Sunday, December 30, 2012

Last week, I was able to spend some time on a project that is the result of a conversation with Mike Hansen.  Mike is a high school science teacher who is supporting our system in creating additional capacity to apply system thinking tools to difficult issues and embedding system thinking into selected curriculum.  In the conversation, Mike asked me some questions related to the future of our school system and challenged me to look more closely at the attributes that  I bring to our work.  What are those attributes and how will those that assume leadership positions continue the journey we are creating?

This is a difficult task for me because I rarely think about what "I bring" to the work, but I decided that it will be good for me and for others in the system.  It is also one of the reasons why I have been pushing my blog readers to share their stories that reflect the culture that we have created.  Unfortunately, there has been little response to my request.  That may change as I begin to share my reflections and others see the need to support our continuing journey.

Related to these reflections and struggles is a conversation with Mike Hansen that resulted in what you are now reading.  I see Mike has one component of the transition to support the system’s capacity to move forward.  I want his capacity to use the tools of system thinking to build upon the foundation that we have created.  The system needs this capacity to adapt to the national and state mandates we currently face and those that I believe will follow in the near future.  In the conversation, Mike made me look more closely at the attributes I bring to our work.  This is difficult for me, but he moved me to a place where I felt tension between my current reality and what I want for our system after retirement. 

What you are reading is the result of the creative tension that is now driving my behavior.  I want this system to experience little, if any, disturbance as we transition from a system where Mike and Nancy are seen by many as the face of the district to one where the face of the district is embedded in the work being done in classrooms.  It is greater than simply finding the “right” people to assume roles.  When people think about Tahoma it should be about our results in difficult situations with over-crowding in all buildings.  It should be about the quality learning that takes place every day in every classroom for every child.

So, how do I start this process?

I have made the decision that there is much to be learned through reviewing the books that I have read with a focus on those related to leadership.  As I write this, I am looking at over seventy books sitting on the floor that fit this category leaving holes in my book case and on shelves.  There are greater than that number remaining in their respective places, but I’ll move forward with my first cut.

I started not with a book on leadership, but with one that was published in 1983 that had a significant influence on my thinking, A Nation At Risk.  To give you a sense of what I am doing I'll share below some of  my reflections on this book.

I was in graduate school at the time of this release so I had multiple opportunities for conversations with colleagues.  It reinforced for me the importance of leadership as opposed to simply managing schools.  I realized the need for consensus if we were going to successfully meet the challenges embedded in the report.

Reading this caused me to truly reflect on the purpose of a public education; to graduate with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions for success in post high school learning and work.  I now understand that this was the beginning of our instructional model work.  It started with the development of our Student Profile document that led over time to what we now call our District Outcomes and Indicators.  Our Classroom 10 work is designed to support acquisition of the outcomes and indicators every day, in every classroom, for every child.

Thus far I have reviewed fourteen books and found that there are some important learning's that have influenced me in most of them.  Prioritizing time for the work will be difficult, but I believe that there will be some nuggets that others can take to support our future journey.  I will periodically share more in future posts.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A message from Simple Truths . . .

I blogged last month and previously about a video from Simple Truths, a source of motivational and inspirational gifts.  Though I don't want it to become a monthly post I will once again share this short (3:55) video clip from their December newsletter titled, May you be blessed.  It just seems appropriate at this joyous time of year that can also bring with it much stress to sit back and enjoy the beautiful photography, soothing music, and message in the clip.

Without comments to a post, one doesn't find out if the readers actually go the links so I don't know the response to posts such as these.  I enjoy these short video clips as a change from following budget battles, court cases, and unfunded mandates and hope that they bring a measure of peace and relaxation to your hectic lives.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays . . .

Thank you for dropping by my blog, I enjoy sharing our work and the status of education in our system, state, and sometimes nation.  It provides me with joy and I appreciate that there are at least 76 of you that stop by frequently.

My best wishes to you and to your family during this holiday season.  May it bring peace and joy for you and your family.  We are enjoying a little peace in the Maryanski home as we await our children and grand children.  Only two more stops for me or maybe three.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Great football, plus . . .

Sunday night football featuring our Seahawks against the 49'ers and it was all Seahawks.  We won 42 to 13 with the 49'ers scoring their first and only touchdown with less than two minutes in the game.  By that time many of the 49'er fans had already left after suffering much verbal abuse.  It was surprising that there weren't any physical fights considering the verbal sparring that took place.  Even with the win, however, they had the last word as they lead the division by a half game over us.  Perhaps we'll see each other once again later in the playoffs.

Meanwhile, back in Olympia the State Supreme Court on Friday decided that the legislature is not making adequate progress to meet the funding requirements in the McCleary case.

"Steady progress requires forward movement. Slowing the pace of funding cuts is necessary, but it does not equate to forward progress," wrote Chief Justice Barbara Madsen in the order filed Thursday.

You can read a summary and legislator comments in this Education Week article and the Seattle Times opinion in this editorial from Saturday.

The next update from the Legislature to the court should reflect stronger, swifter progress.

“In education, student progress is measured by yearly benchmarks according to essential academic goals and requirements,” wrote Chief Justice Barbara Madsen in Thursday’s order. “The state should expect no less of itself than of its students.”

It is going to be a long session.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

More affirmation . . .

Yesterday I learned that the city of Maple Valley made another "best" list similar to one I posted about In July, 2011.  In Bloomberg Businessweek's 2013 study, Maple Valley was identified as the best place to raise kids in the state of Washington.  You don't make lists like these without a quality school system.  Once again, an affirmation from an outside organization on the achievement of our young people and quality of learning and teaching in our classrooms.  Take pride in your work and congratulations to the city for this recognition.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A welcome proposal . . .

In this Seattle Times Op-ed piece State Superintendent Dorn shares his thoughts on the number of exit exams necessary for graduation.  Currently, the class of 2015 is required to pass five exit exams to meet graduation requirements. Superintendent Dorn questions the time and cost of this many exams and the impact failing one or more has on the options high school students have when needing to take additional exams or meet the requirement through an option such as a Collection of Evidence.

In the piece Superintendent Dorn tells us that he will make a recommendation to the legislators in January to reduce the number of exams from five to three.

Students in the class of 2015 are required to pass five exit exams to graduate from high school, also known as high-school-proficiency or end-of-course exams: Reading, Writing, Biology, Algebra and Geometry.

In January, I will propose to the Legislature that we reduce the five required tests to three for the 2014-15 school year: English language arts, biology and algebra.

