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INSIGHT See you in Houston! TASA/TASB Convention October 2-4, 2009 George R. Brown Convention Center

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Fall 2009 Volume 24

No. 3

See you in Houston!


2009 Administrative Leadership Institute Leaders of Leaders in Secondary Schools: The Superintendent and Leadership Team


Sponsored by Texas A&M University, TASA, and PBK Gives an overview of the upcoming Administrative Leadership Institute, November 18–19, in College Station, which will offer practical solutions to growing secondary school leadership issues

2009 AASA Summer Survey Series: Pay for Performance


by Noelle M. Ellerson Shares feedback from survey participants regarding interest in pay-for-performance programs in light of the renewed national conversation and sense of a shift in the tide of teacher compensation

Can Texas Make a U Turn? Lessons from the “Creating a New Vision for Public Education in Texas” Report


by Lloyd Goldsmith and Gary R. Tucker Illustrates innovative change through a journey of Theory U, five movements to help leaders recognize the U turn needed to achieve the future we all want

Sid Richardson Forum Report Addresses University Production of Secondary Teachers


by William E. Reaves Cites declining teacher preparation trends within state universities over the last five years, with substantial declines in secondary teacher production, and offers 10 redesign principles

Legal Insights Deciphering the Code: AdDRESSing Student Speech in Public Schools


by Ramiro Canales Addresses the constitutionality of dress codes adopted by school districts, and shares how ambiguity was recently clarified in Palmer v. Waxahachie ISD

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Departments President’s Message Executive Director’s View

7 9

Officers John M. Folks, President, Northside ISD H. John Fuller, President-Elect, Wylie ISD Rod Townsend, Vice-President, Hico ISD Rick Howard, Past President

Executive Committee Scott B. Owings, Sharyland ISD, 1 Paul Clore, Gregory-Portland ISD, 2 Robert Mark Pool, El Campo ISD, 3 Leland Williams, Dickinson ISD, 4 Philip Welch, Orangefield ISD, 5 Mike Cargill, Bryan ISD, 6 J. Glenn Hambrick, Carthage ISD, 7 Eddie Johnson, Harts Bluff ISD, 8

TASA Headquarters Staff

Executive Director

Darren Francis, Perrin-Whitt CISD, 9

Johnny L. Veselka

Jeff N. Turner, Coppell ISD, 10

Paul L. Whitton, Jr.

Darrell G. Floyd, Stephenville ISD, 11

Associate Executive Director, Administrative Services

Assistant Executive Director, Communications & Information Systems


Anne Harpe

Editorial Coordinator

Karen Limb

Kevin Houchin, McGregor ISD, 12 Ann M. Halstead

INSIGHT is published quarterly by the Texas Association of School Administrators, 406 East 11th Street, Austin, Texas, 78701-2617. Subscription is included in TASA membership dues. © 2009 by TASA. All rights reserved. TASA members may reprint articles in limited quantities for in-house educational use. Articles in INSIGHT are expressions of the author or interviewee and do not necessarily represent the views or policies of TASA. Advertisements do not necessarily carry the endorsement of the Texas Association of School Administrators. INSIGHT is printed by Thomas Graphics, Austin, Texas.

David Shanley, Johnson City ISD, 13 Shane Fields, Albany ISD, 14 Russ F. Perry, Nueces Canyon CISD, 15 David G. Foote, Dalhart ISD, 16 Deanna Logan, Ralls ISD, 17 Kevin Allen, Iraan-Sheffield ISD, 18 Lorenzo Garcia, El Paso ISD, 19 Richard A. Middleton, North East ISD, 20

At-Large Members Charles E. Dupre, Pflugerville ISD Gloria Gallegos, Pasadena ISD Sylvester Perez, Midland ISD Gaile B. Thompson, Abilene ISD

Editorial Advisory Committee John M. Folks, chair Mike Cargill, Bryan ISD Gloria Gallegos, Pasadena ISD Richard A. Middleton, North East ISD Sylvestor Perez, Midland ISD Jeff N. Turner, Coppell ISD



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Sign Up Online Today! Sign up for the TASA Research Connection online. Simply log into and click the Memberships/Subscriptions link under Your TASAnet Account.

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Focus on the Children!

President’s Message Connecting with the digital generation is no easy task, especially for those of us who are “old school,” but we have no option but to meet technology head-on and embrace it.

hope that all of you have had a great start to the 2009-10 school year. As educators, we face many challenges this year, from funding inequities to graduation requirements to legislative mandates. However, we need to remember that despite our hardships, our focus must remain on children and learning. This year, Texas public schools are responsible for educating almost 5 million children. It’s a daunting and noble mission, and it’s one in which we can’t afford to fail. In an uncertain economy, it’s even more important that we help each child reach his potential and prepare all students for life after high school. I always say that the most important factor next to the home in the education of a child is the teacher in the classroom. I’m sure we all have great ideas about how best to recruit and maintain a high quality teacher workforce, but to me it’s about more than certifications and college majors. It’s about mentoring programs for new teachers, establishing partnerships with institutions of higher education, and providing engaging and purposeful professional development to all teachers. This issue of INSIGHT includes the executive summary of a Sid W. Richardson Foundation report on delivering a high quality teacher workforce, and I encourage you to read it. A critical and ongoing effort of the association revolves around Creating a New Vision for Public Education in Texas. This project, developed by 35 Texas superintendents, including myself, is about the needed transformation of schools to engage students in learning. Connecting with the digital generation is no easy task, especially for those of us who are “old school,” but we have no option but to meet technology head-on and embrace it. In Northside ISD, we now allow students to bring their own laptops to school so that they can access the district’s wireless network, and we are purchasing iPods that can be used for classroom lessons and staff development. I can honestly say that technology is not only engaging our students but is enriching their education, too. I look forward to seeing all of you at the TASA/TASB Convention October 2–4 in Houston. I know there are several excellent sessions planned, and I invite all of you to come see Northside ISD’s fine arts students perform at 4 p.m. October 2. I promise you that these students will inspire you and remind you that you picked the right career!

FALL 2009


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And We’re Off!


s we begin the 2009–10 school year and another TASA membership year, I want to thank each of you for your continuing support of our association.

I hope you have marked your calendar and are planning to attend the TASA/TASB Convention in Houston, October 2–4. This convention will again feature an outstanding lineup of general sessions, distinguished lectures, and concurrent sessions featuring best practices in school districts throughout the state.

Executive director’s VIEW This summer, we launched two new features of TASAnet: online conference registration and membership (both for renewal and joining). If you have not joined TASA or renewed your membership for 2009–10, you may do so today simply by logging into our Web site,

The opening general session will feature Alan November, an international leader in educational technology. November suggests that, “If our children are to grow up to make important contributions to our society, it is essential that we provide them with powerful tools and experiences across the curriculum.” Strategies to meet this goal will be evident throughout the convention, with a special focus on today’s digital learning environment. Several sessions will provide opportunities for superintendents and trustees to engage in discussions about the work of the Public Education Visioning Institute, Creating a New Vision for Public Education in Texas. A special feature of this year’s convention will be the TASA/TASB Digital Learning Pavilion, located in the convention exhibit hall, designed with support from SHW Group, Apple, and SMART Technologies. Join your colleagues for an unforgettable interactive voyage into the classroom of the future as you tour this part of the convention exhibit hall. The iPod Touch will be your guide, as you venture through this exciting TASA/ TASB first. Our professional development calendar for this year, beginning with the First-time Superintendents’ Academy this month, is now online. Please share the calendar with your staff and take advantage of the special learning opportunities we offer throughout the year. The Midwinter Conference, January 24–27, will feature keynote presentations by Don Tapscott and Tony Wagner, as well as an exciting list of distinguished lectures and special strands that will enlighten your entire leadership team.Watch for the registration announcement in early October! This summer, we launched two new features of TASAnet: online conference registration and membership (both for renewal and joining). The latter feature also enables members to subscribe online to TASA programs and services. If you have not joined TASA or renewed your membership for 2009–10, you may do so today simply by logging into our Web site, New technology is not always as streamlined as we’d like. In the transition to our new online system, we have experienced a few challenges along the way. Please accept my apology if you have encountered any problems navigating the site. If you have any questions or need assistance, don’t hesitate to contact our office. Thank you again for your support!

