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There are ATRs in New Haven?

July 20, 2014 pm31 10:52 pm

Not exactly, but something like it.

Because of “Turnaround” – adopted in a 2010 Weingarten/reform contract – there is a group of “displaced teachers” every year – who will have a job, but have to find the placement themselves. And because “turnaround” comes with stigma (it’s schools in poor areas that have it done to them, but they are labeled as failing), teachers leaving those schools tend to be shunned.

The story comes from the New Haven Independent.

It also quotes union leader Dave Cicarella, on an interesting, different, note. New Haven adopted a five stage teacher evaluation system in 2010, before NYC’s H, E, D, I system. People I know there said that the dramatic change was not in the number of people scoring the lowest, and in danger of losing their jobs, but that principals had discretion over the difference between a 3 and a 2, and being able to punitively push teachers who spoke up into a “teacher improvement plan” which is apparently a miserable experience.

Before then, Cicarella said, “we had a ridiculous evaluation system” that involved nothing more than “a couple of drive-by” observations of teachers. As in most of the country at that time, teachers were rated on a binary system, either effective or ineffective.

New Haven was one of the first districts nationwide to start grading teachers on student performance—a trend that has now spread nationwide, prompted by federal pressure from the Obama Administration’s competitive grant programs and No Child Left Behind Act waivers. The initiative is based on the premise that the most important factor in a kid’s education is the quality of the teacher—and that that quality can be measured.

His response to principals: “Why don’t you tell your colleagues to do their job?”

If principals are using the teacher evaluation system properly, he argued, they should be working hard to help low-performing teachers improve—and firing them if they don’t. The teachers contract allows a principal to fire a tenured teacher after one year if he or she scores on the bottom of the five-point evaluation scale, and after three years if he or she fails to improve to “effective,” a three out of five. The system requires schools to give teachers plenty of notice: They have to warn teachers in November if they are on track to score on the bottom, or top, of the evaluation scale.

So here we have a new five point scale, and the reformers complain that not enough teachers get fired and blame the union. Sounds like the same complaints we’ve heard in the past about the S and U system, and about tenure. In fact, the problem is the complaint itself, and it would be nice if more AFT locals stood up and said so, rather than trying to mollify the reformers.

And, as Cicarella inadvertently points out, HEDI, 54321, S and U, all rely on good administrators. And the lack of good administrators is something we should be looking much closer at.

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