Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Teacher Pay Cut 1.9%

The state legislature balanced their budget today, in part by cutting teacher pay by 1.9%.

Given the contracts that the Districts have with the teachers, does this really result in a cut in teacher pay or does it result in a shift of 1.9% of the state's contribution to teacher pay from the state to the districts?

From the story in the Times:
Other cuts to K-12 education in the proposal include suspending two initiatives dealing with teacher pay and class sizes worth around $1 billion. Another $215 million is saved by eliminating other money to reduce K-4 class sizes.

67 comments:

Anonymous said...

The ST comments include this link to individual teacher salaries:

http://wwwb.thenewstribune.com/databases/school_pay/

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
CrankyParent said...

Are there corresponding cuts to administrator salaries? Do they fall under "Other k-12 employees"?

Anonymous said...

Nice tax structure.
While Bill Gates has agenda-driven "venture philanthropy" money coming out his ears, the public coffers are empty, baby!
It didn't get this way overnight, and it didn't get this way on accident. We're being forced into a corner.

- Petal

Eric B said...

My understanding (please correct me if I'm wrong!) is that the state is transferring 1.9% of teacher salaries to the Districts. I haven't seen this proposal yet, but one of the original plans was to make some of the cuts are also retroactive, affecting this year's budget. Of course, those are paychecks that have already gone out, so Districts are left holding the bag.

Even for the cuts going forward, Districts already have their collective bargaining agreements, so unless those are re-opened, they have no choice but to pay what the contracts say, regardless of state funding.

This is one of the slimier approaches to balancing a budget I've seen. It makes it sound like Districts can just cut teacher pay, but that's not an option. If they're going to really cut funding, they should man up and do it, without pretending that the cuts can be passed through.

another mom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
another mom said...

http://wwwb.thenewstribune.com/databases/school_pay

Anonymous @ 12:53 I have reposted s/t you are not deleted. Sign your post. See: Petal downthread

Salander said...

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/ABPub/2011/05/24/2015134608.pdf- link to State budget. Interesting that there is still millions for programs and ideas sponsored by ed deformers such as- Teacher and Principal Evaluations- Incentives for Evaluations Systems- PASS Act Program and K12 Formula Conversion.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Given the cuts (all the way up to higher ed), it would almost look like education is not a high priority for the Legislature.

This might make passage of the Families and Education levy even more important (if people are not too mired in their own financial woes and just can't vote in another tax).

Anonymous said...

It'll be hard to convince me to vote for a levy when many of the teachers at our school make more than I do. And they don't work year round. And I bet they have better benefits.

Hard work yesm but those salaries dont'seem too out of whack compared to most people working folks I know.

signed-
thanks for the link

someone said...

Ahh and the head of Transportation too, if I'm reading the spreadsheet right - the plot thickens ;o)

Jan said...

Melissa: none of the Families and Education levy goes to teacher salaries, right? I hate to see people get into an argument about who makes less money -- and somehow think that has anything to do with voting one way or the other on the F&E levy, if none of those tax dollars will go to teacher paychecks -- which is what I thought the case was.

Dorothy Neville said...

Jan is correct. The Families and Ed levy pays for what we would think of as wrap around services, the health centers, family support workers, direct intervention, and doesn't it also pay for after school programs and for summer programs and summer meals in the parks? It does not pay for teacher salaries.

Eric B said...

Dunno about summer meals, but FEL definitely pays for after-school activities. My middle-schooler has benefited from that quite a bit.

Education is not a priority for the Legislature because parents are too busy to lobby legislators. When the state PTA has their focus day, a hundred or so people show up. Several thousand show up for the No Taxes Day rally. It isn't hard to do the math.

Rufus X said...

Families & Ed Levy fund our public middle schools' out-of-school-time programs. Many of the specific classes/activities exist because that particular activity/interest is not offered as a class (i.e. choir, art classes, jazz band, drama, etc). With the school bell ringing a few hours before working parents get home, I would bet most middle school parents will testify that an extra 2-4 hours per week focused on a specific activity that their child chooses (or needs, in the case of homework clubs) is not only time well-spent, but is a huge help to the parents' wallets.

After-school instruction/activites offered to every middle school student in SPS are just a sampling what F&E Levy funding supports.

RX

Anonymous said...

This just in from Kay-Smith Blum's update to constituents (letter from Enfield to RB):

Starting in the fall, there will be two Executive Directors of Education for the Southeast Region, which means more hands-on time with the new Rainier Beach administration.

Really.

Charlie Mas said...

There is a comment on the Times thread like the one by thanks for the link and I have seen comments like this before.

These people are folks who also have master's degrees and additional post-graduate education, some with Phd.s, like teachers, but who are earning less than $60,000 per year. They seem to think that if they can't earn that much then neither should anyone else - starting with teachers. They don't mention if they object to adminstrator salaries or what doctors or lawyers make. I don't know how they feel about folks who earn millions as executives or hedge fund managers, let alone those who are professional athletes or other entertainers.