FALL 2009


engagement. translation. environment.

q: How do you shape a learning environment into a learning tool?

a: By understanding the

purpose of a space before you think about its shape.

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2009 Administrative Leadership Institute Leaders of Leaders in Secondary Schools: The Superintendent and Leadership Team TASA is pleased to again cosponsor the Administrative Leadership Institute (ALI). The 2009 ALI continues to seek answers to challenging questions at the highest levels: How are superintendents and other public school leaders recruiting, inspiring, and mentoring secondary school principals to face the challenges of too many school dropouts, unstable test results, growing student diversity, campus conflicts, and finding and keeping highly qualified teachers?

Sponsored by Texas A&M University, TASA, and PBK November 18 & 19, 2009 College Station Hilton Hotel and Conference Center

Learn some practical solutions to these growing secondary school leadership issues at Texas’ “best 24-hour conference”—ALI. Public school executives seek strategies to improve their leadership with secondary schools leaders and to help them create successful learning communities. Texas secondary principals are the “Straw that Stirs the Drink” to help all “Generic Kids” graduate from high school and lead successful, fulfilled lives. Gather Wednesday and Thursday, November 18 & 19, at the College Station Hilton Hotel and Conference Center to share ideas and insights that will make each of us better servant leaders for all secondary school principals and students.

Wednesday, November 18 Golf Tournament—On Wednesday morning, the annual golf tournament will be held at the Texas A&M University Golf Course, located on the Texas A&M campus off Bizzell Street, under the direction of Joe Pirtle. This is a fun event, and prizes are plentiful—even for the high scorers. A boxed lunch is included. Tee off is at 8 a.m. The tournament format will be a Texas scramble. A handicapping system is used. Only registered ALI participants are eligible to play in the tournament and compete for prizes. All tournament participants must pay a $40 entry fee. The fee includes cart, range balls, green fees, prizes, and a boxed lunch. Secondary Principals’ Power Panel—On Wednesday afternoon, a panel of awardwinning secondary principals will share insights about how superintendents empower them to lead staff and students to greater performance in Texas middle schools and high schools. The panelist speakers are James Brewer, principal, Longview High School, Longview ISD; Susan Peterson, principal, Weslaco East High School, Weslaco ISD; Benny Soileau, principal, Nederland High School, Nederland ISD; and Gabriel Trujillo, principal, William Byrd Middle School, Duncanville ISD. These award winners will discuss the current support they receive from their superintendent and suggest ways that they can become more empowered in their roles as secondary school principals. Interaction with the panelists will add additional insights. Reception and Banquet—On Wednesday evening, Chuck Norris, internationally acclaimed martial arts expert and film star, will headline the reception and banquet at

FALL 2009


the exclusive and nationally renowned Miramont Country Club in Bryan. Norris will address the success of KickStart, an intervention program for middle school students that is gaining success in public schools across the state. He will discuss lessons from the martial arts regarding the role of leaders leading leaders. In addition, there will be an awards presentation.

The Golden Deeds Award—will be presented to John David Thompson III, partner, Thompson and Horton LLP, in recognition for distinguished service to education in the state of Texas.

Housing A block of rooms has been reserved at the College Station Hilton Hotel & Conference Center, 810 University Drive East, College Station, for ALI. The rate is $99 single/double, payable to the Hilton. In order to receive this special rate, indicate that you are attending the Administrative Leadership Institute. Room blocks will be held until Tuesday, October 27, at this rate, so please reserve early by calling 979-693-7500. For online housing reservations, visit

Register Now! Online Registration: Deadline: Friday, October 30 For additional information, contact Susan Sassano,, 979-8623283.

The John R. Hoyle Award—will be given to distinguished Texas school leader Jeffrey M. Hanks, superintendent, Burnet CISD. The Paul R. Hensarling and T. M. Stinnett Awards—will be given to outstanding graduate students from Texas A&M University.

Thursday, November 19 A Community of Practice for Public School Executives—On Thursday morning, ALI is honored to headline Dr. Richard Elmore, the Gregory R. Anrig Professor of Educational Leadership at Harvard University. Dr. Elmore is also co-director of the Connecticut Superintendents’ Network, a community of practice for superintendents engaged in the improvement of instruction. The richness and rigor of this session and its importance for Texas superintendents and public school executives cannot be overstated. If you must miss anything this year, don’t let it be Dr. Richard Elmore. Following Dr. Elmore’s presentation, table teams will discuss the implications of his remarks and the leadership responsibilities of superintendents and other leaders in inspiring and equipping secondary principals to achieve higher performance. ALI Leadership—The retirement of ALI founder Dr. John R. Hoyle in August 2009 ends 26 years of impassioned leadership of the Administrative Leadership Institute. Though Dr. Hoyle’s presence and guidance will continue to be sought after and appreciated, the leadership of this year’s Institute will be transitioned to co-directors Drs. Virginia Collier, Roger Goddard, and Mario Torres, all of Texas A&M University. Dr. Collier and Dr.Torres have been involved with ALI for several years and are delighted to have Dr. Roger Goddard join the ALI team. They will bring new energy and creative ideas that will build on the ALI legacy of service to Texas schools and students. Dr. Goddard is developing an Education Leadership Research Center for the College of Education. He came to TAMU in 2009 from the University of Michigan with both school district leadership experience and a national reputation as a scholar. You will gain a wealth of valuable information from all three of these able new ALI leaders. The Administrative Leadership Institute is a 24-hour venue where new and experienced school executives from across Texas can have informal dialog in an informal setting and where innovative ideas can be shared in a warm, intimate, and safe atmos­ phere. Don’t delay registering for this conference. It will be the best 24 hours you spend this year. You will leave with creative and practical ideas that will empower secondary principals to be the best of the best. n



2009 AASA Summer Survey Series:

Pay for Performance Noelle M. Ellerson AASA conducted the Common Standards and Pay for Performance as two separate surveys. With their permission, TASA is reprinting the section of the report related to the Pay-for-Performance survey. Please visit to read the full 2009 Summer Survey series.

