TEXAS ASSOCIATION OF SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS PROFESSIONAL JOURNAL
The Primary Reading Inventory
El Inventario de Lectura en Español de Tejas
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Category: Education Updated: Jan 29, 2010 Current Version: 1.2.3 1.8 MB Languages: English © 2010 Liberty Source
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Spring 2010 Volume 25
No. 1 FEATURED Articles Fostering Teacher Resilience: A Model for Administrators
by Janice Taylor, Alice Fisher, Stacey Edmonson, and Beverly Irby Discusses how support systems can foster resilience and benefit all teachers by increasing the chances of their retention in the education profession
Creating a New Vision for Public Education: One District’s Journey
by Shannon Buerk, Mechelle Bryson, and Melody Paschall Shares how district leaders in Coppell ISD used two powerful tools to create and nurture an organizational culture focused on and committed to transformation
Failing Early: Applying Pixar’s Success Model to Education
by Christine Drew and Richard Erdmann Describes a Syfr-TASA field trip to Pixar Animation Studios, where creativity and risk are encouraged using an approach that relies on timing, assessment, and collaboration
The Texas Public School Research Network: A Study of Teacher Selection, Assignment, and Classroom Effectiveness in Texas Public Schools
by J. Casey McCreary Gives an overview of a TPSRN study being conducted that holds promise for optimizing “position fit” and advancing long-term classroom effectiveness of teachers in our state
Seeds of Change for the 21st Century
by Christine Drew Questions whether curriculum alignment (defined as the degree to which taught, tested, and written standards align) is an adequate process for ensuring success for 21st century students
Legal Insights Administrator Evaluations: Avoiding Anonymity
by Neal W. Adams, Jerry D. Bullard, and Allan S. Graves Emphasizes the importance of superintendents being vigilant in assuring that the evaluative process for administrators does not include anonymous staff input, a violation of the Texas Administrative Code
Departments President’s Message Executive Director’s View
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
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
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. © 2010 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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3/10/09 4:14:03 PM
Doing What’s Right and What’s Best s the school year begins to wind to an end, I want to express to all of you how much I enjoyed the opportunity to serve as TASA president over the last year. At this point in my career, it truly was a capstone experience. It has been such a pleasure to serve with my fellow officers and the Executive Committee, and I look forward to my continued association with TASA as past president. I wish Wylie ISD Superintendent Dr. John Fuller all the best as the incoming TASA president.
President’s Message It has been such a pleasure to serve with my fellow officers and the Executive Committee, and I look forward to my continued association with TASA as past president. I wish Wylie ISD Superintendent Dr. John Fuller all the best as the incoming TASA president.
I’d also like to express my deepest appreciation to TASA Executive Director Johnny Veselka and the entire TASA staff. TASA would not be the fine organization it is without the leadership of Dr. Veselka and a staff that works so hard day after day to advocate for Texas public education. Over the last year, TASA has been active in numerous issues that arose following the 2009 legislative session thanks to the leadership of Amy Beneski, TASA’s associate executive director for Governmental Relations; and Dr. Richard Middleton, chairman of the Legislative Committee. Some of those efforts include: • Making sure the State Board of Education sets indirect cost limits in accordance with legislative intent and statute • Seeking clarification from Education Commissioner Robert Scott on whether school districts must provide step increases to teaching staff in the second year of the biennium • Providing input to SBOE members about proposed graduation requirements • Meeting with the Comptroller’s office on the required ranking of districts by financial and academic accountability • Securing formula-based funding for Accelerated Reading Instruction (ARI) and Accelerated Math Instruction (AMI) • Initiating discussions with TEA about the attendance issues related to H1N1 absences and ADA funding We already are making preparations for the 2011 legislative session, and as we look to next year, we know the biggest challenge we face will be funding our schools. We certainly will work with our elected officials to make sure the state stabilization funding is replaced and additional funding is appropriated for public education in a fair and equitable manner. Without a doubt, this will be a difficult hurdle given the projected shortfall of revenue at the state level.The future of Texas public education will depend on the many decisions that are made during this session. On the federal level, we are appreciative of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus funds, and we look forward to the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, commonly known as NCLB, and the changes that may be forthcoming as a result. In closing, our challenges are many and great, but through the leadership of TASA, we can all work together and do what’s right and what’s best for Texas public education.
