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Teacher ratings overhaul forges on despite lack of union approval

District officials are forging forward without teacher uniapproval plan thwould tie ratings thousands teachers part student test scores. | Rich

District officials are forging forward without teacher union approval on a plan that would tie the ratings of thousands of teachers in part to student test scores. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times

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Updated: May 9, 2012 10:25AM

Chicago Public School officials Friday hailed as “historic” a new evaluation system that will eventually tie up to 40 percent of a CPS teacher’s rating to student growth — a prospect teacher union officials immediately blasted as “deeply flawed.’’

CPS officials late Thursday ended more than four months of negotiations by deciding to forge ahead with their “last, best offer’’ on how to rate the system’s 16,000 active union teachers, starting this fall.

Under a 2010 state law, all Illinois school districts must eventually make student growth a “significant’’ factor in teacher evaluations, but CPS is the only district with the right to impose its will if officials and teachers cannot agree after 90 days of talks.

Chief Education Officer Noemi Donoso said Friday she was “surprised’’ to hear Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis call the plan “deeply flawed,’’ “hurried’’ “unfunded’’ and “unreliable.”

The district incorporated “significant pieces’’ of CTU suggestions and engaged in “extraordinarily collaborative conversations,’’ Donoso said.

“I am doing my best to stay measured and calm,’’ Donoso said during a one-hour briefing with reporters on the extraordinarily complicated plan. “Our teachers have been waiting so long for us to improve [the current evaluation] system. ... We can’t see how we can delay this any longer.’’

The evaluation system carries great stakes for CPS teachers, as they can lose their jobs if rated too poorly. Plus, CPS wants to make teacher evaluations the basis for teacher raises, starting in the fall of 2014, said CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey.

The CTU has little confidence that CPS’s use of standardized tests to determine growth is valid or reliable, Sharkey said. Instead, it seemed more like the system was merely putting numbers into a “black box,’’ Sharkey said.

CPS officials contended that the use of several measuring sticks, including standardized tests scores, would result in a fair overall assessment.

By year five of the plan, the CPS formula calls for up to 25 percent of a teacher’s rating to be based on test score growth of their students between the beginning and the end of a school year. For teachers in untested grades or subjects, such as preschool or physical education, that portion of the growth score would be based on how much their entire school grew in reading.

Again by year five, another 15 percent to 20 percent would be based on student growth on yet-to-be-written “performance tasks,’’ such as an experiment or word problem.

And, from year two through five of the plan, 10 percent of a teacher’s evaluation will be tied to student surveys of teacher effectiveness.

Observation of a teacher in the classroom would start out at worth 75 percent to 100 percent of a teacher’s total score, depending on the grade being taught, and gradually diminish to as little as 50 percent.

Gage Park High world studies teacher Xian Barrett, who was honored by the White House for his teaching, feared the new system could “drive teachers away from the most challenging teaching assignments’’ if they did not teach a tested subject because up to 15 percent of their evaluation would be tied to their school’s reading scores, rather than their own work.

“I think this will contribute to the already disastrous teacher attrition rate in CPS,’’ Barrett said.

With hard-fought talks over a new teacher contract ongoing, “this increases teacher discontent which could build momentum for a strike,’’ Barrett said.

With year-round schools due to start the school year in August, CPS officials still have to work with teachers on writing performance tasks that will go into effect this coming school year; train principals on new observation procedures, write student surveys and nail down value-added procedures.

“That sounds like an awful lot to try to do so quickly,” said Sandi Jacobs, vice president of the National Council for Teacher Quality.“Across the country, building these very sophisticated systems isn’t easy.’’

Rating the teacher

How Chicago Public School teachers will be evaluated over the next five years, starting in the fall of 2012

2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17
Elementary school teachersTested grades/subjects:Tested grades/subjectsTested grades/subjectsTested grades/subjectsTested grades/subjects
Type III10%Type III10%Type III10%Type III15%Type III15%
Untested grades/subjectsUntested grades/subjectsUntested grades/subjectsUntested grades/subjectsUntested grades/subjects
Type III15%Type III15%Type III20%Type III20%Type III20%
High school teachersCore subjectsCore subjectsCore subjectsCore subjectsCore subjects
Type III10%Type III10%Type III10%Type III15%Type III15%
Individual-expected gains0%Individual-expected gains15%Individual-expected gains20%Individual-expected gains20%Individual-expected gains25%
Non-core subjectsNon-core subjectsNon-core subjectsNon-core subjectsNon-core subjects
School-expected gains0%Type III15%Type III20%Type III20%Type III20%
School-expected gains10%School-expected gains10%School-expected gains10%School-expected gains15%

Practice: Observations of a teacher’s practice in the classroom.
IVAM: Individual Value Added Method, refers to growth on tests taken by a teacher’s students, in either reading or math, between the beginning and end of a school year.
Type III: Performance tasks or assignments, such as doing a complicated math word problem or singing a song in music, that will be written districtwide by a group of teachers and CPS experts.
Survey: Surveys of students about to what degree their teachers are exhibiting best practices.
SVAM: School value added, the growth in a school’s literacy test results between the beginning and end of a school year. It counts for part of the growth score for those teachers of subjects or grades that are untested, such as physical education or preschool.
Individual-expected gains: For high school teachers of tested subjects, the gains expected of a teacher’s students as they move from 9th grade EXPLORE to 10th grade PLAN to 11th grade ACT.
School-expected gains: For high school teachers of untested subjects, the schoolwide expected gains of students as they move from 9th grade EXPLORE to the 10th grade PLAN to 11th grade ACT.
Source: Chicago Board of Education

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