Saturday, August 2, 2008

Teacher Quality in Denver and New Orleans

As a corollary to the Teacher Quality, now being morphed into Teacher Effectiveness, post below this one, check out these stories:

From Denver, where the much lauded agreement by the union to agree to all sorts of incentives, seems to be in trouble. Now even before an extensive evaluation, the district wants to reopen negotiations.

John Hereford, a co-chairman of a committee on ProComp set up by A-Plus Denver, a nonprofit citizens’ group, said changes are necessary because the system does not appear to be operating as it should. “We know it is not affecting behavior as we had expected it to, and every year that goes by makes it that much harder to reform,” he said. “....letting ProComp drift into a base-pay-type system doesn’t have that surgically precise ability to affect and motivate teachers in an important and direct manner.”
teachers who opted into ProComp raised student test scores only slightly compared with their peers who did not take part in the pay plan.

This stuff is priceless. Gee whiz, you have to cough up a lot more money to get people to cheat enough to get those scores where the politicians want them.

And then comes the blame the union (which should be blamed by the teachers for agreeing to this stuff in the first place:

Brad Jupp, a senior policy adviser on ProComp to Superintendent Bennet, said he is disappointed that the union has sought conflict over the proposed changes.

Like the union is supposed to agree to something and when management is not happy with their own proposal, is supposed to lie down and give them what they want.

And finally,
“It is fair to say that, across the country, there are not many good, rigorous studies that show performance pay improves student performance,” said Paul Teske, the dean of the school of public affairs at the University of Colorado at Denver, who is conducting the independent study of ProComp that is due out next year.

Bet there never will be good rigorous studies that will give them what they want- if they take various forms of cheating into account.

New Orleans has only quality teachers
Teacher union watchdog/critic Mike Antonucci from EIA, who finds the holes in union press releases, seems willing to swallow a Paul Vallas report on progress in New Orleans without criticism or analysis. In this Intercepts post, Antonucci declares More good news from New Orleans.

After years of scrambling to find good teachers, many public schools in New Orleans have more aspiring teachers than they know what to do with as the new school year approaches. The explosion of interest in teaching here can also be attributed to the marketing techniques of programs like teachNOLA and Teach For America, which have used the Internet to spread the message among 20-somethings, in particular, that New Orleans is the place to be for young educators bent on change. The city’s growing reputation in education reform circles has fueled that message.

Where did all the bad Vallas news he left in previous posts in Chicago and Philadelphia go?

Here's the "good" news to Antonucci and the bogus ed reformers.

There's basically no more union in New Orleans and the public school system is being privatized. So there are no more excuses as the phony ed reformers have their perfect laboratory to try out all their schemes.

Here's the bad news. Nothing will change in the long-term for poor kids, many of whom never came back as the city is being gentrified.

We've always maintained that their "progress" means changing the kids or cheating. Follow the path of kids as they enter the job market to track real results. We have already begun to see complaints that these overly test-prepped kids are extremely limited once out of school. But the ed reformers and their corporate supporters don't seem to want much more.

If you missed it, see Michael Fiorillo's post a few days ago on the recent David Brooks NY Times column on education.

Nancy Flanagan's comment on the piece before this about teacher effectiveness is worth sharing if you missed it.

Nancy Flanagan said... Hey, thanks for the mention--and do check out the Center for Teaching Quality, which is as good as it gets.

Here's a story:
I am sitting on the dias with a researcher from Famous Research Org and a honcho from the US Department of Education at a conference convened around the issue of teacher quality. Of course, there are 200 people in the audience and perhaps 4 of them are actually classroom practitioners. But we're having a nice conference to discuss how to fix the, ummm, problems with teachers.

Person from USDOE says: We have now achieved a very high percentage of "highly qualified" teachers, through the impact of NCLB. We are turning now to "highly effective" teachers as our next goal. What's a highly effective teacher? One who leverages gains in test scores, of course. Soon, we will have data analysis systems in place in every state and will be able to identify teacher effectiveness such that we can lop off the bottom quartile of ineffective teachers (and replace them, no doubt, with novices who had high SAT scores, and thus are more promising).

I ask her: What is the USDOE doing to strengthen actual teaching--you know, the things teachers do that cause these gains?

Her response: We're agnostic about that. We don't care what teachers do--only about the measurable results that they get.

So there you have it. It's about quality teachers--not about quality teaching.

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