Introduction In response to a growing dialogue at the local, state, and national levels around the idea of restructuring teacher pay to include performance measures, the American Association of School Administrators surveyed a randomly selected sample of its members to gauge their feedback and interest in pay-for-performance programs. AASA launched this survey in light of the renewed national conversation and feedback from AASA members who sense a shift in the tide of teacher compensation. For the purposes of this survey, AASA used the term “pay for performance” to represent a compensation system that uses financial incentives/motivation for employees. There is a diversity of opinion among school system leaders about pay-for-performance programs. Roughly 45 percent of respondents expressed moderate to strong interest in exploring pay-for-performance programs, whether at the individual, group, or system level. More than 20 percent of respondents have no interest in exploring pay-for-performance programs at any level. Respondents think that any pay-for-performance model should be implemented across all educator levels. When asked which educators should reSchool administrators across the nation have been busy sharing their thoughts ceive performance-based pay, and opinions on some of the hottest topics in education today. As part of the 15 percent said teachers, 14 American Association of School Administrator’s 2009 Summer Survey series, percent said principals, and 9 AASA members completed quick-snapshot surveys around pay-for-perforpercent said administrators. mance and common standards. In recognition of a need to fuel the conversations An overwhelming majorion pay-for-performance and common standards taking place on and around ty—82 percent—said all three Capitol Hill, AASA gauged member interest and feedback on these two widely groups—teachers, principals, debated issues. The results are clear: AASA members have a diversity of opinand administrators—should ions about pay-for-performance programs and an overall support for/interest in be included in pay-for-percommon standards, with a very STRONG interest in a collaborative effort that formance plans. includes federal/state/local leaders and education professionals/practitioners. School administrators identified a variety of motivating factors, indicators, and anticipated obstacles that influence their consideration of pay for performance. The number-one motivation to implement pay for performance is improv-

FALL 2009


ing student achievement, followed by improving teacher effectiveness. Respondents identified a variety of system and individual indicators they would consider in a pay-for-performance model. Student achievement (89 percent) and teacher evaluations (68 percent) were the top two indicators. Teacher union resistance (75 percent), the capacity to link teacher evaluation and/or student achievement to evaluations (66 percent), and accuracy of performance measures (65 percent) were the top three anticipated obstacles. Successful implementation of pay-forperformance models will require an ongoing dialogue that involves all members of the education community to answer tough questions, covering everything from who is involved and what the model will look like to how the model will be evaluated and sustained. As the dialogue around pay for performance moves forward, it is vital to recognize that the prevalence and structure of pay for performance in America’s public schools is not—and should not be—identical to that of the private sector. Public schools, as institutions independent of the private sector, need to know about private-sector pay-for-performance plans not so they can be carbon copied, but so schools can consider whether aspects of the plans can be applied successfully to public schools.

Background Teacher pay is, for the most part, currently characterized as a single-salary schedule driven by two factors: years of experience and level of education/certification. The single-salary schedule emerged in the middle of the 20th century in response to discrimination in the former pay structure, which was essentially a differentiated pay model that rewarded high school teachers and men more than it did elementary school teachers and women. In an effort to eliminate the discrimination towards women, a more neutral approach—in this instance, salary commensurate with education and experience—was implemented. Coming into the 21st century, the shift in public thinking around teacher salaries has kept in line with a broader paradigm shift towards focusing on what happens to children. In this instance, it means that rather than adjusting pay schedules to compensate for inequalities among adults, current dialogue focuses on how the pay model impacts children. Recent trends have given increased attention to the use of performance-based pay for teachers, somehow tying teachers’ salaries to the standardized test scores of their students. Supporters maintain

that pay for performance would both incentivize teachers to focus on student outcomes and help improve the teacher labor market by attracting talented individuals to the field with the promise of higher pay. If teachers are supposed to increase students’ knowledge and skills, they should be rewarded/punished based on how their students do, say supporters of performance-based pay, adding that pay for performance would incentivize teachers to do better and students to learn more. Detractors argue that teachers would not be motivated by money more than a desire to provide quality instruction. They also argue that it is unlikely teachers are currently working at less than their best or that a financial incentive would push them to do their best. Keeping the conversation at a 30,000foot level to avoid a battle over semantics, the idea of pay for performance, as used in this survey, refers to any compensation system using financial incentives/motivation for its employees. Stepping away from a specific field, the idea of pay for performance (or “merit pay” or “strategic compensation”) is not a new one. In fact, it has a long history in other professional arenas, especially the private sector. There is much to understand about how pay for performance is utilized in other industries, including its structure, function, frequency, and success. The crucial

Figure 1: Level of Measurement

Level of Measurement


Adds Relationship to Base


Promotions, sales territory assignment

Judgmental Merit pay plans

Doesn’t Add




Small group incentives


Piece rates, commissions

Gain sharing, Profit sharing


Bonus tied to appraisal

Team bonus

component to any pay-for-performance model is the link between salary and some measure of performance. What that measure is, how it is evaluated, and how extensively it impacts compensation is a completely separate conversation for a separate survey and analysis. The taxonomy of pay for performance is explained in a model developed by Milkovich and Widgor (1991) and updated by Adams and Heywood (2009). The model incorporates the level at which performance is measured (group vs. individual), whether the pay increment is permanent (one time vs. added to base), and the performance measurement (formulaic vs. judgmental). As Adams and Heywood write, “…Each of the major types of performance pay can be seen as roughly fitting into this three-way taxonomy. Piece rates and commissions that reward workers for their units produced or sales are schemes that do not add to base, are individual, and formulaic. Typical merit pay plans add to base, are individual but judgmental as they are based on a performance evaluation. Gain sharing and profit sharing do not add to base, are group and formulaic. Typical bonuses may be group or individual, do not add to base, and are often judgmental based on appraisal.” (p. 16) (See Fig. 1, p. 14) The role of pay for performance as based on numerical measures is not as common or widespread as public opinion seems to indicate. Rather, through their analysis of several large surveys of workers and firms, Adams and Heywood report that this specific type of pay for performance— the very type that is being considered for teacher pay—actually has a relatively small role in the private sector. Their analysis had three basic conclusions: “…Pay tied directly to explicit means of employee or group output is surprisingly rare in the private sector... ‘Non production’ bonuses, which are less explicitly tied to worker productivity, are common, and their use has grown over time…the incidence and

growth of bonus pay is disproportionately concentrated in the finance, insurance, and real estate industries…” (p. 6) Armed with this information about the role of pay for performance in the private sector, we can use the survey results to understand what, if any, role pay for performance can have in education, based both on feedback from the field and academic analysis.

intermediate and system-level programs, respectively. • Forty-four percent of respondents reported a moderate/strong interest in a pay-for-performance program at the individual level. Five percent of respondents reported that they are already pursuing such a program in their district. • Forty-six percent of respondents reported a moderate/strong interest in a pay-for-performance program at an intermediary level. Five percent of respondents reported that they are already pursuing such a program in their district.

