Tag Archives: Teacher Tenure

Are teacher contract rules a source of education disparity?

27 Apr

Moi posted about teacher contract issues in University of Chicago Law school study prompts more debate about the effect of unions on education outcome:
Moi wrote about teachers unions in Teachers unions are losing members:

All politics is local.
Thomas P. O’Neill

Moi would like to modify that quote a bit to all education is local and occurs at the neighborhood school. We really should not be imposing a straight jacket on education by using a one-size-fits-all approach. Every school, in fact, every classroom is its own little microclimate. We should be looking at strategies which work with a given population of children.

A Healthy Child In A Healthy Family Who Attends A Healthy School In A Healthy Neighborhood. ©

The question which increasingly asked is whether teachers unions help or hinder education.

PBS has a great history of teaching, Only A Teacher: Teaching Timeline which discusses unionization:

Unions
There are two national teachers unions in the United States today, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers. The NEA was founded in 1857 as a policy-making organization, one that hoped to influence the national debate about schools and schooling. Over the next hundred years, it played a significant role in standardizing teacher training and curriculum. Until the 1960s, the NEA tended to represent the interests of school administrators and educators from colleges and universities.
The AFT, on the other hand, was always much more of a grass-roots teachers’ organization. It was formed in 1897 as the Chicago Teachers Federation, with the explicit aim of improving teachers’ salaries and pensions. Catherine Goggin and Margaret Haley allied the CFT with the labor movement, going so far as to join the American Federation of Labor – an act that horrified everyone who wanted to see teaching as genteel, white-collar employment. At the same time, the union conceived its work in terms of broader social improvement, bettering the lives of the poor and the alienated. By 1916, several local unions had come together to form the AFT. In the 1940s, the AFT began collective bargaining with local school boards, which again horrified some people. Collective bargaining always carries the threat of strikes, and teachers, as servants of the community, were long seen as both too indispensable and too noble to engage in work stoppages. The issue of strikes remains contentious today.
Teacher militancy has waxed and waned over the past 50 years. But many teachers believe that whatever gains they have made — in pay, benefits, job security and working conditions — have come from the efforts of their unions. Today, the NEA and AFT flirt with the idea of merging and have made significant strides towards combining their memberships. Their common interests — greater professionalization, increased authority for educators, enhanced clout in Washington, better working conditions and improved schools — dictate working together, and perhaps even becoming one very powerful union. http://www.pbs.org/onlyateacher/timeline.html

See, “Understanding the History of Teachers Unions,” a Panel Discussion with Diane Ravitch http://webscript.princeton.edu/~sfer/blog/2010/12/understanding-the-history-of-teachers-unions-a-panel-discussion-with-diane-ravitch/ https://drwilda.com/2012/07/04/teachers-unions-are-losing-members/
https://drwilda.com/2013/09/21/university-of-chicago-law-school-study-prompts-more-debate-about-the-effect-of-unions-on-education-outcome/

Several studies have examined the role of teacher contracts in education disparity.

Stephen Sawchuck reported in the Education Week article, Are Contracts to Blame for Teacher-Quality Gaps?

Despite being widely known and universally condemned, the stark gap in teacher quality between schools serving large concentrations of minority students and those educating mainly white students has proved frustratingly difficult to address.
As researchers seek to identify the causes of this common predicament, they are increasingly turning their attention to one of the often-cited culprits: teacher contracts.
They are scouring collective bargaining agreements, parsing language governing seniority, and attempting to determine whether stronger protections—provisions requiring transfers to be determined solely by seniority, for instance—bear a relationship to where experienced teachers work.
As a batch of recent studies on the topic indicate, though, scholars aren’t likely to reach any simple answers.
So far, the existing research provides some limited evidence that, for high-minority elementary schools in large districts, seniority language may play a role in teacher-quality gaps. But beyond that, the situation is murky. What’s more, the researchers don’t all agree on how to interpret the results, or even whether the questions that have guided the most recent studies are the appropriate ones.
On one matter, at least, researchers do agree: In an area of policymaking long dominated by anecdote, an empirical examination of contracts is long overdue.
“There is so little work that focuses on exactly how collective bargaining affects how districts and schools are organized, even though it’s obviously critical to how schools and districts do the job of educating students,” said Sarah Anzia, an assistant professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and the author of one of the newest studies on the topic. “So I think that seeing this flurry of papers and articles is really promising.”
Disparities in teacher quality between schools serving high and low proportions of black and Hispanic students have been documented in various forms for years. The issue recently made national headlines again, thanks to federal civil rights data showing that black students were four times as likely as their white peers to be assigned less-experienced teachers….
Studies Probe Transfer Rules
Researchers have been examining whether collective bargaining agreements harm teacher quality in high-minority schools.
“Bottom-Up Structure: Collective Bargaining, Transfer Rights, And the Plight of Disadvantaged Schools” (2005)
Terry M. Moe, Stanford University
Findings: In a sample of California districts, stronger seniority-based transfer rules were linked to a decline in teacher quality in high-minority schools.
“Facilitating the Teacher Quality Gap? Collective Bargaining Agreements, Teacher Hiring and Transfer Rules, And Teacher Assignment Among Schools in California” (2007)
William S. Koski, Stanford University; Eileen Horng
Findings: Stronger seniority policies in California districts generally were not linked to the distribution of qualified or experienced teachers across high- and low-minority schools.
“Seniority Provisions in Collective Bargaining Agreements And the ‘Teacher Quality Gap’” (2013)
Lora Cohen-Vogel, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Li Feng, Texas State University-San Marcos; La’Tara Osborne-Lampkin, Florida State University
Findings: Stronger seniority policies in Florida’s districts were not linked to the distribution of qualified or experienced teachers across high- and low-minority schools.
“Collective Bargaining, Transfer Rights, And Disadvantaged Schools” (2014)
Sarah F. Anzia, University of California, Berkeley; Terry M. Moe, Stanford University
Findings: In large California districts, stronger seniority provisions were related to a decline in the number of experienced teachers in high-minority schools. The pattern did not appear in small districts.
“Inconvenient Truth? Do Collective Bargaining Agreements Help Explain the Distribution and Movement of Teachers Within School Districts?” (2014)
Dan Goldhaber, University of Washington Bothell; Lesley Lavery, Macalester College; Roddy Theobold, University of Washington
Findings: Experienced teachers in Washington state were more likely to transfer out of high-minority schools in districts with contracts that specified seniority as the only factor in transfer decisions.
SOURCE: Education Week
http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/04/16/28contract_ep.h33.html

Citation:

Collective Bargaining, Transfer Rights, and Disadvantaged Schools
1. Sarah F. Anzia
1. University of California, Berkeley
2. Terry M. Moe
1. Stanford University
Abstract
Collective bargaining is common in American public education, but its consequences are poorly understood. We focus here on key contractual provisions—seniority-based transfer rights—that affect teacher assignments, and we show that these transfer rights operate to burden disadvantaged schools with higher percentages of inexperienced teachers. We also show that this impact is conditional: It is substantial in large districts, where decisions are likely to follow rules, but it is virtually zero in small districts, where decisions tend to be less formal and undesirable outcomes can more easily be avoided. The negative consequences are thus concentrated on precisely those districts and schools—large districts, high-minority schools—that have been the nation’s worst performers and the most difficult to improve.
unions
collective bargaining
Article Notes
Declaration of Conflicting Interests The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.
Funding The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.
Received February 28, 2012.
Revision received November 15, 2012.
Revision received April 22, 2013.
Accepted July 11, 2013.

There must be a way to introduce variation into the education system. To the extent that teachers unions hinder the variation in the system, they become a hindrance.

