Redoing Teacher Tenure

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Groups such as The New Teacher Project and the National Council on Teacher Quality have both pointed to the need to redo teacher personnel policies, to reward teachers who work in more challenging classrooms and weed out the few bad apples.

According to Education Week (sub. required), states are now following through on those suggestions, with revisions to laws  “being coupled with movements to tie tenure to student academic achievement, reflecting an increased emphasis in national policy circles on the importance of gauging teachers’ impact on student learning.”

Delaware has introduced measures of student performance into the tenure-granting process. Maryland is discussing changing the probationary period from two years to three. Ohio has stretched out the probationary period to seven years, and Florida may abolish tenure altogether. In Florida, under a Senate bill, “All teachers would be placed on annual contracts. Those reaching their fifth year in the district would also lose employment unless they earned several successive ratings in the top-two performance tiers on a new evaluation instrument.

One expert interviewed by the newspaper pointed to the need of having solid evaluation tools: “Changing the amount of time to [gain] tenure is not going to be helpful if you don’t have a good evaluation system.” To paraphrase another person interviewed in the story, right now, the evaluation “system” is “did you get fired yet?”

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  • K.W. Harmon  On April 13, 2010 at 11:03 am

    How many of us have had kids of parents that simply will not support nor encourage and students who flat will not make an effort depite staff efforts and programs. How many administrators have we had that played favorites or didn’t know how to do the job? The next biggie is the evaluation itself– who’s making it?? let me guess- the politicians that have no clue about being in the classroom.How about taking the tax deduction from parent’s of kids who don’t do well on the “test”?? Why is the teacher the only one who will be looking for a job?? If you want to have good teachers- train them , treat them as honored professionals and the real kicker– pay them the salary they deserve for the future of the nation we teach!!! KWH

  • kansaseducation  On April 13, 2010 at 11:20 am

    So what does “pay them the salary they deserve” mean to you? Generally, professionals get paid based at least in part on results (or at least as a proxy, reputation).

    Testing and evaluation for results? It happens everywhere–except for teacher pay. I’ll admit there are problems in devising the test, but that’s what we pay educational professionals for–devise good tests. A key to any pay system that incorporates student performance will look at how much the student gained over the year and not where he is at the time he takes the test, which should alleviate concerns that some teachers will be penalized by being assigned poorly performing students.

    No doubt, it’s going to be hard to “get it right” when it comes to making the personnel policies in schools smarter. But it’s a challenge we need to take up, for reasons The New Teacher Project and the NCTQ and others have pointed out.

  • K.W. Harmon  On April 13, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    My comment on pay– our Nation Ceti. and Masters Art Teacher’s son as a part time construction job between his Jr ans Sr. yr at KSU made more the she did- why would he want to be a teacher in our capitalist society. As for as testing– guess what our build will judged on– if we meet stardards on a test(which HS get 2 shots at it while MS students don’t- makes sense to me)or we fail to meet standards. For example, we have not given the same SS test in the history of the testing and couldn’t get the test togather to give it this year as it was to be– I’m to believe they can get it right when on a couple of tests ago they had the wrong answer, knew it and didn’t tell us- I found out by calling and which force the HS to regrade the test after time had been provided. Sorry- I don’t trust anyone who things Education and bussiness can be interchanged- Education deals with kids whose brothers died, mom was beaten the night before, dad dies, and on and on. I’m tired of this– it’s an apple vs a watermellon. When will the parents face a challenge if the students don’t “meet standards”? You are right about moving in the right direction– We need to show progress during and over the year- which can be done with MAP testing- this will also help the student see what they did well and allow the parents to do this as well.The writing is on the wall for the upcoming shoortage in teachers- I’ve yet to see any reason for a capitalist to want teaching as a profession. We are the only profession in which a cattleman can tell us how to do our job- while she or he would laugh if I tried to tell him how to do his job. I love being with and teaching my “kids” but gov’t will be the reason when I retire

  • kansaseducation  On April 13, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    I’d be happy to see some teachers earn $100,000 year, but only if they are outstanding. Today, the teacher who delivers results and the one who is barely getting by get paid the same, as long as they have the same time in service and number of university credits. That doesn’t make any sense to me. Yes, evaluating employees on performance is difficult, and yes there are sometimes problems with subjectivity, but that’s life.

    Sorry, but I don’t understand what you’re staying about testing.

    You start out saying, “As for as testing– guess what our build will judged on–” … Perhaps you omitted some words there, and in the following sentences?

