Chalkboard Project Communications Manager
Aimee Craig received her Bachelors from Lewis and Clark College in May 2006 and began with the Chalkboard Project in December 2006 as the Information and Technology Coordinator. After marrying her best friend in 2008, she attended the University of Chicago and received a Masters in Religious Studies. Missing the Northwest and believing that the creation of a progressive, thoughtful, critically-thinking community requires an equitable, high-quality education system, she returned to Chalkboard in July 2009 to take on the role of Communications Manager. Aimee’s husband is a 7th grade teacher and together they plan to do their part to strengthen education in Oregon.
Last week, Dan and I had the pleasure of hosting a break-out session at REAP’s (Reaching and Empowering All People) Academy of Leadership Innovations.
The academy is an opportunity for 8th through 12th graders to practice their leadership skills and engage with community members around important issues facing the greater community.
We spent our session hearing from the students about great teaching. We started by asking the students to describe their best teachers. Over and over again we heard praise for teachers who care about their students, who know their subject matter, and who are willing to individualize their support.
We then had the students get into small groups and discuss questions related to assessing and supporting great teaching and student learning. There were engaged and animated conversations throughout the room, and when we had every group share out at the end of the session, thoughtful ideas were plentiful. Here are some of the highlights: (more…)
The US Department of Education has put out the draft priorities for the next round of the Teacher Incentive Fund and invited public feedback. The Teacher Incentive Fund provides grant dollars to school districts and partners that want to explore ways to recognize and reward effective teaching. More about TIF and the proposed priorities can be found here.
We have learned quite a bit from being part of a Teacher Incentive Fund grant along with six Oregon school districts. You can read our full feedback letter to the USDOE here. Here are the highlights:
Evaluations: Require a minimum of four, not three, categories for teaching proficiency
In the proposed selection criteria, the Department requires a Rigorous, Valid, and Reliable Educator Evaluation System that includes at least three performance levels. However, advice from respected national leaders, including Charlotte Danielson, indicates that a three-level proficiency system leads to “central tendency,” or the notion that most professionals will end up in the middle category because it is safer to mark and easier to defend. This provides less differentiation for informed practice and limits the distinctions needed for improvement. Additionally, we note that every respected national model has a minimum of four levels. We are not aware of any respected, research-based rubrics for teaching proficiency based upon a three level framework.
We are excited to announce the formation of the Distinguished Educators Council!
From our press release:
Chalkboard is seeking 12-15 award-winning Oregon educators to serve on the Distinguished Educators Council. The Council’s mission will be to provide an independent platform for educator voices on reform efforts and implementation, as well as to advise Chalkboard and an array of stakeholders on initiatives not currently being addressed. Applicants should be current classroom teachers who want to participate on the Council in addition to their regular classroom responsibilities. Chosen applicants will earn a $1200 stipend for a year of service on the Council.
The Distinguished Educators Council will have professionally facilitated meetings and access to research on a range of topics related to strengthening the teaching profession including, educator evaluations, continuous growth and career paths, assessing effectiveness, principal leadership, and recognizing and rewarding great teaching. (more…)
UPDATED 5/4/11 (Based on feedback from a local researcher, we’ve updated this post)
There have been a number of different studies that explored the impact of educators on student achievement. Now many researchers have turned to the question of measuring effective teaching. How do you know it when you see it? What can we learn from highly effective educators?
A recent study by Tom Kane, Eric Taylor, John Tyler, and Amy Wooten set out to answer the question: Is there a correlation between teacher gain in classroom observation scores and gains in student achievement?
Using data from Cincinnati’s teacher evaluation system from 2000 through the end of the 2009 school year, the researchers found, in short, the answer is yes.
The Cincinnati evaluation system entails four separate classroom observations per school year during a teacher’s evaluation cycle. Teachers are graded on 1-to-4 scale on a number of different standards. With teachers that achieved an improved rank at least one point up on the scale, researchers also saw some gains in the reading and math achievement of their students.
The research seems to indicate, then, that there is a correlation between improved teacher evaluation scores and improved learning. The conclusion suggests that classroom observations and evaluations may actually be a good measure of teaching as it relates to student achievement.