Resources:

Debate: Are Teachers’ Unions the Problem—or the Answer?
http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2010/03/18/debate-are-teachers-unions-the-problem-or-the-answer.html

Quiet Riot: Insurgents Take On Teachers’ Unions
http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2087980,00.html#ixzz1zgjC7qGS

Can Teachers Unions Do Education Reform?
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204124204577151254006748714.htm

Let a New Teacher-Union Debate Begin
http://educationnext.org/let-a-new-teacher-union-debate-begin/#.Ujthycb-osY.email

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART©
http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©
http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda ©
https://drwilda.com/

Landmark California case regarding teacher tenure: Vergara v. California

1 Feb

People become teachers for many reasons. Among the top ten reasons to become a teacher are:

1. Student Potential
2. Student Successes
3. Teaching a Subject Helps You Learn a Subject
4. Daily Humor
5. Affecting the Future
6. Staying Younger
7. Autonomy in the Classroom
8. Conducive to Family Life
9. Job Security
10. Summers Off
http://712educators.about.com/od/teacherresources/tp/teachergood.htm

Because of the recession, many are turning to teaching as a career that might have employment possibilities. Although there may be job cuts as states and some locales cope with diminishing tax revenue, the education sector still looks good in comparison with other sectors. Information about teaching requirements can be found at Education Week Career Community http://resources.topschooljobs.org/tsj/states/

The issue of teacher tenure is important because:

There is no shortage of data that show a significant percentage of teachers leave just when they are becoming consistently effective. However, at the same time, too many teachers who have not become consistently effective achieve permanent status, also referred to as tenure.

The question surrounding teacher tenure is how to protect quality teachers from unfair termination?

What is Teacher Tenure?

A good basic description of teacher tenure as found at teacher tenure. http://www.ericdigests.org/pre-925/tenure.htm James gives the following definition:

WHAT IS TENURE?
Tenure is a form of job security for teachers who have successfully completed a probationary period. Its primary purpose is to protect competent teachers from arbitrary nonrenewal of contract for reasons unrelated to the educational process — personal beliefs, personality conflicts with administrators or school board members, and the like.
WHAT PROTECTION DOES TENURE OFFER THE PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHER?
The type and amount of protection vary from state to state and — depending on agreements with teachers’ unions — may even vary from school district to school district. In general, a tenured teacher is entitled to due process when he or she is threatened with dismissal or nonrenewal of contract for cause: that is, for failure to maintain some clearly defined standard that serves an educational purpose.

Time has a good summary of the history of teacher tenure at A Brief History of Tenure
http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1859505,00.html?artId=1859505?contType=article?chn=us

What are the Pros and Cons of Teacher Tenure?

One of the best concise defenses of K-12 teacher tenure is from Cleolaf’s blog at Why K12 Teachers Need Tenure The reasons are:

A) The teacher shortage is not evenly distributed. High performing schools don’t have the same problems attracting teacher. High paying district don’t have the same problems attracting teachers….
B) This really comes down to the question of why principals might want to be rid of a teacher. I would suggest that any manager would want to be rid of any employee who makes his/her job or life harder. Ideally, this would only be low performing teachers, but that is a fantasy view.
Any kind of rabble rouser can make a principal’s job harder. …Obviously, union activists are already protected by other labor laws.
C) Academic freedom in K12 is not like in higher education, that’s true. But it is still an issue.
A teacher who tries to raise the bar in his/her classes can create no end of problems for a principal. If standards in school have been too low, and a teacher demands more than students are accustomed to, students and their parents can demand enormous amounts of principal’s time. This is a different form of rocking the boat, but can still be enough for a principal to wish to be rid of the teacher.
Principals cannot be experts on everything. Once, when teaching high school English, my principal as a former middle school math teacher. He insisted that I as an English teacher, “not worry about critical and analytical thinking” and “just teach English.” Though he had no training or experience with high school English, he had ideas about what it meant. He did not approve of the fact that I was spending as much time on teaching my student how to reason as on the mechanics of writing. …
Another principal might be an old school traditionalist and insist that English classes only be about books. He might not approve of using film or video to teach about theme, plot, symbolism, character development, story arcs, allegory and any of the rest. But a teacher might feel that this would be the best way for students to learn these lessons….
No, we don’t need tenure if principals can be counted on to make good decisions in the best interests of children. But they are human, and therefore often make decisions in their own interests. Moreover, we have a real shortage of high quality principals, even as we are breaking up large schools into multiple small schools and opening up charter schools….
I do not suggest that there are not problems with our tenure system. A lot falls to principals, perhaps too much. Teacher observation and evaluation is not easy, and the tenure process in dependent on principals making good decisions about teachers during those first three years. …And that is why we still need tenure. It takes a series of bad decisions over a number of years for a poor teacher to get tenure. But without tenure, it only takes one bad decision for a good to be dismissed. http://ceolaf.blogspot.com/2008/04/why-k12-teachers-need-tenure.html

Cleolaf points toward insufficient teacher assessment and evaluation as a prime cause of problems with teacher tenure. Research confirms that good principals are key to high performing schools. Good principals are also the key in Cleolaf’s view to making a tenure system work. Vergara v. California is a California case about teacher tenure.

Jennifer Medina reported in the New York Times article, Fight Over Effective Teachers Shifts to Courtroom:

In a small, wood-paneled courtroom here this week, nine public school students are challenging California’s ironclad tenure system, arguing that their right to a good education is violated by job protections that make it too difficult to fire bad instructors. But behind the students stand a Silicon Valley technology magnate who is financing the case and an all-star cast of lawyers that includes Theodore B. Olson, the former solicitor general of the United States, who recently won the Supreme Court case that effectively overturned the state’s ban on same-sex marriage….
At issue is a set of rules that grant permanent employment status to California teachers after 18 months on the job, require a lengthy procedure to dismiss a teacher, and set up a seniority system in which the teachers most recently hired must be the first to lose their jobs when layoffs occur, as they have regularly in recent years.
Teachers’ unions, which hold powerful sway among lawmakers here, contend that the protections are necessary to ensure that teachers are not fired unfairly. Without these safeguards, the unions say, the profession will not attract new teachers….
The month long trial promises to be a closely watched national test case on employment laws for teachers, one of the most contentious debates in education. Many school superintendents and advocates across the country call such laws detrimental and anachronistic, and have pressed for the past decade for changes, with mixed success. Tenure for teachers has been eliminated in three states and in Washington, D.C., and a handful of states prohibit seniority as a factor in teacher layoffs. But in many large states with urban school districts, including California and New York, efforts to push through such changes in the legislature have repeatedly failed.
While several lawsuits demanding more money for schools have succeeded across the country, the California case is the most sweeping legal challenge claiming that students are hurt by employment laws for teachers. The case also relies on a civil rights argument that so far is untested: that poor and minority students are denied equal access to education because they are more likely to have “grossly ineffective” teachers.
Judge Rolf Michael Treu, of Los Angeles County Superior Court, will decide the nonjury trial. His ruling will almost certainly be appealed to the State Supreme Court…
The first witness for the plaintiffs was John E. Deasy, the superintendent of Los Angeles Unified School District and a staunch opponent of tenure rules and “last in, first out” seniority for teachers. Mr. Deasy testified that attempts to dismiss ineffective teachers can cost $250,000 to $450,000 and include years of appeals and legal proceedings. Often, he said, the district is forced to decide that the time and money would be too much to spend on a case with an unclear outcome, in part because a separate governing board can reinstate the teachers. Such rules make it impossible not to place ineffective teachers at schools with high poverty rates, he told the court….
Teachers’ unions contend that such job protections help schools keep the best teachers and recruit new ones to a job that is often exhausting, challenging and low paid. Mr. Finberg, the lawyer for the unions, said in court that the fact that Mr. Deasy has increased the number of ineffective teachers dismissed from the classroom — to about 100 of the district’s 30,000 teachers — suggests that the laws are working.
The plaintiffs’ legal team, from the firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, includes not only Mr. Olson, who served as solicitor general under President George W. Bush, but also Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., a lawyer for Apple in its antitrust case on e-book pricing. The lawyers and public relations firm behind Students Matter previously teamed to overturn the California ballot measure against same-sex marriage and say this case could have a similar ripple effect across the country. Among the boldface names siding publicly with the plaintiffs is Antonio R. Villaraigosa, the former mayor of Los Angeles, who joined them in a news conference outside the courthouse this week….
Teachers’ unions nationwide have fought changes in employment laws, contending that their members must be protected from capricious or vengeful administrators. In Colorado, where a sweeping law in 2010 created a new system to evaluate teachers, the unions are suing over a provision that lets principals decide whether to hire veteran teachers who lost jobs because of budget cuts or drops in enrollment.
Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, said in a telephone interview that the California case echoes the fights she had when she led the teachers’ union in New York, and called the lawsuit “worse than troubling….”
State education laws across the country are changing. School districts in 29 states use poor effectiveness as grounds for dismissal, according to a report released Thursday by the National Council on Teacher Quality, a Washington-based think tank that tracks teacher policies. Just five years ago, no states allowed student performance to be considered in teachers’ evaluations, said Kate Walsh, the executive director of the center. Now, 20 states require such data.
“We have really seen mountains move in some places — the trend in the country has been toward meaningful ways to evaluate teachers and to use that evaluation to make tenure decisions,” Ms. Walsh said in an interview. “But I don’t think anyone has figured out how to implement them particularly well yet.”
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/01/education/fight-over-effective-teachers-shifts-to-courtroom.html?ref=education&_r=0

