Education Week - August 27, 2014 - (Page 1)

EDUCATION WEEK AMERICAN EDUCATION'S NEWSPAPER OF RECORD * © 2014 Editorial Projects in Education * $4 VOL. 34, NO. 2 * AUGUST 27, 2014 BREAKING NEWS DAILY Male Voices Dominate On Boards Women Tend to Just Listen By Sarah D. Sparks School boards have more equitable representation of men and women than any other governing group in the United States, but new studies suggest women's voices still often aren't heard. Women make up more than 40 percent of school board members nationally, more than double the average female participation in other governing groups in the United States. But unless they make up a supermajority of a board, women don't comment and endorse motions as often as men do, according to studies in a newly released book, The Silent Sex: Gender, Deliberation, and Institutions. Rhea Espedido, seated in a hallway of Liberty Elementary School, is one of a handful of "lead" teachers in the Baltimore district. Her new position and higher salary come as part of the district's four-year effort to transform the traditional teacher-pay schedule. Baltimore's Pay Experiment Gains Foothold By Stephen Sawchuk Rhea Espedido has made a habit of going above and beyond in her Baltimore school, devising a reading-intervention program to decrease special education referrals, for instance. But this school year is the first time she'll be rewarded for it. When students return to Liberty Elementary, she'll be teaching fewer classes, using the additional time to coach other teachers on reading and writing instruction-and earning close to six figures for her efforts. Ms. Espedido is one of just a handful of "lead" teachers, a new position that marks the final piece of Baltimore's four-year effort to transform the traditional teacher-pay schedule into one emphasizing professional accomplishments over credentials and seniority. Few of the nation's 14,000 school districts have ever attempted the feat, and even fewer have crafted such a revision hand in hand with their teachers' unions. "I think this pathway really changed the mindset of the teaching force. It's really all about making yourself better, and then you get rewarded," Ms. Espedido said. "I felt so good that people think about recognizing what we do, and are thanking us." Begun through a 2010 collective bargaining agreement, the pay overhaul is also a survivor, having made it early this year through a second round of contract negotiations. But Baltimore teachers' varied reactions to the system exemplifies one of the truisms of compensation reform: Devising an alternative means changing a major incentive at work in school systems. And not everyone will be pleased with the results. Independent researchers add that there's as yet little hard evidence to show that Baltimore's revamped pay structure has improved academics or encouraged the best teachers to stay. And this fall, the district is experiencing a major PAGE 14 > "It is surprising that we still see these patterns of underrepresentation of women when they are a minority of the board," said co-author Christopher F. Karpowitz, a co-director of the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy at Brigham Young University. "They matter even when the topic of conversation is something women have repeatedly said they care about-education, children-and in the case of school boards, something where women PAGE 12 > 'Balancing Act' For Mo. Schools Amid Unrest By Denisa R. Superville Leadership, Political Winds Buffet Advocacy Groups By Andrew Ujifusa Michelle Rhee's departure as the leader of StudentsFirst-the combative national K-12 advocacy organization she started less than four years ago-could represent a significant shift in the environment for similar groups as they balance their broader profiles with local advocacy and coalition-building. Ms. Rhee, the former chancellor of the District of Columbia school system, was perhaps the most high-profile and controversial champion of policies that ranged from increasing the presence of charter schools to altering hiring and firing policies for teachers. Her departure from StudentsFirst, announced Aug. 13, comes as kindred organizations such as Democrats for Education Reform, the 50-State Campaign for Achievement Now (known as 50CAN), and Stand for Children face comPAGE 20 > Companies Competing to Improve Student Surveys in Evolving Market By Sean Cavanagh Few measures of teachers' classroom ability inspire as much optimism among researchers-and as much unease among educators-as surveys of students. Now, commercial providers, nonprofit organizations, and foundations are working to expand and refine the scope of such surveys in an effort to improve their usefulness to schools and teachers, and potentially lower their costs. Over the coming months, well-known and well-financed players in the studentsurvey field plan to launch new efforts to increase the reach and adjust the focus of those instruments. To date, much of the attention paid to Schools in the Ferguson, Mo., area student surveys has centered on the most debated aspect of how they are applied - as a factor in the performance evaluation of teachers. But many supporters say those policies often obscure the surveys' greater potential, which developers are now trying to tease out in more detail: their ability to provide teachers with relevant and timely feedback on students' academic experiences and the culture of individual classrooms, and give educators the feedback they need to improve professionally. "We believe students understand an impressive amount about what's working in the classroom, and what can be improved," said Rob Ramsdell, the co-founder and PAGE 16 > are walking a tightrope between returning to the routine of a normal year and acknowledging the street protests and larger debate about race and law enforcement sparked by the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer. This week was expected to be the first full week of classes for nearly all public school students in the area since a state of unrest complicated the start of the academic year for several districts. Schools in and near the small city in St. Louis County have scrambled to make up for missed class time, address students' anxieties over violent images they saw on TV-or on their streets- and provide lunches to the many students who qualify for subsidized meals. In the 11,200-student FergusonFlorissant school system, which was scheduled to start the new year on Aug. PAGE 13 > Swikar Patel/Education Week

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Education Week - August 27, 2014