A new report suggests that Oregon could benefit from significantly changing its school and district accountability system. The report, commissioned by the Chalkboard Project, Stand for Children, OBA, and the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators and prepared by Education First Consulting, recommends that Oregon overhaul the indicators used and reported in its current accountability system to include a richer set of information that suggests how well schools are helping students prepare for college and careers.
The report suggests that states with successful accountability systems communicate results effectively, provide meaningful resources to interpret and use accountability results, and base their systems on rigorous college- and career-ready expectations. The authors of the report synthesized promising practices in state accountability systems and compared those identified promising practices to Oregon’s accountability system.
Additional recommendations for Oregon include revamping and streamlining the state’s reporting system, including considering the reporting timeline, the number of reports, and the usefulness of the data to inform instruction and decisions, and exploring the use of incentives to motivate schools and districts to continually improve or to maintain success. The report also recommends that Oregon improve its measurement and use of student growth scores, and suggests adopting the Colorado Growth Model.
Download the full report. For more about Education First Consulting, see www.educationfirstconsulting.com.
The Chalkboard Project is releasing a new report today on the condition of Oregon’s K-12 education system. The report draws on new statistics and makes the case that we need to ensure 1) our high-need students are receiving an equitable education, 2) all of our students are meeting high standards, 3) our school dollars are being spent wisely, 4) our educators are meaningfully evaluated and supported to do their best work in the classroom, and 5) the early years of a child’s education set the foundation for success.
From the press release:
Chalkboard’s K-12 Conditions Report: Oregon Schools Can Improve
PORTLAND-January 14, 2010- Oregon’s K-12 schools are mediocre and risk getting left behind schools across the country.
The state’s schools could especially improve when it comes to educating students of color and those from low-income families. And all Oregon students, and families, deserve better.
Those are among the stark findings in the non-profit Chalkboard Project’s latest report on the condition of K-12 education in Oregon.
“We are quickly approaching a crisis point for our state’s schools and students,” says Chalkboard Project President Sue Hildick. “As Oregon enters another difficult budget year, we must look closely at how we are spending our education dollars and whether or not we are getting the results we need. We know we have hard-working, committed educators, great schools doing amazing things for students, and engaged families who want to see their students do well, but as a state we have to ensure that ALL students have the opportunity to succeed in a global environment.”
A primary goal for the Chalkboard Project is to help push Oregon’s schools into the top 10 among all states. Chalkboard’s K-12 Condition Report for 2010 underlines the areas where the state needs to focus its efforts in order to move towards that goal of excellence.
In the early 2000s, Oregon was in the top tier among all states in its eighth-grade reading and math scores. By 2009, Oregon’s eighth-grade scores had fallen to the middle of the pack. In the early 2000s, Oregon was in the middle of the pack among all states in its fourth-grade reading and math scores. By 2009, the state’s fourth-grade scores had fallen to the bottom tier of states. Oregon’s scores are not getting worse; other states are improving more quickly.
Chalkboard’s Condition Report notes other challenges:
· About 45 percent of Oregon K-12 students were part of low-income families in 2009, almost twice the percentage of 1998. Yet Oregon schools with the highest proportions of low-income students have less experienced teachers, and lose them more quickly, than other schools.
· High school graduation rates among students of color continue to lag behind those of white students. While 88 percent of white students graduated on time in 2009, only 72 percent of African-American students did.
The K-12 Condition Report also points out practices that we all know can improve the education of our children, including providing the tools and resources teachers need to do their best work in the classroom, strong early childhood education programs, and a commitment by the state to direct funds to programs that shows results. Chalkboard has been an advocate for all of these issues, including lowering K-1 class sizes and providing reading tutors to all K-3 students, as well as piloting new career, evaluation and compensation models for teachers.
“We have seen in districts participating in Chalkboard’s CLASS Project that a commitment to supporting teachers and empowering them to do their best work can have a tremendous impact on student achievement in the classroom as well as on teacher satisfaction and collaboration. We hope that the K-12 Condition Report makes the case that we need to build on such successes, encourage educators to lead the way, and put our education system on a clearer path to excellence,” Hildick says. “Pockets of success cannot overcome funding instability and resistance to change; transformation has to happen at the state level.”
Chalkboard’s K-12 Condition Report is available at: http://www.chalkboardproject.org/images/PDF/Chalkboard_cond_final.pdf.
