Houston eyes student grading of teachers

Houston may use student opinion as part of teacher evaluations, reports Fox 26. Student ratings could account for 20 to 30 percent of a teacher’s evaluation, according to a district document sent to teachers.

Effective teachers aren’t always the most popular teachers, warns Houston Federation of Teachers president Gayle Fallon. “Those student surveys will amount to very little more than a popularity contest.”

Student evaluation of teachers is not district policy — or even a staff recommendation — said district spokesman Jason Spencer. Not yet, anyhow.

Teachers talk about unions, reform

Teachers support their unions, but they’re open to reform ideas, according to a new Education Sector survey, Trending Toward Reform

Teachers think evaluations are improving. In 2011, 78 percent said their most recent evaluation was done carefully and taken seriously by their school administration.

Three out of four teachers—76 percent—say that the criteria used in their evaluation were fair.

Teachers are warming to the idea that assessing student knowledge growth may be a good way to measure teacher effectiveness, with 54 percent of 2011 teachers agreeing. This compares with 49 percent in 2007.

Teachers are still opposed to including student test scores as one component of differentiated pay, with just 35 percent supporting that idea.

Teachers do support differentiated pay for teachers who work in tough neighborhoods with low-performing schools (83 percent support). Teachers also support differentiated pay for teachers who have earned National Board of Professional Teaching Standards certification or for those who teach hard-to-fill subjects.

Few teachers want to eliminate tenure – only a third would be willing to trade tenure for a $5,000 bonus – but most agree it shouldn’t protect bad teachers, notes the Hechinger Report.

. . . a growing number of teachers believe that unions should play a role in making it easier to fire ineffective teachers. “Teachers pay the greatest price for incompetent teachers,” one teacher wrote in response to the survey. “Year after year, [other teachers] pick up the slack.”

Forty-three percent of teachers said unions should focus more on improving teacher quality, up from 32 percent in the 2007 survey. Sixty-two percent said unions could be “helpful partners in improving schools.”

California: NCLB waiver costs too much

Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s No Child Left Behind waivers would cost California at least $2 billion, state education officials told the California Board of Education yesterday.

Qualifying for a waiver would commit the state to using standardized test scores or equivalent data as part of the evaluations for teachers and principals.

State Superintendent Tom Torlakson, the state’s two major teachers unions and the California PTA appeared willing to go waiver-less and let California take its lumps when schools fail to meet NCLB proficiency goals. Perhaps they think it won’t matter how many schools are labeled “needs improvement,” since NCLB’s version of accountability is on the way out. Forty states plan to seek waivers, but if California doesn’t bother, other states may decide it’s not necessary.  Teacher Anthony Cody hopes California will lead a no-waiver movement.

Los Angeles Unified, the state’s largest district, belongs to a consortium of districts that’s seeking a waiver, notes the Los Angeles Times. A consortium spokesman said the waiver will save money.

 

 

Obama waives No Child Left Behind

President Obama will waive the key requirements of No Child Left Behind, he said today.  States won’t have to show students are achieving proficiency in reading and math by 2014.

States will set their own achievement goals and “design their own interventions for failing schools,” reports Ed Week.

In exchange for this flexibility, the administration will require states to adopt college- and career-ready standards, focus on 15 percent of their most-troubled schools, and create guidelines for teacher evaluations based in part on student performance.

In the 2012-13 school year, rules requiring low-performing schools to offer free tutoring and school choice will be waived.

In addition to intervening to change the lowest 5 percent of schools, state will be required “to identify another 10 percent of schools that struggle with particularly low graduation rates, low performance for specific subgroups of students (such as those with disabilities), or high achievement gaps.”

Schools that aren’t in the bottom 15 percent don’t need to make changes.

The plan is a “responsible framework” that gives states the flexibility, they’ve requested, notes Education Trust. States claimed they could do it better. Now “it’s time for them to stand and deliver.”