Reducing the number of exit exams will not reduce accountability, nor will it lower standards. It may, however, provide additional time for students to study other important subjects including art, music and career and technical education.

I applaud this move  for multiple reasons, but wonder how it will be received and processed by the legislators.  What will you tell your elected officials in Olympia when they receive this proposal?

On the state political front . . .
There is much that has taken place over the last few days with the potential to impact our work.  On Monday the Senate democrats made a counter offer to the newly formed Majority Coalition I posted about here.  Essentially they offered to split control of committees and leadership in what they view as a more equitable distribution of power. On Tuesday, the Senate republicans with support from the two democrats that have joined their caucus said no thanks.  So, the democrats will not give up control easily (AP article in  Oregon live) or join in the Majority Coalition proposal and the new majority is willing and ready to change Senate rules in order to take control of the body.  See this Tuesday Seattle Times article for more details.

The current majority leader, Senator Murray made the proposal on Monday.

"Our offer is, we will support your leadership and you will support our leadership and we will go into a co-arrangement for two years, and that way we will stabilize the Senate," Murray, D-Seattle, said.

The leader of the new coalition, Senator Tom, said no and went further by stating that they will do what is necessary when the session begins to take control.

"When the 2013 session convenes on January 14 of next year, the members of our Majority Coalition Caucus will take the steps necessary to begin functioning as the Senate's majority caucus," Tom wrote.

"We believe it would be best for the institution ... if the current majority would accommodate our incoming majority," he wrote. "The alternative would be to risk the very chaos you have publicly warned might accompany a change in the Senate majority."

The hoped for collaboration in the Senate appears dead before it had a chance to begin.  What does this mean for us?  Bills being proposed with little likelihood of being passed considering the democratic majority in the house and a democratic governor, significant problems in meeting McCleary funding directive, and the possibility of needing to wait until late spring or early summer before finding out what our budget will be.

Late yesterday, outgoing Governor Gregoire unveiled her budget proposal that included about a billion dollars more for schools.  We will need to wait and see if this proposal has any influence on the incoming governor or whether it is simply a document that must be filed, but carries with it little to no leverage in the upcoming session.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Reflecting on Sandy Hook . . .
My thoughts and prayers are with those who lost children and loved ones in the tragedy that played out at Sandy Hook Elementary.  I first found out about it as I was preparing for learning walks with Rock Creek Elementary principal, Fritz Gere.  Like others and perhaps even more so than similar events in the past, this one is so very difficult to understand.  Innocent young people and the adults that cared for and supported them experiencing this tragedy simply makes no sense.

As we extend our thoughts and prayers to the people in Newtown, we naturally begin to reflect on our system and the structures that we have in place to create safe environments for the young people and adults in our schools.  I don't believe that there is a way to make a school or any public place 100% safe, but we have the responsibility to ensure that we are making the right choices in the safety measures that we choose to put in place.  We will begin this work by bringing together our School Safety Committee to review our current practices and to make recommendations that may be necessary for creating additional safety measures.

If you are looking for resources to support conversations with young people struggling with this event, you may want to visit Larry Ferlazzo's site.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Senator reaches out . . .

Following up on yesterday's post about the Majority Coalition in the state Senate, I had an opportunity this morning to speak with Senator Joe Fain about a number of issues.  Senator Fain is in his first term so he is still fairly new to the chamber, but even with little seniority he will be the Senate Majority Whip in the upcoming session.  This is an important position with the potential to have significant influence over what bills come to the floor for votes.

Senator Fain also shared with me that some of the committee chairs are also those with little seniority in the caucus and that they want to work collaboratively to find solutions to the complex issues that they face.  These appointments of less senior people is a change to past practice and may be an indicator that there is a possibility for a different working relationship, one where individuals can reach across the aisle to find solutions instead of pointing fingers.  Whether this will be possible has yet to be determined as I haven't seen how the democratic leadership will respond to the proposed power share.

We discussed more than just what is happening in Olympia.  Our primary topic of conversation was the concept of a regional learning center built around a new Tahoma High School.  Senator Fain is very interested in the project and asked how he could help.  One thing he can do and has already started is getting us together with individuals from advanced manufacturing firms to assist us in a renewed focus in this area.

I also took the opportunity to share with him the concerns and stress created by the mandated TPEP in our and many others systems.  Our discussion of the difficulties we face with the size of our buildings and current structures resulted in him suggesting that he organize an opportunity for the new Senate Education Chair, Senator Litzow, to meet with a delegation of superintendents to hear these concerns.  Given our current reality, we need to keep the unrealistic expectations this implementation creates in front of the legislators.  They need to understand that changes to structures will be necessary to meet the intent of this new evaluation process.

Thanks to Senator Fain for the opportunity to share and for the support on these two important needs in our system.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

An interesting coalition proposal . . .

Today's Seattle Times editorial suggests that the Majority Coalition Caucus formed in the Senate when two state democratic senators joined with republicans to take control of the senate will be better for public education.

The state Senate’s new bipartisan coalition offers the best opportunity for credible education reforms.

Republicans have had good ideas on education but have been frustrated by their minority status in a Democratic-controlled Legislature. Now that Republicans are in charge of key Senate committees, including education and the budget, they must deliver.

The plan being proposed by the coalition is for Senator Tom to become majority leader and to share committee leadership between the two parties with the republicans controlling the most powerful committees including budget and education.  Senator Litzow would replace Senator McAuliffe as chair of the education committee, a move identified in the editorial as a key to education moving forward.

Removing Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe, D-Bothell, from atop the education committee was key to moving forward. McAuliffe and her counterpart in the House, Education Chair Sharon Tomiko Santos, D-Seattle, used their leadership prerogative last session to weaken or kill promising reforms.

By contrast, Litzow has led on reforms. He pushed for replacing a seniority-based layoff policy for teachers with one based on performance. He supports restructuring health-insurance benefits for school employees. Scrutinizing a program that costs the state $1 billion annually is not anti-teacher, it is common sense.

As I shared in this blog post, I support the need for collaboration and see it as a necessity for the legislators to deal with the complex issues they face.  Unfortunately, reading this Times piece about Senator Murray's response to the coalition proposal makes me wonder how long collaboration will prevail or if it will even get off the ground.  There are many democrats across the state upset with the action of these two senators even though it was predictable since they made the same move toward the end of last year's session.