  • Marck Drennan  On April 13, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    Consider this… doctors, dentists, nurses, firemen and other service workers, in the “business” of helping others deal with situations of human nature everyday. The assertion that no two situations are the same is common knowledge in these fields, just as in education. None of these workers can “guarrantee” excellence, 100% recoveries, survival or even normalcy before they see a patient or the situation.
    Folks, this is what we are trying to do in education. How can you guarrantee student “success” by getting rid of “bad” teachers when every year of teaching brings a new group of human beings with delicate predetermined situations ranging from mild to severe. I see it every year. Performance soars when the affective filters are clean and your group of kids does not suffer from severe home life issues. The opposite normally happens when you get a group of kids that come emotionally loaded from home. We, teachers, all know that very little learning happens when students don’t feel safe.

    Hey, no doubt there are bad teachers, but bad teachers are not the culprits of failure in education. I had bad teachers and I still succeeded.

    Closing thoughts( no more rambling)
    Why cutting tenure is bad:
    -Great would be teachers will have less of a reason to become teachers.
    -Thus causing teacher shortages
    -There are very few to no monetary perks in teaching. Many teachers see tenure as a perk.
    -Could give unecessary power to districts to fire teachers at will.
    -You can’t always judge a teacher’s efficacy by her/his students progress.
    -Younger teachers are inexperienced and normally take 2-4 years to season into the field. Quality experiences take time.
    -What if the teacher had a “bad” year (medical, emotional, etc.)? Have you ever had a bad year at work? What of all the previous year of hard work and sacrifice showing up early and leaving late?

    …have to go, I have to go teach!

  • kansaseducation  On April 13, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    I hope I don’t get too personal here, but it appears that two people who are teachers have left comments here–comments that are filled with misspelled words and words that, strung together, make no sense.

    Turning to the substance, I have a question: Do either of you think that it’s possible to tell who is a good teacher and who is not? If not, why not? If so, should they be paid the same?

    • K.W. Harmon  On April 14, 2010 at 9:05 am

      The tools to replace bad teachers are in place–If we have bad teachers its because Admin. is not doing its job- after 3 yrs of eval.- how can that not be enough for an Admin. to non- renew. The idea of needing 5-7 yrs will allow techers that need to be removed to stay in the class rm. 3 or more yrs. Yes you can tell a good vs bad teacher– that’s part of Admin. training.
      Her’s another idea– let teachers set the “rules” as do the other professions with state oversight. Becoming a Doc. Nurse, etc is not decided by an elected non member of the profession how many Nurses are kicked out because the people they see do not meet standards set by “others”? We need to stop the comparison- just not the same.
      As far as same pay–If you are say a reding teacher and you get the low readers- they score”low” so you should get less pay? Maybe we should do the “combat pay” thing?? If the class room teacher does her /his job- sal. should be the same — To often the idea of merit pay has been based on if your a “pet” not based on how good you may or may not be doing in the class rm. Things are not broke in Ks. Our Kids are in the top 10 and when compare fairly we go toe to toe with the Wld. Lets not throw everything out because of Politics.
      Now to the spelling – sorry – the majical fingers do work as fast as the mind inbetween classes trying to get this out. I will slow dn a bit.

  • John R. LaPlante  On April 14, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    I’ll admit that some school leaders don’t do a good job of evaluating teachers. Then again, I suspect not being good is part of their job. More on that in an upcoming post.

    But that does not mean that evaluation is not possible. In fact, I’m glad you think it IS possible. So why, then, should student performance not be one of the factors used in an evaluation?

    Principals are subjective and have pet employees? Welcome to the world the rest of us inhabit. We should root out such favoritism where it exists, but the fact it exists shouldn’t mean there are no performance-based evaluations.

    By the way, aren’t grades that teachers themselves give out to students sometimes subject to a little subjectivity? Yet … OK, some teachers may think it’s fine to do away with all grades.

    K.W., you ask about the reading teacher who is assigned students with poor reading scores. Is it unfair to evaluate that person? Only if we judge the teacher based simply on how the students perform on one test. How about evaluating them on how much the students learn over a school year? It need not be the ONLY component, but as the National Council for Teacher Quality says, it should be the preponderant factor in granting tenure–and perhaps pay as well.

    K.W., you mention doctors and nurses not being subjected to rules set by others. But they are subjected to rules set by others, including insurance company officials and officials in government regulatory bodies–and those latter people, in turn, take their cue from politicians. This is not an idea situation (I think health care is far too regulated and it’s only going to become more so under the new health care law). But teachers are not the only people subject to laws laid down by people who don’t practice the art.

    Should teachers have more say in what goes on? Absolutely. That’s one of the premises of site-based management and charter schools. Would that the numbers of both increase.

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