It is, of course, a stupid argument.

The fact is that pay is based on the value you provide. If you don't earn much it is probably because your work doesn't provide much value. People who earn more supposedly provide more value in exchange for that pay.

The alternative would be to have fast food workers, blue collar workers, white collar workers and executives all earning the same pay since they all work equally hard at their jobs. That's just not how our capitalist system works.

I'm sorry that thanks for the link
has such a crappy job. Perhaps thanks for the link should go back to school and re-train for a better one. There is, however, no connection or relationship between whatever thanks for the link does for a living and earns and what teachers do and earn.

Kathy said...

Eric,

I share the same understanding.

Now, let's watch the district's Strategic Refresh plan. Let's watch the budget.

The board/ district put in place costly and non-sustainable initiatives. Will cuts be made to classrooms or non-sustainable initiatives? Will the district fund the academic warehouse while eliminating direct student services and support?

I intend on holding the board responsible for classroom cuts.

Jan said...

Charlie: I didn't like thanks for the link's argument either, but I think your point (copied below) is wrong:

The fact is that pay is based on the value you provide. If you don't earn much it is probably because your work doesn't provide much value. People who earn more supposedly provide more value in exchange for that pay.

In fact, pay is NOT based on the value you provide. That is a component, but there are many other factors -- including barriers to entry (limited numbers of professional school openings, apprenticeships, etc. that hold down competition much like the ancient guilds did), desirability of job -- when I was looking at graduate schools in my area of major, my advisor told me not to, unless I loved the field so much that I was willing to work in it regardless of pay -- because there were so many good people, who loved it so much, that many were willing to stay in for virtually nothing -- which drove salaries WAY WAY down. This is true for musicians (not just performers, but educators, producers, tech guys, etc.) actors, artists, etc. And, to a degree, it is true of many teachers. They love teaching so much they will stay in the profession even if they could make far more elsewhere. And there are other factors as well. We have Metro bus drivers making more than $100K per year -- in part because public officials have lacked sufficient incentive to drive a better bargain with their union (easier just to raise taxes, or cut service). Do bus drivers do important work. Of course. Do I think there are others out there who would gladly do all that work for 80,000 -- AND do a better job? Yep.

But I still dislike "Thanks for the Links" comments. If they come and ask you to up your taxes to pay X's salary/benefits -- and you think X is overpaid -- fine. Vote no. But that is NOT the case with the Families and Education levy, and I wish people like "Thanks" would not argue a connection that, I think, does not exist.

Anonymous said...

As I read the state budget (just leafed through 296 pages) there is a 3% cut for school administrators.

wonk

Anonymous said...

SP said... (sorry the blogger won't let me sign in)
This is from the WA State PTSA with details specific to public schools & salaries (at the end).
*****************

The new budget proposal cuts $4.6 billion -- $200 million less than Senate’s proposal
• The biggest reduction in the operating budget was $861 million for not funding I-728 (student achievement fund)
• Another big hit was $215 million from eliminating K-4 class size enhancement
• Slight reduction in K-3 class-sizes for high-poverty schools (24.1 students, vs. 25.23)
• All-day kindergarten funding supports 21 percent in 2011-12, 22 percent in 2012-12 (up from current 20 percent)
• They didn’t fund for science assessment being tied to graduation, so theoretically there WILL be a bill passed that delays the requirement
• Education ombudsman office is funded, but loses 1 position
• Kindergarten assessment (WaKids) was funded
• Evaluation pilot was funded; incentive money added to encourage other districts to adopt new systems

About salaries

• K-12 salary reductions are 1.9 percent, down from the Senate’s proposed 3 percent -- this includes salaries for both certificated (i.e. teachers) and classified employees (i.e. the lunch crew)
• Salary allotment for administrators is cut 3 percent
• Employees making $30,000 or less are spared from state salary cuts
• There will be NO freeze on step increases (a move some said would hit teachers new to the profession especially hard)
• There is NO built-in guarantee that school staff will recover lost wages; but teachers who still getting step increases will earn more in 2 years from those increases
• Cost of living suspension continues
• REMEMBER: The state just lowers allotments; how districts choose to absorb the cuts to salaries will vary. Most contracts are in place. Whether the district can re-open them depends on how they are written. Some of the “salary” cuts may come out of programs, maintenance, etc.
• There has been no action on bills to lift the 180 requirement for instructional days.

FYI: Budget proposal does not freeze admission into the children’s health plan, but eligibility is lowered to 200 percent of poverty.

The bill needs to pass the House floor vote, then moves on the Senate. Amendments are already coming online:
http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=1087&year=2011
********************

signed,
SP

Anonymous said...

Thanks for clarifying where the levy dollars go. And my connection (levies to teacher pay) was inaccurate. Fair point about "arguing a connection that... does not exist." I certainly agree that education funding seems to be a very low priority for our legislature and that education is underfunded. (where is it, Minnesota that the legislature can't make budget cuts to education?)