See, Students Matter http://studentsmatter.org/

Here is the case summary for Vergara v. California:

Vergara v. California Case Summary: Californians shouldn’t have to choose: we can create an education system that gives every child a passionate, motivating and effective teacher and gives effective teachers the respect and rewarding careers they deserve. We believe every child, everywhere, deserves great teachers, and so does the California Supreme Court and the California Constitution. The California Supreme Court has long recognized that equal opportunity to access quality education is every child’s fundamental constitutional right.
With the help of Students Matter, nine California public school children filed the statewide lawsuit Vergara v. California against the State of California in May 2012 to strike down the laws handcuffing schools from doing what’s best for kids when it comes to teachers. Meet the Plaintiffs.
We think it’s simple: reward and retain passionate, motivating, effective teachers and hold those accountable who are failing our children. By striking down the following laws, Vergara v. California will create an opportunity for lawmakers, teachers, administrators and community leaders to design a system that’s good for teachers and students. Because when it comes to educating our kids, there should only be winners.
Permanent Employment Statute: The permanent employment law forces administrators to either grant or deny permanent employment to teachers after only 18 months—before new teachers even complete their beginner teacher programs and before administrators are able to assess whether a teacher will be effective long-term.
Dismissal Statutes: The process for dismissing a single ineffective teacher involves a borderline infinite number of steps, requires years of documentation, costs hundreds of thousands of dollars and still, rarely ever works. In the past 10 years in the entire state of California, only 91 teachers have been dismissed, and the vast majority of those dismissals were for egregious conduct. Only 19 dismissals were based, in whole or in part, on unsatisfactory performance.
“Last-In, First-Out” Layoff Statute: The LIFO law reduces teachers to faceless seniority numbers. The LIFO law forces administrators to let go of passionate and motivating newer teachers and keep ineffective teachers instead, just because they have seniority.
In May 2013, the state’s two largest teachers unions, the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers, intervened in the case to defend these statutes alongside the State. The 20-day trial for Vergara v. California begins on January 27, 2014.
View the full Vergara v. California case timeline and read about what happens if we win.
http://studentsmatter.org/our-case/vergara-v-california-case-status/timeline/
http://studentsmatter.org/our-case/vergara-v-california-case-summary/if-we-win/
Also, view and download a one-pager on Students Matter and the Vergara v. California lawsuit.
http://studentsmatter.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/SM_One-Pager-FINAL_01.25.14.pdf
http://studentsmatter.org/our-case/vergara-v-california-case-summary/

Another view of teacher tenure is found at Teacher Tenure: A Life Sentence for Kids This paper begins with the following case:

In 1986, after school administrators in the El Cajon School District in California spent years documenting the more than 400 reasons for why high school English teacher Juliet Ellory was an unfit teacher, the district finally succeeded in firing her. It cost the district more than $300,000 and eight years of preparing and litigating the case. According to the overwhelming evidence against her, Ms. Ellory “hardly ever lectured,gave baffling assignments, belittled students and ignored repeated efforts by the high school principal to get her to improve.”1 Ellory’s tenure status had protected her from automatic dismissal. Though stories such as this one do not depict the average K-12 teacher, they are sufficiently widespread to provoke criticism and concern about the state of our public schools, as well as skepticism regarding the actual benefits of teacher tenure. http://www.luc.edu/media/lucedu/law/centers/childlaw/childed/pdfs/2009studentpapers/roulbet_teacher_tenure.pdf

A key component of reforming teacher tenure is an improved evaluation system for teachers, which focuses on improving traits that produce student achievement.

Teacher Evaluation

The Center has produced a report, which focuses on teacher evaluation. Teacher Evaluation Proper evaluation seems to be key to both addressing many problems teacher tenure was developed to protect from faulty evaluation of a teacher and to improve the quality of those in the teaching profession. Evaluation is just one component, however. New teachers need a proper induction into the profession and mentors to help them hone their skills and methods of teaching. If problems emerge, teachers need proper training and coaching to progress.

No matter where a teacher is in their career lifecycle, they will be confronting the issues of elimination of teacher tenure and more rigorous teacher evaluation. Increasingly, one component of teacher evaluation will focus on whether students are showing academic achievement gains. The point of contention, which may provoke disagreement between the evaluator and the teacher is how student achievement is measured.

In times of recession, all jobs become more difficult to find and often job seekers do not have the luxury of finding the perfect job. New teachers may find jobs in schools often considered less desirable or schools led by principals who are not considered to be leaders or supporters of their staff. Not all learning occurs during the academic portion of your life’s journey. If one finds that the first job is not the perfect opportunity, then prepare for the time you will find the perfect opportunity. Look for a teacher(s) you admire and who are successful and model what has made them successful. People who are skilled and become expert at their craft or profession will weather whatever change comes along, whether it is an elimination or modification of tenure and changes to the way evaluations are conducted.

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University of Chicago Law school study prompts more debate about the effect of unions on education outcome

21 Sep

Moi wrote about teachers unions in Teachers unions are losing members:

All politics is local.
Thomas P. O’Neill

Moi would like to modify that quote a bit to all education is local and occurs at the neighborhood school. We really should not be imposing a straight jacket on education by using a one-size-fits-all approach. Every school, in fact, every classroom is its own little microclimate. We should be looking at strategies which work with a given population of children.

A Healthy Child In A Healthy Family Who Attends A Healthy School In A Healthy Neighborhood. ©

The question which increasingly asked is whether teachers unions help or hinder education.

PBS has a great history of teaching, Only A Teacher: Teaching Timeline which discusses unionization:

Unions
There are two national teachers unions in the United States today, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers. The NEA was founded in 1857 as a policy-making organization, one that hoped to influence the national debate about schools and schooling. Over the next hundred years, it played a significant role in standardizing teacher training and curriculum. Until the 1960s, the NEA tended to represent the interests of school administrators and educators from colleges and universities.
The AFT, on the other hand, was always much more of a grass-roots teachers’ organization. It was formed in 1897 as the Chicago Teachers Federation, with the explicit aim of improving teachers’ salaries and pensions. Catherine Goggin and Margaret Haley allied the CFT with the labor movement, going so far as to join the American Federation of Labor – an act that horrified everyone who wanted to see teaching as genteel, white-collar employment. At the same time, the union conceived its work in terms of broader social improvement, bettering the lives of the poor and the alienated. By 1916, several local unions had come together to form the AFT. In the 1940s, the AFT began collective bargaining with local school boards, which again horrified some people. Collective bargaining always carries the threat of strikes, and teachers, as servants of the community, were long seen as both too indispensable and too noble to engage in work stoppages. The issue of strikes remains contentious today.
Teacher militancy has waxed and waned over the past 50 years. But many teachers believe that whatever gains they have made — in pay, benefits, job security and working conditions — have come from the efforts of their unions. Today, the NEA and AFT flirt with the idea of merging and have made significant strides towards combining their memberships. Their common interests — greater professionalization, increased authority for educators, enhanced clout in Washington, better working conditions and improved schools — dictate working together, and perhaps even becoming one very powerful union. http://www.pbs.org/onlyateacher/timeline.html

See, “Understanding the History of Teachers Unions,” a Panel Discussion with Diane Ravitch http://webscript.princeton.edu/~sfer/blog/2010/12/understanding-the-history-of-teachers-unions-a-panel-discussion-with-diane-ravitch/

https://drwilda.com/2012/07/04/teachers-unions-are-losing-members/

Julia Lawrence reported about an interesting University of Chicago study at Education Week.