More information about the CLASS Project is at: http://educators4reform.org
During the past decade, hundreds of high schools across the nation engaged in large-scale education reform by adopting the small schools model. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation invested $2 billion to create new, mostly urban small high schools. Results were mixed and the Gates Foundation eventually distanced itself from the small schools movement.
Recently, however, a Gates-funded study of small public high schools of choice in New York City revealed significantly improved academic achievement and graduation outcomes for an initial cohort of disadvantaged students. The study, Transforming the High School Experience: How New York City’s New Small Schools Are Boosting Student Achievement and Graduation Rates, was conducted by MDRC, an education and social policy research organization.
Here in Oregon, two new reports show tangible gains in post-secondary enrollment, achievement, attendance and high school graduation for students participating in the Oregon Small Schools Initiative. In addition, new research into the cost of small schools concludes they may be even more cost-effective than larger, comprehensive high schools in terms of expenses involved to reach desired outcomes, such as the cost per high school graduate.
ECONorthwest’s Oregon Small Schools Initiative Evaluation, Quanitative Analysis 2004-2009 tracks student achievement, attendance, drop-out rates, graduation rates, and college-going rates. Since 2004-05, the longest-established schools in the initiative have increased the share of graduates enrolling at college by ten percent, doubled the share of their students meeting state math and reading benchmarks, reduced dropout rates by more than 25 percent and increased high school graduation by 15 percentage points. (more…)
Today, November 22nd, has been declared the Day of National Blogging for Real Education Reform. Educators and advocates across the country are sharing their visions for education and their perspectives on the challenges we face.
See the full list of blog posts here: http://coopcatalyst.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/ideas/
Follow the Twitter conversation at #blog4reform.
Spend some time today reading one or two entries or, even better, leave a comment! Share your perspective and have a meaningful conversation about the future of our schools and children.
Let us know what you read. Did you have a favorite post? Did you happen upon a good conversation?
Oregon, as part of a consortium of states, is helping to develop a new assessment system that would align with the Common Core standards. Called the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium, the group received federal funds to develop the new system and provide a model for any state to adopt. The key components the Consortium is working on are:
- the required summative exams;
- optional formative, or benchmark, exams; and
- a variety of tools, processes and practices that teachers may use in planning and implementing informal, ongoing assessment. This will assist teachers in understanding what students are and are not learning on a daily basis so they can adjust instruction accordingly.
The next steps the consortium plans to take include:
- Winter 2010:
- Post user-friendly crosswalk document for CCSS (Common Core) mathematical standards. Assist teachers in comparing new CCSS to current Oregon standards, allowing determination of grade-level movement of content
- Create “packets” with handouts and powerpoints that can be used with district staff in math standards awareness campaign
- Spring-Summer 2010:
- Create statewide implementation team to draft comprehensive implementation blueprint
- Re-examine state policies to ensure alignment with Diploma requirements
For more information about the SMARTER Balanced Consortium, go to: http://www.k12.wa.us/smarter/default.aspx
Do you have questions or comments about the plans for the new assessment system?
Last week, the Joyce Foundation released a guidebook and website called “Teacher Quality: What You Need to Know.”
The “Here’s How” section of the toolkit lays out the following suggestions for strengthening teacher quality:
- Start with a better pool of candidates
- We need to draw more talented people into teaching
- Identify what makes a good teacher
- Hire the best teachers for each school
- Scrap meaningless teacher evaluations and start again
- Accurately measuring effectiveness is key to improving quality
- Don’t let new teachers flounder
- Offer training that makes sense
- Pay for performance
- Rework tenure
- Redo retirement
This guidebook also encourages advocates to take action by asking targeted questions of schools, superintendents, school boards, and state legislators, including:
What is your child expected to learn this year and what should progress look like throughout the year? How does this compare to the state standards (available online on your state education website)?
What types of professional development are provided for highly effective teachers? What is offered for the weakest teachers? Are programs designed to meet the individual needs of each teacher?
Asking legislators to reserve teacher certification or tenure until after a teacher has demonstrated a track record of effectiveness with kids.
The full report and toolkit is available at: http://www.joycefdn.org/teacherquality/
Which of the proposals to strengthen teacher quality do you find most compelling? Do you this toolkit will help parents and community members advocate for policy changes?