But your reply -Charlie - was pretty mean spirited and full of assumptions ...I never said that I didn't make that much or that teachers shouldn't make that much. Nor did I imply that teachers don't have valuable jobs. Maybe I didn't phrase it right, but with many people still un/under-employed, taking pay cuts, having schedule modifications and/or paying more of their own benefits, the salaries of many (not all) teachers seem fair and (it appears) what the market allows. I think there is a general assumption that these cuts are being borne primarily by teachers when in fact there are many others in the private sector (from many fields, with a diverse range in pay/ education/ experience) who are also being asked to make adjustments by their employers. And it's all the way up and down the employment food chain. It's not my personal situation but I know many people to whom it applies. And another levy will be hard sell - within that framework. But it's more accurate to say that another levy will be a hard sell due to concerns over fiscal responsibility in general of the people asking for and spending the money (which is unrelated to teacher salaries.)



There is a relationship between what X person does/earns for a living and any other person does/earns for a living. And any taxpayer is entitled to make that correlation, even if you disagree with it. Your own argument about "pay is based on the value you provide" is difficult too because I would argue that there are many underpaid but highly valued fields (education among them.) Jan articulates this better.



I didn't mean to be rude, but Charlie, your reply was. I actually don't have a crappy job. I have a great job with a lot of flexibility, autonomy and that pays well. Thanks for your concern about my career advancement and higher education opportunities though. I'll chalk it up to a hasty response.

signed,
(the chastened) thanks for the link

Patrick said...

Thanks for the link -- So I looked up a couple of teacher's salaries, and they seem to be in the range of $60k for someone with a master's and 15+ years of experience, plus a decent but not extraordinary benefits package. I think that's quite low compared to other professionals who have a master's and experience. In fact, going down the list of well-paid occupations, teachers wouldn't even be on the first page of the list. I'll save my indignation for businesspeople who run their companies into the ground and then collect eight-figure golden parachutes.

Share the Pain said...

Washington is out of money as is California and many others. Workers of the state should all be prepared to take a hit. They knew that when they signed up. Private company workers are getting it so what is so special about gov't workers? Teachers should offer up some pay cuts to keep all their members working and the class ratios down. Unions could come out of this smelling like roses or manure depending on how they play it.

Let's put society first, SEA !

-bme said...

Share the pain - I already pay at least $700-800 year for supplies for my classroom. These are things that the state, the district, the school, and many parents don't supply. I have snacks for my hungry kids who have very little at home, I have pencils and scissors and notebooks and crayons for my ones who show up with nothing. I buy Kleenex, paper towels, clorox wipes, and hand soap, otherwise we would have none. I purchase books for my classroom to entice reluctant readers to read. I purchase more books to send home with kids who don't have books at home. That to me is already a pay cut - how many private sector workers do that? My pay for this year was already cut, and now I will face another cut. Meanwhile my classroom costs continue to rise, particularly since I will have to change grade levels for next year, thus I will need to purchase teaching materials for that grade level, and my class size will increase, meaning more supplies. I expect my out-of-pocket costs for me to do my job next year will be at least $2000. How dare you say that teachers need to share the pain and put society first. What do you think we are already doing -and have been doing for many years?
For the record, I have 12 years teaching experience, a reasonably new PhD, and make under $60K a year even when I teach summer school. My district does not even have an additional salary step for PhD. But please, feel free to tell me again how overpaid I am and how I need to feel the pain that the private sector is supposedly feeling, because evidently you seem to think no gov't/county/state workers have experienced furloughs, pay cuts, and layoffs already.
-bme

emeraldkity said...

When parents have to pay for tutoring to cover the gaps in curriculum out of their own stagnant wages , it isn't unusual to feel resentful toward those who have a strong union contract.

Anonymous said...

Let's put society first...

'Let's put society first' by blaming all the serfs that the masters ripped everything off?

Do you have that Ronnie Raygun lie memorized about 'getting the government off the backs of the people'?

this is the 3rd decade of right wing lies blaming us working stiffs while the sell out Democrats and the right wing Republicans use government power to legalize stealing everything for private pigs.

Seriously, I HOPE you're getting paid to defend the pigs at the top so they can stay pigs and they can stay on top, because if you're not getting paid to defend them, don't you feel like a ... kleenex? a chump? Do you LIKE being a kleenex?

Somebody has it good, and it probably is NOT you mr/s. kleenex - but keep blaming dem commie unioners for reck'en tings.

Try A Spine

GreyWatch said...

As for the gov't v. private pay issue, tons of studies on this one, and i'll look for some good links to post. My takeaway is that when you factor in education, gov't pay (teachers included) is less than private sector.

Sahila said...

great strategy - divide and conquer (keep in chains) public and private workers.... have them attack each other as more/less privileged than the other...

completely takes their attention away from what's really going on:

Why The Rich Love Unemployment

part of the reason for the attack on "experienced" expensive teachers.... labour costs are the biggest factor in determining profit....when you're privatising public education, its common sense to cut as many costs as you can... who gives a damn about ruining peoples' lives, and children's futures?