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Providing Support at a Critical Time
Executive director’s VIEW …the TASA Summer Conference, June 27–29, sponsored jointly with The University of Texas at Austin’s Department of Educational Administration, will be devoted entirely to the theme “Balancing Budgets, School Finance, and Performance.”
s we look ahead to the 2011 Legislative Session, we know that TASA members throughout the state are confronted with difficult budget decisions. The TASA Legislative Committee is already focused on the legislative and state policy issues looming on the horizon. The committee will meet jointly with the Executive Committee in a two-day planning session in early April to review the critical talking points that need to be directed to legislators and other state officials. Our governmental relations staff is busy documenting the challenges facing school districts and is preparing a series of policy briefs and fact sheets that can be used in communicating the challenges and desired outcomes throughout the current election cycle and into the legislative session. I want to encourage TASA members to call on any of our staff or myself whenever we can be of assistance. And I hope that you will continue to take advantage of the learning opportunities offered in our various conferences and seminars. In fact, the TASA Summer Conference, June 27–29, sponsored jointly with The University of Texas at Austin’s Department of Educational Administration, will be devoted entirely to the theme “Balancing Budgets, School Finance, and Performance.” We are planning a series of sessions that will help you address critical budget issues and learn how your colleagues across the state are addressing these same matters. Look for registration information before the end of March! Don’t forget to mark your calendar for the 50th Annual TASA/TASB Convention in Houston, September 24–26. Looking back briefly, I want to thank TASA members for helping to make our 2010 Midwinter Conference the best ever.With nearly 4,000 educators in attendance, this was our largest conference ever! The conference online evaluation form generated almost 900 responses. Your positive comments are greatly appreciated, and the suggestions you have offered regarding speakers, program content, and format are indispensable to the successful planning of future conferences. Thank you for your continuing support and suggestions on how we can better serve you and your leadership team.
2010 Spring/Summer Calendar April Date
14–15 First-time Superintendents Academy, Session 4 Experts in the Field
Austin Marriott North Hotel, Round Rock, TX
Texas Association of Suburban and Mid-Urban Schools (TAS/MUS) Spring Conference
Hyatt Hill Country Resort, San Antonio, TX
Budget Boot Camp
Experts in the Field
ESC Region 13, Austin, TX
Level I Curriculum Management Audit Training
TASA Headquarters, Austin, TX
Texas Association of Secondary School Principals (TASSP) 2010 Summer Conference
Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA) 2010 Summer Conference
Austin Renaissance Hotel, Austin, TX
Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) Summer Leadership Institute South
Marriott Rivercenter (on the River walk), San Antonio, TX
Quality Questioning to Develop Engaged, Responsible, and Reflective Learners
TASA Headquarters, Austin, TX
Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) Summer Leadership Institute North
Renaissance Worthington, Fort Worth, TX
Texas Council of Women School Executives (TCWSE) Annual Summer Conference
Austin Renaissance Hotel, Austin, TX
University of Texas/Texas Association of School Administrators (UT/TASA) 62nd Annual Summer Conference on Education
Austin Renaissance Hotel, Austin, TX
Beth Sattes, Jackie Walsh
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Fostering Teacher Resilience: A Model for Administrators by Janice Taylor, Alice Fisher, Stacey Edmonson, and Beverly Irby