State Sen. Ed Murray — the Seattle Democrat who was set to lead the Senate before two members of his party defected to form a new majority caucus with Republicans — said Tuesday he would rather be in the minority than participate in the coalition’s “power-sharing” proposal.

“I don’t believe that the Democrats will be in the majority,” he said. “I don’t believe that at all. But I do think that we can find a more functional way for the Senate to operate than this.”

Can this proposed coalition with a declared democrat leading a majority republican caucus be the change necessary to transform how this chamber approaches their business?  How collaborative will this new coalition be with the democratic controlled house?  Will this session bring us closer to meeting the state's requirement to fully fund public education or will it produce another budget that puts off the difficult decisions that must be made under the McCleary decision?  The waiting game now begins and a long wait it will probably be.  

Monday, December 10, 2012

A TFA response . . .

Last week I blogged twice (here and here) about the AFT's recommendation for a new teacher certification process that included the possibility for a teacher "bar" exam.  Embedded in the report are some sentences about non-traditional certification programs such as Teach for America, (TFA).

. . . The process must require candidates to demonstrate competence in essential dimensions
of successful teaching before being allowed to take responsibility for a classroom and become a
teacher of record.

In today's post  from This Week In Education, Alexander Russo shares the TFA response to the proposal.  Not surprisingly they offer another possible focus for improving teacher effectiveness.

. . . Given what we’ve learned about teacher effectiveness and from the schools and districts making the most progress in raising student achievement, we think it may be more promising to focus on and invest in helping principals become more effective in selecting the most promising new candidates and developing everyone to be effective.

As I shared in my second post on the topic, I don't believe that this proposal will generate significant media coverage unless we begin to see others respond in opposition to the proposal.  Russo isn't seeing a lot of enthusiasm for the proposal and I am not finding much in the media.  I think that this is unfortunate because I believe there is potential for the proposal over time to positively influence public opinion about the teaching profession, something that we desperately need.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

You may be wondering what I'm doing posting during a Seahawk's home game.  I needed to take a day for catch up so my son and grandson are using the tickets.  With the Seahawks winning by 38 at halftime and now 48, I think it was a good decision for me.  It has been a busy couple of weeks with evening meetings, weekend meetings, and with normal every day living stuff, it was time for a catch up day.

So, in catching up on my RSS feeds I found this post from Mitch Ditkoff, You Suck at Powerpoint.   Many of you know that I use power point and I try to use the design principals of people like Garr Reynolds and Nancy Duarte.  In this post, Ditkoff shares five design mistakes to avoid in powerpoint presentations.  I found it informative, affirming, and encourage you to go through it.  Power point can be a tool to visually support your story or it can be a tool to completely boor your audience, something we don't want to do.

Below, is a slide used to summarize the five mistakes.  I have found the fifth, lack of preparation, to be so true.  It can take 25 to 30 hours to put together a quality, one hour presentation.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Opening the door . . .
Don't lose sight of yesterday's post on the AFT endorsing the potential for a "bar exam" to enter the teaching force as well has higher standards to enter a college teacher certification program.  Looking back, we can see how the AFT opened up the possibility of value added teacher evaluation models through their work with Chancellor Rhee in Washington D.C. and in other school systems.  Though the model in Washington DC was recently revised it is still in place. Opening that door and the subsequent publicity that followed has resulted in change to teacher evaluation across the country including in our state with TPEP.

Will their recommendation for possible higher entrance requirements and an exam to enter the profession result in the same media coverage and resultant influence on policy across the country?  I don't think that we will see the same media coverage, but I do think that it will, over time, influence the certification process.  Universities and policy makers for teacher certification will be slower to respond than state legislators and state education systems to the change, but the AFT decision has opened the door for the conversations to begin.  As I asked yesterday, when and how will the NEA respond?  What do practicing and prospective teachers think about this potential change?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Raise the bar . . .

Did you see the article in yesterday's Seattle Times where the AFT President, Randi Weigarten called for a significant change to the entrance requirements for teachers?  In essence they are proposing a "bar exam" for entry into the teaching profession.

The American Federation of Teachers called for a tough new written test to be complimented by stricter entrance requirements for teacher training programs, such as a minimum grade point average.

"It's time to do away with a common rite of passage into the teaching profession, whereby newly minted teachers are tossed the keys to their classrooms, expected to figure things out, and left to see if they and their students sink or swim," said AFT President Randi Weingarten, calling that system unfair to students and teachers alike.

In this Eduwonk piece you can learn why Andy Rotherham is against it.  One of his reasons is below.

Second, in the Washington Post, AFT President Randi Weingarten made this statement, “A bar exam would “just level the playing field. Maybe all the alternative certified teachers will pass with flying colors. But if only 10 percent of [Teach For America] passed it and 90 percent of the students from Teachers College passed it, that would say something.”

In this Thomas B. Fordham Institute piece you can read how Chester Finn favors it.

. . .  But let’s not doom this baby at birth. Let’s welcome its arrival, wish it good health, cross our fingers (maybe even help if asked), and stand by ’til it can walk by itself. Thanks, Randi, for a proposal that would make Al proud—and that could conceivably do American education some good. Or could just as easily create nothing except false hope and, possibly, some damage.

So, where is NEA on this issue?  As a local NEA affiliate, what do our current teachers think about this proposal from the AFT?  Does it make sense?  Will it contribute to raising the stature of the teaching profession?

Monday, December 3, 2012

A chance to work systemically . . .

There are three very significant issues in our short term future that have the capacity to influence our Classroom 10 journey and change the culture of our school system.  The first is our need to increase capacity to house students; we are already overcrowded and enrollment continues to increase.  The other two are mandates from the state; preparing young people for Common Core assessments beginning in 2015 and implementing the mandated teacher evaluation model, the TPEP process that I last blogged about here.

In this post I will share some of my thinking on the TPEP implementation.  We had our first meeting last week with TEA to begin conversations on the components that are mandatory for bargaining.  We learned that there is a growing concern shared by our principals and teachers on the intent of the model and the capacity of the system, with our very large buildings, to identify and put in place structures that result in successfully meeting the intent.

As with most groups struggling with a difficult issue, there was a tendency to move right to problem solving and  identifying new structures.  Unfortunately, this strategy often ends with structures, "fixes", that don't result in meeting the long term needs of the system.  In this particular case, the issue is made more difficult due to  lack of clear direction from OSPI about significant parts of the process.  It is truly a moving target.  There are some school systems that are further than we are in the process because they were in a pilot program, but the real difficult decisions around components like using student achievement data I don't believe have been completed by any of the pilot districts.  To take advantage of work in the pilot districts, our system has joined with others to begin the next phase in January.