SolvayGirl1972 said...

I'm with you Sahila. This country is being torn apart by infighting at the expense of the middle and lower classes. The big cuts in EVERY organization—both public and private—should be coming from the top down—period!

The rise in salaries for the highest-level executives is nothing but obscene, especially considering that their major contribution to the company is to cut labor and increase shareholder stakes.

My limited education in economics taught me that a healthy economy needs a strong middle class. When the wealth is concentrated to a few at the top, the economy and society will eventually crumble and fall.

All of this lashing out at unions and labor in general is insane. Do we really want to back to the good old days of 60-hour work weeks, no benefits and nepotism/cronyism being the norm? Private-sector workers should be uniting, not vilifying unions.

Let's keep demanding that our government put the tax burden where it belongs—on the ones who can most afford it. I am still upset that our fellow voters could not see the benefit of an income tax on the ├╝ber-wealthy. Washington's tax system is one of the most regressive in the nation. The data's there, but I don't have time to find links, etc.

cascade said...

And on a related note, Michele Rhee is at it again, this time in Ohio. She is a gadabout and deformer of the most self-aggrandizing variety.

Share said...

First of all, nobody in this country has the right to say they have it tough by global standards. And the teacher who spends 2 grand out of pocket? Bravo, but I think you are getting a martyr syndrome. I do know who people in the private sector who are working 50 hours a week so they don't get canned. That equals your $2000, I'd guess. Unions, commies, Reagan? What kind of paranoids are there in the world? My point was unions do have an image problem, rightly or not, and giving away some pay to keep their brethren and sisters working and class size down would look heroic.

Not a Kleenex brand tissue

ArchStanton said...

"The fact is that pay is based on the value you provide. If you don't earn much it is probably because your work doesn't provide much value. People who earn more supposedly provide more value in exchange for that pay."

That's one way of looking at it and I suppose it might be true if you are only considering monetary value - still, I have a hard time buying that top tier executive's pay is proportional to the the economic returns they provide.

I would counter that pay is based on how much your work is valued by society/employers. Few would argue that many important service, healthcare, childcare, and education jobs (traditionally women's work) provide little value, but as a society we see raising children or caring for our elderly as less important or less valuable than pushing paper or cranking out widgets.

Where am I and why am I in this hand basket said...

Sahila echos a rational belief. Unions are about keeping people employed at reasonable wages and benefits.

Whatever recovery in the US has occured because fewer workers are pushed to be more productive to keep their jobs. The super rich benefit from this - stock prices expand and the number of jobs stays static.

Arguing about the scraps left over is silly and narrow minded. Not to mention-EXACTLY what those in power what you to waste your energy on.

Anonymous said...

I think BME is expressing frustration. There are some great programs and organizations that do help teachers and classrooms with supplies. Adopt a Classroom and DonorsChoose, Freecycle website come to mind. Target gives out grants to teachers.

Our school PTA raised so much money that I am embarrased to quote the amount, but enough to give all teachers several thousands to do as they see fit for their classrooms. As for kleenex, wipes, hand sanitizers, etc., those are stuff along with pencils, paper, and notbooks that parents buy beginning of the school year for the class.

Some schools may not have a PTA to raise extra funds, teachers and parents may have to band together and do community fundraiser or ask local businesses, Kiwanis, churches for donations. There are opportunities out there and they can be educational ones too. It sucks to have to add on fundraising as part of your teaching duties, but teachers at our school do it to help raise money for their classrooms. We love them for that and it helps to build a stronger community 'cause we are all in it together. OK enough schmaltz!

-a volunteer

Melissa Westbrook said...

"When parents have to pay for tutoring to cover the gaps in curriculum out of their own stagnant wages , it isn't unusual to feel resentful toward those who have a strong union contract."

Two points. One, please share your resentment with management, not just unions.

Two, teachers do NOT determine curriculum. That's the district. AGain, direct your anger about that issue there.

Lori said...

Just wanted to put in a plug for DonorsChoose.org that someone else mentioned. You can look right now today, and there are 73 requests from SPS teachers for materials for their classrooms, from books for classroom libraries to games for rainy day recess. You can donate any dollar amount to any project. It's a great way to help at schools outside your immediate neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

Slightly off topic, but related to teacher pay and evaluation...I cannot figure out how MAP test scores can show meaningful growth that can be directly tied to teacher "quality."

The end-of-year reading test placed our elementary child at the 85% range for 11th graders. There's not much room for growth over the next few years. In all likelihood, future scores will go up and down as they trend up some miniscule value. The change in raw score seems like random noise, yet teachers will be evaluated on this "noise."

Talking about the test went something like this: they're testing me on things we haven't been taught, all these questions about "if something blah blah literary analysis," and then I explain that's how the test is designed, to ask harder and harder questions, and what's more, teachers can be "graded" on their kids' scores. My child responds in disbelief, how is that fair?

