Update: Want some real insight into better teachers (and helping teachers with that effort)? Read this from the New York Times Magazine, Building a Better Teacher. Several readers here have suggested it and I echo it. Long but great. There are issues to be considered like how we educate our teachers (how we turn regular folks into teachers), the innate ability to teach, incentives etc.
I just finally got around to looking over the Alliance for Education survey called "Teaching Quality Community Survey". What were they thinking? (Sorry to be a little late to this party but I was out of town last week.) I'm not going to even provide a link. I answered every question "don't know" so I could read through the whole thing.
Just from a survey standpoint, it's a mess. There are multiple values in questions starting with the very first one. It's about (1) redesigning the salary schedule AND (2) eliminating coursework incentives AND (3) "reallocating pay to target the district's challenges and priorities." What?!? You can't write a survey question like that.
Question two has a classic "leading the reader" form using phrases like "redouble efforts" and "as attempted by the current superintendent". How does the reader know this actually DID happen? Also, the "latest" negotiations haven't even formally started; is the district showing its hand here?
And it goes on and on. "Gather teacher data so that teachers are equitably distributed among schools." So elsewhere they want to eliminate pay for more education for teachers but at the same time in this question they want to spread the number of teachers who do have more education more equitably among the schools?
They ask about using student performance in RIFs. That's okay but the minute you say yes, that leaves them able to say "ha!" X% of parents want student performance in RIFs." Without giving other options or the option to say it could/should be only ONE of several factors used in deciding RIFs, this is not a good question.
They also assume that all parents know what "super seniority" is, how many levels of choice there are for teacher effectiveness, how many hours teachers work now in a day and how long the instructional year is (and why a school might have less than that). People can certainly say they "don't know" the answer but then that leaves a lot of questions with a "don't know" answer.
There are very few questions that are not posed in a non-slanted or confusing form. I cannot believe it. I have to wonder if the Alliance really did this on their own or if the district helped them. One, because the people at the Alliance are too smart for this kind of survey and two, because the district's past surveys have been so poorly written and this sounds like them.
The Alliance is also having a series of meetings around this issue. I'll post these only because if you object to this kind of bias by a leading education group, you should go and let them know.