Education Week - March 6, 2013 - (Page 25)

on rn ici att S KEY. OTE) cts s, nt ew S KEY. OTE) n MARCH 6, 2013 n 25 COMMENTARY ▲ Pad EDUCATION WEEK Edit 2 Li max Using Teacher Evaluation to Grow Edito one f 120 c 4 line Shaping Systems to Promote Professional Learning By Angela Minnici & Ellen Behrstock-Sherratt I t was one of the best lines of the last 2012 presidential debate, even if it wasn’t delivered by Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. After much back and forth on education policy and the importance of teachers, moderator Bob Schieffer summed it up: “I think we all love teachers.” Policymakers and leaders from both sides of the aisle may indeed love teachers, but a major policy push in recent years is for morestringent performance evaluation for them. Is teacher evaluation just the latest round of hype in education reform? Or is there reason to hope for something better? There is general agreement in the education community that teacher-evaluation reform is needed, and most teachers support it if done right. Teachers welcome the opportunity for feedback, reflection, and professional conversation on their strengths and weaknesses and better strategies for reaching all students. Like all professionals, teachers want to improve and succeed. They do not want to work alongside incompetent or uncommitted colleagues, and they value fair, accurate, and meaningful evaluation systems that can help them improve and usher poor performers out of the profession. But if our appreciation of our teachers and our commitment to education as a key to our country’s success are sincere, then we—as policymakers or influencers, community leaders, and as a society—need to do more than reform their evaluation system. Our work supporting state departments of education through the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders—a national center led by the American Institutes for Research and its partners, the Council of Chief State School Officers and Public Impact, and funded by the U.S. Department of Education—has convinced us that a two-fold approach is needed. First, let’s move the policy dialogue away from thinking of teacher evaluation by itself. Instead, let’s ask how evaluation can be used to deliver the supports, strategies, and resources needed to develop all teachers into their best, most effective professional selves. Second, let’s connect these evaluation and professionalgrowth systems to a larger talent-management approach featuring wellthought-through supports that states and districts continually assess and revise to keep a pulse on teacher morale, recruitment, development, and retention. Transitioning teacher-evaluation systems into teacher-professional-growth systems that continually develop teach- XXs ers’ skills and knowledge requires a culture shift. It means replacing many traditional “sit and get” models of one-shot workshops and one-size-fits-all content presentations with jobembedded, collaborative professional-learning systems aligned to the behaviors, skills, and knowledge that define effective teaching. “ Let’s move the policy dialogue away from thinking of teacher evaluation by itself.” These systems should also be tailored to each teacher’s experience level and needs. A new system like this requires states and districts to think critically about the policies, processes, and personnel needed to promote professional learning through teacherevaluation activities. Districts will likely need to employ a variety of personnel to deliver professional learning connected to teacher-evaluation tools and targeted to individual teachers, teams, and entire faculties. Instructional coaches, teacher-leaders, peer teachers, and administrators all will play a role in connecting professional learning to teacher evaluation, which means they must become fluent in the language of effective teaching and help teachers use the feedback they get to deepen their understanding of successful practice and how to sharpen their skills. Districts and states also need to make sure that the data from evaluation systems are high-quality and skill-specific. That way, these data can inform professional learning for individuals, groups of teachers, and entire districts. Districts need to provide educators timely access to the right data and put formal plans and structures in place to maximize use of that information. We see five fundamental steps—based on research and promising practices—that disPAGE 26 > ANGELA MINNICI directs the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders, which supports states in their efforts to provide effective teachers and leaders for all students. She is a principal researcher at the American Institutes for Research, based in Washington. ELLEN BEHRSTOCK-SHERRATT led the development of Everyone at the Table: Engaging Teachers in Evaluation Reform, a project of the AIR and Public Agenda. She provides technical assistance to states for the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders and is a senior policy and research associate at the AIR. She is the co-author of two books on teacher quality. Tracing Technology’s Unintended K-12 Consequences By Matthew Lynch T he Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. once famously said, “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.” Though he was speaking about the road to true equality for all people, I have often applied this quote to the role of education in America, particularly public education