Thursday, January 3, 2013

VAM for administrators

On another post Anonymous wrote:

New Post please:
Tomorrow evening at the 5:30 PPS Education Committee meeting, the District will present its plan for Teacher Evaluation based on VAM (value added measurement).

I found this great article that calls for a VAM score for the Secretary of Education. We could easily adapt this system to evaluate our administration (Dr. Lane and staff). What do you think? If our teachers are evaluated in this way, shouldn't the folks in central office be evaluated as well?

Educators Issue VAM Report for Secretary Duncan
By Anthony Cody on April 10, 2012 1:50 AM

Guest post by Educators for Shared Accountability.

A new group, Educators for Shared Accountability (ESA), has issued the first-ever Value-Added Measurement (VAM) evaluation of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Secretary Duncan was rated "ineffective," based on four indicators.


Anonymous said...

If there were VAM scores for Linda Lane and her buddies in denial, the scores would come back in negative territory. Absolutely the worst group of individuals who have EVER been in charge of our schools.

Anonymous said...

Inordinate amounts of time is being spent on the evaluation of teachers instead of teaching them what they need to know in current times.

Just as central office is unaware of what they need to know to really turn an urban district around, teachers are unaware of the specific skills that need to be taught if students are to succeed in today's world.

To evaluate prior to teaching is as ineffective with teachers as it is with administrators.

Administrators and principals need to know more than those they evaluate. They need to have TAUGHT those whom they supervise what, specifically not generally, what the expected success strategies must be implemented with students and be able to demonstrate for teachers when the going gets rough. If those in 'supervisory' or 'coaching' positions cannot do this then they too should be evaluated out of the position.

Consultants should also be required to demonstrate the needed, expected skills before being hired, especially at fees of $316,000.

The children are paying too high a future price, and the city an even higher price for the failure to educate all of our children to even the minimum standards that have been set for success.

Anonymous said...

Just heard Notre Dame's Brian Kelly that you need leaders who can motivate and develop. So, first you need leaders (in whatever position) to motivate and develop those whom they are responsible for to be the expected success!

So, VAM (evaluations models) need to begin at the top of the chain and move down to the teachers. It makes no sense to reverse that order!

Anonymous said...

The Pittsburgh School District already has an administrator evaluation plan in place. It is a two-part system.

If test results are good, give the administrators credit. They must be doing a great job. Distribute raises and bonuses to those administrators.

If test results are poor, do not blame the administrators. Blame the teachers. Fire some of those teachers. Harass the rest.

Anonymous said...

Sarcasm doesn't tell us anything.

WHO evaluates Superintendents in most districts? Is it the Board?
Who sets the criteria or determines the goals in most Districts?

In PPS, its the Superintendent, but is this true everywhere?

Does the Superintendent choose her team? Then, how can she evaluate them?

If student achievement is further below State norms now than it was five years ago or ten years ago do you continue to let that happen?

PPS was at 464th a few years ago and now its 494th (out of 500), so how do those running the district continue to stay and earn high salaries? What is the goal? To go backward or move forward?

Anonymous said...


Sarcasm is about the only weapon we have left.

Go ahead, contact the Board or the Superintendent. Try to get any of your (excellent) questions answered honestly. It just won't happen.

Maybe when (if) Brentley and his allies have a Board majority, things will change.

But for now, the answers you'll get will match the 12:53 post perfectly.

Anonymous said...

The VAM program has many flaws that have yet to be addressed. Do a search and you will see as many different opinions as there are experts analyzing the various components.

I watched G.I.Jane where the Master Sargent in SEAL training stated emphatically "There are no bad crews, only bad leaders."

The RISE program should have begun with the "leaders" since to do otherwise is ___backwards.

Far too much time in PPS is spent evaluating teachers who have no options, no alternative, no autonomy. So if the program that they are required to implement are not working for more that five years, its time to re-evaluate the writers and proponents of the "programs."

Teachers need to be updated, intensively, on the CCSS, and then let them teach, rigorously, creatively, strategically, with culturally relevant curricula as applicable to their student populations,and allow them to use the skills that any good teacher puts into play__intuitively and soulfully.