Out of the mouths of babes (and, well, a little biased prompting).

-SPS parent too

Union supporter and critic said...

The northwest has historically been a labor stronghold and workers paid a heavy price for fighting against the fatcats. We live in a different world now, corporate goons wear suits and wield keyboards, not guns. Unions need to get updated. Nobody wants wants teachers treated badly, but they have to communicate with their employers- the people who pay taxes. Look at the SEUI, the janitor union, if you will. They are the fastest growing union in the US and why? Because the public sympathizes with their members and they are very savvy and aggressive about their business. I think the teachers could learn a few things about strategy from them.

Anonymous said...

It's not a spending/salary problem - it's a tax cuts for the corporations/the rich problem.

Ask Boeing, Microsoft, et al to pay their fair share.

-JC.

Anonymous said...

Teacher unions are loosing the PR war. Just take a look at what is being printed in the media. Compare to what is being written about police/firefighter unions and their pay/pension vs. teacher unions AND the public response to the articles.

More people would support teacher unions if they see SEA and WEA speak up about things that affect the kids in the classroom such as poor curriculum (EDM, CMP, DM debacle), acknowledging that they do have bad teachers that need to leave the classrooms and not kept downtown while being paid to stay out of classrooms. Unions need to demonstrate a willingness to take a hard look at their own bad apples and work with adminstrators to improve or get rid of them. That's fair.

Why not negotiate student testing to be part (15-20%) of teacher evaluation? NY state is doing that. The union should BE part of that discussion and regain control as to how it should be implemented. I admire the singular teacher who do stand up and speak out about curriculum issues, support for counselors, problems with the Spec Ed implementation, problems with pacing, testing fatigue, etc. Where is the union's voice in all of this?

These are things union leadership needs to acknowledge and have some public positions on, not just which party or political candidate to throw their endorsement behind. If the teachers union want to be remembered in the public mind beyond salary, strike, and contract talk, it needs to change the discussion to kids, classroom, and community.

- a reader

Anonymous said...

Why not negotiate student testing to be part (15-20%) of teacher evaluation? NY state is doing that.

Maybe because this is what we have:

Here, teachers, we're going to evaluate you based on a test given to your randomly assigned students (yes, yes, we may have promoted some of them to your class even though they were failing), it may cover material outside of the required curriculum, and no, you can't see the questions or answers of the completed test. Trust us and Good luck!

Cynic

Salander said...

Anonymous said...
Teacher unions are loosing the PR war. Just take a look at what is being printed in the media. Compare to what is being written about police/firefighter unions and their pay/pension vs. teacher unions AND the public response to the articles.

And who is writing these things? And who is responding to this propaganda. People like you.

Unfortunately ignorance is not painful.

hschinske said...

The end-of-year reading test placed our elementary child at the 85% range for 11th graders. There's not much room for growth over the next few years.

The elementary MAP is not the same as the one for grades 6 and up, and doesn't actually have that much higher-level stuff on it, so those very high grade-level-equivalent scores are not terribly meaningful. (GLE scores range from downright meaningless to very mildly useful, depending on how the testing instrument is designed.) Basically s/he's outgrown that test, is what it comes down to. S/he MAY find more headroom on the 6+ test.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

Salander, as long as you keep pushing people away, you will loose the PR war. You have to think strategy. Lokk at Gov. Walker's push at public sector union in Wisconsin. Check it out. Did he propose similar cuts and limit collective bargaining with fire and police unions. Why not? ( Many firefighters and police did not fall for the Governor's divide and conquer tactics.)

I am not arguing the pros and cons of union. But I do believe unions need to respond to the negatives out there. For a union to survive, it need to be smarter, flexible, and more nimble.

Unions don't have the Koch, the Broad, the Gates to help spread their message.

-A reader

Share the blame said...

Reader,
Sometimes it seems common sense has disappeared from this blog and then you come along. That is exactly what I was trying to covey and look at the reaction! I agree with your words 100% and I hope the unions will take it for what it is, constructive criticism. Maybe the SEA needs to hire Strategy360 for PR work(kidding).

Confused about MAP said...

The PR from the district about MAP is that it's adaptable and doesn't have the ceiling effect that some other tests have - so, they're arguing that the reults are meaningful, comparatively.

Seeing the results posted, it's hard to take the results seriously, and doesn't seem like a valid measure of teacher quality.

How do you know there's a different test for elementary students (besides the test for young K-2 elementary students)? And wouldn't that make the test less valid for advanced learners, or are they administered a different version of the test? But that would make their scores not comparable...

Previous threads on the topic were saying a second grader had a question about the symbolism of the rose in the Scarlet Letter, so that makes me think there is not a separate test for elementary kids.

Anonymous said...

From the NWEA norms, 85% for 11th grade would be a RIT score of 240. A 95% for 11th grade would be a RIT score of 245.

It doesn't seem like a big leap to go from a RIT score of 240 to 245...so where is the room for growth?

Jan said...