for K-12 students. Despite the quickness with which our society has become accustomed to having everything, all at once, education reform is still a slowturning gear in the great machine of time. The truth is that the face of K-12 education is in a constant state of change. Educators who have been in the field for several decades may notice that the pace at which changes in methodology and student demographics occur today is much faster than in the past. Many factors play into this phenomenon, but none as strongly as technological advancements. The Internet, wireless devices, and improvements in communication all heighten the immediacy for information both within and outside the classroom. This is both a blessing and a curse, of course. It is really too soon to tell if the first Internet-raised generations will fare better or worse in life and succeed on a global scale. The assumption is that technology equals improvement, and I would argue, overall, that is true. More access to information and a shrinking world can only benefit students. The children graduating from high school in the next decade will have a broader view of the world than ever before, thanks to traditional geographic boundaries losing their hold in the areas of communication, employment, and learning. I take no issue with the actual technology. It is great. Where I see existing and potential problems is in the indirect effects of technology on the comprehension habits of our youngest learners. You have to look at the overall influence of rapidly advancing technology to realize how it is also an obstacle to K-12 classrooms. In its broadest sense, technology has totally transformed the way our children view life. A recent study by Common Sense Media found that 72 percent of children age 8 and younger have computer access at home. Television use is almost universal, with 98 percent of children in this age group having at least one TV at home and 10 percent reporting that theirs is kept on all the time. While television consumption by children is nothing new, programs targeted toward toddlers and even infants are on the rise. Consider the cable and satellite television venture BabyFirstTV. The channel plays continuous programming aimed at the very young. I bring this up not to spark a debate about whether this type of television viewing is helpful or hurtful to developing youngsters; I mention it as an example of just how ingrained screen culture has become in the lives of our kids. The journal Pediatrics found that between birth and age 6, kids watch an hour and 20 minutes of television per day. These measurements do not even address indirect exposure, which puts the amount of time a television plays in the background at nearly four hours per day for kids ages 8 months to 8 years. Love it or hate it, screen culture is a foundational element of the contemporary American childhood. “  You have to look at the overall influence of rapidly advancing technology to realize how it is also an obstacle to K-12 classrooms.” As a result, our kids arrive at kindergarten with an advanced idea of instant gratification. They know that any game, program, or form of communication is available at the touch of a button. This easy access to everything translates to the way these children are programmed for learning, especially when moments of frustration arise. There is not a quick fix for everything, but most children have limited firsthand experience with waiting. It has always been difficult to keep the attention of students, particularly in the elementary set, but advancements like smartphones, electronic tablets, and websites directed at young learners have complicated this truth even more. Teachers and administrators today must find ways to keep students interested, but not completely abandon tried-and-true methodology. Thus, technology takes its toll on K-12 classrooms across PAGE 27 > MATTHEW LYNCH is the chairman of the department of elementary and special education and an associate professor of education at Langston University, in Langston, Okla. He worked for seven years as a K-12 teacher. This spring, he will launch a blog called Educational Futures on EW S STOR DESIG DO NO

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - March 6, 2013

Education Week - March 6, 2013
Los Angeles School Board Race Shatters Spending Records
Feds, States Dicker Over Evaluations
Governors Take Varied Routes in Boosting Aid
Principal Appraisals Get a Remake
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Study: Best and Worst Teachers Can Be Flagged Early
FOCUS ON: PRESCHOOL: Obama Preschool Proposal Stirs Debate Over Training
Principals Lack Training in Shaping School Climate
KIPP Outpacing Regular Public Schools, Study Finds
INDUSTRY & INNOVATION: Wisconsin Data-Contract Fight Goes Public With Ad Campaign
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: Pew Survey Gauges Teachers’ Attitudes About Tech., Equity
Blogs of the Week
Voting Rights Act Case Has Stakes for Districts
Back Home, Top Lawmaker Gets Earful on K-12 Policy
Policy Brief
Sequestration and Education: Frequently Asked Questions
9 California Districts Seek Own NCLB Waiver
House Panel Weighs School Safety Concerns
MATTHEW LYNCH: Tracing Technology’s Unintended K-12 Consequences
ANITA KRISHNAMURTHI: Recognizing the Impact of After-School STEM
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
JD CHESLOFF: Why STEM Education Must Start In Early Childhood

Education Week - March 6, 2013