Survey Results

AASA members who responded to the survey were split regarding their level of interest in pay for performance. Interest levels held relatively stable when examined by community type or enrollment size. Results are reported at three levels, • Forty-four percent of respondents reto reflect the different levels of interest ported a moderate/strong interest in reported for pay-for-performance moda system-wide pay-for-performance els at the individual level (an individual program. Five percent of respondents teacher is rewarded), the intermediary reported that they are already pursulevel (a group or team of teachers is reing such a program in their district. warded), and the system level (every teacher in the system is rewarded). Drilling further into the implementation of a pay-for-performance program, re• More than 20 percent of respondents spondents were asked to identify which had no interest in pay-for-performance educators should be included in the programs, and held steady across levels: model. Far and away, respondents think Twenty-three percent of respondents that any pay-for-performance model had no interest in teacher-level pay- should be implemented at all educafor-performance programs, very simi- tor levels, including teacher, principal, lar to the 22 percent and 24 percent and administrator. Fifteen percent of rewho gave “no interest” responses for spondents identified the teacher level, 14

Figure 2: Level of Implementation

15% 14% 62%


Teacher Principal Administrator All FALL 2009


percent identified the principal level, 9 percent identified the administrator level, and 62 percent identified all three levels. (See Fig. 2, p. 15) School administrators identified a variety of motivating factors that influence their consideration of pay for performance. Not surprisingly, the number-one motivation to implement a pay-for-performance program is improving student achievement, followed by improving teacher effectiveness. (See Fig. 3, below) Respondents identified a variety of system and

individual indicators they would consider in a pay-for-performance model. Student achievement (89 percent) and teacher evaluations (68 percent) were the top two indicators. (See Fig. 4, below) Looking toward implementation of a pay-for-performance program, respondents identified several potential obstacles to implementing such a program.Teacher union resistance (75 percent), the capacity to link teacher evaluation and/or student achievement to evaluations (66 percent), and accuracy of performance measures

(65 percent) were the top three anticipated obstacles. (See Fig. 5, below) Taking a closer look at the links between motivations to implement a pay-forperformance program and the indicators within a program provided interesting insights. Of those respondents identifying a desire to improve student achievement as a motivation for implementing a payfor-performance program, using student achievement data was their top choice (94 percent) when asked to identify the indicators they would use in a pay-for-

Figure 3: Motivating Factors Figure 4: Indicators











Im pro ve


Figure 5: Obstacles

ch Te a









er un ion Ca pa res cit ist yt an ol ce ink da ta to… Ac cu Le r ac ga yo l te f… sts / r est Sch ric oo tio l-s ns yst e Sch m su oo pp lb ort oa rd res ist an ce La ck Co of sts co mm un ity …










ac hie ve Te me ach nt er ev alu Te ati ach on er s att en da Gr nc ad e ua tio Fis nr ca ate lm s an ag Stu em de en nt t att Stu e nd de an nt ce be ha vio ral Te … ach er ret en Te ach tio n er gri ev an ces


stu de To ol nt… for im pro Mo vin tiv g… ati on al too l fo r… Sta te/ Im fed pro era vin l gt ea ch er… Inc lus ion in Co lab mm or un i t yp Ex ist res ing su re cri sis me nt ali ty


performance model, followed by teacher evaluations (71 percent), graduation rates (62 percent), and teacher attendance (55 percent). Interestingly, using student achievement data as an indicator was more common among respondents motivated by a crisis mentality (100 percent) and those motivated by a labor agreement (95 percent). Not surprisingly, among those respondents identifying improving teacher effectiveness’ as a top motivation, student achievement (93 percent), teacher evaluations (77 percent), graduation rates (62 percent), and teacher attendance (58 percent) were the top four indicators they would use in a pay-for-performance model. Use of student behavioral figures (such as suspensions and expulsions) as an indicator in a pay-for-performance model ranked relatively low (only 35 percent) regardless of motivation, with one exception. Respondents who identified a crisis mentality as a motivation were more than twice as likely (78 percent) to include student behavioral figures as an indicator. Speaking more generally, respondents were more likely to identify fiscal management as an indicator in a pay-forperformance program when motivations were more external (community pressure, a state/federal legislative mandate, or a labor agreement). Cross-referencing motivations against anticipated obstacles starts to identify potential gaps or hiccups that can occur between conception and implementation. Respondents motivated by a labor agreement were much more likely to anticipate teacher union resistance as an obstacle (92 percent). Respondents motivated by a state/federal legislative mandate were more likely to identify cost as a potential obstacle (63 percent). Respondents motivated by community pressure were more than twice as likely to identify school system support as an obstacle (44

percent). Interestingly, the same group was also more than twice as likely to identify lack of community support as a potential obstacle (15 percent).

Demographics • A total of 536 school administrators from 45 states completed the brief 10-question survey. • Fifty-two percent of respondents describe their district as rural. Thirteen and 35 percent described their district as urban and suburban, respectively. • Fifty-three percent of respondents work in districts with total student enrollment below 3,000. Eighty-two percent work in districts with student enrollment below 10,000. • Eighty-six percent of respondents are superintendents, with an additional 13 percent working as associate or assistant superintendents.

Different Sectors, Different Structures: Pay-for-Performance Structure Will Vary between the Public and Private Sectors What does all of this mean for pay for performance in America’s public schools? Three things: 1. School leaders’ level of interest in implementing some type of pay-forperformance model is varied. 2. Any pay-for-performance model should be a small component of overall salary, not the driving factor. 3. A lot of work remains to be done. Successful implementation of any pay-for-performance model will require an ongoing dialogue that involves all members of the education community to answer many of the tough remaining questions, covering

everything from who is involved and what the model will look like to how the model will be evaluated and sustained. Tackling perhaps two of the largest topics, the prevalence and structure of pay-forperformance models, education researcher Richard Rothstein describes how the public perception of private sector payfor-performance models is slightly overstated. Private sector programs are not as quantitatively driven as the programs being considered in education: “… Although incentive pay systems are commonplace, they are almost never based exclusively or even primarily on quantitative output measurement for professionals. Indeed, while the share of private sector workers who get performance pay has been increasing, the share who get such pay based on numerical output measures has been decreasing.… The business management literature nowadays is filled with warning about incentives that rely heavily on quantitative rather than qualitative measures. For business organizations, quantitative performance measures are used warily, and never exclusively.” (p. 89) To this end, the AASA survey included an open-ended question inviting respondents’ thoughts and comments. As always, AASA’s members were able to frame and flesh out the beginnings of a very meaningful conversation around the role of pay for performance in America’s public schools. Given the volume and length of the submitted comments, they have been summarized here. Based on the open-ended responses received, it is clear that any conversation around pay for performance should recognize that administrators expect excellence from all of their staff. Echoing a common sentiment of those opposed to pay-for-performance models, some respondents indicated that they do not buy

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the argument that teachers are motivated more by money than a desire to provide quality instruction for students. They argued that good teachers are already doing the best they can, and performancebased pay is highly unlikely to improve their teaching ability. They also contend that poor and mediocre teachers do not become better teachers because more money is offered. Regardless, respondents agree that something needs to be done to both recognize great teachers and keep them in the field. Put more succinctly, money alone is not the answer—educational reform based on best practices will impact student achievement. Additionally, respondents noted that accountability for improvement permeates all levels of the district, so that teachers are accountable for students, principals are accountable

for teachers, superintendents are respon- indicators beyond student test scores, insible for principals, and school boards are cluding work performance and willingaccountable for superintendents. ness and ability to grow. The core themes that emerged from the open-ended responses included the idea that successful pay-for-performance plans will be built around the ability to assess student growth in a way that teachers, administrators, and the public believe is accurate and fair. So many factors—both qualitative and quantitative—go into student achievement that it becomes difficult to directly attribute student performance to a teacher’s successes or failings. A successful plan would reach beyond a single state assessment and would most likely include multiple measures. Respondents also indicated that an individual’s performance would need to incorporate several


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Several additional comments, while not widely articulated, did propose interesting facets and considerations as the discussion of pay for performance moves forward: • What, if any role, does pay for performance have in district-level areas that are business related, like transportation, food service, and grounds/facilities? • The lack of an objective measure on which to base performance pay is constantly cited as an obstacle for pay-forperformance models. Education and policy leaders need to be looking into training models that improve the ability of principals and school administrators to make fair evaluations for pay for performance. • Beyond linking pay for performance, what is the thinking around differentiated pay? • The current economic downturn will definitely impact the ability of state and local leaders to implement payfor-performance models. As the dialogue around pay for performance moves forward, it is vital to recognize that the prevalence and structure of pay for performance in America’s public schools is not—and should not be—identical to that of the private sector. Public schools, as institutions independent of the private sector, need to know about private-sector pay-for-performance plans not so they can be carbon copied, but so schools can consider whether aspects of the plans can be applied successfully to public schools. n

References Adams, S., Heywood, J. & Rothstein, R. (2009). Teachers, Performance Pay, and Accountability: What Education Leaders Should Learn from Other Sectors. The Economic Policy Institute: Washington D.C.