Something happened, however, part way through our meeting that shifted the conversation.  A question was asked and initially ignored that was powerful and moved us to think more about our mental models rather than proposing and debating options.  My paraphrase of the question is below.
  • How can implementing this model become another tool to support our Classroom 10 initiative and the collaborative culture we are creating in our school system?
This became the welcome focus of our conversation that brings with it the opportunity to view this mandate systemically with the intent to integrate it into our initiatives and further develop our capacity to work collaboratively.  I will be proposing that we support this effort by asking a team to first engage in conversations with system tools that allow for identifying the mental models that are necessary to achieve a shared vision for the work, for arriving at a common understanding of our current reality, and then identifying the structures that are necessary to reduce the gap between our current reality and the shared vision.  I am pleased that there were those in the room seeing the need to shift from problem solving to first creating a deeper understanding and I am energized by the opportunity we have to think and work more systemically.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Word cloud review . . .

I thought I'd start a new month with a word cloud of blog postings.  Below is a Wordle cloud.

For the fun of it I decided to see what it would look like with Word It Out.

There are differences in color scheme, but more importantly, I don't see a lot of similarity in the identified words.  For example. "teachers" is in large print in the Word It Out, but not in the Wordle.  I played a little with the parameters, but  don't know how each program identifies what words to select at what level.  Though different, I can still get a sense of my focus and it is on legislative and budget related issues.  Is this what I want for my blog?  I definitely have some things to reflect upon for the future.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Funding task force, changing dynamics . . .
In a Partnership for Learning update I learned about the progress that may or may not have been made in last week's meeting of the Joint Task Force on Education Funding.  This is the group with the responsibility to make recommendations by Dec. 31st on options and a preferred alternative for meeting the state's obligation to adequately fund education under the McCleary decision.  The committee is made up of four members of the state house and state senate, two from each party and three governor appointees.  The actual members can be found on page 6 of this presentation outlining the work of the task force.

As I shared in this recent post, the decisions made by the task force will influence what emerges from the upcoming session and the November 20 meeting may be an indicator of what is to come.  In this Crosscut article we learn that what up to now has been a collaborative effort took a different turn.

For the first time, the realities of partisanship became clear at the November 20 meeting of the Joint Task Force on Education Funding. Halfway through the meeting, the four Democratic legislative members of the body called for a private caucus. Heretofore,meetings have been conducted in a non-partisan fashion.
After a 30 minute break, they returned with a number of suggested changes to the three “strawman” budget proposals for basic education enhancements and funding sources that had been developed by task force chair Jeff Vincent and vice-chair Susan Enfield. Vincent, CEO of Laird Norton Company, and Enfield, Highline School’s Superintendent, are gubernatorial appointees to the task force.

The "strawman" proposals being referred to were presented at the meeting by the joint chairs of the task force.  They proposed three options as a starting point for the committee's consideration.  Each is a combination of savings, changes to or increasing property taxes, continuing some temporary taxes and the possibility of a new state tax.

One of the first issues that needs to be resolved is how much money is needed to meet the state's funding obligations.  In the "strawman" proposals that can be found here the chairs begin with a chart projecting the need over the next three bienniums.  Their proposal includes compensation increases something that all may not agree with as we see in this Tacoma News Tribune article.  The proposals are weighted to new revenue sources, not cuts to other budget areas.

The panel's first challenge is to put a dollar figure on what's needed. There's broad agreement that that must include extra money for school busing, facilities, all-day kindergarten and reduction of class sizes in lower grades, but other areas don't have consensus, including pay for educators.

Depending on those decisions, the sum could be $1.1 billion, $1.6 billion or even higher in the two-year budget period starting in July, ramping up through 2018. That's on top of an existing $900 million budget shortfall.

Below is the proposal for funding need presented at the meeting.  It includes compensation increases to classified and certificated staff that pushes it to the $1.6 billion range in the next biennium.  The numbers for "Outlook balance" are the projected budget shortfall that will greet legislators in each the bienniums.  The remaining lines identify the areas where additional revenue is needed.

Below is Straw Man #1 found here.

We can see that it will take billions over these years to meet the funding obligations and that at some point in time, partisanship will more than likely eclipse collaboration as the favored road to closure.  So many twists and turns and so much that will be determined outside the public's view are part of our future.  A reliance on tax increases will create a divide in the legislature and with some of the tax increases being proposed requiring a two thirds vote of the legislators, it is unlikely that they will become part of the solution.  After all of this, we may see the legislators punt by giving us another chance to vote on possible tax increases, something that I believe we elect representatives, senators, and governors to do.

Next meeting of the Task Force is on December 5th.  I'll watch for an update.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Learning more about future national assessments . . .

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, of which our state is a member, released today their definition of college-readiness and the descriptors of achievement that will influence the assessments our students will take beginning in 2015.  You can read about their release on the consortium's web page or read a summary in this Education Week article.  The work of this group and the other consortium, PARCC, will drive testing at the national level.

Reshaping Tests, College Coursework

These steps by both groups are important, because they will shape the design of the tests that nearly all students in the country will take in mathematics and English/language arts, define what students should know how to do at key points in their education, and carry powerful signals about whether they can skip remedial work in college and enroll in entry-level, credit-bearing courses. 

The Smarter Balanced tests will have four achievement levels as measured by this Grade 11 Policy Framework for College Readiness.  You can find the details on college content readiness and the English language arts/literacy descriptors here.

Below is an example for Grade 6 of the Mathematics Target; Understand ratio concepts and use ratio reasoning to solve problems.  You can find the mathematics document here.

It is important to note that these are draft documents with much work yet to be done.  Smarter Balanced is seeking public feedback through January 15th.  If you have the time to peruse the work and would like to provide feedback, you can complete the survey here.  These are important documents because they provide additional information and guidance on what students will need to know and be able to do on the Common Core assessments.  Please share with us what you are learning from the documents in this important release.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

State fiscal cliff . . .

There were two interesting education pieces in the last two issues of the Seattle Times on topics I have posted on before.  In this Saturday piece, Donna Gordon Blankenship talks about the $1 billion that legislators must come up with in this biennium to meet the State Supreme Court's order in the McCleary case to pay for basic education reform by 2018.  This is a big issue that they face considering budget projections in the same biennium project a shortfall of $900.  How will  they meet this goal under these very difficult conditions?