You would see achievement soar!

The RISE program can only take our good teachers out of play and force them into questionable molds in lieu of doing what's best for kids as the competent, knowledgeable, creative, intuitive educators they are capable of being.

Give teachers the necessary support and professional development on the details of CCSS thinking skills and true "formative" assessment techniques and free them of clueless superiors who appear to be on witch hunts.

VAM is not necessarily going to get you to the goals of good education for all kids. It is too flawed.

Anonymous said...

I have to laugh at the occasional apologists that show up on this site.
11:34 is a good case in point.
Good teachers know how to reach all of their kids, regardless of socio-economic background, regardless of learning styles and ability. I'll go one step further in saying that in many cases, a student will achieve more for a caring adult with the ability to exude positives than a professorial type who would be better suited for a classroom in the 1940's.
Good teachers understand this set of skills first and foremost and in truthfulness, it's nothing that can be "taught," especially from someone in the ivory tower.
I have to laugh at the suggestion. We are talking about an administration that has sacrificed everything for good PR, and the best PR comes from the Pittsburgh Promise.
SO, let's build an outrageously poor curricula across the board that is so watered down that it is actually amazing that it is allowed to function. Within that curricula, let's make instruction vanilla. No, let's take instructors out of the equation completely and let kids teach themselves through pair-share and 4-square lunacy.
Then, let's punctuate it with a grading policy that will ensure that even the terminally apathetic who don't score at least a 2.0 for the Promise can now get there through watered-down grading.
Forgive me for laughing out loud at your suggestions, 11:34, but they are ridiculous, to say the least.
Mark Roosevelt came into the district with a playbook that is still used today. Economically speaking, it's like a giant ponzi scheme and politically speaking, it's completely rigged against the teachers. They've been emasculated on TV, in the press, in the halls of government and now, even the classroom.
How ridiculous that you would attempt to torpedo them again as being "unaware of the specific skills that need to be taught if students are to succeed in today's world."
We all know, and we are aware that with a scripted curriculum, our kids are being made to fall woefully short.

Anonymous said...

Why do you allow yourself and go so far as to describe yourself as emasculated?

Complaining again and again here about the same things, and if you are 100% correct about all of what is coming from central office, your fatalistic attitude not only brings you down, but it brings your students down. If there is nothing you can do, then leave and pray that someone will replace you that can and will educate your students in spite of central office!

Be a man, and stop blaming everyone else. Do something! In or out!

Anonymous said...

Hey, 11:49, if your are aware of the skills kids need, then teach them!

We are tired of being close to the worst achieving district in the state.

You are in the classroom. If you know how to educate, do it.

Questioner said...

If 11:49 believes s/he is doing as well as anyone can do under the circumstances why would s/he give up a job?

Questioner said...

11:49 seems to be saying that s/he is not allowed to teach in a way that would best help students to learn the relevant skills.

Anonymous said...

There are some teachers who have found a way to teach real skills and content every minute of every day except when the feared observers come through. At that point, kids and teachers have agreed (with one another) to switch (temporarily) to the script or managed curriculum or whatever is expected to be in process.

Such teachers are teaching and kids are learning and achieving. They found a way without being "emasculated."

Where there is a will, there is a way.

Questioner said...

Making secret deals with kids is a disturbing tactic, also it would be difficult to consistently get everyone to switch to just the right place at the right time in the right manner, and difficult to keep secret in the long run.

Anonymous said...

It is very disturbing. Teachers are given zero confidence in their skills and their college degrees are of no value in this system. Anyone can read a script. As a mom, I find it baffiling. My parents were teachers and it was once an honorable profession.

Having no autonomy as a teacher is insane. PPS is out of control with their control. There is no trust and kids should not be taught under covert conditions. It sends a distrusting mixed message to kids who should never be placed in that situation. Nor should teachers who are simply trying to do their jobs.