Can Texas Make a U Turn? Lessons from the “Creating a New Vision for Public Education in Texas” Report by Lloyd Goldsmith and Gary R. Tucker We live in a time of crises—financial, energy, water, food, security, leadership, health care, climate, and education. When dealing with these crises we often fail. Why? Growing evidence exists that the cause of our collective failure to properly address these crises is our blindness to a deeper leadership dimension and to transformational change.This “blind spot” exists according to Albert Einstein because problems cannot be resolved at the same level of consciousness that created them. Figure 1: Landscape of Crisis: Each crisis seen as separate but with interconnected root causes. Graphic from a paper presented at the Roundtable on Transforming Capitalism (O. Scharmer, June 8–9, 2009)

C. Otto Scharmer is a senior lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the founding chair of Emerging Leaders for Innovation Across Sectors (ELIAS), an initiative focused on developing profound system innovations. Dr. Scharmer, working with some of the world’s most accomplished leaders and innovators, has developed Theory U, a theory on how groups and organizations can overcome Einstein’s “blind spot” and begin a process of creating a future that they all want.

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The Creating a New Vision for Public Education in Texas report (New Vision Report) was “born from the work and ideas of 35 public school superintendents One does not wake one morning and who came together as a community of decide to create an innovation. Innova- learners to create a new vision for public tive change requires a journey. Theory education in Texas.” Although at the time U came about as core elements of this they may not have realized it, these 35 journey were illuminated by interview- leaders took the first step in finding their ing and studying hundreds of innovators. “inner knowing.” They stopped their Brian Arthur, founding head of the Santa habitual ways of operating and placed Fe Institute, explained that two funda- themselves in a gathering of people with mentally different cognition sources ex- the greatest potential of moving out of ist. The first source is the application of their blind spot. existing frameworks. The second source is accessing what Arthur calls one’s “in- Moving out of their blind spot required ner knowing.” All true innovations in sci- them to stop and listen to others. The ence, business, and society are based on leadership team recognized the need for this latter cognition source—one’s inner schools to adapt to a new and rapidly changing environment. Accomplishing knowing. this change would require a change from “If I wanted to learn how to find my ‘in- a compliance, coercion, and fear model ner knowing,’ what would I have to do?” to a model based on trust, shared values, you ask. The first step is stop your habit- creativity, innovation, and respect. The ual ways of operating and place yourself school district’s role no longer could be in places or in gatherings of people who relegated to one of compliance. A balhave the greatest potential of helping you anced and reinvigorated state-local partmove out of your blind spot. With these nership must be created. A journey had newly discovered people you can come begun.

Theory U and the New Vision for Public Education in Texas Report

together and build a common intent.

Figure 2: Theory U: One Process with Five Movements. Based on a model created by C. Otto Scharmer (2009).



Developing this new vision requires a learning organization. This organization must create change in a rapidly evolving social and technological environment. Theory U provides a new framework for creating the kind of learning organization needed to make the New Vision Report a reality.

A Journey through the Five Movements of Theory U 1. CO-INITIATING—Beginning the U Turn: The Public Education Visioning Institute. At the beginning of any movement toward creating a needed change a

few key individuals gather together and connect in mind, heart, and will. From this “gathering” evolves intent of making a difference in a situation that really matters to them and their communities. As they coalesce into a core group, they maintain a common intention around their purpose and come to understand the people they want to involve and the process they want to use. This is the first

calamity of our time,” the publishers actually left several pages blank so that readers could record “the rest of the events until the end of the world.” Why such gloom? Like today, late 15th century Europe was experiencing crises. Europeans were living in the wake of plagues and the breakdown of the existing social order; the church was often hypocritical and corrupt; and the Moorish encirclement ap2. CO-SENSING—The Red Pill: “The peared to be invulnerable.The paradox of Matrix Is Everywhere …” Transformait all is that the Nuremberg Chronicle of tional change’s limiting factor is not a 1493 was printed using a new technololack of vision and ideas but an inability gy—the printing press. It was the shift of focus that the printing press made possible that would eventually germinate the seeds of the Renaissance. Andy Andrews, a New York Times best-selling author, gives us a “law of the universe” in which to sense; that is, to see deeply, sharply, and collectively. When the core group en- 4. CO-CREATING—We Have Spirit, Yes few seem to be aware. If you have ever ters the second movement, Co-Sensing, We Do. When it comes to leading inno- been part of a gridlocked relationship they begin to see together with depth vation, school leaders have a hole in their system you know this law well—whatand clarity. They become aware of their education. In all our training and school- ever you focus on increases. To continue own collective potential. Through com- ing one important skill is often missing. moving up to the final movement of the U, a shift in focus must occur that allows ing together the group as a whole sees us to see and act from the whole. This is emerging opportunities and the key sysbest articulated by someone who literally temic forces at issue. The Introduction overcame her blind spot—Helen Keller, of the New Vision Report states, “The Public Visioning Institute was born from Scharmer uses a design concept called “Alone we can do so little; together we the work and ideas of thirty-five public rapid prototyping to communicate the can do so much.” school superintendents who came to- missing skill. The missing skill is explorgether as a community of learners to cre- ing a new future by doing.The U journey U Turning ate a new vision for public education in continues only if leaders are willing to Texas.” This document is the product of risk collective failure and learn from that The New Vision Report team has jourCo-Sensing. failure to create success. Leaders who ex- neyed to the third movement of Theory plore the future by doing become living U, Presencing. This is a critical obser3. PRESENCING—The Bottom of the U: examples, resulting in a rapidly widening vation, for it is at presencing that many Turn or Burn. At the bottom of the U, network of change-makers who leverage journeys end. The report is shelved. Dust individuals and groups on the U journey their learning and help each other deal gathers. The group disbands and what come to the threshold. Those involved with innovation’s challenges. It reminds could be never was. However, those on us of that old cheerleader call with a slight this journey have not stopped. TASA and modification, “We have spirit, yes we do! Syfr are continuing the journey with a three-part series, Tomorrow’s Education We have spirit, how about U?” in Today’s Classrooms, where participants in the New Vision Report appear to be 5. CO-EVOLVING—The End Is Near. examine how 21st century students learn, at this movement in their U journey. So The Nuremberg Chronicle of 1493 de- what the future of education should hold, profound is this threshold in the life of scribes a civilization with little vision or and the set of abilities that students need an innovation that Dr. Scharmer coined hope. Referring to what they called “the to succeed in a new era where they will not be the traditional “knowledge worka new word to describe it, Presencing. It ers” but the creators and empathizers. is here that innovations crash and burn The journey will continue in discussions or manage to turn, most burn—some movement of the U process—Co-Initiating: building common intent (See figure 2, p.20).We were not present when TASA called together the 35 public school superintendents who gave birth to the concept of the Public Education Visioning Institute, but it is evident that it came about through Co-Initiating.

turn. The word “presencing” comes from blending sensing and presence. It is at this threshold that perception shifts from what is—to a future that is seeking to emerge. This requires a “letting go.” It requires a new kind of leader. Here it is not only what leaders do and how they do it that is critical but the source from which all their actions originate. While the open heart allows us to see a possible new future, the open will enables us to act from that emerging future. Leaders cannot meet their existing challenges by operating only on the basis of past experiences. They must learn to operate from a different core process, one that pulls them into future possibilities. We all must learn to lead from the future as it emerges.