Retaining teachers in the education profession is a never-ending national challenge. As teachers are faced with the challenges to be successful in diverse classroom settings and to meet federal and state accountability standards, they must have the ability and the competence to adjust to changing situations. Resilience is a critical element in helping teachers to meet these challenges and in retaining them in the education profession. Teacher resilience is defined as the ability to adjust to varied situations and increase oneâ€™s competence in the face of adverse conditions (Gordon & Coscarelli, 1996; Masten, Best, & Garmezy, 1990). Because teachers encounter multiple situations involving adversity, stress, and conflict, they must be provided resources that enhance their personal qualities, problem solving skills, and prior experiences to cope with and adjust to negative conditions. The prevailing conditions associated with teaching make it necessary for all teachers to be resilient (Bobek, 2002), but perhaps especially minority teachers. As the presence of African American teachers continues to decline in public schools, 9 out of 10 teachers are White, and only 6 percent are African American (What the Numbers Say, 2005).Thus, keeping these teachers in the classroom is critically important. In a follow-up study on resilience among African American teachers who taught during the era of desegregation, a model for encouraging resilience among all teachers, including African Americans, was developed. Through this model, administrators may be able to facilitate among teachers the resilience necessary to handle adversity and maintain their careers in education. Developing resilience is an active process of endurance and growth that occurs over time and allows individuals to adapt to adversity by learning and developing resilient behaviors, thoughts, and actions. Polidore (2004) developed a theory on resilience with African American female teachers, which focused on how individuals continued careers in education despite subjugation to significant adversity. The model consists of eight characteristics of resilience: (a) deeply committed, (b) enjoys change, (c) bias for optimism, (d) positive relationships, (e) education viewed as important, (f) moral/spiritual support; (g) flexible locus of control, and (h) can control events or autonomy. One additional theme, efficacy, was added to the resilience theory model (see Figure 1). When administrators assist in the development of these characteristics of resilience in teachers, the chance of increasing teacher retention in education improves.
Figure 1. Graphic conceptualization of resilience in education theoretical framework. Copyright 2004 by E. Polidore. Adapted with permission. Developmental Perspective (Life Cycle)
Ecological Perspective Deeply Committed
Moral/ Spiritual Support
Resilient Educator Enjoys Change
Flexible Locus of Control
Bias for Optimism
Can Control Events
How Administrators Can Foster Resilience in Teachers For public school administrators to achieve the academic goals established each year requires continuity and retention of the teaching staff. Retaining both new and experienced teachers requires that teachers be provided with the necessary resources and administrative support, but, most importantly, administrators must model what is expected and engage in practices that will encourage the retention of teachers from one year to the next. The behaviors and expectations of teachers are often exemplified in the school’s leader. If an administrator does not exhibit positive behavior, it is likely that the teachers on the staff may not exhibit positive behavior. If an administrator has low expectations of the staff, the teachers may have low expectations of their students. Therefore, the school’s leader must demonstrate and model what is expected of the teachers so that they can meet the challenges that occur in the education profession and experience job satisfaction. Experiencing job satisfaction will likely increase teacher retention. The administrator must model resilience
and provide professional development opportunities for teachers to learn how to become resilient. Administrators can develop models of resilience using Polidore’s (2004) resilience theory model and the additional theme of efficacy to retain teachers.
to build resilience. Administrators should research the benefits of the professional learning community model, which includes scheduling time during the day for teachers to interact as professionals by sharing ideas, discussing common problems, and seeking solutions that will aid in building their resilience as classroom teachers.Additionally, effective administrators also recognize the importance of showing teachers value and appreciation for the work they do. Effective leaders also recognize the role that experienced mentors play in developing positive relationships with new teachers. Meaningful relationships with mentors may have a profound impact on the decision of early-year teachers to stay in education. Administrators who (a) demonstrate concern for teachers, (b) seek their input, (c) develop opportunities to showcase their talents and increase job satisfaction, and (d) trust them to do their job may ultimately impact teacher resilience and teacher retention.