A committee of lawmakers has been meeting since summer to discuss their options for responding to the ruling. The Joint Task Force on Education Funding basically has two choices: cut state spending or raise taxes or fees.

The long list of possible cuts include some options that are controversial. Those include cuts to the state higher education system, supervision of all parolees or preschool or health insurance for poor children.

"Most of this stuff is not going to happen. It just doesn't make sense," says Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina and the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Can they meet the court's requirement without raising taxes?  Will Governor-elect Inslee back off of his election promise to not raise taxes?  Another twist to this huge issue is found in today's editorial questioning the capacity of the House and Senate education chairs capacity to provide leadership for education reform given their performance in the last session.

The education committees must function without the drag of recalcitrant leaders.
McAuliffe and Tomiko Santos have been passed up by the circumstances of the McCleary decision and voters’ embrace of charter schools — and the will of their colleagues who have been successful in working around them. 
Expect more of that if legislative leaders keep them in their seats.

There is no time to waste.

Though not as ominous as the national fiscal cliff, our state is also facing a fiscal cliff.  The court has made their decision and the focus now shifts to Olympia in January.  I believe that we will see proposals calling for major cuts to other state services, some so deep that there will be major push back and aggressive lobbying. It will take more than leadership to find solutions to these major budget issues.  It will take collaboration and adaptive solutions, things that have not been the norm in state politics.  The tentative nature of the democrat's control of the senate may make these adaptive solutions possible or it may make it more difficult.  This cliff will have a greater influence on public education in our state than the one capturing headlines at the national level.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Family, food, and . . .
I'm sitting in my chair watching my Grandson play with the dog after a day of family, food, and football.  We went to our Daughters for a wonderful dinner where I carved the turkey, cut the prime rib, and filled plate after plate while watching a not so good football game.  Listened to old family stories and saw some new ones being made as the grand kids wrestled around with their uncle.  My Grandson believes he finally won as he recounted the story multiple times on the way home.

So much to be thankful for in my life with family and food high on the list.  Football comes in a bit lower, certainly after the gift of being part of our school system.  For one evening, I feel fully content and so thankful.  Hope your day was also one filled with family, friends, food, and . . .  Sorry about those Cowboys Scott.  

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A story about our teachers . . .

Thank you to Katherine for commenting on my post requesting readers to share stories and insights into our school system and the cultures that we have created.  Her comments are from someone new to our system who grew up and went to school in a neighboring district.  Her answer to what makes us different can be found in the following words.

I attended a neighboring district in the 90's and early 2000's and the vibe there was completely different. At the high school I attended I felt like everything was about the WASL - and I graduated in 2007, before passing was a requirement for graduation - once we passed it didn't seem like they cared about us anymore. I don't get that feeling here. From what I've seen the teachers here are passionate and invested in their students and I think the students feel that. 

Compared to her personal high school experience our teachers care about their students and the work they do.  I believe this is true in all of our buildings.  It is why no matter how old the building or how many students we put into crowded spaces, parents are supportive of THEIR school and THEIR teachers.  I hear this in our PTA Roundtable meetings and in the community.

Katherine identifies an attribute of the culture that we are creating for our young people.  Why is what she sees and hears in our schools different from her experience in what she describes as a good school district?  What mental models result in these teacher behaviors and what are we doing systemically that influences these mental models?  Perhaps Katherine's sharing will influence others to share their stories.  There certainly are many more out there and I have the patience and persistence to continue trying to pull them out as long as I get a comment every so often.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

News from NEWS . . .

I'm on the Network for Excellence in Washington Schools (NEWS) e-mail list.  This is the organization behind the McCleary lawsuit that is forcing the state legislators to meet their constitutional requirement to fund schools under the ESHB 2261 vision.  In a recent e-mail from the organization they shared some data and charts showing the gap between current funding and the funding required under the lawsuit.  The gap is very large as can be seen in the chart below from the e-mail.  The remaining charts can be found here.

The red line is the funding level when the legislation was enacted and the bars are the targets to move to fully funded by the 2017-18 school year.  The data shows the huge gap and the lack of progress on meeting targets thus far.  How will legislators and the newly elected governor close this gap and meet targets in the biennium that begins in January?  That task has become even more difficult based on the information in this Seattle Times editorial.  Facing a $900 million shortfall makes closing the gap much more difficult especially given the governor-elects no new tax promise.  We are approaching a point where public school funding must change.  The State Supreme Court and organizations like NEWS have made it clear that the current reality will not be possible to maintain, it must be replaced by "steady progress" towards the legislator's own vision for schools of the future.  It will be interesting to view how they meet these competing commitments from a distance.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Well, still no comments to my last post when I asked for readers to share stories and experiences about our journey as a school system.  This was actually the second request.  Perhaps I should let it go, but I am going to try and prime the pump by sharing what for me is a decision that has had a lasting influence on who we are.  Who knows, maybe the faucet will open and readers will share stories of their own.  My request continues by again asking you to consider responding to the following.

Which of these initiatives, interactions, and decisions have had a significant and lasting impact on the culture of our school system? Many of us believe that Tahoma is a great place for kids and for the adults that work with and for them. Why do we believe that? What do we do or not do that may be different than other systems? What story can you tell that helps define who we are, what drives our behavior, and who we aspire to be? 

There are many stories I could tell related to our work with the leadership of both TEA and PSE, but I believe that the decision to align our stated belief in collaboration with contract language was one of those times.  Many of us talk about the importance of collaboration in our work and the need for staff to have the opportunity to influence critical decisions at the building and department level, but it often does not result in consistent behavior that demonstrates this belief over time.

I can remember many years ago deciding that to move forward we must find ways for staff to see that collaboration is more than just words, it is a core belief, the foundation of our work.  When I first began to work with district bargainers and the administrative team on consensus decision making and then made the decision to embed this process into both negotiated agreements, it was not supported by all administrators.  The parking lot conversations were not positive and some were wondering if I was crazy.  I can imagine there were those thinking he isn't ready or doesn't have what it takes to be a superintendent.  Principals and department supervisors were forced to give up much autonomy and power and found themselves needing to facilitate the very conversations that resulted in the need to share.  The language below changed their world in a short period of time.