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in Houston this fall and in Austin in Janu- Lloyd Goldsmith, Ed.D., is chair of Graduate ary at the TASA Midwinter Conference. Studies in Education, College of Education and Human Services, at Abilene Christian Moving from presencing to co-creating University, as well as president of the and finally to co-evolving will determine Texas Council of Professors of Education if the vision called for in the New Vision Administration. He served 17 years as a Texas Report becomes a reality. Looking back principal in Gregory-Portland ISD. at the Theory U graphic, notice that traveling from step 3 to step 4 and to step 5 is up hill. This is done on purpose. For the Gary R. Tucker, Ph.D., is director of Distance journey from step 3 to step 5 is an uphill Education at Abilene Christian University. He battle. Making it through these steps calls served 19 years as a Texas secondary science for a new leadership. We may find that as teacher, mainly in the Andrews and College leaders we will need to equip ourselves Station ISDs. He was nominated three times with new knowledge and skills to help for the Presidential Award for Excellence Texas make the U turn and achieve the in Science and Mathematics Teaching and received the President’s Award for instructional, future we all want. scholarly, and service contributions at Northern The innocents (children) of the system Arizona University. are counting on us. n

References Andrews, A. (2009) The noticer: Sometimes, all a person needs is a little perspective. Nashville: Thomas Nelson. Brainy Quote (2009) Helen Keller quotes. Retrieved July 1, 2009. Website: authors/h/helen_keller.html Scharmer, C. O. (2009) Addressing the blind spot of our time. Retrieved July 1, 2009, from Theory Website: Scharmer, C. O. (2009) Theory U: Leading from the future as it emerges. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler. CA Scharmer, C. O. (June 8-9, 2009) The blind spot of economic thought: Seven acupuncture points for shifting capitalism 2.0 to 3.0. Roundtable on Transforming Capitalism to Create a Regenerative Economy, MIT



Sid Richardson Forum Report Addresses University Production of Secondary Teachers by William E. Reaves

© Brendan Byrne

The Sid Richardson Forum, the educational “think-tank” affiliated with the Sid W. Richardson Foundation, recently issued a final report on the group’s yearlong study of current university-based teacher preparation efforts in Texas. The report, Delivering a High-Quality Teacher Workforce for Texas: Reconsidering University-Based Teacher Preparation in Texas, Renewing Commitments,

and Improving Practice in the TwentyFirst Century, cites declining teacher production patterns among state universities, and calls for renewed attention to teacher preparation among university leaders.

As a part of its ongoing commitment to strengthening the human capital infrastructure of the state’s public schools, The Richardson Foundation impaneled 18 educational leaders from Texas schools and universities to conduct a yearlong review of university-based teacher preparation programs. The group was assisted by facilitators from the Aspen Education Program as well as staff from the Center for Research, Evaluation and Advancement of Teacher Education (CREATE). Members of the Richardson panel included Commissioner of Higher Education Raymund Paredes; Neal Adams, former vice chairman of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (and counsel to TASA); as well as key teacher preparation leaders from The Texas A&M University System, The Texas State University System, The University of Houston System, and The University of Texas System. Representatives from The Houston Endowment, Inc. and The Meadows Foundation of Dallas, other important Texas educational philanthropies, also served on the Forum. Prominent among the panelists were TASA members Sylvester Perez, superintendent, Midland ISD, and Linda Mora, deputy superintendent, Northside ISD, as well as Susan Holley, associate executive director, TASA. The group was cochaired by Valleau Wilkie, executive vice president, Sid W. Richardson Foundation, along with William Reaves, who serves as consultant to the Foundation.

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In conducting their analysis, Forum members reviewed and discussed professional literature on the topic, examined performance information reports associated with CREATE’s PACE reporting system, and heard testimony from numerous experts and resource persons in the field. TASA President John M. Folks and Executive Director Johnny Veselka were among the resource persons interviewed by the committee. The report cites declining teacher preparation trends within state universities over the last five years, and calls special attention to substantial declines in secondary teacher production during this period. Forum members note academic and workforce threats posed for both universities and public schools due to long-term production deficits. They call for executive leaders in state universities to take necessary steps to reprioritize the issue within their respective institutions and to reinvigorate their university teacher preparation programs—especially those producing secondary teachers in math and science. The Forum panel offers universities 10 redesign principles, which constitute a set of “best practices” for university programs gleaned from the panel’s review and deliberations. These redesign principles are described below:

Prioritize University-wide. Teacher education must be embraced and managed as an important university-wide responsibility. While teacher education is certainly an established component of most university programs, it seldom shares the stature and influence of other undergraduate professional educational programs within the university community such as public accounting, engineering, or nursing. Currently, the preparation of secondary teachers is relegated to academic departments distributed across the university’s various colleges. Given 24


the general presses and prerogatives of these disparate departments, there is often little faculty incentive and scant curricular focus on the specialized preparation of teachers. As a consequence, university production of secondary teachers has fallen precipitously. To overcome this organizational phenomenon, teacher preparation, especially that of preparing high school teachers, must be elevated in priority and status within each university department, and faculty who are engaged in this important work must be recognized and rewarded.

Lead University-wide. University-wide teacher education can only be actualized through universitywide leadership structures that are sanctioned and empowered by the chief academic and executive officials of each institution. To this end, presidents and chief academic officers must maintain active, high-profile leadership roles, serving as strong, “hands-on” advocates and continuing champions of the teacher preparation function. Ultimately, it is up to top-level leadership to build and nurture a functional and effective management team through which to design, monitor, and continuously refine university-based teacher preparation.

Organize Institutional Data Systems That Promote Teacher Quality. Necessary improvements in university-based teacher preparation programs should be informed and monitored based on sound data. Although universities seem immersed in a virtual sea of student information, panel discussions revealed that surprisingly little data is readily available, much less routinely applied in efforts to inform and monitor the success of teacher preparation programs. Significant information for lower division undergraduate (freshman/sophomore) students pursuing teacher education options is often overlooked within university student information systems since the area of teacher education is construed (within

university parlance) to be a certification option rather than a degree option. As a result, many institutions fail to identify freshman or sophomore “education” students in their student information systems and thereby limit the institution’s ability to monitor and track this critical student cohort during their earliest years of study. Even where more complete undergraduate documentation does exist, there appear to be very few management reports available to university leaders that chart the input, progress, and output characteristics of teacher education students throughout the university. This would appear to be especially true for secondary teacher candidates in academic fields. While CREATE is attempting to fill this information void through its PACE reporting system, one of the important contributions that might be made by the proposed university leadership teams is that of designing and applying robust, integrated information management systems within their respective institutions. Such integrated systems could result in a better understanding of student progress within university teacher preparation programs and a better understanding of the placement patterns of university teacher graduates. Ultimately, they could inform higher education leaders how well their teacher graduates do in terms of retention and performance in their public school assignments.

