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Monday, July 21, 2014

Duval's education policies don't address our problems.

By Greg Sampson

“In short: the 50-state equity strategy is to blame individual teachers. Or reward them. Blame individual teachers while blithely ignoring the real problem… a dysfunctional system that underdevelops and undersupports teachers, and does both with impunity when it comes to students in high-need communities. Reward individual teachers while ignoring the empirical evidence… which shows that working conditions are far more important than bonuses in persuading teachers to stay or leave their classrooms.”

Good article in Valerie Strauss’s WaPo blog, Answer Sheet. I highlight the above quote because it speaks to a new program in Duval County about which many of us are skeptical: Transformation schools (or as I learned yesterday are now called DTO schools. I’ll leave to readers to ponder why DCPS leaders changed the label for the program.)

For those desiring background knowledge, this is the program the superintendent has entered into with private donors and community organizations such as the Jacksonville Public Education Fund, in which teachers with high Value-Added Model scores (VAM) will receive $17,000 to 20,000 annual pay supplements for teaching in Jacksonville’s most struggling schools.

In summary, what the teachers told the President and Secretary of Education is that years of reward and punishment based upon identifying “good” and “bad” teachers will not work. Rather, they should be establishing and promoting policy that gives teachers the time and resources needed to improve their practice: collaboration time, job-embedded professional development, mentoring.

But one of the reasons students do well in China is the time teachers are given to learn. In China teaching is a learning profession and teachers study each other’s lessons and spend many hours crafting good lessons, teaching classes for many less hours per week than US teachers but spending more time learning, out of class (Stevenson, 1994; Stigler & Stevenson, 1991; quoted in a paper by Jo Boaler, Stanford University, co-founder: www.youcubed.orgDavid Foster, Executive Director, Silicon Valley Mathematics Initiative).”

Teachers need less class time and more collaboration time. The loss of the 45 minute collaboration time, during which all teachers in secondary schools were not teaching classes, really hurt us this past school year. Work suffered. Scores tumbled. One year does not prove causation; one year cannot support correlation. But put these two together, and the pairing does raise questions that need answering.

Teachers are pushed all the time to collaborate, plan together, discuss data, design common assessments, on and on. But in our district, as in the US overall, teachers don’t receive enough time in their day to accomplish it all.

Perhaps that JPEF/DTO program money would have been better spent giving all teachers more non-student time to work together.

1 comment:

  1. Pehaps teachers could get the requested additional continuuing education during the two summer months that they have off. They should get the same salary rate during that time as when they are in the classroom.