This post and the one that follows present starkly different views of the work of the State Council for Educator Effectiveness, which issued its report to the State Board of Education last week.
This post was submitted by Matt Smith, chair, State Council for Educator Effectiveness (Vice President, Engineering, United Launch Alliance) and Nina Lopez, vice-chair, State Council for Educator Effectiveness (Special Assistant to the Commissioner, Colorado Department of Education).
We know great principals and great teachers can make all the difference in a child’s education.
In Colorado, we want to recruit, retain and reward more great teachers and school leaders.
In response, the state legislature passed a new law last year that garnered national attention to dramatically change the way teachers and principals are evaluated and compensated.
Colorado now has common statewide definitions of teacher and principal effectiveness, clearer expectations for job performance, and consistent scoring guides to rate job performance.
Leading this bold effort is the State Council for Educator Effectiveness. Governor Bill Ritter, Jr., appointed its 15 members in March 2010.
Over the last year, the Council held in-depth conversations about what effective teaching and school leadership are, how they are measured, and strategies for continuous improvement.
Van Schoales is executive director of Education Reform Now, a national advocacy group based in Denver.
Last week the State Council for Educator Effectiveness released the long awaited report on implementing the “Great Teachers and Leaders” law otherwise known as SB 10-191. This report and the implementation of 191 could not only have significant implications for Colorado classrooms, but also for rest of the nation as multiple states follow Colorado’s lead in tying teacher evaluation and employment to teacher effectiveness.
Despite all of the time and resources spent by the council in drafting this report (not to mention the 177 pages of text), the council came up short in providing necessary and specific recommendations about how both teachers and principals should be evaluated. The report does a nice job of giving a broad overview of the work that needs to be done to implement an effective teacher and principal evaluation system, but gives very few specifics about what that evaluation system should entail.
I am not alone. Many in the education and business communities – including Colorado Stand for Children, Colorado Concern, the Metro Chamber of Commerce– have some of these same concerns.
The timing for this could not be worse with so much pressure now being placed on the Colorado State Board of Education and Colorado Department of Education (CDE) to make sure SB 10-191 works. The permanent commissioner is still unknown and will likely not be able to start until later this summer. If ever Colorado needed a bold, politically adept and reform-minded state commissioner, now is the time.
A provocative hypothesis is newly making the rounds: Does higher education currently have the basic characteristics of a speculative economic bubble?
Given new life by investor Peter Thiel, it is an idea that has been around since at least 2009 and this article in the Chronicle of Higher Education. On the back of a provocative discussion about the revenues needed to fund higher education in Colorado, I’ve been increasingly noticing a number of data points that seem to fit this hypothesis surprisingly well.
Technology has progressed to a point where it is not just replacing menial labor, but a broad swath of middle-class, white-collar jobs that require cognitive abilities.
The most spectacular bubbles in recent years were the Internet (circa 2000) and housing (circa 2008). The hypothesis notes that bubbles such as these have certain qualities, among them: 1) everyone believes that the underlying value is both irrefutable and will continue to grow; 2) prices are rising exponentially faster than other goods or services; and 3) these prices are being met due in large part to the easy availability of capital (generally debt). To take these in turn.
That college is seen as inherently valuable is a truism. Here is how Peter Thiel puts it:
“A true bubble is when something is overvalued and intensely believed,” he says. “Education may be the only thing people still believe in in the United States. To question education is really dangerous. It is the absolute taboo. It’s like telling the world there’s no Santa Claus.”
Bubble observers have heard this before — housing prices “always” go up (and owning a house is “always” good). Internet commerce, freed from the economics of retail stores, will enable unprecedented growth. Does a dogmatic belief in the intrinsic value of a college degree make us unable to accurately assess what it is really worth?
I was a little nervous about getting everyone to the lobby at 7 a.m. this morning, when they could have slept in until 8:30 a.m. However, I was the one that was running late. Surprisingly, Theron got up extra early and took his mentor, Tarek, to breakfast. While everyone was a bit sleepy eyed, we were extremely excited to make our way to “Good Morning America.” As we made our way through the early morning streets of Manhattan I knew that this was going to be a phenomenal day.
As our debaters attended conference sessions about career planning and then had lunch with the rest of the field, you could feel a shift happening
As we rounded the corner to Times Square, billboards flashed the lastest news. The advertisements crawled up at every angle, looking as if they were taking over the skyscrapers surrounding us. Already there was a small crowd of people gathering in front of ABC studios to hold a spot for the morning show. We found an open place and spoke with the security guard. He called in to confirm that we were indeed on Robin Roberts’ guest list, and that cameras would be shooting live in just a few minutes.
As Robin made her way through the throngs of people who had now amassed, she made instant eye contact with Teague and Theron and her face lit up. Being noticed by a star within a crowd of people is a special experience, indeed. Immediately the throngs of people were now focused on our debaters. You could feel them wondering who these youngsters were that had attracted such attention from Robin. Soon the cameras were rolling, and we were prompted to give a big cheer as they panned past us. You may have caught a glimpse of our stunning crew, if you were watching this morning.
Soon after, we were whisked inside the studio by security. After riding in an elevator that Theron claimed “…is bigger than my house…”, we were on the set of “Good Morning America.” Everyone was captivated by the whole process taking place: Camera booms moving up and down, mics, lights, producers, soundmen, and Robin Roberts interviewing a guest. As they broke to a commercial, George Stephanopoulos made his way over to us and took photos with our league director, Jessica Clark. My whole crew was in awe.