In State teacher union strength and student achievement, Lawrence reported:

Researchers at the University of Chicago Law School discovered an interesting correlation between the strength of the local teachers unions and student performance. The stronger the protection afforded to teachers based on their latest employment contract, the worse the performance of their students on standardized tests. According to analysis published in the latest issue of the Economics of Education Review, recent small-scale studies have shown that students tend to get lower assessment scores in larger school districts and districts where unions won better terms for their teachers in the latest round of contract negotiations. Jonathan Lott and Lawrence W. Kenny also introduce two metrics for measuring the level of influence of local unions – dues dollars per district teacher and union expenditures per district student. When looked at in these terms, the conclusions are stark. John Dwyer, the Director of Education Reform for Illinois Policy Institute, writes that a hike in union dues by as little as $200 a year translates to a 4% drop in student performance on standardized exams. A similar decline in scores also accompanied a 13% increase in per-student union spending. – See more at: http://www.educationnews.org/education-policy-and-politics/do-strong-teachers-unions-correlate-with-weak-academics/#sthash.GU4MQ10C.dpuf
http://www.educationnews.org/education-policy-and-politics/do-strong-teachers-unions-correlate-with-weak-academics/#sthash.GU4MQ10C.dpuf

Citation:

Economics of Education Review
Volume 35, August 2013, Pages 93–103

State teacher union strength and student achievement
• Johnathan Lotta, E-mail the corresponding author,
• Lawrence W. Kennyb, Corresponding author contact information, E-mail the corresponding author, E-mail the corresponding author
• a University of Chicago Law School, Chicago, IL, United States
• b University of Florida, Dept. of Economics, Gainesville, FL 32611-7140, United States
Received 9 September 2012
Revised 26 March 2013
Accepted 31 March 2013
Available online 8 April 2013
________________________________________
Highlights

District union strength (e.g., restrictiveness of the contract) may affect student test scores.

The impact of teachers union financial resources on student test scores has not been explored.

Teacher unions are major contributors to candidates in Congressional and state legislature races.

We find that student test scores are lower in states with teachers unions with greater union dues.
________________________________________
Abstract
A new and very small literature has provided evidence that students have lower test scores in larger school districts and in districts in which the district’s teachers union has negotiated a contract that is more favorable to the district’s teachers. The teachers’ unions at the state and national levels contribute a great deal of money to candidates for state and federal offices. This gives the unions some influence in passing (defeating) bills that would help (harm) the state’s teachers. We introduce two novel measures of the strength of the state-wide teachers union: union dues per teacher and union expenditures per student. These reflect the key role of political influence for state-wide unions. We provide remarkably strong evidence that students in states with strong teachers unions have lower proficiency rates than students in states with weak state-wide teacher unions.

Here are the key details of the study from Media Trackers:

PENNSYLVANIA
Pennsylvania Teachers Unions Harm Student Learning, New Study Shows
By: Sarah Leitner | September 10, 2013
A new study published in the Economics of Education Review found states with strong teachers unions have lower student achievement than those with weaker unions.
The study’s authors — Johnathan Lott of the University of Chicago Law School and Lawrence W. Kenny of the University of Florida — looked at two different factors to determine the strength of different statewide unions: union dues per teacher and union expenditures per student.
The study looked at 721 school districts with 10,000 students or more across 42 different states for the 2005-06 school year. Overall, the 721 school districts make up 5 percent of all U.S. school districts and 46 percent of all U.S. students.
“We find student test scores to be lower in states in which state-wide teacher union dues and expenditures are higher,” the report reads. “These results are quite insensitive to changes in the specification.”
The study looked at the growth in proficiency rates between fourth and eighth graders on math and reading test scores. Lott and Kenny found a one-dollar rise in union spending per student resulted in a 0.23-point fall in that growth rate in math and a 0.25-point fall in that growth rate in reading.
“Our finding that student proficiency rates in math and reading are lower in states with strong teacher unions than in states with weak teacher unions is quite robust,” they write.
Union dues in the study varied anywhere from $24 to $883, while union spending per student ranged from $3.15 to $63.82.
Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) members pay dues of $498, and in 2010-11 PSEA’s spending was $75.7 million or around $42.53 per public school student in the state. Those numbers put Pennsylvania in the top bracket of union strength.
Pennsylvania public school revenue has increased from $7,200 per student in the 1995-96 school year to over $14,000 this past year. But despite increased school spending, National Assessment of Education Programs (NAEP) scores have been relatively flat over the past ten years. From 2009 to 2011, fourth grade students did slightly better, while eight graders did slightly worse.
Though the study looked specifically at fourth and eighth grade test scores, the state’s average SAT scores show a similar flat-lining and even a decline in the past ten years.

This is not the only study to categorize Pennsylvania as a state with strong teachers unions. Last year, a Thomas B. Fordham Institute study ranked Pennsylvania as the state with the fourth-strongest teachers union presence and put it in the top tier on its union strength scale.

The Fordham Institute used five indicators to determine each state’s ranking: resources and membership, involvement in politics, the scope of bargaining, state policies, and perceived influence. Pennsylvania teachers unions ranked seventh in both their scope of bargaining and perceived influence, tenth in involvement in politics and 13th in resources and membership. In the state policies category, however, the state ranked 41st in large part to its charter school laws.
PSEA spokesman Wythe Keever said, “I don’t give interviews to Media Trackers” when called for comment.
http://mediatrackers.org/pennsylvania/2013/09/10/pennsylvania-teachers-unions-harm-student-learning-new-study-shows

There must be a way to introduce variation into the education system. To the extent that teachers unions hinder the variation in the system, they become a hindrance.

Resources:

Debate: Are Teachers’ Unions the Problem—or the Answer?
http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2010/03/18/debate-are-teachers-unions-the-problem-or-the-answer.html

Quiet Riot: Insurgents Take On Teachers’ Unions
http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2087980,00.html#ixzz1zgjC7qGS

Can Teachers Unions Do Education Reform?
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204124204577151254006748714.htm

Let a New Teacher-Union Debate Begin
http://educationnext.org/let-a-new-teacher-union-debate-begin/#.Ujthycb-osY.email

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Fordham Foundation report: State-by-state analysis of teacher union strength

5 Nov

Andrew J. Rotherham wrote Quiet Riot: Insurgents Take On Teachers’ Unions for Time:

Quick: Which group consistently tops the list of U.S. political donors — bankers? Oil barons? The Koch brothers? Nope. Try schoolteachers. The two major teachers’ unions, despite all the rhetoric about how teachers have no influence on policy, collectively spent more than $67 million directly on political races from 1989 to 2010. And that figure doesn’t include millions more spent by their state and local affiliates and all kinds of support for favored (read: reform-averse) candidates.

For years, union leaders have lambasted as antiteacher pretty much every proposal to expand charter schools, improve teacher evaluation and turn around low-performing schools. Yet these reform issues have moved to the mainstream as even the Democrats, traditionally labor’s biggest allies, have gotten fed up with union intransigence to structural changes to improve America’s schools. Meanwhile, states as diverse as Massachusetts, New Jersey, Florida, Ohio and — you guessed it — Wisconsin are attacking union prerogatives such as valuing seniority over on-the-job performance and collectively bargaining for benefits. At the same time, black and Latino parents are growing increasingly impatient with lousy schools and are organizing in an effort to provide a counterweight to the unions. Just last week, the nation’s second biggest teachers’ union, the American Federation of Teachers, was embarrassed when a PowerPoint presentation surfaced on the Web outlining strategies for undercutting parent groups. Sample quote: “What helped us? Absence of charter school and parent groups from the table.”

