Sunday, March 15, 2015

There is no mass exodus of good teachers

Grounding our debates in real data and information is an important part of progressing education forward. Building up knowledge, trying new things and assessing their effectiveness, and searching for every edge possible is all a part of how the work should be done. There will be no silver bullets but there is promise, there are partial solutions, that can bring us closer to a more effective education system.

Keeping more great teachers with the students who need them most is a part of the solution. Read my piece at RealClearEducation on how rigorous teacher evaluation may be helping.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Finding the right problems in teacher evaluation

Teacher evaluation and feedback systems are complex beasts that hopefully serve many purposes and connect many dots. Problems can present themselves from many different perspectives and solutions can create unintended consequences. 

There is no easy answer but it does mean we have to constantly reassess the truth of our own conventional wisdom and keep our eyes on the big prize when deciding how to respond to potential issues.

See my post on Flypaper about getting observations right about balancing potential problems with long term solutions.

A Decision-making Question - Compared to What?

One of the ways I think about data, and also the purpose of teacher evaluation in general, is whether the information presenting itself is useful for decision-making. Ultimately, that decision-making is what much of policy is about. Are we making the best decisions possible, as a teacher, as a school leader, as a district staffer, certainly as a bureaucrat tasked with coaxing policy-making aspirations into in-reality improvements.

How you process all this brand new information is an important part of the decisions you end up making. You can see my post on the EDGEucator blog about the decision-making implications of the question "Compared to what?"

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Free Agency

Last time I wrote on this blog I was leaving DC for Tennessee for what I thought would be a summer fling of a job. That was nearly four years ago. The summer fling of a job turned into three and a half years of adventure and learning. Both DC and Tennessee produced dominant results on NAEP. I managed my own team for the first time, getting so deep into evaluation that I'm not sure I'll ever climb out. It was really good and I feel like we made tremendous progress that will continue for years to come. And now I'm a free agent again, unsure of which direction to go next. Maybe because I've done this before I feel very peaceful about it, after all last time I was a free agent I ended up here in Nashville. Maybe because I have a supportive wife this I feel less urgency to get back to work but more motivated to be productive in one way or another. Maybe because I have a some more experience, some more knowledge about how to do things, I am feeling patient about finding the right fit for me to make a difference. In the meantime, this seems as good a time as any for reflection and thinking, for documenting and organizing my thoughts and ideas. This seems like a good time to write down what I will forget later, to remember what I learned so that it will help me in the future. This seems like a good time to return to this blog, which will be my free agency diary of sorts, to see how I evolve over time, to see what I think when I take time between gigs, and hopefully to stumble upon something useful to those pushing forward to forever improve education in America.