Dallas ISD Expects It to Take Till 2014 to Come Up With a Solid Way to Evaluate Teachers

Teacher Evaluation System Update.jpg
Click to embiggen the teacher evaluation time line.
Back in March we took a look at Dallas Independent School District trustee Edwin Flores's proposal for evaluating the district's best teachers -- an imperative, he said at the time, given the layoffs and buyouts taking place due to the state's budget shortfall. Turns out, that was bit the tip of the evaluatin' iceberg: At their board briefing on Thursday, the trustees will be led through a PowerPoint that follows on the other side in which the human resources department lays out a three-year plan to reshape the way teachers are graded.

What you'll find on the other side is a sketch that'll be filled in Thursday. But as you can see, the district isn't sprinting toward a resolution. Instead, it's a five-part plan involving three committees and dozens of committee members, from Central Office higher-ups to trustees (Flores and Nancy Bingham) to principals to teachers' union reps to businessfolk. The doc says more than 50 interviews with shareholders (including "central office, teacher organizations, senior executive directors, principals and assistant principals," but not parents?) have been conducted in advance of the first committee meeting scheduled for Wednesday, but that's just the beginning of the beginning of the marathon process that's supposed to conclude in the fall of '14. Aw, just jump.

And to make it really worth your while, I've included a video I posted earlier in the comments, starring none other than former DISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa at his new gig in Georgia. Because, speaking of: I see Coach is still on the DISD's board agenda for next week. The district needs to reimburse him $3,561 for hotel, airfare, dining and other expenses he racked up between April and his adios. Why, how generous.

Teacher Evaluation System Update

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16 comments
Mac
Mac

Why aren't there any teachers on the committee?

Cliffhanger
Cliffhanger

1.  Based on his track record of evaluating "rock star" superintendents, it's fairly clear Flores shouldn't be in charge of picking mystery meat for the cafeteria, let alone having a say in who teaches our kids.

2.  I didn't know whether to laugh, cry, or puke at that video.  Oh well.  He's their problem now.

Titus Groan
Titus Groan

That's funny, I thought the R&E gang spent 10+ years refining their numerical waterboarding system which was so super-duper-valid only a PhD could (barely) explain it.  So we're getting rid of that now?   Yet another house in DISD in need of a thorough cleaning...

Its so sad
Its so sad

Found it interesting, and typical of DISD, that the "more than 50 interviews with shareholders (including "central office, teacher organizations, senior executive directors, principals and assistant principals")," did not include any current teachers! Only people who got OUT of teaching so they could make more money telling teachers what to do. Whatever evaluation tool they come up with will be as worthless as all the others. No one will be paid more or less because of their evaluation. No one will be promoted, retained or fired because of their evaluation. But we will all be threatened with "negative consequences" if we are judged poorly. It seems that only the teachers are trying to hold the students accountable. And many days that seems to be THE losing proposition, and gets no support from any of the supposed "shareholders." 

mrs james
mrs james

mrs dr. of educational administration sez: a drunken weekend with a dozen other teachers, then about 6 months sober work time for them to iron it out.

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

Flores is a lawyer, but he has NO clue about teaching. His big "thump, thump" all the time is, "How can we have 90% of our teachers meeting or exceeding expectations, and have so many low performing schools and so many dropouts?"Good question, Flores Troy. We keep telling him, but he has his fingers in his ears as he sings, "La,la, la, la..."Answer is: I, like most of my peers, TEACH WELL. We bust our behinds, give up many nights, weekends,and  holidays to help our students achieve. We go to summer training, take courses, etc... But, and this is the part where Flores gets really ignorant-----I cannot make my kids do their homework. I cannot make them not get pregnant. I cannot make my kids learn English faster when their own people are telling them that to learn English is to "betray" their heritage. I cannot make my students come to school. I do what I can while at school for the kids who come to learn. The rest is up to them. I DO MY JOB! THAT is how and where I should be evaluated. But for a lawyer, he is not so bright sometimes. Or stubborn, because he wants to blame teachers. Let me make it simple: My father chain-smoked four packs a day for over 30 years. His doctors told him over and over to quit, eat better, quit drinking so much. He died of throat cancer several years ago. Is that the doctor's fault, or my dad's? Should the doctor's rating decline because his patient died?

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

I can completely understand why it is going to take 2 years to come up with a plan to evaluate teachers.  DISD is a brand new school district, right?  No?  Wait. 

How the hell do you have an administration made up of people who can't evaluate the performance of their employees?  Where else but DISD does this happen?

Heywood U Buzzoff
Heywood U Buzzoff

Too bad we can't find a way to skip paying DISD taxes until 2014. Don't they realize they have only one, outmoded (and probably racist/sexist/homophobic) way of judging tax payers??

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

No, they are keeping it... Untiil we get enough people to go before the Bd of Trustees to tell them to cut it from the budget. Stop its use. I go by the HPISD thought," If they aren't using it in Highland Park, then why are we?"

scottindallas
scottindallas

I actually disagree a bit with what you say.  All the pedagogical evidence shows, very clearly, that the most effective way to teach, to inspire their interest, to engage them is to find what excites the students.  I had a real problem in my college course, where we read study after study that student centered learning was most effective.  If you want to teach English grammar, don't diagram sentences, don't bother with grammar, get them to put their ideas on paper, then edit the paper with them. 