Set Goals/Manage Results. Few, if any, institutions establish and communicate teacher production goals, and this would seem an obvious flaw in the university’s effort to supply teachers. Organizational goals (in this instance, production goals) are necessary to foster clear programmatic expectations, essential for proper resource allocation and ultimately necessary to gauge program success. University leaders in teacher preparation must insist on measurable production goals and manage their organizations in a manner that ensures their long-term attainment. In establishing production thresholds, it

also stands to reason that leaders of teacher preparation programs will ensure that their targeted production levels are consistent with the employment demands of state and area school districts.

Recruit Talent/Market Leadership. Universities must also get serious about recruiting outstanding teacher candidates if they are to step up teacher production and quality.While it is fair to say that universities are adept at recruiting for general admissions purposes, our study indicates that most are less proficient in recruiting for specialized talent. This is certainly the case with teachers. Generally, we found that, aside from general dissemination of program information, few university teacher preparation programs engage in active recruiting, either inside or outside the university. One of the important lessons learned from successful programs is that university leaders in all academic dis-

ciplines must seek to attract and encourage the most intellectually talented students to consider teaching. Not only did we learn that identifying and recruiting intellectual talent is vital in teacher preparation, but we also saw that the recruiting message is critical as well.Teaching can be appealing to the social consciousness of many of today’s university students and, therefore, the most successful university recruiting initiatives will present teaching as a challenging yet compelling public service leadership opportunity as well as a gratifying long-term career option.

university teacher preparation programs should incorporate the type of experiences now subsumed in many university “honors programs.”This would mean that even in conjunction with their matriculation within the university’s “core” curriculum, bright teacher candidates would experience enriched and specially targeted activities throughout their university career, and these activities would be differentiated to underscore their teaching focus. To this end, universities must do a better job of formally identifying cohorts of teacher candidates (across all disciplines) early in the process and deTrain as Intellectual Thought Leaders. signing a continuum of educational opUniversities are also obligated to offer an portunities that include rich, intellectueducational and training experience that ally compelling experiences. Examples of treats their teacher candidates as valuable these specialized instructional opportuniintellectual and thought leaders for future ties include special and early access to noclassrooms.To nurture student motivation table educational leaders or master public and provide prospective teachers with a school teachers, special field experiences, “high end” undergraduate learning track, or simply early mentorship opportunities with university faculties.

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tive participation is rewarded in the tenure and promotion process. Finally, there was strong support for the involvement of professional partners in the formal appraisal and evaluation of the university’s teacher preparation efforts.

teacher learning and effectiveness. While there is a growing body of studies that Universities must also cultivate talented underscore the important influence of and dynamic multidisciplinary teacher effective teachings, there appears to be preparation faculties with joint appointless definitive research on the repertoire ments in both education and the arts and of skills and classroom practices that acsciences. These faculties should be deeply tually enable teachers to attain high levengaged in the redesign and continuous Nurture/Expand Community College els of effectiveness! Teacher effectiveness improvement of the university’s teacher Partners. has indeed proven to be the more compreparation programs and services within their respective subject fields.They should Just as it is necessary for successful uni- plex and often illusive construct (or set also be actively involved in the recruit- versity teacher preparation programs to of constructs). The notion of effectivement, placement, induction, and profes- collaborate with public school colleagues, ness in teaching is plagued by a lack of sional development of their students. The so is it essential to cultivate and strength- conceptual clarity, as well as a concomiuniversity’s teacher preparation faculty en partnerships with feeder community tant lack of professional consensus related should be encouraged to work actively colleges in order to enhance the quality to its measurement and standards. With with public school partners and within and productivity of university-based pro- the possible exception of early reading, public school settings. Most importantly, grams. While community colleges would teacher quality has also proven to be one they should be rewarded within the uni- seem to be an obvious partnership con- of the most underfunded and underversity’s tenure and promotion structure nection for university teacher preparation researched components within the profor their important professional work and programs, forum deliberations suggested fessional community—a fact that further that deep faculty dialogue and ongoing contributes to ambiguity surrounding the acknowledged for their efforts. program collaboration are exceptions issue.Teacher quality represents, therefore, Nurture/Involve School Partners. rather than the rule of current practice. a critical educational research agenda that Universities cannot produce the effec- Likewise, early professional enrichment begs for empirical investigation through tive teachers that we need in isolation. opportunities for community college concerted, long-term study within the It is simply not possible to produce the teacher candidates are rare. Commu- professional community. quality and quantity of teachers needed nity colleges represent the initial point in today’s public schools without the ac- of entry into higher education for many tive support and engagement of partner- teaching candidates in Texas. Universities, The redesign principles represent the ing schools and exemplary educators. therefore, must develop genuine partner- Forum’s “take aways” from its review of Authentic experiences and professional ships with these feeding entities in order what the panelists considered to be the exemplars seem particularly crucial in to recruit the most talented students en- state’s most promising practices in unieffectively translating the nuances of tering through the community college versity-based teacher preparation. In this classroom management and pedagogi- route, provide a seamless transition that sense, the Forum report does offer good cal content knowledge to novice teacher ensures their academic progress through news for stakeholders in the state’s teachcandidates. To this end, it is important lower division courses, and nurtures their er preparation process in that the panel notes a substantial number of excellent that universities grow and nurture a re- early interests as prospective teachers. teacher preparation programs already ungional cadre of public school partners, Expand Research on Teacher derway at various state universities. The integrating them as full-fledged members challenge is to capitalize upon such innoof the university “community” and ac- Effectiveness. tively engaging them in the improvement Universities must cultivate and support vative efforts and bring them to “scale” in dialogue as well as instructional delivery energetic and productive research com- order to turn around declining university of the teacher education program. Based munities on teacher qualities and effec- teacher production trends. on the panel’s discussion of these school- tiveness. These research collaboratives university partnerships, it seems particu- should comprise teacher preparation The Forum report and its findings have larly important from the perspective of faculties from throughout the univer- already been embraced by Commissionsecondary teacher development that arts sity, working in collaboration with public er Paredes and presented as information and sciences faculties (as well as those in school partners. These researchers must to the Texas Higher Education Coordieducation colleges) play a vigorous role in be encouraged and supported to build nating Board. Likewise, the Council of school-centered instruction, research, and and carry out a long-term, multidisci- Public University Presidents and Chaninstructional evaluation, and that this ac- plinary research agenda around issues of cellors (CPUPC) has acknowledged the

Engage/Reward Faculty.



significance of university work in this area and has encouraged member executives to re-examine their current teacher preparation practices in light of the Forum’s recommendations. To further advance the Forum’s recommendations and support university review of their own programs, CREATE and the Richardson Foundation will co-host an upcoming fall planning retreat for university leadership teams to be headed by presidents and/or academic vice-presidents. One of the report’s significant recommendations for school superintendents (albeit not a new one) has to do with strengthening teacher preparation partnerships involving universities and school districts. District and campus-level partnerships have been pursued for many years, but with the exception of student teaching sites, it is unusual to find substantive examples of sustained teacher

preparation partnerships in our state. Few would disagree, however, that in order to recruit and prepare sufficient numbers of excellent classroom teachers for Texas schools for the long term, it will be imperative that universities and school districts find ways to work collaboratively in the field. The report highlights this need. With issuance of the Richardson report, proactive superintendents might consider new overtures with leaders of area universities, as the study will hopefully serve to underscore the need and heighten university inclination to revisit issues of teacher preparation along with public school employers. n

William E. Reaves, Ph.D., is executive director emeritus and director of special programs at the Center for Research, Evaluation and Advancement of Teacher Education (CREATE).