In this era of accountability and high-stakes standardized testing, the focus for school administrators and teachers is on meeting the academic needs of the students, as it should be; however, dedicated teachers have Applying Polidore’s Modified the personal need to connect with students Resilience Theory Model through creativity and innovativeness. In order to keep these teachers in the Administrators, when developing a profession, and to maintain their enthusiasm resilience model to apply to teachers, may about teaching and molding young minds, include the following components and administrators and policymakers must not correlating resilience theme. forget that in order to build resilience in teachers, they must be given the flexibility Positive Relationships to exercise autonomy. Teachers must be Positive relationships with colleagues, given the opportunity to use their resources administrators, students, and parents are a to connect with their students creatively. key factor in helping teachers to remain Understanding how teachers can sustain in the teaching profession. Professional their energy and passion for teaching will learning communities provide teachers with help administrators, teacher preparation the opportunity to engage in professional programs, and policymakers to provide discourse and to serve as an avenue professional development opportunities that provides teachers with the type of that will nurture this important need. collegiality that fosters the support needed
Flexible Locus of Control Teachers must be taught when it is appropriate to adjust behaviors. This requires that teachers be able to assess when a situation has resulted from the power or control of others, which indicates external locus of control. A situation that results from something that is under the control of the individual teacher indicates internal locus of control. The ability to make these determinations, or to exercise flexible locus of control, will enable teachers to know when they should make the necessary changes required to resolve a situation that may yield a positive outcome for the teacher and others impacted by the teacher’s decision. Administrators can assist teachers in understanding how locus can influence their appropriate choice of behavior, and how to build resilience through the flexible use of each locus. Understanding this concept can help teachers to alleviate unnecessary stress and experience greater job satisfaction.
Commitment is not a concept that can be taught to teachers; however, commitment can be modeled for them by administrators and policymakers. Administrators can model commitment to teachers by providing relevant and targeted professional growth opportunities. Administrators can also demonstrate their commitment to teachers through appreciation and recognition. Policymakers can demonstrate their commitment to teachers by providing venues that give teachers voice, seeking their input, and actually listening to the concerns of those who are in the trenches in our nation’s classrooms. In turn, teachers can model commitment to their students by helping to foster a can-do spirit in them. Parents may also take the same approach with their children by sending students to school physically and mentally prepared to learn at their maximum potential. As parents pledge their commitment to their children and the school to become active participants in the educational lives of their Enjoys Change children, our schools will improve, and In public education, change is inevitable. teachers may be retained. Standards for high-stakes testing are a moving target. Changes in student Optimistic Bias demographics, parental involvement, A bias for optimism can be perceived as student apathy, and increasing workloads a strategy that administrators can use to all require that teachers be prepared to keep teachers encouraged when adjusting meet the challenges brought about by to changes in curriculum, dealing with change. Teacher preparation programs, difficult parents, and handling unruly policymakers, and administrators must students. Providing teachers the support take ownership in arming teachers with they need by attending parent conferences the strategies and tools to cope with and seeking their input for curriculum change. Administrators can provide extra changes are ways that administrators can assistance to teachers to identify students keep teachers optimistic and increase who are struggling in order to increase their chances of remaining in education. their chances of success in the classroom. Resilient teachers can be encouraged to Administrators can also become excellent see the glass as half full, even in the most models for teachers by showing them how challenging situations. Furthermore, to cope with the ongoing changes in public teachers who are optimistic and confident education. Administrators and teacher may help a child to deal with his or her preparation programs must commit to keep own adversity by enhancing their personal teachers in the pipeline regarding any new characteristics and resilience.These teachers educational developments. help to build a child’s resilience by focusing on his strengths rather than his weaknesses.
Education Viewed as Important Administrators play a key role in helping teachers reinforce the importance of education to their parents and students, especially when dealing with difficult adults and/or children. Helping students to make a connection between their short-term and long-term goals, while emphasizing how education will make the goals more attainable, will be beneficial to parents, teachers, and students over time.
