Topic: Accountability System

Evaluating and Improving Teachers’ Effectiveness—What We Know and What It Means for Policy-Makers

Texas AFT's Austin symposium on teacher effectiveness yesterday was a partial corrective for years of unbalanced presentations at state legislative hearings, which have promoted "silver bullet" concepts like value-added measurement of teachers' impact based inordinately on students' test scores. The symposium gave lawmakers and educational stakeholders a clear picture of current scholarship on the limits and potential uses of current...

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Federal “Highly Qualified” Definition Gets Reprieve

The same bill making the short-term extension of federal education aid also gave a new lease on life to a contested federal definition of what constitutes a “highly qualified” teacher. The federal No Child Left Behind Act applies the “highly qualified” requirement to school districts that get federal aid. The Bush administration years ago issued a regulation giving districts leeway...

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Legislators, Opinion Leaders Preview Agendas for 2011

At this week's meeting of the Texas Education Reform Foundation in Austin, the roster of legislators on hand to discuss the upcoming session reflected the strong partisan tilt in Texas politics confirmed by the November election. Every legislator heard from was a Republican. To varying degrees, all bowed in their remarks to the partisan conventional wisdom around the capitol, which...

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Senate Education Committee’s Interim Report: Accountability and More

The last couple of Hotlines have laid out many of the recommendations emanating from the Texas Senate Education Committee in an interim report to the 2011 legislature issued last week. You can see the full report at this site:  http://www.senate.state.tx.us/75r/Senate/commit/c530/c530.InterimReport81.pdf. More of the committee’s recommendations are worth noting here. Under the heading of “teacher quality” initiatives, for instance, the committee...

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Setting the Table: Texas Senate Education Committee Makes Proposals for 2011 Session

The Texas Senate Education Committee, chaired by Plano Republican Sen. Florence Shapiro, has come out with a wish list of policy changes that Shapiro can be expected to seek in the 2011 session of the legislature. Not all of them have the full backing of her committee members, however. Controversial recommendations include: --Removing the cap on the number of charters...

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Billionaire Bill Gates versus Education Historian Diane Ravitch

In a recent magazine article, billionaire Bill Gates, who has used grants from his philanthropic foundation to assume a key role in steering educational policy across the nation, reproaches education historian Diane Ravitch for saying his version of education reform is hurting America’s schools. Unfortunately for Gates, Ravitch has now responded to telling effect, in the online version of the...

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Evaluating “Value-Added” Measurement of Teacher Effectiveness: Not Just a Houston Problem

A public forum sponsored by the Houston Federation of Teachers last week shed some needed light on the frailty of the value-added methodology in use in Houston ISD. But many issues raised at the forum pertain to all value-added methodologies currently in use to measure teachers' effects on student learning, not just to the Education Value-Added Assessment System (EVAAS) adopted...

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Another Independent Study Casts Doubt on Value-Added Models of Teacher Evaluation–Specifically Including the Houston ISD Version

Policy-makers may be drawn to the simplicity of reducing teacher evaluation to a "value-added" score based on achievement tests, but they are neglecting an expanding body of educational research that shows this seeming simplicity comes at the expense of accuracy. Educational historian Diane Ravitch, in her latest "Bridging Differences" blog entry (http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/Bridging-Differences/2010/10/dear_deborah_you_asked_what.html), cites a new study from the Annenberg Institute...

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More From State Accountability Hearing

At last week’s joint hearing of Texas House and Senate education committees, lawmakers kept coming back by one route or another to some key questions: How can the state get the benefit of information provided by standardized testing without continuing the excessive emphasis on testing at the expense of time and energy for real instruction? How can the state make...

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A Test for Legislators: Questions About Test-Driven School Accountability

In the 2007 and 2009 legislative sessions, Texas lawmakers enacted significant future changes in the state's test-focused accountability system. The changes include use of end-of-course exams instead of an exit-level exam as a high-school graduation requirement, along with tougher tests at all levels that are supposedly calibrated to show progress toward "college readiness." The latter is defined as readiness for...

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“Black Box” Value-Added Teacher Appraisal Under Scrutiny in Houston

An October 7 forum sponsored by the Houston Federation of Teachers will try to shine some much-needed light on Houston ISD’s "black box" methodology for statistical modeling of teachers’ effect on student learning, called the Education Value-Added Assessment System (EVAAS). The district is using this controversial methodology for high-stakes decisions about teacher evaluation, compensation, and termination, yet the precise workings...

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Budget, School Finance, Accountability Issues of 2011 Session Foreshadowed in Upcoming Hearings

Some noteworthy hearings in the next couple of weeks will preview issues sure to preoccupy lawmakers when the legislature meets for its next regular session in January. For example: September 14–The state’s budget for public education for 2012-2013 comes up for a public hearing next Tuesday in front of staffers of the Legislative Budget Board and Governor’s Budget Office. These...

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