Educator evals, assessments, closures, and authorizing

In New Jersey, the state department of education released draft regulations for a new teacher evaluation system. The slide deck they used to describe the plan is superb. Among other things, the package includes rules governing the use of student performance data, including “student growth percentiles” (SGP). I was with the department when this all was just a set of ideas nearly three years ago. Since then, the state has moved forward slowly but steadily—see the timeline on slide 4—rolling out a smart, fair plan. I’m proud of my old team.

PARCC, one of two testing consortia associated with Common Core, released a bevy of materials last week (Education Week writes it up here). The group’s website now has a wide array of resources available, including item and task prototypes, explanations of design features and policies for students with disabilities, and an over-arching guidance document. The consortia are reaching a pivotal moment: states need to budget and make decisions about sunsetting current tests. This release was probably timed (wisely) to give member states confidence that PARCC is on schedule. As I’ve written previously, should states have any doubts about the quality, cost, or punctuality of these assessments, we may see a wave of states pulling out, like Alabama did not long ago.

Philadelphia’s district is closing 23 schools. Why? “More than a quarter of the district’s 195,000 seats are empty.” I hope the schools selected for shuttering are the system’s lowest performing (an essential strategy of The Urban School System of the Future). Of course, there were protests at the public meeting; but those opposed have yet to offer an alternative. Is the district—with a $1.35 billion deficit—really supposed to keep open empty facilities?

This very good report by NACSA on the 12 essential practices of authorizing includes a status check of most of the nation’s authorizers. For too long, ed reform has neglected authorizing; this will help bring that to an end.

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