But perhaps the biggest strategic pressure for reform is starting to come from teachers themselves, many of whom are trying to change their unions and, by extension, their profession. These renegade groups, composed generally of younger teachers, are trying to accomplish what a generation of education reformers, activists and think tanks have not: forcing the unions to genuinely mend their ways. Here are the three most-talked-about initiatives:

The takeover artists. The Los Angeles teachers’ union, United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA), has long been regarded as one of the nation’s most hidebound. But Jordan Henry, a 12-year veteran teacher, wants to change that, so last year he co-founded NewTLA. (Get it? Rhymes with UTLA? C’mon, this is education reform — we must find little bright spots wherever we can.) Henry has managed in short order to build a large dissident faction within the union. After the last union election, NewTLA holds 90 of the 350 seats in the union’s house of representatives, an impressive feat of organizing given how challenging it is for nonmainstream candidates to get much traction within the union. And although Henry is trying to change the union from within, he is not shy about criticizing it publicly, recently telling the Teach For America alumni magazine that, “I don’t think my local affiliate is a leader in reform, as much as it says it might be….”

The outsiders. Educators for Excellence (E4E) is a group of more than 3,500 New York City teachers that is to trying to change laws and policies by going straight to policymakers. For instance, when New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed doing away with the current system of laying off the most recent hires first, the union attacked any notion of letting principals unilaterally pick which teachers get booted. But the newly formed E4E forced its way into the conversation and sought a middle ground, proposing an alternative that took into account such things as how often teachers had been absent, whether they were actually in front of students or in nonteaching “reserve” roles and also factoring in performance ratings. The union wasn’t enthusiastic about this approach either, but the idea got traction in Albany. And although the city and the teachers’ union cut a deal on layoffs, the episode established E4E as a voice in education policymaking….

The hybrid. Teach Plus is a network of teachers with chapters in Boston, Chicago, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Memphis and, starting this fall, Washington. The group recruits accomplished teachers who want to take on leadership roles within their schools or to advocate for public policy changes without leaving their classrooms. More than 4,500 teachers are involved so far, and about 250 have gone through selective 12- and 18-month fellowships. Teach Plus says it wants to partner with unions — albeit by bringing reformers inside the tent. Celine Coggins, a former middle-school science teacher in Massachusetts who founded the group in 2007, says many teachers often tell her that the unions “seem like my grandfather’s union, not necessarily mine….”

It’s too early to tell whether any of these groups — or even all of them working in tandem — will succeed in changing the teachers’ unions….

Disclosure: Two of my partners at Bellwether have done executive search and strategy work for Teach Plus, and I have advised the organization informally.

Teacher tenure is a huge topic in education.

People become teachers for many reasons. Among the top ten reasons to become a teacher are:

1. Student Potential

2. Student Successes

3. Teaching a Subject Helps You Learn a Subject

4. Daily Humor

5. Affecting the Future

6. Staying Younger

7. Autonomy in the Classroom

8. Conducive to Family Life

9. Job Security

10. Summers Off

For many who seek an education career, an unspoken reason for choosing education as a profession is the stability which tenure may provide.

What is Teacher Tenure?

A good basic description of teacher tenure as found at teacher tenure James gives the following definition:

WHAT IS TENURE?

Tenure is a form of job security for teachers who have successfully completed a probationary period. Its primary purpose is to protect competent teachers from arbitrary nonrenewal of contract for reasons unrelated to the educational process — personal beliefs, personality conflicts with administrators or school board members, and the like.

WHAT PROTECTION DOES TENURE OFFER THE PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHER?

The type and amount of protection vary from state to state and — depending on agreements with teachers’ unions — may even vary from school district to school district. In general, a tenured teacher is entitled to due process when he or she is threatened with dismissal or nonrenewal of contract for cause: that is, for failure to maintain some clearly defined standard that serves an educational purpose.

Time has a good summary of the history of teacher tenure at A Brief History of Tenure

Huffington Post reported on a report by the Fordham Foundation about teacher unions in the article, Teachers Unions Strength Measured: Fordham Institute Report Ranks States By Power And Influence Of Teacher Unions. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/29/study-examines-ranks-teac_n_2039879.html

Here is the press release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Stephen Manfredi
October 29, 2012 (202) 222-8028
Picket Lines and Ballot Boxes: New Study Examines Strength of Teacher Unions Nationwide

Washington, D.C.—Today the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and Education Reform Now released the most comprehensive analysis of American teacher unions’ strength ever conducted. Published weeks after the contentious Chicago teachers’ strike and days before a hotly contested election, this timely study, How Strong Are U.S. Teacher Unions? A State-By-State Comparison, ranks all fifty states and the District of Columbia according to the power and influence of their state-level unions.

Reform debates increasingly focus on the teacher unions’ role in the changing landscape of American K–12 education. Critics accuse them of blocking needed changes, protecting inadequate instructors and overpowering the public interest at the ballot box. Supporters object, arguing that unions are critical to defending teachers’ rights, ensuring teachers’ professionalism, and safeguarding them from misguided reforms.

“For better or worse, teacher unions look out for teacher interests,” said Chester E. Finn, Jr., Fordham’s president. “This study sheds light on how exactly they do this, by measuring their strength, state by state, more comprehensively than any other analysis to date. It illuminates their power to hinder—or promote—education reform, on whether what occurred in Chicago could happen anywhere in the United States, and the myriad ways they seek to influence election outcomes and policy decisions.”

To assess union strength, the Fordham-ERN study examined thirty-seven different variables across five realms: 1) Resources and Membership; 2) Involvement in Politics; 3) Scope of Bargaining; 4) State Policies; and 5) Perceived Influence. Using these data, analysts ranked the relative strength of state-level teacher unions in fifty-one jurisdictions (all states plus the District of Columbia), and ranked their strength and influence. The study analyzed factors ranging from union membership and revenue to state bargaining laws to campaign contributions, and included such measures such as the alignment between specific state policies and traditional union interests and a unique stakeholder survey.

The report sorts the fifty-one jurisdictions into five tiers, ranking their teacher unions from strongest to weakest. This review determined that Hawaii has the strongest teacher union in the U.S. while Arizona has the weakest. (COMPLETE STATE RANKINGS CAN BE VIEWED BELOW) The entire study can also be viewed at http://www.edexcellence.net/publications/how-strong-are-us-teacher-unions.html

Other findings include:

 Teacher strikes, such as the one recently concluded in Chicago, are legal in fourteen states and illegal in thirty-seven.
 In the 2010 state election cycle, teacher unions were one of the top-ten overall donors to candidates for governor and other executive positions, legislature, high court, and elected education positions in twenty-two of forty-eight states. In twenty one states, they were among the top five highest-giving interest groups.
 The percentage of a state’s teachers who are union members varies a lot; in 2008, the nationwide average was 74 percent; in two states it was lower than 35 percent; in sixteen states, 90 percent or more of teachers are unionized.
 Thirty-two states require local school boards to bargain collectively with their teachers, fourteen states permit this, and five states prohibit collective bargaining.
 The unions’ influence may be waning at the state level, however. For the three years prior to the 2011 legislative session, education policies in most states reflected union priorities. In 2011, however, a growing number of legislatures were enacting policies that were less in line with union priorities. (And other sources indicate that many teacher unions are losing members and incurring budget deficits.)
The report has four key takeaways:

1. Mandatory bargaining tilts the playing field in favor of stronger unions overall. It not only increases union resources and status, but also ensures issues are “on the table” (and not under the direct authority of state and local leaders).

2. The scope of bargaining matters a lot, too, as does the right (or not) to strike. Local unions use collective bargaining and strikes to protect teacher interests—but only on issues allowed by state law. When a wide scope of bargaining combines with ill-defined, timid, or absent state policies, unions have better opportunity to negotiate contracts that serve their goals.