I don't believe that there are many bargaining units that have had the experience of district bargainers recommending an article on consensus and the subsequent language where our shared values are articulated. Is it working?  How do principals and supervisors feel today, especially those that were here when the language was first negotiated?  How is it working for teachers and classified staff?  I  believe that the decision to negotiate this language was a critical fork in the road on our journey, one that continues to influence who we are and how we respond to the issues that emerge as we move forward on this sometimes rocky path.

Does this example help you think of others at the system, building , or department level that contribute to the cultures in our system?  If not, I'll live by the three strikes rule and let this be my last request on this topic.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Try, try, again . . .

In my last post I asked for comments, no I asked for stories about our journey.  What makes us who we are?  We are a system that continues to emerge over time, formed by the interactions between those of us in our schools and in our community.  We are also shaped by our responses to mandates from the state and federal level such as NCLB, TPEP, and the common core.  During the course of this journey many initiatives are started and many decisions are made as we adapt to changing conditions and needs.

Which of these initiatives, interactions, and decisions have had a significant and lasting impact on the culture of our school system?  Many of us believe that Tahoma is a great place for kids and for the adults that work with and for them.  Why do we believe that?  What do we do or not do that may be different than other systems?  What story can you tell that helps define who we are, what drives our behavior, and who we aspire to be?  As I said in my last post.  Capturing from the past what has contributed to our current reality is an important part of creating the capacity to continue to move forward.

So, generating a response to these questions is worth at least one more try.  The stories that may emerge will contribute to continuing the worthy journey that we find ourselves on.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Reflecting on the past to move forward . . .
Thanks to Dawn who e-mailed Doug who asked Ben, I am using my new computer for this blog post.  Once again, people coming through to support me, this time based on sharing my frustration in a blog post.  This happened even though today is a holiday from school back home.  To show how disconnected I sometimes get from the non-work world, I called Linda, my assistant, this morning and kept getting the operator intercept.  I finally figured out I had forgotten the three hour time differential and was calling too early.  So, later I called using her cell phone and she answered, only it was from home.  She gently reminded me that I was one of the few school employees working today.

The support I received are examples of collaboration in the workplace.  Unfortunately, they also are accompanied by the issue of positional authority.  If I didn't have the title in front of my name, would I have received the same response to my technology need or my poorly timed phone call?  In the culture of my vision yes, but in our current reality no.  Though this is but one component of the culture we are creating, for me it is an important component.  I believe that I have the responsibility to provide leadership to close the gap between that vision and our current reality and I also know that the gap will be with us after I physically leave the system.  Knowing that, I feel a heightened sense of urgency to ensure that the communication foundation and values that drive our behavior live beyond those in leadership positions today.

The challenge is in the how.  I believe that one way to support this need is in telling stories.  These stories can be about our vision, the values that drive our behavior, things that didn't work and how we responded to them, or those stories that describe who we are.  It is time to begin that story telling, so I have been reflecting on those critical times in our journey that have contributed to who we are.  I have identified several of them that I believe have had an influence that has sustained over time that provide insights into our values and beliefs.

What about you?  If I asked you to identify the ONE story that you believe captures who we are and what we want to become what would you pick?  Is there one thing that stands out or are there a series of things that build upon each other?  I believe that this is an important exercise for our system to undertake and your thoughts are an important part of this effort.  Please consider sharing in a comment to this post.  Capturing from the past what has contributed to our current reality is an important part of creating the capacity to continue to move forward.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Technology user problem . . .

I've been trying to get my new computer up and running so that I can post, but I'm struggling to get it going.  When I try to log in it says there are no logon servers available.  I think I probably should have first logged on while in the district.  So, that leaves me with my iPad that I don't like for blogging.  I find it hard to copy and paste sections from an article and links and embedding pictures is beyond my current capacity.

I'm out of the district for the next few days and the thought of having to do all my work on the iPad is unnerving.  I like it for quickly going through my e-mail and RSS feeds and research on the net, but not for blogging or other product work.  What to do and where to get support?

This feeling is probably similar to what some teachers feel when trying to use technology to support learning and they encounter difficulties with making the tool work.  Unlike when I'm in the office and can ask multiple people for help knowing I will have the problem fixed quickly, I'm on my own. Unlike a teacher in the classroom though, I don't have to worry about students while I try to figure it out or I could simply not blog until I find out what I am doing wrong.  This makes me think I may need to revisit my ladder of inference about teachers who struggle with the transition to using technology in their class rooms and the importance of support in the moment.

For now, however, I'll take whatever suggestions you may have for me.  I fear I may be in trouble because I didn't first log on at work though I don't know why.  Hope not, because I would really like to use it.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Some simple secrets . . .

I blogged last year about a video from Simple Truths, a source of motivational and inspirational gifts.  In the latest newsletter is another short (3:32) video presentation about Finding Joy, Some Simple Secrets to a Happy Life.  It is a series of quotes on beautiful scenes that I found both relaxing and inspirational.  The video can be found here.

The first time I viewed it was for enjoyment, but there was something in the back of my mind that made me view it two more times.  Three of the quotes caught my attention and seem to resonate with me at this time.
  • Burn brightly without burning out.  Richard Biggs - I can personalize with this one because of the need to bring energy and enthusiasm to my work even during those weeks with multiple evening meetings.  It also brings to mind the stress that our teachers carry with them and how they must and do find ways to continue to be that bright spot for our young people during difficult times.
  • The only things that stand between a person and what they want in life are the will to try it, and the faith to believe it's possible.  Richard Devos - I'm going to keep this one in front of me as we face the difficult challenge of implementing a new and different teacher and principal evaluation model and aligning our curriculum and instructional practices so that young people will be prepared for meeting the rigorous standards embedded in the common core.  I know what I want for our system related to these two initiatives and I must be willing to provide leadership that may challenge existing positions knowing that we have the capacity for success.
  • Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.  Robert Brault - At my age one begins to reflect deeply on quotes such as this in both my personal and professional life.  I need to take time to celebrate the little victories along the way.  Yes, I must focus on the end goals, but finding energy to keep burning brightly will come from observing Classroom 10 interactions between adults and young people, from a story told by a teacher about how one of the Classroom 10 practices is changing their classroom, from a principals story about how feedback assisted a teacher in improving their practice, and . . .
Watching the video was worth the three minutes to me.  Enjoy it here.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Pondering election results . . .