Religion While discourse about religion and school in the same conversation is controversial, teachers, administrators, and students often come from homes where one’s life is anchored in a higher power. While maintaining awareness and respect for the many cultures and beliefs represented in schools today, administrators must model tolerance, sensitivity, and appreciation for teachers, students, and parents of other religious beliefs; and exercise extra care and caution in following district policies and procedures.
Efficacy Teacher efficacy, a powerful type of selfefficacy, pertains to the beliefs that an individual has about his or her capacity to achieve at a certain level. Bandura (1997) stated that the individual beliefs a person has can influence how much effort is put forth, how long they will persist when faced with obstacles, and how resilient they are when attempting to cope with demands and challenges. The concept of teacher efficacy has far reaching effects that can impact student beliefs and achievement, parental relations, teacher performance, collegiality, and the school organization as a whole. Administrators and teacher preparation programs must view their role seriously in developing efficacious teachers. As accountability standards continue to increase and more pressure is placed on teachers, teachers with a high degree of efficacy are likely to embrace the changes
that must occur to improve student achievement. Administrators must develop efficacy beliefs among both experienced and novice teachers by providing opportunities for them to acquire new skills and knowledge through professional development and by providing specific feedback about job performances.
Summary Encouraging the themes of resilience may lead to an increase in teacher retention for teachers of all races or ethnicities.As student populations become more ethnically diverse, retaining teachers from minority backgrounds is particularly important. A
Are You Using These TASA Services? Governmental Advocacy, Legal Support, Publications, Information Resources —we’ve got what you need to be a top-notch leader! Plus special services to enhance your district and its leadership team! n TASA Accountability Forum
Offered by TASA in cooperation with Moak, Casey & Associates, the TASA Accountability Forum is a unique subscription service designed to assist superintendents and other school leaders in analyzing and implementing the mandates of House Bill 3 and other accountability issues. Forum subscribers benefit from a built-in network of expert advisors who bridge the gap between state and local school districts. In addition, subscribers become part of an active professional community where peers share information and solutions. n TASA Research Connection
TASA and the Educational Research Service have joined forces to offer Texas school administrators access to the most comprehensive array of educational research in the country through TASA Research Connection. We offer two levels of support—both provide affordable solutions to your research needs. n Online Resources
TASA’s Web site has a host of online resources to help your district succeed: TASA Daily, Superintendent’s Calendar, legislative resources and bill-tracking system, online Career Center, and more! n Professional Development Services
Championing Educational Excellence summarizes TASA’s mission and is the foundation of our 2009–10 professional development program. Learn how our conferences and workshops can help your district staff strengthen their teamwork and reach their leadership potential. n Facility Planning Services
Every school district in Texas could benefit from long-range facility planning. Let our knowledgeable and experienced consultants give you a taste of how a TASA facility study, including enrollment projections, demographic studies, and space and educational programming, can improve every aspect of your district operations. For information on any TASA service, contact us at 512.477.6361 or 800.725.8272, or visit us online at TASAnet.org
lack of diversity in the teacher workforce can negatively impact the opportunities for all children to see minority teachers as positive role models in education. Regardless of the unique or common challenges that teachers encounter, if they are to remain in the education profession and lessen the chances of education being a revolving door profession, they must receive the support necessary to stay. Support systems that foster resilience can benefit all teachers and increase the chances of their retention in the education profession. Helping teachers to become resilient can lead to an increase in teacher retention for n teachers of all races or ethnicities. Dr. Janice Taylor is executive director of Human Resource Services at Klein ISD; and Dr. Alice Fisher is chair, Department of Health and Kinesiology, Dr. Stacey Edmonson is professor and acting chair, Department of Educational Leadership, and director, Center for Research & Doctoral Studies in Educational Leadership, and Dr. Beverly Irby is associate dean, College of Education, Sam Houston State University.