3. Resources make a difference. Dollars and members are both important—even (or especially) if unions have limited bargaining rights. With higher revenue, a state union can better finance its lobbying and advocacy efforts at the statehouse, shaping policies that protect its interests while undermining or blocking those that do not. Greater membership means more union representation at the ballot box, more communications with state leaders, and more boots on the ground during rallies and campaigns—and in turn, more revenue from member dues.

4. The fact that a state has mandatory, permissive, or broad bargaining laws—or its unions enjoy abundant resources—does not mean that state policies are union-favorable and vice-versa. Many unions that have mandatory bargaining over a wide range of issues and high membership and revenue still see state education policies that are not particularly favorable to unions. Conversely, some states without strong bargaining rights have union-friendly policies regardless. That’s because other factors matter, too: state leadership (both past and present), federal policy, the condition of the economy, the influence of other key stakeholders, and the state’s own macro-politics.

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute is committed to the renewal and reform of primary and secondary education in the United States. Education Reform Now is a nonpartisan organization that envisions an America in which every child, regardless of class or race, has the social and economic opportunities afforded by an excellent public education. How Strong Are U.S. Teacher Unions? A State-By-State Comparison was authored by Amber M. Winkler, Janie Scull, and Dara Zeehandelaar, with a foreword by Chester E. Finn, Jr. and Michael J. Petrilli. Generous support for this report was provided by the Bodman Foundation, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, and Education Reform Now, as well as by our sister organization, the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation. For further information about this study, and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, please visit us online at http://www.edexcellence.net.

Citation:

How Strong Are U.S. Teacher Unions? A State-By-State Comparison

Foreword by Chester E. Finn, Jr. , Michael J. Petrilli

Filed under: Teachers

This timely study represents the most comprehensive analysis of American teacher unions’ strength ever conducted, ranking all fifty states and the District of Columbia according to the power and influence of their state-level unions. To assess union strength, the Fordham Institute and Education Reform Now examined thirty-seven different variables across five realms:

1) Resources and Membership

2) Involvement in Politics

3) Scope of Bargaining

4) State Policies

5) Perceived Influence

The study analyzed factors ranging from union membership and revenue to state bargaining laws to campaign contributions, and included such measures such as the alignment between specific state policies and traditional union interests and a unique stakeholder survey. The report sorts the fifty-one jurisdictions into five tiers, ranking their teacher unions from strongest to weakest and providing in-depth profiles of each.

Download the state profiles (Click your state to download):

Full Report

The strength of teacher unions in the U.S.

How Strong Are U.S. Teacher Unions?

Background about teachers unions:

Debate: Are Teachers Unions The Problem or The Answer?

NPR: The Role of Teachers Unions In Education

Reform and the Teachers Unions

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Manhattan Institute study: Evidence that ‘value-added modeling’ may be effective

8 Sep

In New Jersey may eliminate teacher tenure, moi discussed teacher tenure:

A good basic description of teacher tenure as found at teacher tenure. James gives the following definition:

WHAT IS TENURE?

Tenure is a form of job security for teachers who have successfully completed a probationary period. Its primary purpose is to protect competent teachers from arbitrary nonrenewal of contract for reasons unrelated to the educational process — personal beliefs, personality conflicts with administrators or school board members, and the like.

WHAT PROTECTION DOES TENURE OFFER THE PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHER?

The type and amount of protection vary from state to state and — depending on agreements with teachers’ unions — may even vary from school district to school district. In general, a tenured teacher is entitled to due process when he or she is threatened with dismissal or nonrenewal of contract for cause: that is, for failure to maintain some clearly defined standard that serves an educational purpose.  

Time has a good summary of the history of teacher tenure at A Brief History of Tenure One of the best concise defenses of K-12 teacher tenure is from Cleolaf’s blog at Why K12 Teachers Need Tenure Cleolaf points toward insufficient teacher assessment and evaluation as a prime cause of problems with teacher tenure. Research confirms that good principals are key to high performing schools. Good principals are also the key in Cleolaf’s view to making a tenure system work.

Another view of teacher tenure is found at Teacher Tenure: A Life Sentence for Kids This paper begins with the following case:

In 1986, after school administrators in the El Cajon School District in California spent years documenting the more than 400 reasons for why high school English teacher Juliet Ellory was an unfit teacher, the district finally succeeded in firing her. It cost the district more than $300,000 and eight years of preparing and litigating the case.

According to the overwhelming evidence against her, Ms. Ellory “hardly ever lectured, gave baffling assignments, belittled students and ignored repeated efforts by the high school principal to get her to improve.”1 Ellory’s tenure status had protected her from automatic dismissal. Though stories such as this one do not depict the average K-12 teacher, they are sufficiently widespread to provoke criticism and concern about the state of our public schools, as well as skepticism regarding the actual benefits of teacher tenure.

A key component of reforming teacher tenure is an improved evaluation system for teachers, which focuses on improving traits that produce student achievement.

Teacher Evaluation

The Center has produced a report, which focuses on teacher evaluation.Teacher Evaluation  Proper evaluation seems to be key to both addressing many problems teacher tenure was developed to protect from faulty evaluation of a teacher and to improve the quality of those in the teaching profession. Evaluation is just one component, however. New teachers need a proper induction into the profession and mentors to help them hone their skills and methods of teaching. If problems emerge, teachers need proper training and coaching to progress. https://drwilda.com/2012/01/16/new-jersey-may-eliminate-teacher-tenure/  Marcus A.Winters, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute has written the Civic Report, Transforming Tenure: Using Value-Added Modeling to Identify Ineffective Teachers.

Here is the executive summary for Transforming Tenure: Using Value-Added Modeling to Identify Ineffective Teachers:

Executive Summary

Public school teachers in the United States are famously difficult to dismiss. The reason is simple: after three years on the job, most receive tenure—after a brief and subjective evaluation process (typically, a classroom visit or two by an administrator or another teacher) in which few receive negative ratings. Once tenured, teachers are armored against efforts to remove them, and most do not face any serious reevaluation to ensure that their skills stay up to standard. With this traditional approach, tenured teachers sometimes lose their positions for insubordination, criminal conduct, gross neglect, or other reasons—but almost never for simply being bad at the job.

This state of affairs protects teachers (both good and bad) quite well but is clearly harmful to students. The effects of a poor teacher, research has shown, haunt pupils for years afterward. Being assigned to such a teacher reduces the amount that a student learns in school and is associated with lower earnings in adulthood (in part because having an inadequate teacher makes a child more likely to have an early pregnancy and less likely to go to college). An education system that protects bad teachers does a grave disservice to the children in its care.

In recent years, some school districts have experimented with changes in tenure rules. They seek the power to remove ineffective teachers and, in some jurisdictions, to reevaluate teachers throughout their careers.

A keystone of this reform movement is the replacement of subjective evaluation with quantifiable measures of each teacher’s effectiveness. The quantitative method is known as value-added modeling (VAM), a statistical analysis of student scores that seeks to identify how much an individual teacher contributes to a pupil’s progress over the years. The use of VAM in teacher evaluations is growing, but the method remains extremely controversial. Critics often claim that it does not and cannot measure actual teacher quality.

This paper addresses that claim. Part I analyzes data from Florida public schools to show that a VAM score in a teacher’s third year is a good predictor of that teacher’s success in his or her fifth year. Having established that VAM is a useful predictive tool, Part II of the paper addresses the most effective ways that VAM can be used in tenure reform.

VAM is not a perfect measure of teacher quality because, like any statistical test, it is subject to random measurement errors. So it should not be regarded as the “magic bullet” solution to the problem of evaluating teacher performance. However, the method is reliable enough to be part of a sensible policy of tenure reform—one that replaces “automatic” tenure with rigorous evaluation of new candidates and periodic reexamination of those who have already received tenure.

