There is a full court press going on regarding the SERVE Proposal In Alert: 6 School Districts Put Levies on the Ballot, Seattle Next? I said:
In order to fund the SERVE proposal which is one item in the current negotiations between the Seattle School District and Seattle Education Association, look for a levy proposal in Seattle this fall. See, Seems Like Lines Are Being Drawn In The Sand In the School District Contract Negotiations
There must be accountability and assessment in education, this blogger is just not sure that SERVE is where the line in the sand should be drawn.
Linda Shaw has an excellent article in the Seattle Times about the status of the current contract negotiations between the Seattle School District and Seattle Education Association. In Seattle School District and Teachers In Showdown Over Evaluation Plan Shaw reports:
For months, Seattle Public Schools and the city’s teachers union have kept a strict silence over their negotiations on one of the hottest topics in public education: how to evaluate and pay teachers.
That ended when the district, rejected at the bargaining table, went public recently in the fight over its proposal to make Seattle one of a small but growing number of school districts across the nation to judge teachers, in part, on their students’ academic growth, measured by test scores.
With just a little more than three weeks before school starts, many worry the stalemate could lead to a teachers strike, although neither side will comment on how likely that may be.
But it’s clear the two sides remain far apart in what appears to be the first major showdown in Washington state over a system that, while not merit pay per se, moves in that direction.
The district is now appealing directly to teachers — and the public — to promote its plan, which combines increased accountability with increased support for teachers who volunteer to be a part of it. The plan also offers opportunities for highly rated teachers to earn higher pay. Only new teachers would be required to join.
Union leaders have responded by blasting the district for jumping on the national bandwagon for a controversial, unproven idea. The union says it already had agreed to overhaul the way teachers are evaluated, and to put those rated “basic” or “unsatisfactory” at risk of dismissal.
“Here we have … what we think is historic change taking place,” said Glenn Bafia, executive director of the Seattle Education Association. “But instead, they want to lop some things on top of it, and stop us from going forward.”
The conflict mirrors the national debate on how best to raise the quality of teaching. Research increasingly shows a good teacher has a greater impact on student achievement than any other school-based factor, including class size or curriculum.
It’s not clear whether tying teachers’ evaluations to student growth will help. The research that exists is thin, said Dan Goldhaber, a University of Washington research professor who has studied teacher-evaluation systems.
That’s one reason the Washington Education Association, the statewide union for public-school teachers, says it is against tying teacher evaluations to test scores, and why the union fought to keep that from becoming state law last spring.
In Seattle, union leaders say the tests students take aren’t designed to evaluate teachers. They want the district to try what the two sides had already agreed to: a four-tier evaluation system that would require teachers to be in the top two levels to ensure keeping their jobs.
“Teachers aren’t afraid of accountability,” said Jonathan Knapp, the union’s vice president. “Teachers are afraid of a system that isn’t a fair analysis of what we’re doing in the classroom.”
The union also wants to wait to see what happens in three low-performing Seattle schools where, on a trial basis, test scores will be part of how teachers are evaluated, a requirement of a large federal grant to improve those schools.
For more information
Seattle Public Schools’ proposals and views: www.seattleschools.org/
Seattle Education Association’s proposals and views: www.seattlewea.org/
Shaw has some excellent background information about the teacher evaluation movement. Teacher evaluations are one initiative proposed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The education strategy of the Gates Foundation is described at their site.
One of the position statements at the Gates site is Measures of Effective Teaching
Evidence shows clearly what most people know intuitively: teachers matter more to student learning than anything else inside a school. Yet the design of our school systems fails to value and support effective teaching, improve overall teacher effectiveness, or recognize and reward those who take on and excel at the most difficult teaching assignments. Teachers often bear the brunt of the failure to recognize effective teaching. We do little to study and share the best teachers’ practices or recognize them for their contributions.
An important step toward supporting teachers and ensuring that all students have access to high quality instruction is to develop fairer and more useful measures of teacher effectiveness. This is the goal of the Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) project, which will support independent education researchers–in partnership with school districts, principals, teachers, and unions–to develop objective and reliable measures of effective teaching. Rather than relying solely on how well a teacher’s students do on assessments, the Measures of Effective Teaching project seeks to uncover and develop a set of measures that work together to form a more complete indicator of a teacher’s impact on student achievement….
There is no widely agreed upon measure for teacher effectiveness that exists today, and that is precisely why we are undertaking this work. The results of this project and what we learn will help districts across the country identify effective teaching in order to improve student achievement and help teachers ensure excellence in their profession. [Emphasis Added]
The goal of the project seems to be developing a set of measures which develops the picture of teacher effectiveness. The Seattle District program seems to rely more on testing as the single measure of teacher effectiveness.
The mantra of this blog is that education is a partnership between the student, parent(s), or guardian(s), teacher(s), and school. Many children are born to parents who are either unable or unprepared to parent them. Some children grow up in circumstances which do not value education achievement and as a result children come to school at various points in the ready to learn cycle. This blogger is not employed by Planned Parenthood, but one of the best things that society can do is to encourage those who would make, frankly, terrible and incompetent parents, not to become parents. Schools will not, in most cases, overcome the damage done by incompetent and uncaring parents. Those who point to a permissive culture of the Sex in the City, multiple partners and change your partners often variety often get tagged with the label “religious Taliban nut” or the like. If an individual is not prepared to make the commitment to parent, then don’t become a parent. Yes, there must be accountability and the goal should be that every classroom should have an effective teacher. Given the fact that more children are arriving at school in crisis, it is not clear that this particular SERVE Proposal is going to further the goal of an effective teacher in every classroom.
Seems Like Lines Are Being Drawn In The Sand In District Contract Negotiations
Alert: Is There A Possibility of Some Sort of Teacher’s Work Action in Seattle
Alert: Appeal of Seattle School’s Decision to Adopt MAP
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