WEA Webpage
I am very glad that the election and the negative campaigning we experienced is behind us. I can't say that there were any surprises for me on the education related items, but the results thus far are raising some interesting questions for me, especially after posting about the power of teacher unions and WEA being in the top 10.  As expected, the race for governor is very close with the latest results (6:45 pm) on the Secretary of State site showing Mckenna at 49% and Inslee at 51%.  I'm also not surprised that I-1240 is passing with a 51% yes vote.

Looking at these results makes me wonder if Inslee would be in this position without the the support of WEA.  My sense is that he would not have been successful without it.  On the other hand, I wonder what the outcome would have been on the charter initiative if WEA had mustered the same level of opposition this time as they had on the three previous attempts.  Remember from a previous post, they decided to prioritize the governor race this time.  Given the current ballot counts, my sense is that it would have failed or been even closer.  Considering the large difference in campaign contributions with the for group raising in excess of $8 million and the against group less than $300,000, I am surprised by how close it is.

Looking at a key state senate race in District 1 between Rosemary McAuliffe and Dawn McRavey that was won by the democratic incumbent McAuliffe also shows the influence that WEA can have.  McAuliffe faced a stiff challenge because as Chair of the Senate Education Committee she blocked reform legislation from reaching the senate floor last year.  This angered many and led to Stand for Children donating $256,000 to McRavey's campaign.  WEA countered this with a $187,000 donation and I would assume they were also able to provide her campaign with workers.  I doubt that McAuliffe would have won without this level of support.

What all this means for public education will play out over time as the new governor and legislators come together in January.  At the federal level, with the reelection of President Obama, we will see business as usual.  It will be more competition for federal dollars by states and districts that will drive additional legislation that aligns with the administration's reform agenda and one size fits all mentality.  Yes, there are many components to their agenda, but they still drive one size fits all.  States must conform to the reform parameters to compete for the big dollars that come from the various federal initiatives.  Once you align with the parameters, you can then compete for the dollars and be given permission to move beyond the one size fits all. One need only to look at what needed to change at the state level to qualify for the NCLB waiver to see how this process plays out.

Monday, November 5, 2012

An opportunity . . .

I'm sure that you have seen pictures and news reports of the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy and the struggles that families, businesses, and schools are facing.  There are many ways to help and though I don't use my blog to ask readers to contribute to worthy causes I decided to share this request from the Shanker Blog.  Together with First Book they are sponsoring an effort to replace books that were lost in the storm.  Though books are not high on the priority list for families needing shelter and other necessities, this is an opportunity to provide youth and families with the comfort found in reading.

Educators and those who care about our public schools can make a special contribution to the recovery efforts. One of the great losses in the flooding that came with Hurricane Sandy was books. The Albert Shanker Institute is partnering with the organization First Book in a drive to replenish school, classroom, and home libraries that were destroyed. We are asking our friends and fellow educators to join in this campaign: your help will ensure that children in need will have new books — stories at bedtime, the chance to be transported to another world, and the opportunity to return to normalcy.

A donation can be made here.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Another TPEP update . . .

On November 2nd OSPI released another update on the Teacher Principal Evaluation Pilot (TPEP) process.  Though it is called a pilot, the update is for all districts in the state not just those that have chosen to be involved in the pilot process.  There are a number of links to information, some new and some that have been available prior to this release.

The one I focused on is the rater agreement document found here.  I find this particularly interesting given our work with principals and Classroom 10. We have been working with one section of our instructional model and given my observations and experience we have much work to do before I would say that we have reached rater reliability.  The following definition and three stages of reaching rater agreement are copied from the document.

Considering that there are 290+ school districts in the state and three instructional models to choose from, reaching rater agreement with the large number of administrators rating teachers is a challenge I would not choose to undertake.  Reaching this level with our team has proven to be difficult enough and being forced to choose a state-approved instructional model will increase the complexity and difficulty of the work.

Further in the document we learn that the state has and will continue to provide training for administrators in the RIG districts, those in the pilot process.  We are not one of the districts that has chosen to be in the pilot.  There are far more like us than there are in the pilot.

From the document:

Stage I Training
OSPI, through the services of the Instructional Criteria Framework Feedback Specialists, will provide two-day Stage 1 training for all who evaluate classroom teachers. This two-day overview provides an understanding of the “Big Ideas” of the Instructional or Leadership Frameworks and the inter-dependency of the frameworks, rubrics and state criteria (dates pending for principal evaluator training).

So, there is a two-day training for Stage 1 included in the process.  My experience suggests that it will be difficult for all administrators to develop a foundational understanding of the big ideas in a framework in just two days.  I have been working with central office staff in a number of districts using CEL's 5 Dimension Model and I question if all of us have that understanding and we have met for over ten days.  Reading further I find that the training will be provided for all RIG districts, but the rest of us need to wait for legislative funding.  That is not consistent with the language above that says ALL.

All others - August 2013 (pending legislative funding)

So, we have a mandate to implement the process beginning next year, but we may not receive Stage I training for our administrative team unless the upcoming legislative session results in additional funding.  And, for stage 2?

Stage II Training

OSPI, through the services of the Instructional Criteria Framework Feedback Specialists, will provide 
up to 30 hours* of ongoing training on the frameworks for all who evaluate classroom teachers, 
principals, and assistant principals.

*The RIG 1 districts are currently piloting the Stage 2 training with principals and district administrators. A final determination of 2013 – 14 Stage 2 training will be made during the 2012 – 13 school year and be based, in part, on legislative budget approval. Stage 2 training is also dependent on the amount of growth needed by the evaluators. Since this is a performance-based system, a principal’s evaluation should be based, in part, on their progress toward rater agreement.

Once again, a training scope that may not be adequate to acquire the capacity for all administrators to use the model to promote growth and it is also contingent on legislative budget approval in 2013 for districts such as ours.  I'm making an assumption about the training for us because the update only speaks to the RIG districts. The more I read, the more this sounds and feels like it could become another one of those mandates that come with inadequate support.

In case you are wondering what training will be provided for administrators in Stage 3, the summative evaluation and final scoring there is none.

. . . OSPI does not provide training for this stage although portions of Stage 2 training may have

applicability toward Stage 3. Stage 3 should be integrated into the evaluation of
principals (Criterion 5) and district administrators.

If you wold like to share what you know about the TPEP process with OSPI, there is a survey open for feedback until November 14th.  I did it and was able to give some feedback not only about what I know, but I also shared some concerns in the comment opportunities.  The survey can be found here.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Ranking teacher unions . . .

