Teacher Evaluation

Vergara Trial Nears End

Vergara Trial testimony wraps up this week with closing arguments scheduled for March 27. Lawyers (bankrolled by billionaire David Welch and other corporate “reformers”) representing nine student plaintiffs have charged that California statutes dealing with layoffs, dismissal, and granting permanent status after two years are all unconstitutional and inflict disproportionate harm on poor and minority students. The State of California and intervening parties CTA and CFT have responded that these statutes work well in school districts all over the state, that they help school districts attract and retain quality teachers, and in fact have nothing to say about which teachers are assigned to which schools or to which students.

While the legal arguments are firmly on our side, and hopefully the judge will agree, a quick look back at the testimony over the past two months should lead anyone with common sense—without requiring a law degree—to conclude that the plaintiffs in this case have no case. 

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How well prepared did you feel for your first teaching job?

CTA’s Teacher Evaluation Workgroup is examining the best preparation practices for the next generation of California’s teachers and wants to hear from you. What was training to be a teacher like? How about the early years of your teaching career, did you feel supported? What ideas can you offer as we consider the issues of teacher preparation, early career support and induction, and credentialing processes and policies?

Please take a few minutes to tell us what you think!

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Vergara Verdict Flawed, Like Lawsuit Itself

Like the Vergara lawsuit itself, today’s ruling is deeply flawed. CTA, CFT and the state of California will appeal. We will appeal on behalf of students and educators. Circumventing the legislative process to strip teachers of their professional rights hurts our students and our schools. 

During the nearly two-month trial, numerous defense witnesses, including superintendents, principals, teachers, and nationally-recognized education policy experts testified that these laws work well and benefit students in well-run school districts all over the state. The plaintiffs put on administrators from poorly-managed school districts like Oakland, who attempted to blame the challenged statutes for their district’s problems, rather than poor management and an incredibly high teacher and administrator turnover rates.

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CTA President to Take Part in Conservative Forum on Education

Tomorrow night, CTA President Dean Vogel will sit on a panel titled "How Do We Improve Education Achievement", alongside education "reformers" Gloria Romero, Larry Sand and Terry Moe. The panel discussion is being sponsored by the Silicon Valley Conservative Forum.

Where:  IFES Portuguese Hall, 432 Stierlin Road, Mountain View, CA 94043 Time:  Doors open at 6:15 PM - Program at 7:00 PM

Register for the event Learn more

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Peer Assistance & Review: an effective tool for teacher support and development

Recognizing that California must plan for the future, State Superintendent Tom Torlakson brought together 59 leaders from across California—teachers, parents, community, labor and business leaders—to share their thinking about education in the state. The resulting report, A Blueprint for Great Schools, provides vision and direction for our education system, including a focus on 21st Century learning, meeting the needs of the whole child, and rebuilding the ranks of California’s teachers width resources and respect.

Following this, the Task Force on Educator Excellence developed a supplementary report, Greatness by Design: Supporting Outstanding Teaching to Sustain a Golden Statewidth recommendations on how to strengthen California's teacher and administrative corps, outlining in particular the importance of Peer Assistance and Review.

"Quality and tailored support by colleagues centered on teacher growth is a cornerstone of the teaching profession," said CTA President Dean Vogel in a recent interview width Education Week blogger and CTA member Larry Ferlazzo. "This type of collegiality typically occurs informally in classrooms, the cafeteria, by the copier, and even on the playground as teachers meet to discuss methods, pedagogy and curriculum. Peer Assistance and Review program provides formal processes and structures to the informal support that occurs every day in schools."

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Supt. Torlakson Commends Task Force on Excellence Report - More Resources Needed

At a Monday morning news  conference near the state Capitol, Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson  congratulated members of his Educator Excellence Task Force Report for the completion and release of “Greatness by Design.”
CTA President Dean Vogel notes that the report makes it clear to teachers that “your experience counts and your assessment of what's necessary counts. Citing the report’s self-description as a “living document” subject to revision, the CTA leader said that “to the degree we can make the necessary adjustments to this, we win and if we win our students win.”
The superintendent praised  the task force members, including CTA President Dean Vogel, for their collaboration and hard work on a plan to improve the recruitment, training, and retention of teachers. The state schools chief, who is backing the governor’s revenue measure on the November ballot, commended  educators for moving ahead on the path toward excellence and conceded that the progress would be faster if schools had more resources.

He noted that no one cares more about improving teaching and learning than teachers themselves. The committee was chaired by Stanford Professor Linda Darling-Hammond and Long Beach Unified School District Superintendent Chris Steinhauser.

