Sox it to 'em: NCTQ releases report on human capital in Boston schools

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Following on the heels of last year's reports on Seattle and Hartford, NCTQ is out with its third report on district human capital policies--this time looking at Boston.

While it's a city with plenty to boast about, with some of the highest urban NAEP scores in the nation, it struggles with an intractable achievement gap. A stand-out finding is the city's appreciation for the importance of hiring talented teachers, with two- thirds of its teachers graduating from institutions with good admissions standards.

The district also pays some of the highest salaries in the state...but isn't getting much back in return. Boston teachers have one of the shortest work days of teachers in the country, clocking in at 6.5 hours per day, compared to a national average of 7.5 hours.

The big news, at least according to the Boston Globe's coverage, is the district's indifference towards evaluating its teachers, with nearly a quarter of all schools not having evaluated a single teacher in the past two years. The reason why? Either principals think their teachers are all doing a great job--99 percent of the teachers who did get evaluated were rated satisfactory--or they see no value in the process, given the failure of evaluations to recognize great teachers, not to mention state laws which establish lengthy and costly terms for dismissing teachers.

To the credit of its superintendent, Dr. Carol Johnson, the school district has welcomed the public airing of its dirty laundry. Not so much the local teachers' union. It was so put-out by the report that it broke the embargo on the report, releasing an early draft that it had been given to review for factual accuracy to its 6,000-member email list. Union head Richard Stutman told the Globe, "They have planned a big celebration to announce this, and I wasn't going to wait around three or four days for them to set up the release the way they wanted."

If the union's reaction to this report is any indication, the district is going to have a fight on its hands as it gears up for contract negotiations this spring. For more findings from the report--and recommendations for how Boston can improve--read more here.