I agree with Sahila and others that we really don't want to get into arguments (substantive ones, at least) as to who is worse off, whose job is more undervalued, who even HAS a job. This is like playing Queen for a Day (where you compete for refrigerators and patio furniture with other people whose lives suck, and the audience gets to vote for the one they pity most). The ONLY value to this argument is to realize, when these issues come up, that these sentiments are "out there" (hard to get a 61 year old who has been unemployed for the last 3 years now, and can find NO work, NOTHING, to feel sorry for a teacher pay cut -- not because teachers don't deserve their current pay, or because the 61 year old is evil - these are just hard times for MANY voters, and savvy, strategically thinking public entities have to take that into account in their communications with taxpayers.)

We have to get this right. This is a dreadful budget season, and horrible cuts are inevitable. I have no desire to squabble over what we can't fix NOW (the 1.9% cuts, and their merit). What I DO want to do, though, is figure out how to work on what we can -- the grossly flawed budget process in SSD that once again, has allowed layers and layers of admin lard to remain, hidden now as "teaching" expenses, etc (see Meg's post from earlier this week), the unbelievable costs we are paying to tie teacher retention to test results (it is NOT just the HSPE, the MSP, and MAP 3 times a year -- all of which are involved). It is also curriculum standardization (hard to tie performance to the test if not everyone is teaching the same stuff) and it now looks like it may be infecting things like "walk to math" (which -- fancy this -- actually puts kids at the level they need to be at to learn best) because if someone else is teaching them, then how can we hold teacher X accountable. We are totally remaking the actual learning environment -- all to support the idea of tying teacher retention and salaries to tests, which is an unproven concept.

I want to work for the following:
1. Four new SSD directors, none of whom have any stars, not a single star, in their eyes with respect to "free" ed reform money, advice, etc., and who will at least prioritize and start to tackle Charlie's list of problems.
2. A budget process where the Board gives much more direction to the Superintendent about what percent of funds goes to central, -- and what bogus categories may NOT be used to hide fat. I want the 6% (administration expense) to be a real number -- not bullshit.
3. The Families and Education Levy.
4. A fix to the currently broken SPED model.
5. A return of interventions for struggling students.

This is only a partial list, but it will do for now.

Jan said...

To "a reader" --

I think your general position is very valid. It would do wonders for the union if the public perceived (and the perception was true, and not just based on PR spin) that they go to bat for the best interests of students and education. Whatever their real motives, they often come off looking self-serving and protectionist. But they would have to mean it. I (and many others) have had it with the ed reform disinformation "say it often enough and people will think it is true" campaigns. If that is how unions come across, if they just adopt the same slimy tactics the ed reformers use, they will lose further support.

And on that testing thing? You asked: Why not negotiate student testing to be part (15-20%) of teacher evaluation? NY state is doing that. The union should BE part of that discussion and regain control as to how it should be implemented.

I think it is a bad idea because not only has it never been shown to have any merit -- it has actually been shown to NOT have merit (a high percentage of teachers whose kids do well on a high stakes test this year consistently not do well the following year). I have seen NOTHING to suggest that the testing data correlates in any way with the quality of learning, much less the quality of teaching (this last is what we are measuring, right, since it is what the teacher does?) I have read so many articles saying -- the union just "complains" that there is no valid student test that measures teacher-- as though that was some sort of slimy dodge -- when in fact it is true.

How would I like it if my boss said "this year, everyone whose birthday falls on a day starting with S gets a 5% raise, those with T birthdays get 5% docked, and will be placed on a PIP that I devise for them (hope they have better luck with days of the week next year!), and the MWF birthdays stay where they are. Random? Yes. So is tying teacher retention/performance to high stakes tests. There is no proven correlation, and there is evidence that no correlation exists. So saying it is only X percent of the evaluation is worthless (only 20% of my evaluation depends on what day of the week my birthday falls on this year? That should make me happy?). Until they can come up with a test that works (I happen to think maybe they can't), a tight link between student test scores and teacher pay/retention is just unwarranted.

cont'd

Jan said...

Cont'd:

That is not to say that in a "fair" evaluation system, a principal cannot take into account complaints, year after year, from the teachers one grade up, that Mr Y's kids are unprepared for their curriculum, and have to be taught or retaught stuff, whereas Mr P's kids generally are ready to go. But a principal (a good one) is the person who would know if Mr. Y is the guy, year after year, who takes more than his fair share of the autism spectrum kids, the english language learner kids, etc., and the kids 3 grades below level, and keeps them engaged, learning, and catching up -- where as Mr. P's more authoritarian style makes him a less than great match for many of those kids -- but the Kumon moms all love him and want their kids in his class. Or the principal may also be the person who knows that this year, ALL of the ALO kids -- except one -- happened to end up in Mr. P's class -- and frankly, much of the regular curriculum was stuff they already knew.
And the principal is the person who will know if the boundaries of the attendance area moved last year to incorporate the lakefront, leading to a huge boost in student achievement for all teachers that is completely demographic, and not classroom related.