Learn more about the report at Greatness by Design.








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Teachers Disappointed at Legislature's Failure to Approve Evaluation Revamp

The California Teachers Association is expressing disappointment that lawmakers failed to approve AB 5, a CTA-supported landmark measure by Assembly Member Felipe Fuentes (D-Los Angeles) that would have transformed the state's antiquated teacher evaluation system into a highly useful process that would help teachers improve their professional skills.

“California’s educators are disappointed that the Legislature missed a great chance to change the state’s teacher evaluation system in a way that would have improved our profession and student learning. AB 5 by Assembly Member Fuentes was based on sound research about how you build strong learning communities for students width a comprehensive teacher evaluation system," said CTA President Dean Vogel in a statement released to the media.

“The California Best Practices Teacher Evaluation bill was an opportunity to get beyond the simple test score debate and to develop meaningful teacher assessments based on multiple measures of accountability. Teachers will continue to press for fair reforms like those outlined in this bill," stated the CTA leader.

"Assembly Member Fuentes worked diligently width all stakeholders for two years to create a comprehensive package. We thank him for his leaderships on this effort. CTA will continue to press for the rigorous and fair reforms like those outlined in this bill to transform a teacher evaluation system that is currently superficial and cursory, and so contrary to fostering the collaboration we know is necessary to improve student achievement.”

To read more about what is essential to a quality and comprehensive teacher evaluation system, see the CTA Teacher Evaluation Framework.

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We need new way to evaluate teachers

Op-ed published by San Francisco Chronicle 8/24/12

by Eric Heins

Everyone is talking about teacher evaluations these days. We all know that how we evaluate teachers now is not working for teachers or for students. The real question is why.

Some reformers are looking for a silver bullet to answer that question.

Some are avoiding it all together, and instead are blaming teachers for all that's wrong width our public schools.

And some, like members of the California Teachers Association, are offering solutions focused on bolstering student achievement and generating meaningful feedback to teachers to help them improve their craft. CTA also supports pursuing a collaborative approach to reform by including local school administrators, educators, parents and community members.

There are many problems width the teacher evaluation system in California. First and foremost is the frustration that teachers have width a process that is often cursory, superficial and inconsistent. The system largely is based on singular "drive-by" observations by a principal or administrator that provide incomplete portrayals of a teacher's skills and do very little to advance a teacher's instructional practice.

AB 5, legislation introduced by Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, D-Sylmar (Los Angeles County), recognizes this frustration and provides a new approach to evaluating teachers. It is one that is comprehensive, based on best practices and includes multiple measures for assessing teacher effectiveness. It merits passage in the Legislature.

The approach AB 5 champions was developed to strengthen the skills of teachers to improve student learning. It is based on standards of professional practice that acknowledge the multiple responsibilities of educators. It highlights how a teacher's skills contribute to student achievement and school success, and requires teachers to be evaluated more often.

Second, it is time for all of us to get beyond the test score debate. Parents know that a single test score does not define their child. And a single test score can't define teacher effectiveness.

The reality is that every student is unique and has different abilities, motivations and outside-of-school support. A teacher's job is to help students reach their fullest potential but a teacher's evaluation must acknowledge the unique situation of each student as well.

AB 5 is a step in the right direction. It calls for multiple measures of accountability. District and state assessments can be part of those measures. An amendment just added to the bill will clarify this intent.

Also, teachers routinely use and give tests. A teacher's knowledge of how to use tests and assess student data should be part of any evaluation process. AB 5 calls for this.

AB 5 also recognizes that every school district is a little community, each width specific needs, based on their student population and demographics, which shape the work of teachers. That is why local educators, parents and administrators know what's best for their students.

AB 5 continues the practice of locally negotiating a new teacher evaluation system. It requires input from educators and parents to ensure local conditions and student needs are considered. AB 5 provides resources to ensure that evaluators receive the training and support they need to conduct fair and accurate evaluations. And it provides support for teachers to improve their practice.

California teachers are leading reform efforts. CTA supported a State Board of Education application for a waiver from the mandates of the No Child Left Behind that was filed in May.

It's time for California to join countries like Finland, which is highly recognized for its well-performing schools and which pays little attention to standardized test scores. Let's instead focus on multiple measures of teachers to ensure kids get a well-rounded education and grow into critically thinking adults.

Eric Heins, a teacher in Pittsburg, is vice president of the 325,000-member California Teachers Association.

Read the Op-ed on SFGate

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