Education Gadfly Weekly
Volume 12, Number 11
March 15, 2012
Opinion + Analysis
The Harrison Plan: Teacher compensation based on effectiveness
Putting pay-for-performance into practice
The disparities of disparate impact
The Education Department’s flawed approach to equity
George Miller and the do-gooder caucusA top 10 list
Who's the "conservative" now?
Catching up with Kasich, Catholic schools, and the CCSS
Evaluating the NYC Core Knowledge Early Literacy Pilot: Year 3 Report
This stuff really works!
Catching Up: Learning from the Best School Systems in East Asia
A baby McKinsey study
Common Core State Standards Implementation Rubric and Self-Assessment Tool
One handy-dandy rubric
March (ESEA) Madness?
Mike and the Heritage Foundation’s Lindsey Burke step outside to debate the place of climate science in standards and whether John Kline’s ESEA proposals stand a chance, while Amber looks at the relative merits of a four-day school week.
Teacher Compensation Based on Effectiveness: The Harrison (CO) School District's Pay-for-Performance Plan
March 14, 2012
F. Mike Miles
F. Mike Miles
This report, authored by Superintendent Mike Miles, takes a detailed look at the Harrison (CO) School District 2's Pay-for-Performance Plan. The Harrison Plan confronted the dual challenges of defining an effective teacher and identifying all the things that demonstrate her effectiveness. This how-to guide is meant to serve as a tool and model for Ohio’s school districts.
Terry Ryan / March 14, 2012
Fordham's latest report is a "how-to" guide for teacher compensation reform.
Pop quiz: Which school district is furthest ahead in designing and implementing a workable teacher evaluation system? Washington, D.C., with its IMPACT system? Denver, Colorado, with PRO-COMP? You’re getting warmer…
The correct answer, according to a brand-new paper from the Fordham Institute, is very likely the Harrison (CO) School District. Harrison is a high-poverty district of about 10,000 students near Colorado Springs. It has confronted the triple challenge of determining what elements are most valuable in a teacher’s overall performance (including but not limited to student growth on standardized tests), applying that determination to the district’s own teachers (all of them!), and then reshaping the teacher-salary system (with the teacher union’s assent!) to reward strong performance. Excellent teachers earn substantially more—and do so earlier in their careers—than their less effective peers.
Under the Harrison Plan, salaries for all teachers depend not on paper credentials or years spent in the classroom, but on what actually happens in their classrooms. “Step increases” based on longevity have been eliminated, as have cost of living raises. And professional development is tailored by evaluations to help teachers improve.
Harrison’s evaluation process is divided into two
Chester E. Finn, Jr. / March 15, 2012
Is there a racist behind every tree in the American education forest? That’s the spin a lot of people have given to last week’s massive trove of federal data on school discipline and sundry other topics. “Black students face more harsh discipline” headlined the New York Times. “Minority students face harsher punishments,” quoth the Associated Press. “An educational caste system” stormed the head of the country’s largest coalition of civil-rights groups.
The federal data (from 2009-10) cover a multitude of issues but what caught most eyes was the finding that black and Latino students are suspended or expelled from school in numbers greater than their shares of the overall pupil population. “The undeniable truth,” declared Education Secretary Arne Duncan, “is that the everyday educational experience for many students of color violates the principle of equity at the heart of the American promise.” Declaring that the new data paint “a very disturbing picture,” Assistant Secretary (for Civil Rights) Russlynn Ali proudly informed the media that her office has “launched 14
Michael J. Petrilli / March 15, 2012
Two weeks ago, when the House Education and the Workforce committee marked-up two major ESEA reauthorization bills, Democrats and their allies screamed bloody murder. Ranking member (and former chairman) George Miller called the bills “radical” and “highly partisan” and said they would “turn the clock back decades on equity and accountability.” A coalition of civil rights, education reform, and business groups said they amounted to a “rollback” of No Child Left Behind.
Perhaps Representative Miller and his allies are "conservatives" on education after all.
Photo by George Miller.
Miller put forward his own bills, which most of the self-same groups quickly endorsed, and which, Miller argues, “eliminates inflexible and outdated provisions of No Child Left Behind and requires states and [districts] to adopt strong but flexible and achievable standards, assessments, and accountability reforms.”
So let’s see how Miller and company do at “eliminating inflexible and outdated provisions of NCLB” and requiring “strong but flexible” accountability systems. The package…
- Requires states to expect “all” students to reach college and career readiness eventually. (Didn’t we learn from NCLB that calling for “universal proficiency” merely pushes
The Education Gadfly / March 15, 2012
John Kasich “begged” the Ohio Board of Education this week to support Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson’s education overhaul plan. After the SB 5 disappointment, here's hoping the Ohio governor's softer approach can help make a promising policy come to pass, then last.
