In my Report Card for Seattle Public Schools post, I wrote: "Quality of instruction: highly variable; I question how much the district really knows about the quality of instruction in individual schools and what, if any, strategies the district has in place to improve the quality of instruction overall and especially in schools with the highest concentration of low-income students."
From a book by Susan J. Rozenholtz, Teachers' Workplace: The Social Organization of Schools (New York: Longman, 1989), comes a wonderful quote:
"Because teaching is nonroutine, because there are more art, craft, and finely honed skills involved, traditional bureaucratic structures are operationally dysfunctional to the work of successful schools."
The new superintendent needs to identify and modify or eliminate the structures in the Seattle Schools that are getting in the way. But in addition, the new superintendent needs to identify what can and should be done at the district level and at the school level in terms of evaluation and support of principals and teachers.
The chapter in Rozenholtz's book I am reading talks about goal-setting, performance monitoring, recruitment and hiring, and professional development, both at the district level (focusing on superintendents and central office staff) and at the school level (prinicpals and teachers). The author contrasts high-performing and low-performing schools in these areas. The following excerpts discuss the evaluation and support of principals and teachers:
High-performing (district-level activity): "We monitor the principals' evaluations closely. We want to know what principals are doing to help mediocre or poor teachers improve. Where is the help coming from? How closely is that teacher monitored in terms of change?"
High-performing (school-level activity): "As a principal does an evaluation on teachers, they agree on the needs for improvement and develop a plan for implementing the improvement. We tailor inservice options to meet those needs."
Low-performing (district-level activity): "There comes a time when you have to transfer a poor teacher and no principal wants the teacher. In those cases, I give the most undesirable teachers to the stronger principals."
Low-performing (school-level activity): "We don't have good guidelines for principals to follow evaluting teachers. The form is only a page long. Principals are expected evaluate untenured teachers every year, and tenured teachers and supposed to be evaluated every 4 years. But really, we know that doesn't happen in many schools."
I'm guessing Seattle's practice is somewhere in between these two extremes. Or maybe it varies by school. On the Report Card post, Brita commented:
Carla has revamped the evaluation and professional development for teaching staff as well as admins—this is not going to happen overnight. She has initiated strategies focused on improving instruction in all classrooms but also has put emphasis on the historically underserved. Carla has been on the job less than one year. In her reports at board meetings, she describes these projects—that is the place to go to keep current.
Has anyone who has attended recent Board meetings learned anything about Carla's efforts in these areas that you can share? Are any teachers or principals who read this blog willing to talk about your experiences with being evaluated and receiving support in improving your work?