Houston, We Have A Problem…

Regarding this debate over whether what Houston ISD is doing on teacher evaluation aligns or not with the Weingarten proposals from last Tuesday, three fresh links for you:

First, at HuffPo Diane Ravitch says HISD’s policy is not what Weingarten said.  Second, here’s the proposal itself in pdf (starts on page 103 of the board agenda).   In fact, it looks like it’s in-line with what Weingarten was talking about.  Despite all the rhetoric test scores are not the sole criteria, the tests are not snap-shots but rather value-added, and support is in place for teachers.  

Perhaps one could argue that Texas doesn’t have outstanding standards and tests but (a)  the teachers’ union there would be on firmer ground to make that case if they hadn’t just stood shoulder to shoulder with Texas’ secessionist-talking governor and rejected any effort to compete for federal “Race to the Top” funds, which among other things are tied to better standards and tests…and (b) what’s in place in Texas now, while far from ideal, works for this policy.

Also, here’s a chat from the Houston Chron with a pro-con view.  Backstory on all this  here and here.

3 Replies to “Houston, We Have A Problem…”

  1. Yeah, Houston has a problem. Its superintendent jumped from a pilot program in a state without collective bargaining to use growth for incentives. The pilot did not raise student performance and an independent study said it suffered from a lack of teacher buy-in because Grier did not engage teachers and said that to be successful, “communication is the key.” After he had a brief acrimonious tour in San Diego.

    You complain about Randi’s speech, even though she clearly called for trained evaluators and peer review. But what about the one-sentence change which provided the 34th reason for firing teachers? Nothing was said about efforts to determine validity or trust-building processes. Would you ever sign onto something like that with methodology sight unseen?

    You guys are smart enough to know that most of these primitive VAMs in evaluation proposals will be thrown out in court. Your continued misrepresentation of the unions’ offers seem to indicate that your real goal is bitter and expensive court battles. Yes, endless litigation will hurt the unions.

    How much harm are you willing to do to students in order to corner the unions into the mother of all labor battles? Nobody will win unless you back off from those scorched earth tactics.

  2. Let’s deal with ground level school reality, not ideology or theory.

    The problem is not just the Houston district’s linking of teacher pay to student test scores. In the secondary schools, teachers work under policies pushing us to inflate grades of students who have not learned, and weak discipline measures encourage us to tolerate even students who misbehave incessantly.

    In my school, groups of students roam the hallways in groups during class time throughout the day, and students who violate the rules receive penalties that are so light they come back and repeat the same offenses the next day, and the day after that.

    I was reassigned because I refused to reopen grading for six seniors who had failed their Government classes. I had 28 students in one year pass Advanced Placement tests at a majority-minority school, the best record at the time for our district. Yet none of that mattered when I failed a small number of seniors.

    The Houston policy holds teachers accountable but does nothing about the permissive discipline enforcement and tactics pressuring teachers to inflate grades.

    I all for accountablity if we have the power to carry out the resonsiblity being put on our shoulders.

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