Look at Minadeo, PPS took a well respected run school, dumped the principal (Ms. Getty) mid demographic change, handed it to a PELA (while keeping brown kids out of Colfax) and wham Minadeo is in warning status. This administration messes up decent schools on top of messing up troubled schools.

Anonymous said...

I just posted about Minadeo and I think I got my acronym based program wrong. I used RISE for the Gates/Broad Principal program. I don't know if that is the acro for principals or teachers. I can't keep up.

Anonymous said...

Wow 12:40 there are way too many players in the game you describe to keep it secret for long. Somebody might slip and then watch what happens. Is this what RISE gave us? An us vs. them world? As an education outsider I just don't get it. Why can't the people in positions of power realize how much further they might get by employing a different management style and philosophy?

Anonymous said...

12:18 offers yet another worthless posting with regards to the real world of public education. Teachers are all too used to it, as they are caught in the middle. On one hand, they are forced to teach a failed curriculum or face firing and on the other hand, they recognize the charge of moving kids forward, as they know that the curriculum they have will fall woefully short.

And then on top of that, you have voices in the crowd telling you to "be a man"....or it were. Wow, what pathetic logic.

The far more better advice for those, like you, who are "tired" would be to use that same bravado in going down to the board and speaking. Get off the couch and ask questions. Let's see if you have that same chutzpah that you do from the land of anonymity. That is what teachers need.

As stated below your ridiculous commentary, many teachers are risking careers and a great many sleepless nights by doing things "their way."

What are you doing, other than casting aspersions upon those who are telling you what is going on?

Anonymous said...

Your interpretation makes it a secret deal and no one is suggesting that you or ANYONE else do this. The point was missed. Where there is a will to do the right thing there is a way. Here we hear about hopelessness, "emasculation", failing schools, failing children, teachers under great duress, and to hear tell missing all of the right things, in the right time, and in the right manner.

And no one even mentioned the secret deals or keeping secrets as you are suggesting. Some are looking for ways to solve what appear to be serious problems, at least in the eyes of the teachers who are posting here. Characterizing it in ways that diminish it as a solution in that time and place buys into a philosophy that marginalizes teachers and students.

One size fits all solutions are never advantageous to all. Individuals are capable of thinking out of the box, however, to solve individually, the problems that appear to be "emasculating" others.10

Questioner said...

How is "when the feared observers come through. At that point, kids and teachers have agreed (with one another) to switch (temporarily) to the script or managed curriculum or whatever is expected to be in process." not a secret deal?

Anonymous said...

8:27, reading your continued diatribes conjures up a great deal of thoughts....such as "hopelessly out of touch with reality." The onus for change is upon you and not teachers. You will pardon me for again chuckling at the idea that there is safety in numbers where teachers is concerned, that we can all join hands and affect change.

Perhaps in Tacoma, where courage is a characteristic of the teaching force en masse, but not in Pittsburgh. You are talking about a strong union approach, and we haven't had that here in over two decades. Instead, we have a lot of scared people and a lot of easy targets for administration. Sorry, but while your idea is a nice one, you are not going to get people with bull's eyes on their backs to take up the ranks, your feelings about "being a man" notwithstanding. Who will speak for these teachers when they are 'un-masked'? The union? Parents?

Questioner, I don't believe in secret deals. I don't believe they are present in classrooms and I don't believe they exist in administrative circles, at least not where RISE is concerned. In terms of the latter, administration has been very open in what they expect. I've read the 50 page manifesto and it is replete with subjective observation gobblety-gook, but it is supported by the PFT. As such, why have secret deals? Teachers are expected to adhere to what is in those pages, however unfair the requirements might be.
As for teachers, the previous comment from the teacher almost sounds like the road to ruin. I wonder who would do such a thing, or why. I have never ben one for secrets that can prove your undoing.

Anonymous said...

I personally overheard one of these arrangements between a teacher and a class- about how to behave if an observer came in and what the reward would be.

Anonymous said...

9:23, then I stand corrected.