The Archdiocese of New York is responding to budget woes by rethinking how it governs its schools. Restructuring is just one of several ways to keep these vital institutions alive, but the nation’s public schools would do well to note the Church’s willingness to undertake education governance reform.
A bill to reconsider adoption of the Common Core standards died in Utah's legislature this week. We’ve always said that states should feel free to drop out of the common standards effort at any time. Still, we’re glad that the Beehive State—for now—didn’t.
Teens and twenty-somethings are increasingly risk-averse and sedentary, according to a recent New York Times op-ed. Is it just a lousy economy, or should schools shoulder some of the blame, perhaps for rewarding lassitude, discouraging competition, and shunning risk?
Daniela Fairchild / March 15, 2012
“Planting healthy content seeds will lead to a bumper crop of good readers,” noted Fordham’s Peter Meyer eight moons ago in reference to second-year results from New York City’s Core Knowledge Language Arts (CKLA) pilot reading program. Year three results, released this week, are equally compelling. Some background: CKLA is meant, through early reading instruction and content-rich “read-alouds,” to introduce all students—low-income students specifically—to the “core” common knowledge needed to navigate society. The pilot reading program tracks 1,000 students in twenty low-income schools in the Big Apple. Ten of these are implementing E.D. Hirsch’s “core knowledge” pedagogy (which stresses nonfiction reading, content knowledge, and decoding skills) while the other ten (with like demographics) employ reading strategies of the “balanced literacy” sort. Besides tracking scores on pre- and post-tests, this study gathered teacher and administrator survey data and conducted site visits at four CKLA schools, confirming teachers’ fidelity to the Core Knowledge program. CKLA students across all studied grades (Kindergarten through second) boasted larger gains than their comparison-group peers, and students with lower base achievement saw larger gains. Core Knowledge had the greatest impact on Kindergarteners; fidelity to the program resulted in reading gains fivetimes greater than those experienced by students taught via other reading strategies. (Likewise, Core Knowledge students scored higher on science and social studies content-based tests than those using other reading strategies.) After three years of positive results—and New York State’s imminent implementation of the Common Core,
Lisa Gibes / March 15, 2012
Last December’s PISA results released a cacophony of opinions, commentaries, and best-practice analyses on what America can learn from the world’s high achievers. This report from Australia’s Grattan Institute is a welcome melody amidst the clamor. It explores the key traits of four of the world’s highest-performing (and fastest-rising) education systems—Hong Kong, Korea, Shanghai, and Singapore—and explains what other countries (the U.S. included) might learn from them. The answer isn’t “more testing.” These high-achieving systems focus on strong teacher-induction and -mentoring programs, quality principal preparation, and school autonomy. They all have strong central curricula—the cornerstone to reforming teaching, according to the Hong Kong Education Bureau’s deputy secretary. Also notable is the acceptance of trade-offs in each system. Teachers in Shanghai, for example, spend much less time in the classroom—and more in lesson prep—than educators in most other nations. (For context, they spend nearly twenty fewer hours a week on instruction than U.S. teachers.) On the other hand, they teach about forty pupils per class. The report’s most trenchant addition to comparative-education literature, however, is perhaps its most obvious: The authors reason that the four systems excel not because of the policies they enact but because of how good they are at implementingthem in actual schools. Add this to your library of international comparative analyses—it’s well worth the citation.
Ben Jensen, Amelie Hunter, Julie Sonnemann, and Tracey Burns, Catching Up: Learning from the Best School Systems in East Asia (Australia: Grattan
Kathleen Porter-Magee / March 15, 2012
Several weeks back, Education First—a national education-policy and strategic-consulting firm—released the first of three reports intended to guide states through the challenges of implementing the Common Core. It focused exclusively on the existence of state implementation plans. Now the second report is out, co-penned by Education First and Achieve, and offering a useful if imperfect rubric and self-assessment tool to help states measure the quality of those plans. (The final installment will report on state progress towards meeting the benchmarks identified in this rubric.) The rubric describes the elements of “exemplary,” “strong,” “emerging,” and “inadequate” plans for state-level standards implementation in a number of realms. Among the most useful elements is an outline of “key instructional shifts” that ELA and math teachers will face as they begin to move instruction to the Common Core (which defines the differences between the CCSS and current state standards better than most of the current “crosswalk comparisons” available from states). And in the teacher-evaluation section, the authors make the important link between targeted professional-development activities and holding educators accountable for CCSS-aligned outcomes. All valuable. But not perfect. For example, the rubric specifically demands that states develop their own curriculum frameworks modeled after the CCSS in order for their plans to gain “exemplary” status. But given scarce resources, states may be better served developing such frameworks collaboratively—or piggybacking off others’ efforts. On balance, however, the rubric is a useful frame that can help