About the Author

Marcus A. Winters is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and an assistant professor at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. He conducts research and writes extensively on education policy, including topics such as school choice, high school graduation rates, accountability, and special education. Winters has performed several studies on a variety of education policy issues including high-stakes testing, performance-pay for teachers, and the effects of vouchers on the public school system. His research has been published in the journals Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Education Finance and Policy, Economics of Education Review, Teachers College Record, and Education Next. His op-ed articles have appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines, including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, USA Today, the New York Post, the New York Daily News, the Weekly Standard, and National Affairs. He is often quoted in the media on education issues. Winters received a B.A. in political science from Ohio University in 2002, and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Arkansas in 2008.

Citation:

Civic Report

No. 70 August 2012

Transforming Tenure: Using Value-Added Modeling to Identify Ineffective Teachers

Marcus Winters, Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research

http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/cr_70.htm

TAP defines ‘value-added evaluation.”

According to TAP ‘value-added evaluation’ is:

Understanding Value-Added Analysis of Student Achievement

What is Value-Added Analysis?
Value-added analysis is a statistical technique that uses student achievement data over time to measure the learning gains students make. This methodology offers a way to estimate the impact schools and teachers have on student learning isolated from other contributing factors such as family characteristics and socioeconomic background. In other words, value-added analysis provides a way to measure the effect a school or teacher has on student academic performance over the course of a school year or another period of time.

Academic Attainment v. Academic Growth
Academic attainment is the level of achievement a student reaches at a point in time (e.g., on the state standardized test given at the end of any given school year). Usually referred to by a specific numerical score or standard of achievement (e.g., basic, proficient, advanced, etc.), academic attainment levels are what are typically used to rate school and/or teacher performance.

In contrast academic growth is the amount of academic gain or progress a student makes over a period of time (e.g., on the state test given over several grades). Value-added analysis is a methodology to measure academic growth and attribute it to the impact the school or teacher has had on student learning.

Benefits of Using Value-Added Analysis
Value-added analysis provides a more useful indicator of school and teacher performance than looking at student attainment levels, which is commonly used in public education today, for several reasons.

First, value-added analysis provides a more accurate way to measure student academic progress. Value-added analysis tracks the same student over time and compares his/her test scores over several years. In contrast, systems like Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) look at the fourth grade math scores for one year, for example, and compare them to the fourth grade math scores from the previous year. This yields an inaccurate comparison because the groups of students may be significantly different from year to year (Braun, 2005).

Second, value-added analysis provides a measure for how much of an impact the school and individual teachers have on student achievement. Looking at the attainment level of a school or classroom on a state test provides little information about the impact the school or teacher has had on the final score as compared with other influences on student achievement like family background and socioeconomic status. By judging only one score, it is difficult to identify how much of that score was influenced by factors outside of the school as compared to other factors that can be controlled within the school (e.g., the contributions of the teacher and school).

Third, when student achievement is tied to accountability systems, value-added analysis provides a fairer method to measure school and teacher impact on student achievement because it takes into account where a student started the school year academically and how much that student grew. Judging a school’s or teacher’s performance by looking at student academic attainment levels is unfair because some students may enter a teacher’s classroom already at high levels of achievement — or conversely, several grade levels behind their peers. Without considering the academic growth teachers and schools are able to make with their students, some teachers and schools may inaccurately be attributed with making a significant impact while others may be unfairly penalized.

How TAP Schools Use Value-Added Data
School districts that are implementing TAP district-wide often use value-added data to identify schools, grades and content areas that have or have not increased student achievement. These data help district officials plan how to target professional development so that it is most effective for teachers and schools. Districts can also use these data to identify effective teachers and administrators who can be utilized as mentors for others at schools that have not made significant academic gains.

At the school level, TAP leadership teams utilize value-added data to address the instructional needs of teachers both at the individual and group levels. By analyzing teacher value-added scores and comparing them to a teacher’s evaluation scores (based on observations of classroom instruction), leadership teams are able to identify “best practices” that are having a positive impact on student achievement. Leadership teams can then share these best practices with other teachers during weekly cluster group meetings (professional learning communities) to promote effective instruction. Leadership team members also use comparative data to conference with teachers on a one-on-one basis and inform the development of teachers’ individual professional growth plans to reach instructional goals.

At the classroom level, teachers analyze the value-added data from their own students by subgroups (such as high, medium and low performing students) to identify trends in their own instruction. The data may reveal that their instruction is targeted more to a specific subgroup and, as a result, teachers make adjustments in their instruction. This data analysis process allows teachers to meet the needs of all students more effectively and support the individual academic growth of their students regardless of their ability level. http://www.tapsystem.org/policyresearch/policyresearch.taf?page=valueadded

Brookings Institute wrote about ‘value-added models’ in a 2010 report.

Steven Glazerman, Dan Goldhaber, Susanna Loeb , Stephen Raudenbush, and Douglas Staiger wrote in the article, Evaluating Teachers: The Important Role of Value-Added:

The evaluation of teachers based on the contribution they make to the learning of their students, value-added, is an increasingly popular but controversial education reform policy. We highlight and try to clarify four areas of confusion about value-added. The first is between value-added information and the uses to which it can be put. One can, for example, be in favor of an evaluation system that includes value-added information without endorsing the release to the public of value-added data on individual teachers. The second is between the consequences for teachers vs. those for students of classifying and misclassifying teachers as effective or ineffective — the interests of students are not always perfectly congruent with those of teachers. The third is between the reliability of value-added measures of teacher performance and the standards for evaluations in other fields — value-added scores for individual teachers turn out to be about as reliable as performance assessments used elsewhere for high stakes decisions. The fourth is between the reliability of teacher evaluation systems that include value-added vs. those that do not — ignoring value-added typically lowers the reliability of personnel decisions about teachers. We conclude that value-added data has an important role to play in teacher evaluation systems, but that there is much to be learned about how best to use value-added information in human resource decisions.                                                                                  http://www.brookings.edu/research/reports/2010/11/17-evaluating-teachers

The key point is the use of ‘value-added modeling’ may or may not be useful.

Resources:

Leading mathematician debunks ‘value-added’ http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/leading-mathematician-debunks-value-added/2011/05/08/AFb999UG_blog.html

Evaluating ValueAdded Models for Teacher Accountability http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/2004/RAND_MG158.pdf

The National Institute for Excellence in Teaching recommends the following:

Comparisons Among Various Educational Assessment Value-Added Models
William L. Sanders, Presented at “The Power of Two” National Value-Added Conference, October 16, 2006
This paper discusses the differences between value-added models as well as their advantages and disadvantages.

FORUM: “Accountability Gains: Are we measuring achievement gains accurately enough?”
Education Next (2002) No. 2
This forum includes four articles by Dale Ballou, Anita A. Summer, Jay P. Greene and Donald R. McAdams discussing the pros and cons of value-added measurement of student achievement.

Research Brief: The Promise and Peril of Using Value-Added Modeling to Measure Teacher Effectiveness
RAND Corporation (2004)

This brief summarizes the findings of a longer research report, “Evaluating Value-Added Models for Teacher Accountability,” by Daniel F. McCaffrey, Daniel M. Koretz, J.R. Lockwood and Laura S. Hamilton (2004), which compares several value-added models and discusses the strengths and weaknesses of using such methodology for both diagnostic and accountability purposes.

Roundtable Discussion on Value-Added Analysis of Student Achievement: A Summary of Findings
The Working Group on Teacher Quality (2007)

Summarized from a roundtable discussion held in October 2007 among policymakers, researchers and practitioners, this document presents major themes, findings and lessons learned in value-added analysis of student achievement. The purpose of the discussion was to create a broader understanding of how value-added analysis of student achievement can be used as an indicator of teacher effectiveness and the implications this has for policy and practice.

Using Student Progress to Evaluate Teachers: A Primer on Value-Added Models
Henry I. Braun (September 2005)
This policy perspective provides reader-friendly information on the more technical issues associated with value-added modeling.

Value-Added Modeling: The Challenge of Measuring Educational Outcomes
Barbara Elizabeth Stewart (2006)
This article provides a summary of the history, definition, strengths and weaknesses of value-added modeling.

Websites

Battelle for Kids
Battelle for Kids is a non-profit organization based in Ohio, whose activities include helping districts and schools use value-added data to improve their instruction.

