vouchers, the state  Supreme Court ruled today on a 6-1 vote.

“The state funds approved through the unique MFP (minimum foundation program) process cannot be diverted to nonpublic schools or other nonpublic course providers according to the clear, specific and unambiguous language of the constitution,” wrote Justice John Weimer in the opinion.

The lone dissenter, Justice Greg Guidry saw no constitutional reason the state could not use a student’s per-pupil allocation “to fund scholarships” because the money reverts to the state when the student leaves the system.

The court also found the MFP for the 2012-13 school year is invalid because it was passed by resolution, in violation of proper procedure.

Gov. Bobby Jindal expanded the state’s voucher program as part of his 2012 education reforms: 8,000 students were expecting to receive vouchers in the 2013-14 school year. Louisiana teachers’ unions challenged the voucher plan.

GED + job training = motivation

In Louisiana, undereducated and underemployed adults can train for skilled jobs while studying for a GED at a technical college. Most Work Ready U students are training for jobs in construction trades, welding or health care.

Some community colleges are helping veterans get college credits for skills they learned in the military, such as giving a combat engineer credit for construction management skills.

Rhee’s D.C. legacy

The Education of Michelle Rhee will run on PBS’ Frontline tonight.

Rhee’s group, Students First, gave low grades to states on education reform: No state got an A and 11 failed. The two highest-ranking states, Florida and Louisiana, received B-minus grades.

States to watch in 2013

The education minded should keep an eye on Mississippi, Illinois, Indiana and Iowa in 2013, advises Dropout Nation. And from last year’s states to watch list, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey and Michigan will continue to be interesting.

Louisiana voucher funding loses in court

Louisiana’s voucher program is funded improperly because it uses a fund intended solely for public schools, Judge Timothy Kelley of the State District Court has ruled. Gov. Bobby Jindal called the decision “wrongheaded and a travesty for parents across Louisiana” and vowed to appeal.

It’s a set back, not a “death knell,” writes the New York Times.

Even if the appeal fails, the state legislature could create a new way to fund vouchers.

The law “also significantly broadens and streamlines the process of establishing charter schools and creates a program in which students can take courses from online providers with state money,” reports the Times.

Louisiana OKs parent trigger

Louisiana’s state board of education has approved a parent trigger option. However the state — not the parents — would decide who runs the school, reports the Advocate. If a school earns a D or F grade for three years in a row, a majority of parents will be able to trigger a state takeover. Currently, the state gives D and F schools four years to improve. Nearly one out of five public schools in Louisiana meets the takeover criteria, according to the state education department.

Last week, the U.S. Conference of Mayors endorsed the parent trigger idea with big-city Democratic mayors leading the charge.

Parents, grade thyself

Tennessee may ask parents to sign a school-involvement contract and grade their own effort, writes Lucas L. Johnson II in the Huffington Post. But parents who “fail” will suffer no consequences.

Under Tennessee’s contract legislation, parents in each school district are asked to sign a document agreeing to review homework and attend school functions or teacher conferences, among other things. Since it’s voluntary, there’s no penalty for failing to uphold the contract – but advocates say simply providing a roadmap for involvement is an important step.

Michigan has enacted a similar measure.

In the case of Tennessee’s report card proposal, a four-year pilot program will be set up involving two of Tennessee’s struggling schools. Parents of students in kindergarten through third grade will be given a blank report card at the same time as the students, and the parents will do a self-evaluation of their involvement in activities similar to those in the parental contract. Parents will give themselves a grade of excellent, satisfactory, needs improvement or unsatisfactory

Utah will ask parents to evaluate their involvement in an online survey.  Louisiana is considering legislation to grade parent participation.

 

Louisiana: CC grads earn more, work more

Louisiana’s recent associate-degree graduates are more likely to find jobs — at higher pay — than graduates with four-year degrees, according to a state report.

Eighteen months after graduation, 72.5 percent of associate-degree graduates were employed in Louisiana, compared to 59.5 percent of graduates with bachelor’s degrees.  New associate degree holders — many with degrees in medical and technical fields — earned $3,000 a year more than new four-year graduates.

Also on Community College Spotlight: High-paying jobs for two-year graduates.