It isn't that student learning doesn't matter in evaluating effective teaching. It is that the evaluations have to take into account stuff that NO test could measure (plus the fact that the test may not measure learning progress).

The ed reform argument is based on a false assumption: if teachers teach "effectively," their students will have measurably higher scores on high stakes district wide tests than the students of ineffective teachers.

Nothing I have read indicates that assumption is true. The same thing is true, by the way, of the idea of extra teacher pay based on test performance. Not only are the tests not valid -- there is no evidence that it improves teaching or teacher satisfaction, AND -- once again -- there is credible research suggesting it does NOT work as an incentive to improve either one.

If I were a better poster, I would have the cites, but I don't have time right now. Melissa (and Dorothy, and others) would do much better -- but both of the studies are ones that have been discussed on this blog.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Boy, real live discussion. I live for this stuff.

Anonymous said...

Jan,

Thank you for your response. I don't support using MAP testing or even MSP as a good way to evaluate teachers. But we do test our kids all the time. How do we measure what students learn? We use their oral responses, papers, projects, tests, and quizzes to evaluate them. Why not in the beginning of the year, have teachers do an assessment test of their students to see where they are (a pre-test of the coursework, if you wil). Some teachers do this already to see where kids are to get a baseline idea of abilities/knowledge/needs. At the end of the semester or year, give a post-test. See how kids do.

The results will be kid dependent. The BIG human factor. There will be some kids who will not do well regardless of what a teacher may do, but you will have others who will. It is not a perfect system which is why the union should negotiate and set parameter on how it will be used and what weight it should carry as part of an evaluation.

I like to think that principals would be a better evaluator. However, with all the prinicpal churn we have witnessed, not to mention, sadly, the quality of some of our new principals with limited teaching experience, it makes me want a quantifiable way for a teacher to counter/balance the "human factor" there.

Having gone through many performance evaluations myself, much depends on the goals you are setting and the support you have to make your job successful. I think the burden of this lies in the administration. In the end, the evaluation of teachers is just as much an evaluation of the administration. How well do they support classroom teachers to make sure they succeed. None of this is my original thought. Much I have to attribute to my teacher mom and her retired buddies.

I will admit to you there is no easy answer here.

Finally, I have to ask how did we get here for SPS. Do we not have employee performance eval in place to begin with ? Does it not work? Why not?

-a reader

"Class" Warfare said...

Pay cut? That's merely a shot across the bow of recalcitrant teachers who reject test-based pay and privatization. Sick, short-sighted, gutless bullying by pols and billionaires.

Teacher response to test-based pay..."if your kid brings down my test scores I don't want him/her in my class."

Struggling students are soon to become a threat to a teacher's financial security. Watch how quickly struggling Johnny gets labeled SpEd (even if he is not).

hschinske said...

How do you know there's a different test for elementary students (besides the test for young K-2 elementary students)?

I've seen it all over the place, from the NWEA website and also from various school districts' handouts. The names of the tests are in the form "Reading Survey w/Goals 2-5" and "Reading Survey w/Goals 6+"; just Google them.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

From another forum discussing the differences between the two levels, 2-5 and 6+:

The other question was whether a 259 on the survey w/ goals 2-5 would be equivalent to a 259 on the 6+. The NWEA rep said it is and it isn't lol. The 6+ test is harder so you might not get a large gain when going from the 2-5 to the 6+.

She has spoken w/ NWEA and supposedly they have about the same ceiling but the 6+ is a bit higher yet the RIT scale is continuous. The NWEA Rep did mention that kids might not sure[show] a years growth going from the 2-5 to the 6+ due to the 6+ being a bit more difficult. THe 6+ will flesh out holes more b/c will pinpoint their level quicker and have more questions to pinpoint holes.

curious reader

mirmac1 said...

Question on the state budget that Dorothy or Meg can answer (maybe):

How does the final budget compare to the projections and assumptions in the district budget planning process? I recall Harmon had a contingency of $$$Ms for a "wait and see". Now that we know, can some of that money be reallocated?

WV: The legislature said have a Merry Grismas

Salander said...

High school teachers teach subjects that aren't/can't be tested by current standardized tests.

The MAJORITY of hs teachers do not teach reading or math.

The current model used by SPS exempts MOST high school teachers from test based evaluations.

Explain to me how that is fair.

Anonymous said...

From NWEA:

A ceiling effect exists when an assessment does not have sufficient range to accurately measure students at the highest performance levels. It has nothing to do with the actual numbers attached to the scale and everything to do with the position of students on it. For example, in reading, the RIT scale measures with relative accuracy up to about 245. This represents the 93rd percentile at grade 10, and the 95th percentile at grade 8. If a student scores above we know that student performed high but may not be able to accurately assess how high they performed. Relative to other tests, therefore, there is very little true ceiling effect in this assessment. Even most high performing 10th graders receive a technically accurate measure of their skill.

http://www.nwea.org/support/article/532/rit-scale

NWEA claims there is no ceiling because most 10th graders will receive a technically accurate measure of their skill. My interpretation: If the reading RIT score is over 245, you're high performing - they just can't tell you much beyond that. This seems like a ceiling for advanced learners if they're hitting the 245 mark in elementary school.