On Flypaper I learned about a comprehensive study that ranked the strength of state teacher unions.   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.  The study included an overall ranking and more specific data for the five areas that were studied.  Below is the summary of scores in each of the areas that resulted in Washington being ranked 10th overall.

Since I have no context for comparing state associations I don't know what strong means, but number ten is in the Strongest Tier. One of the surprises for me was the low ranking (32nd) for  Involvement In Politics as my perception has always been that WEA is deeply involved in the state's political landscape.  Looking at the categories in this section shows that campaign donations in comparison to other donors is a big component of the rank, but what dropped them down is the percentage of delegates to the Democratic and Republican conventions where they rank 48th.  Contrast this rank with one in the Perceived Influence where WEA was ranked as the most or second most influential in response to the following question.  How do you rank the influence of teacher unions on education policy compared with other influential entities?  I can't help but wonder if this rank would be the same if the study were conducted after next Tuesday and if the charter initiative were to pass.

Below are the ratings for categories in each area.  I wonder how the "reformers" and policy makers will use this data to influence future public education policy and direction.

Monday, October 29, 2012

An unfair burden raises concerns . . .

Liv Finne of the Washington Policy Center did an op-ed for the Kent Journal about why teachers will  love charter schools.  She quotes a current public school teacher sharing the constraints being experienced by teachers in today's public schools and then offers six ways that charter schools offer an escape from the unfair burdens being placed upon them by traditional school administrators.  When I got to number four I found myself getting a little upset.

Fourth, teachers in charter schools are evaluated on their performance on an individualized, humane basis by a high-quality principal who knows them well. Teachers in traditional schools in Washington state will soon be evaluated on a complex checklist of factors, reduced to a matrix of numbers, which cannot possibly capture a teacher's unique and quintessentially singular ability to motivate and inspire students to learn.

If you follow my blog you know that I have struggled with the new evaluation system and shared my thinking in previous posts such as this one.  It wasn't "traditional school administrators" who decided on the model we are being forced to implement, it was policy makers responding to pressure from Washington D.C. and the "reformers" who see value-added as a necessary component of school reform.  The same might be said of the charter initiative that she believes teachers will love.

I didn't need to see this op-ed piece, but now that I have I will share some additional information on the teacher evaluation models that have now become the next big thing to change the quality of public education. This Education Week article from last week, shares two research studies that raise questions about it's use at secondary levels. Findings from a study  of middle school math teachers by Douglas N. Harris of Tulane University raises the question of how academic tracking may be influencing the results.

Failing to account for how students are sorted into more- or less-rigorous classes—as well as the effect different tracks have on student learning—can lead to biased "value added" estimates of middle and high school teachers' ability to boost their students' standardized-test scores, the papers conclude.

"I think it suggests that we're making even more errors than we need to—and probably pretty large errors—when we're applying value-added to the middle school level," said Douglas N. Harris, an associate professor of economics at Tulane University in New Orleans, whose study examines the application of a value-added approach to middle school math scores.

I also found very interesting the analysis shared below that can and most likely would have a significant influence on the math courses that teachers would want to teach knowing their student learning score is part of their overall evaluation total.

The scholars' analysis also showed that teachers who taught more remedial classes tended to have lower value-added scores, on average, than those teachers who taught mainly higher-level classes.

That phenomenon was not due to the best teachers' disproportionately teaching the more-rigorous classes, as is often asserted. Instead, the paper shows, even those teachers who taught courses at more than one level of rigor did better when their performance teaching the upper-level classes was compared against that from the lower-level classes.

The idea of tracking is a common-sense scenario for any parent who has faced the politics of middle school, Mr. Harris said. "It's not that surprising when you think about how tracking works," he said. "Part of it is based on whether your parents are the ones who are more savvy about this and are going to call the counselor and lobby for you to be in these higher courses."

But if such bias is not accounted for in policy, a teacher could, in effect, boost his or her value-added score simply by teaching all higher-level courses, the paper notes.

Add to this another article from Education Week where twelve of the nation's top education researchers urged caution in the use of value-added evaluation models.  In a series of studies, Jesse Rothstein, a University of California professor, found bias in standard value-added models.

“[Value-added measures] will deteriorate—will become less reliable and less closely tied to true effectiveness—if they are used for high-stakes individual decisions,” Mr. Rothstein wrote in a brief for the meeting. “How much will teachers change their content coverage, neglect nontested subjects and topics, lobby for the right students, teach test-taking strategies, and cheat outright? ... We simply don’t know.”

I could go on, but I'll just share one more example of why we need to be cautious with how these evaluations will be used.  It comes from an article Amy Adams shared with me about Florida's value added model in this Tampa Bay Times article.

What aggravates teachers most is that 40 to 50 percent of their evaluation is based on "student achievement" — but it's not always their own students who are being measured.

For example, fourth- and fifth-grade teachers are rated partly on their students' FCAT scores. But the FCAT is not given until third grade. So if you teach a lower grade, then your "student achievement" score is based on the scores of older students at your school. Similarly, teachers of subjects that don't even appear on the state's standardized test are being evaluated, at least in part, on FCAT scores. Eventually, the newer end-of-course exams will be counted into the equation.

Kim Musselman teaches kindergarten at Clearwater's Eisenhower Elementary, where children's families tend to move a lot, she said. So she likely will be evaluated on the scores of older children whom she never taught.

When the evaluations are used to determine raises, "my pay is going to be based on kids that I've never had before," Musselman said.

This is one of my biggest fears; that in the future raises will be based on the results of these models and that there is so much more that must be learned before they should be used for this purpose, if ever.  What will our learning organizations become if raises are based on a teacher's value added score and when teachers lobby to teach only those classes and those kids that result in higher ratings?   How will this influence principals as they make these important and difficult decisions?

Quite a long post from reading a short op-ed piece.  It concerns me that if I-1240 passes there will be 40 charter schools that need not evaluate teachers using the state-mandated process.  If it is so important and has so much promise to improve instruction in public schools, and if charters are public schools in this state, why would they not be required to follow the same evaluation rules that we must?  Or, if as Finne says it is another unfair burden, why require it of all other public schools in the state?  If teachers in our district did not belong to TEA, WEA, or any other EA would we get the same exemption?

I'm still upset that we can't use our instructional model that we spent years developing and refining and I don't believe that being a charter school or school system would improve what we are creating in Tahoma.  Finally, I guess that I am one of those "traditional school administrators" that Finne speaks about, but please know that I had no role in placing the unfair evaluation burden on teachers and principals.