To me, this creates a simple teaching formula.  Generate a compelling classroom discussion--attack those obstacles you describe.  If using English is selling out, fine, let them argue that on paper in English.  The teacher's job is to help them express themselves more clearly, according to the rules of English grammar.  By then they've invested in their argument and the paper.

This is really pretty simple.  What's not so simple is how an administrator would standardize and evaluate the teacher's performance.  It really shouldn't matter what lesson plan you have; in fact, it would seem an express, explicit lesson plan would be antithetical to effective teaching.  But, I understand this unessential device is considered necessary. 

The whole standardized testing regime is only to evaluate teachers and is an impediment to teaching.  My son's school had the parents write letters to encourage our kids to try hard on the test.  I couldn't help pointing out to my son in his letter that the school doesn't have us write letters for in-class tests that are used to evaluate him.  That the school wants him to do well for the school, even if they are less concerned about him and his development. 

This is the great challenge of school districts.  They have to pay out resources to teachers, who presumably need to be evaluated, though that evaluation typically impairs/hinders the teacher's teaching and student development.  (In college we were able to convince one professor that there was no pedagogic benefit in taking the final exam, so, he let us hand in our finals after just 15 min.  He gave us arbitrary grades based on his sense of our engagement--which frankly influences grades more than any grading formula would ever show)  In short, administrations need to let teachers teach.  But, they are rightly concerned about the quality of the teachers they employ.  The result is that explicit lesson plans are demanded, or standardized testing dictates the curriculum, corrupting the most effective pedagogic formula.

I don't have an easy answer; there really are none.  We can trust teachers to teach, but that leaves us vulnerable to abuses.  But, those impediments to teaching that you listed can be overcome, it requires you, as a teacher to find what excites your students.  Those very objections you listed are/can be a fountain head of motivation, a source of inspiration/motivation for your students--embrace and debate the controversy.  Sadly, controversy, compelling and challenging subjects and materials are banned or restricted in our dumbed down, politically correct world.

alfredo
alfredo

As a former parent of a DISD student/graduate, well said. 

Mac
Mac

Many higher ups have never been in the classroom or haven't been in the classroom in so long that they don't even know what it's like. If you haven't been in the classroom in 5 years, you haven't been in the classroom.

Michael MacNaughton
Michael MacNaughton

Contract with the District Management Council for the Development of a Teacher Evaluation System (Not to Exceed $2,000,000 Over Three Years/Various Funds). June 23, 2011 Board Meeting, Consent Item #84.

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

Scott--I get what you are saying, but let me address a few things in points--helps me organize thoughts:

1. I--like a lot of high school teachers, DO make a compelling class. I use the Socratic Method every chance I get, although the "pedagogy" says I should have them do cute littlel group work--so 90's and found to actually lower scores on INDIVIDUAL tests....

2. You see, I teach World History. We debate, discuss, joke about, empathize with, do all kinds of things--including some drill-n-kill (my kids KNOW the dates they MUST know), and a lot of assignments where the questions are not "hunt and repeat."

3. You will not find a kid sleeping in my class. You will not find a kid way off task. I have good classroom management, so good, I end up with the kids that others have given up on or cannot work with. I don't win everyone of them, but I do get a lot of them to actually PASS with some effort behind it.

4. We make almost anything in history relate to their lives--which is a challenge for some events. Seriously, I have to explain "plowing" to a generation of kids raised in apartments in a big city. Want to see their heads turn like a puppy's? Ask them what a phillips head screwdriver is. No clue. So, I have to find their starting point.... and we work together...

5. As for "diagrammiung sentences," man, they are bringing it back, because it IS needed. How can you construct a good sentence if you don't know how one IS constructed? When the "edu-wonks" started messing with good, solid lessons, deciding that for some reason, that to memorize is bad, that is when achievement declined, But I digress..

6.You mention finding out what inspires the kids, what holds their interest? I agree, but that ain't on the test. Before TAKS, history teachers could spend TIME on a subject, have the kids delve into it, research it, do all kinds of stuff. Know how much time I have to teach the Roman Empire? Guess..... 3 days. 3 classes, to teach what? Anything in depth? No. History has become a series of bullet point thoughts that reinforce the Ed Bd' in Austin's view of America's place in the world.

7. What galls us is that in almost any other profession, it is the professionals themselves who set the standards and enforce the rules. Not in education. This state is so beholden to certain companies (like the ones who make the tests--whose lobbyist s a former DISD Bd Prez) and other interests, teachers are an afterthought, a talking point, a boogie man on which to pin all the failures of society. Now, we have billionaires telling us what to do, and we have others who taught for a paultry 2-3 yrs go out and create alt teacher programs and become enriched by them.

We have a system, that if properly used, works. We are not afriad of lesson plans, evaluations, tests, but make them fair, valid and transparent.  But hey, I am just a teacher of 13 yrs, what do I know, right? (Not blaming you, Scott.)

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