This post was submitted by Sandi Jacobs. She is vice president of the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) a non-partisan, non-profit research and advocacy group committed to increasing the accountability and transparency of the institution that have the greatest impact on teacher quality: states, teacher preparation programs, teacher unions and school districts. Jacobs spoke at the monthly Hot Lunch event on Friday, April 15.
Colorado doesn’t have Race to the Top funding – but it still could be running in the lead when it comes to teacher policy – if the state decides to stay in the race.
Colorado may not have made the final cut in the competition to secure federal funds for Race to the Top. But in SB10-191, Colorado passed potential national model legislation requiring annual evaluations for every teacher and principal in the state, based at least 50 percent on student growth measures, and including multiple measures of teacher effectiveness, career ladders with pay for the most effective teachers, and tenure decisions based on effectiveness.
Is the state’s cutting edge teacher reform agenda running out of gas?
SB10-191 reflects an important shift in thinking about teacher quality. Policymaking around improving teacher quality to date has focused almost exclusively on qualifications – teacher credentials, majors, degrees, licensing. But that is changing. Accountability for student learning and research confirming the strong impact teachers can have on student achievement are beginning to move the field towards a decidedly performance-based focus on teacher quality.
Given the tremendous impact teachers have on learning – teachers are the single most important school-based determinant of student achievement – the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) believes that no strategy state and districts take on is likely to have a greater impact than one which seeks to maximize teacher performance.
Editor’s note: Manual High School debate coach Charlie Smith will be keeping a daily diary of his trip to New York with brother-sister debaters Theron and Teague Harrison, who will be vying this weekend for the National Association for Urban Debate Leagues national championship.
I started the day with a daunting task: Picking up Teague and Theron at 4:30 a.m. for a 7:00 a.m. flight to New York. To my surprise they sauntered out of the door ready to go, bags in hand. They were wearing jackets that depicted the New York skyline, which were bought months ago when they declared that they were going to make it to New York city to compete in the nationals.
I had the privilege of witnessing two amazing teens take it all in, and make sense of all the madness.
And here we were taking the early morning trip towards that reality!
After a smooth flight, which was Theron’s first ever, we landed and I had the privilege of witnessing two amazing teens take it all in, and make sense of all the madness. The taxi cab drive was exactly what you would see in a movie: fast, furious, and daring. We ventured deep into the city of towering buildings and arrived at the Hilton, just a few blocks away from Central Park, Rockefeller Plaza, and Time Square.
After checking in, we hit the streets and had Philly cheese steaks from a street vendor, and it was then that I saw the power of this experience begin to hit us all. Sitting and eating on the steps of a random skyscraper, Teague and Theron’s worldview expanded as they watched a lonely man wailing on a sax, people of all kinds moving in every direction, horns blowing sporadically, and the city exploding to life.
From the Thomas B. Fordham Institute’s Flypaper blog:
Following Diane Ravitch on Twitter is sort of like giving a six-year-old a kazoo on a long car trip. You know that by doing so, there’s a very strong probability that it will result in near constant aggravation or annoyance. But you do it anyway, because somewhere deep in your troubled psyche you thrive on provocation.
Editor’s note: We are publishing two blog posts about new developments at Manual High School because of the extraordinary place the school holds in Denver Public Schools’ education reform landscape. In the late 1990s, Manual was one of the first comprehensive high schools transformed under the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s small schools initiative. Manual was split into three separate high schools in a failed experiment that ended when then-Superintendent Michael Bennet closed the low-performing school for the 2006-07 school year. It reopened in August of 2007 to great fanfare. But last year’s departure of Principal Rob Stein left the school facing new challenges. This has been a tough year at Manual, and the possible departure of Assistant Principal Vernon Jones, a popular figure, has touched a nerve in the Manual community. EdNews has invited incoming Manual Principal Brian Dale to submit a post as well.
The following post was submitted by Vernon Jones.
Last night I was moved by the show of support from the Manual High School community and the students that I have served over the last eight years of my life in a number of capacities.
They heard that budget cuts and a restructuring of Manual’s administrative team were going to force me to look for new employment. The budget cuts that most schools are faced with are unbelievable and dare I say shameful. If we really believe that our children are our future then we should invest in them like our future depends on it.
Our schools should be fully resourced with the staff, the tools, and the facilities that they need to serve our students well. That’s an entirely different issue, but one that requires courageous action as a state immediately.
Let me first say that Mr. Brian Dale, who will serve as Manual’s principal next year, was dealt a very challenging deck. He was hired to lead next year but so many decisions had to be made today before we could even talk about next year. A major decision was how to deal with budget cuts. He had to come in and decide what his administrative team would look like and make these decisions based on limited if any interaction with our existing team.
This post was submitted by Karen Mortimer. Mortimer is president of the Whittier School PTA, a highly involved Northeast Denver parent and active member of the Near Northeast Network of Schools planning team.
A couple months ago, as the Manual High School principal selection process was in full swing, I asked two Manual students for their thoughts. They bemoaned the fact that interim Principal Joe Sandoval had to leave as they really like him. They then asked me if P. Jones (their term of endearment for Pastor Vernon Jones) would still be at Manual as assistant principal. I assured them it would be so. Their relief was palpable.
On Friday, April 8, Jones was called into a meeting with Mr. Brian Dale, the new principal selected for Manual High School (from what many have agreed was a shallow pool of candidates). Dale proceeded to inform Jones that for the 2011-12 school year, he could stay at the school as Community Liaison with a $25,000 pay cut. It took just a day for Jones to turn down this “generous” offer.