I think what is truly most troubling to me is that the us versus them mindset exists in the top ranks of central admin. I've known a number of people who have moved into various 'non-classroom' supervisory-type positions over the past few years who talk about their new roles. Almost always, the first thing they make note of is the venom spewed at teachers as being the problem or un-receptive or un-cooperative.

Again, it is indicative of Roosevelt's corporate playbook. Management versus laborers. Squashing organized dissent. Having a strong publicity arm.

Thinking about PPS in corporate terms really makes the district come into focus much more clearly. Laborers don't call the shots nor do they have input. This is all reserved for management.

Questioner said...

MR described it as something like "a unique partnership for the benefit of children."

Anonymous said...

Is this job posting an example of why there are so many questions about the competence of PPS administrators?

From PPS website for Employment Opportunities:

Job Title - Coordinator of Instructional Leadership

Job Type - Non-Certified

"Prior experience as an educator and exposure to leadership development organizations (e.g., CORO, Leadership Pittsburgh, Broad) is preferred"

"The Coordinator of Instructional Leadership (Coordinator) is responsible for managing and monitoring implementation of the Instructional Leadership Specialists (ILS) work stream. This work stream, which began during the 2012-2013 school year, will support a new cadre of principal coaches, Instructional Leadership Specialists, as they strive to develop the instructional leadership of the District's principals." Starting salary at $84,000+

Notice that this requires only a Bachelor’s Degree. NO CERTIFICATION required ? ? !

Also,(Eli) BROAD training is listed as "preferred."

To develop instructional leadership of the PPS Principals ? ! ?

Anonymous said...

If the PFT has failed to be the voice of it's teachers who are crying out, what we are doing isn't working, then I have to ask, why aren't PPS Board Members asking that question of Central Admin Officers? I can't imagine that Board Members never take the time to review this site to hear the concerns of employees and parents.

If teachers are fearful of being targeted, then as a parent I can't understand why our elected officials are not at least questioning the administration or even choosing to meet with staffs of the schools that are in their districts. When you talk about "root causes," it would be in the best interest of Board Members to hear from those who actually work in the schools. We know that they are always hearing from Central Office Admins. Now is the time for Board Members to spend some time in the schools learning from those who touch our children on a daily basis. Then they can have a share and discuss meeting regarding what they heard and saw. It's quite apparent to me that the managed curriculum and process for evaluating teachers is disconnected.

If we were seeing significant positive results in student achievement across schools, then we would have evidence that supports what we are implementing is working. However, that is not the case and the proof is in PPS falling closer to the bottom when ranked against other PA School Districts. It's time to re-evaluate the current path toward improving student achievement.

Anonymous said...

4:05: that job opening s simply a way to keep the Broad residents employed. Once they are hired they have a job for the tenure of the Superintendent. Teaching/Education degrees are a hinderance, they need to know better than the staff and a properly educated staff is a threat to them.

It boils down to greed. It is simply public funding, aka taxes being diverted to public companies. It may take another 10 years to acomplish this but they are very, very patient. It will pay off for the "philanthropists".

The end game is for profit Charter schools.

Anonymous said...

It seems that since the Board and Central Office Administrators are housed in the same building and interact as a regular routine, they have formed a team with a shared and narrow view of the District. The in-house TEAM that has formed between Board and Admin feels the need to project a positive picture of the District regardless of serious problems that are plaguing progress in academic achievement for the majority of our students.

This in-house team has bonded (with help from Broad/Gates) in protection of Central Office people at the expense of advancing our students' education in our schools.

The Board has abdicated its role of watchdog for our children in favor of being advocates and partners aligned with the CO team. The proximity and day-to-day interactions have allowed them to become closer to each other than those who are struggling in our schools. It is the natural order a social network that exists at CO.

Anonymous said...

Yes, at PPS, the intended system of checks and balances has failed, been set aside, or marginalized with only two Board members serving in the intended roles as watch dogs and advocates for the children in schools.

Have Board members been schooled on their roles as school Board members?

Do they (beyond Holley and Brentley) understand the mission and responsibilites that define the task at hand?

A vote of 7 in favor of Admin. and 2 in favor of Students accomplishes nothing for a School District.