Mark your calendar! TASA Midwinter Conference and Education Expo January 24-27, 2010 Austin Convention Center Join superintendents and other education leaders from across the state in this premier learning event that celebrates and showcases public education in Texas. Register online:

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Legal Insights Deciphering the Code: AdDRESSing Student Speech in Public Schools by Ramiro Canales

One of the greatest challenges for school administrators is developing a dress code that is free of constitutional landmines. Many students view public schools as an ideal public forum for individual expression via the clothes they wear. Shirts, in particular, are the most common means of communicating messages that distinguish students from each other and convey a sense of being “keul.” To some, wearing shirts that convey political messages or an allegiance to a particular university or professional sports team is within the confines of constitutionally protected speech. Previous court rulings have held that school districts have clear authority to adopt school uniforms. Typically, school uniforms allow little or no opportunity for student speech through a choice of clothing.The law has been somewhat unclear, however, on whether a dress code is to be analyzed differently from a school

uniform for purposes of determining whether students’ speech rights are unduly limited by regulating student speech through choice of clothing. This ambiguity was recently clarified in Palmer v.Waxahachie ISD (No. 08-10903), a case of first impression, by a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has legal jurisdiction over Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. The court’s opinion clarified that student speech through choice of clothing can be regulated by public school districts that adopt restrictive dress codes. Paul Palmer, the student Plaintiff, was represented by Kelly Shackelford of the Liberty Legal Institute, an organization dedicated to protecting religious freedoms and First Amendment rights. Waxahachie ISD was represented by Sara Leon, an Austinbased school law attorney whose law firm (Powell & Leon, LLP) represents school districts across Texas. At issue in the case

was the constitutionality of a dress code adopted by the school district, which regulated messages on shirts, and whether Palmer was entitled to an injunction enjoining the school district from enforcing the dress code. The original dispute arose in 2007 after Palmer was prohibited from wearing a shirt with “San Diego” written on it. The dress code in effect at that time prohibited students from wearing messages on shirts unless the message was related to a club, a sports team, a university, or public school spirit. He presented a shirt with “John Edwards for President ’08” written on it as an alternative, and it too was rejected. Palmer sued, alleging a violation of his First Amendment rights, but the case was dismissed because the school district had adopted a new, more restrictive dress code four days before a hearing was held on the lawsuit in May 2008 that would go into effect for the following

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school year. Palmer submitted three new any of the four categories of prohibited shirts with messages for approval under speech recognized by the U.S. Supreme the new dress code, which prohibited all Court. However, it argued that a Fifth non-school writing on clothing. All three Circuit case — Canady v. Bossier Parish shirts were summarily rejected. He filed Sch. Bd., 240 F3d 437, 440 (5th Cir. 2001) suit again in 2008, and his request for a — was controlling because the school’s preliminary injunction was denied a sec- dress code was “content neutral.” Unlike ond time. the case at hand, Canady involved a constitutional challenge to a school uniform To determine whether the U.S. district dress code. judge abused her discretion in denying the preliminary injunction, the judicial Noticeably, the most contentious issue panel paid special attention to one of the was the type of constitutional scrutiny to four elements necessary for obtaining a apply in this case. In the Tinker decision, preliminary injunction — whether Palm- the U.S. Supreme Court adopted a “strict er had a substantial likelihood of success scrutiny” analysis to regulation of student on the merits. To assess the likelihood of speech based upon its content. Accordsuccess, the court had to make a judicial ing to Palmer, under the strict scrutiny determination on the constitutionality of test,Waxahachie ISD would have to show the school district’s dress code. that it had a “compelling governmental interest” in limiting what a student can In its analysis, the judicial panel noted wear. Palmer argued that his political that the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed speech is “pure speech”; therefore, any public schools to limit student speech in regulation of “pure speech” must be anacertain circumstances. The panel noted lyzed with heightened scrutiny. However, that “the constitutional rights of students the panel dismissed Palmer’s argument in public school are not automatically co- and applied an “intermediate scrutiny” extensive with the rights of adults in oth- test — “the traditional time, place, and er settings.” Morse v. Frederick, 127 S.Ct. manner analysis and the O’Brien test for 2618, 2621 (2007). Specifically, the panel expressive conduct” — because the dress identified four different U.S. Supreme code was viewpoint- and content-neuCourt cases that authorize public schools tral. This is the same level of scrutiny that to limit speech: Tinker v. Des Moines In- was applied in Canady v. Bossier Parish Sch. dependent Community School District, 393 Bd., 240 F3d 437, 440 (5th Cir. 2001). U.S. 503 (1969) (prohibit speech that In its opinion, the panel concluded that materially interferes with or disrupts the the dress code at Waxahachie ISD “will school’s operation); Bethel School District pass constitutional scrutiny if it furthers No. 403 v. Fraser, 478 U.S. 675, 687 (1986) an important or substantial governmen(prohibit “sexually explicit, indecent, or tal interest; if the interest is unrelated to lewd speech”); Hazelwood School District the suppression of student expression; v. Kuhlmeier, 484 U.S. 260, 271-73 (1988) and if the incidental restrictions on First (regulate school-sponsored speech); and Amendment activities are no more than Morse v. Frederick, 127 S.Ct. 2618 (2007) is necessary to facilitate that interest.” Id. (prohibit “speech advocating illegal drug use”). Waxahachie ISD acknowledged After reviewing the entire appellate rethat Palmer’s shirts did not fit within cord, the panel concluded that the dress



code at Waxahachie ISD was contentneutral because it did not target a specific type of speech, even though the dress code included an exception for buttons and logos. “[A] regulation is generally ‘content-neutral’ if its restrictions on speech are not based on disagreement with the message it conveys.” Brazos Valley Coal. For Life, Inc., v. City of Bryan,Tex., 421 F.3d 314, 326-27 (5th Cir. 2005). In addition, the statistical evidence, sworn testimony, and reasons provided by the school district about the benefits of having a strict dress code sufficed to justify the “substantial governmental interest” prong in the Canady and O’Brien tests. Importantly, the panel concluded that “federal courts should give substantial deference to schools where they present their reasons for passing a given dress code.” Finally, the court found that the dress code was not too restrictive because it allowed students to express themselves after school hours and “through other mediums during the school day.” The legal battle over Waxahachie ISD’s dress code may not be over. Palmer and his attorneys have vowed to continue fighting and may request an en banc (full court) review of the panel’s opinion or appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court. If the panel’s decision is not reversed, it is binding legal precedent that provides clear guidance to school districts in developing a strict dress code that will pass constitutional muster. n Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice. Specific questions and circumstances regarding the issues addressed in this article should be individually discussed with legal counsel. Ramiro Canales is assistant executive director, Governmental Relations, at TASA. He is an attorney licensed by the State Bar of Texas.

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