For more discussion, I would suggest this site:

http://giftedissues.davidsongifted.org/BB/ubbthreads.php/topics/100266/1.html

curious reader

Anonymous said...

My post just evaporated, but the short of it was:

A reading RIT score of 245 seems to be the ceiling. Some elementary students can approach/hit/exceed that score. NWEA claims there is no ceiling because most 10th graders "receive an accurate measure of their score," (meaning they are at or below 245).

In reading, the RIT scale measures with relative accuracy up to about 245. This represents the 93rd percentile at grade 10, and the 95th percentile at grade 8. If a student scores above we know that student performed high but may not be able to accurately assess how high they performed.

http://www.nwea.org/support/article/532/rit-scale

For more info:

http://giftedissues.davidsongifted.org/BB/ubbthreads.php/topics/100266/1.html

curious reader

thinking out loud said...

As this relates to teacher evaluation - if the MAP score is not accurate past a certain level, then wouldn't it follow that growth calculations based on high scores may not be accurate either?

Jan said...

a reader. I think I agree with everything in your reply (I confess to having read faster than your response merited, and will try to reread later when I have more time.

As for how we got here, I am not entirely sure. 2 years ago, the District and the union embarked on a process to improve teacher evaluations (I think it was sort of thumbs up/thumbs down -- and that lacked some nuance to tell teachers who weren't totally awol that they needed to improve (and maybe where). And then it all was washed over when ed reform came in with standardized testing, incentive pay, RttT, etc.

I think you are right about how we got "here" though -- and much of it involves weak principals (and a strong enough union that the weakness resulted in retention in a few cases of bad apples -- who then became notorious and spawned the myth of lazy teachers who need to be fired.) When you think about it, one or two tired out, rigid teachers who needed to have found something else to do, multiplied over 150 to 200 kids per day (I am thinking high school), over several years -- well, there are a LOT of stories about bad teaching. And that is just ONE teacher (never mind the 50 or 60 OTHER teachers in the same school, working hard and teaching somewhere between adequately and fabulous). And -- there are MANY MANY cases where a teacher who is good for one kid, is not good at all for another.

I wish we could go BACK to the District/Union proposal -- and then start really drilling down on mentoring, goal setting within schools to achieve certain results, etc. What could we do if the Executive Directors were real leaders, with real experience in education, who could help principals organize their schools into teams where there was team teaching, feedback, mentoring, and constant analysis by teachers regarding what was working, and what was not, for specific students.

I feel like there is so much to do -- and we have spent most of the last (however many years MGJ was Superintendent) spending lots of money, doing virtually NONE of the work that needed to be done, and actually going backwards (science alignment, etc.) in some cases.

mirmac1 said...

Wow, Jan! Thank you for giving me perspective. If only we could have proceeded on a productive path, without all this ed reform BS mucking things up for us...

Anonymous said...

"Class" Warfare,

You are absolutely right on.

It is already happening to my youngest daughter in 1st grade.

Classwork is at grade level, but MAP scores are horrible. After the very first MAP test in the Fall her teacher started to advocate to put her on an IEP.

Even after a school specialist tested my daughter 1:1 and confirmed her work was at grade level the struggle continues as the MAP scores are still low.

- Livin' the MAP life

MAPsucks said...

F*ck MAP! Use REAL assessments and let the principal and Exec Dir know that you do NOT believe MAP is reflective of your child's abilities. The test is crap.

Anonymous said...

Thank You, MAPsucks!

My sentiments exactly. And, yes I'm making it known to the higher ups.

- Livin' the Map Life

Charlie Mas said...

The problem isn't with MAP - or any of the standardized assessments. The problem is in the people who mis-use the results.

MAP scores do not provide answers; they are intended to provoke questions. They are indicative, not conclusive.

MAP is intended for use as a formative assessment, as a tool to help teachers tailor instruction for individual students. A teacher who knows the student and is familiar with the student's work can review the result and it will either help to confirm or challenge the teacher's already formed opinion of the student's knowledge and skills, and the gaps in their knowledge and skills. The teacher should respond appropriately by shaping that student's instruction to address the gaps.

The principal should use the MAP data as the launching point for questions: "The MAP results suggest that you have six students in your class who are working below grade level; what are you doing for them?" The teacher can then answer that only four of the students are actually working below grade level and go on to describe the specific steps taken to support the students.

Likewise, the Executive Director of Schools should be using the data to prompt questions for the principals such as "The MAP results suggest that you have ten students in the third grade who are working below grade level; what are you doing for them?"

I cannot repeat this enough: people should use the data to prompt questions, not to provide answers. The assessment is not necessarily bad. What is bad is the mis-use of the results.