Week of March 16, 2015

See all posts

District Matters
Denver Public Schools plans to cut the number of peer observers used by the district’s central office to observe, evaluate, and provide feedback to teachers, Chalkbeat Colorado reports. The district’s executive director of school support, Mario Giardiello, says the scale down is part of a “move towards building the capacity of teacher leaders and school leaders to do observations and give feedback.” This change will come as the district expands its teacher leadership program.
State Matters
It’s been an active week for education in the courts. A federal judge ruled unconstitutional a portion of a 2011 Indiana state law that allowed tenured teachers to be fired before non-tenured teachers during reductions in force. Since state law already provides a means for underperforming teachers to be terminated, the court said there is no basis to the claim that the reduction in force provision was necessary to protect students from ineffective teachers, reports RTV 6 News in Indianapolis.
In New York, a judge denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of state tenure laws, allowing the case to move forward in the legal process. As the New York Times reports, the lawsuit argues that state tenure policies deny students their right to a sound basic education by making it too difficult to fire bad teachers.
A lawsuit over parents’ rights to teacher evaluation data continues to wind through the courts in Virginia. The court ruled in favor of a parent arguing for the release of the data in January. Both the Commonwealth and the teachers union have challenged the ruling and a hearing on the case is scheduled for next Monday according to the Washington Post.
In Other Ed News
Is it true, are all the best teachers leaving, as we are often led to believe? A new Real Clear Education piece by Luke Kohlmoos has us challenge this oft-held belief by looking into some recent data from Tennessee. Kohlmoos asserts that the news is actually good, and that Tennessee, as one of the early and more “aggressive implementers of rigorous evaluation,” is succeeding in retaining the more effective teachers.
A study on merit pay conducted in Israel 14 years ago found that students whose teachers were paid more didn't just score higher on the tests. They went on to complete more years of postsecondary education and to earn more than their peers whose teachers were paid conventionally, reports the Washington Post. Offering teacher bonuses improved  students' score on the Bagrut, a test given at the end of high school, and increased the number of students attending one of Israel's seven elite research universities by more than a quarter.