Houston Independent School District’s Accelerating Student Progress, Increasing Results & Expectations (ASPIRE) Program
This website provides information on the value-added model used in Houston Independent School District’s ASPIRE program. The site includes a guide to value-added for parents and families.

Related:

Study: Teacher merit pay works in some situations https://drwilda.com/2012/07/27/study-teacher-merit-pay-works-in-some-situations/

Report: Measuring teacher effectiveness                          https://drwilda.com/2012/06/13/report-measuring-teacher-effectiveness/

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New Jersey may eliminate teacher tenure

16 Jan

People become teachers for many reasons. Among the top ten reasons to become a teacher are: 

1. Student Potential

2. Student Successes

3. Teaching a Subject Helps You Learn a Subject

4. Daily Humor

5. Affecting the Future

6. Staying Younger

7. Autonomy in the Classroom

8. Conducive to Family Life

9. Job Security

10. Summers Off 

Because of the recession, many are turning to teaching as a career that might have employment possibilities. Although there may be job cuts as states and some locales cope with diminishing tax revenue, the education sector still looks good in comparison with other sectors. Information about teaching requirements can be found at Education Week Career Community

The issue of teacher tenure is important because: 

There is no shortage of data that show a significant percentage of teachers leave just when they are becoming consistently effective. However, at the same time, too many teachers who have not become consistently effective achieve permanent status, also referred to as tenure. 

The question surrounding teacher tenure is how to protect quality teachers from unfair termination?

What is Teacher Tenure?

A good basic description of teacher tenure as found at teacher tenure. James gives the following definition:

WHAT IS TENURE?

Tenure is a form of job security for teachers who have successfully completed a probationary period. Its primary purpose is to protect competent teachers from arbitrary nonrenewal of contract for reasons unrelated to the educational process — personal beliefs, personality conflicts with administrators or school board members, and the like.

WHAT PROTECTION DOES TENURE OFFER THE PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHER?

The type and amount of protection vary from state to state and — depending on agreements with teachers’ unions — may even vary from school district to school district. In general, a tenured teacher is entitled to due process when he or she is threatened with dismissal or nonrenewal of contract for cause: that is, for failure to maintain some clearly defined standard that serves an educational purpose.  

Time has a good summary of the history of teacher tenure at A Brief History of Tenure

Education News is reporting in the article, Christie’s Reforms May End Teacher Tenure in New Jersey:

Under Governor Chris Christie’s proposed education reforms, New Jersey may soon see the end of teacher tenure. Administrative and legislative officials confirm that much of Christie’s reforms could become law in the first half of 2012, writes Jason Method at the Statehouse Bureau.

Christie is also looking for more charter schools or private-public schools in urban areas.

State Sen. M. Teresa Ruiz, head of the Senate Education Committee, believes there is growing momentum for an assortment of reform measures as many school districts could see an end to annual budget votes.

It doesn’t matter where you’re coming from, as a union rep, from the principal’s association or a teacher, we’re all talking about what needs to get done to ensure we have great student outcomes,” Ruiz said.Christie declared 2011 as the Year of Education Reform. The governor said the kinds of reforms he wants have been heralded by President Obama and U.S. Education secretary Arne Duncan.

http://www.educationnews.org/education-policy-and-politics/christie%e2%80%99s-reforms-may-end-teacher-tenure-in-new-jersey/

What are the Pros and Cons of Teacher Tenure?

One of the best concise defenses of K-12 teacher tenure is from Cleolaf’s blog at Why K12 Teachers Need Tenure The reasons are: 

A) The teacher shortage is not evenly distributed. High performing schools don’t have the same problems attracting teacher. High paying district don’t have the same problems attracting teachers….

B) This really comes down to the question of why principals might want to be rid of a teacher. I would suggest that any manager would want to be rid of any employee who makes his/her job or life harder. Ideally, this would only be low performing teachers, but that is a fantasy view.

Any kind of rabble rouser can make a principal’s job harder. …Obviously, union activists are already protected by other labor laws.

C) Academic freedom in K12 is not like in higher education, that’s true. But it is still an issue.

A teacher who tries to raise the bar in his/her classes can create no end of problems for a principal. If standards in school have been too low, and a teacher demands more than students are accustomed to, students and their parents can demand enormous amounts of principal’s time. This is a different form of rocking the boat, but can still be enough for a principal to wish to be rid of the teacher.

Principals cannot be experts on everything. Once, when teaching high school English, my principal as a former middle school math teacher. He insisted that I as an English teacher, “not worry about critical and analytical thinking” and “just teach English.” Though he had no training or experience with high school English, he had ideas about what it meant. He did not approve of the fact that I was spending as much time on teaching my student how to reason as on the mechanics of writing. …

Another principal might be an old school traditionalist and insist that English classes only be about books. He might not approve of using film or video to teach about theme, plot, symbolism, character development, story arcs, allegory and any of the rest. But a teacher might feel that this would be the best way for students to learn these lessons….

No, we don’t need tenure if principals can be counted on to make good decisions in the best interests of children. But they are human, and therefore often make decisions in their own interests. Moreover, we have a real shortage of high quality principals, even as we are breaking up large schools into multiple small schools and opening up charter schools…. 

I do not suggest that there are not problems with our tenure system. A lot falls to principals, perhaps too much. Teacher observation and evaluation is not easy, and the tenure process in dependent on principals making good decisions about teachers during those first three years. …And that is why we still need tenure. It takes a series of bad decisions over a number of years for a poor teacher to get tenure. But without tenure, it only takes one bad decision for a good to be dismissed.  

Cleolaf points toward insufficient teacher assessment and evaluation as a prime cause of problems with teacher tenure. Research confirms that good principals are key to high performing schools. Good principals are also the key in Cleolaf’s view to making a tenure system work.

Another view of teacher tenure is found at Teacher Tenure: A Life Sentence for Kids This paper begins with the following case:

In 1986, after school administrators in the El Cajon School District in California

spent years documenting the more than 400 reasons for why high school English teacher

Juliet Ellory was an unfit teacher, the district finally succeeded in firing her. It cost the

district more than $300,000 and eight years of preparing and litigating the case.

According to the overwhelming evidence against her, Ms. Ellory “hardly ever lectured,

gave baffling assignments, belittled students and ignored repeated efforts by the high

school principal to get her to improve.”1 Ellory’s tenure status had protected her from

automatic dismissal. Though stories such as this one do not depict the average K-12

teacher, they are sufficiently widespread to provoke criticism and concern about the state

of our public schools, as well as skepticism regarding the actual benefits of teacher

tenure.

A key component of reforming teacher tenure is an improved evaluation system for teachers, which focuses on improving traits that produce student achievement.

Teacher Evaluation

The Center has produced a report, which focuses on teacher evaluation. Teacher Evaluation  Proper evaluation seems to be key to both addressing many problems teacher tenure was developed to protect from faulty evaluation of a teacher and to improve the quality of those in the teaching profession. Evaluation is just one component, however. New teachers need a proper induction into the profession and mentors to help them hone their skills and methods of teaching. If problems emerge, teachers need proper training and coaching to progress.

No matter where a teacher is in their career lifecycle, they will be confronting the issues of elimination of teacher tenure and more rigorous teacher evaluation. Increasingly, one component of teacher evaluation will focus on whether students are showing academic achievement gains. The point of contention, which may provoke disagreement between the evaluator and the teacher is how student achievement is measured.

In times of recession, all jobs become more difficult to find and often job seekers do not have the luxury of finding the perfect job. New teachers may find jobs in schools often considered less desirable or schools led by principals who are not considered to be leaders or supporters of their staff. Not all learning occurs during the academic portion of your life’s journey. If one finds that the first job is not the perfect opportunity, then prepare for the time you will find the perfect opportunity. Look for a teacher(s) you admire and who are successful and model what has made them successful. People who are skilled and become expert at their craft or profession will weather whatever change comes along, whether it is an elimination or modification of tenure and changes to the way evaluations are conducted.

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