References Bandura,A. (1997). Self-efficacy:The exercise of control. New York: Cambridge University. Bobek, B. (2002). Teacher resiliency: A key to career longevity. Clearing House, 75(4), 202. Gordon, K. A., & Coscarelli, W. C. (1996). Recognizing and fostering resilience. Performance Improvement, 35(9), 14-17. Polidore, E. (2004). The teaching experiences of Lucille Bradley, Maudester Hicks, and Algeno McPherson before, during, and after desegregation in the rural south: A theoretical model of adult resilience among three African American female educators (Doctoral dissertation, Sam Houston State University, 2004). Dissertation Abstracts International, 65, 08. What the numbers say. (2005, February). Curriculum Review, Retrieved November 29, 2007, from Academic Search Complete database.
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Join TASA and Syfr in SyfrSpace™ The Collaborative eLearning Network Engage in 21st century learning with your staff by entering SyfrSpace™, a Collaborative eLearning Network for educators.This online professional development product—developed collaboratively by TASA and Syfr—will help you create transformational change in your school district consistent with the work of the Texas Public Education Visioning Institute. What constitutes the transforming process? SyfrSpace™ focuses on two aspects of this work. First, it introduces diverse ideas from many fields outside education and links them to education. Second, it is designed and priced so that it can be inexpensively shared with all staff resulting in change that builds from the classroom to your community. SyfrSpace™ is a three-tiered interactive podcast service. The first tier, Story, is FREE and is the “inside education” link. It consists of the stories of successful educational transformations throughout the country. The second tier, Intersections™, is a subscription level and provides diverse ideas from multiple fields, connects them to education (Story), and provides various forms of interactive conversations. FieldWork, the third tier (also a subscription level), is customized and supports on-site professional development from TASA, Syfr, and any other professional development organization. For more information or to join the TASA and Syfr Collaborative eLearning Network™ contact: Richard Erdmann, 360.335.0352 or email@example.com Christine Drew, 205.276.4553 or firstname.lastname@example.org Johnny Veselka, 800.725.8272 or email@example.com
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Creating a New Vision for Public Education: One District’s Journey by Shannon Buerk, Mechelle Bryson, and Melody Paschall
“We are not focused on the accountability system,” said Superintendent Dr. Jeff Turner, addressing a group of community members.“If you want us to focus on the goal of exemplary, you need to let us know.We know that we excel in the current system, but we also know that is not enough for our students to be prepared for the world in which they will live, work, and compete.Therefore, we do not pat ourselves on the back for the outstanding ratings we have received based solely on TAKS scores; instead, we continue to focus on accomplishing the mission and objectives you have helped us determine for our students.”
When teachers, parents, administrators, school board members, and even students across the state of Texas are asked, “What is the purpose of school?” the answer most often is to become exemplary. However, the good news is that the tide is beginning to turn. Visionary, forwardthinking educators, parents, and community members are realizing that the achievement of an exemplary status is not, and should not be, the purpose of education. In fact, in a few districts, the leaders have proclaimed this status attainment goal, or any goal related only to the accountability system, to be in conflict with their real purpose of educating our nation’s children to meet the demands of postsecondary education. One of these forward-thinking districts is Coppell ISD, a suburban north Dallas independent school district of 10,000 students. Superintendent Dr. Jeff Turner, the Coppell ISD Board of Trustees, and other district leaders have engaged the community in a dialogue designed to garner permission to redefine success and accomplish the district’s mission, which has been created through a collaborative process that included a strong community voice. Over the past six years, this process has been revised several times. The district has used its strategic plan to drive organizational transformation that includes new learning environments, new learning standards and assessments, and a new accountability for learning in Coppell. Interestingly, the TAKS scores are not suffering. In fact, not only did TAKS scores in every subject for every student group increase significantly, dual enrollment increased by 496 percent, Advanced Placement (AP) participation increased by 44 percent (while maintaining performance), and Distinguished Achievement Program (DAP) graduates increased from 11 to 41 percent. These statistics underscore the importance of the strategic planning process and Dr.Turner’s declaration. So, how was the district able to transform? It began with a single step toward effective community engagement. Armed with the strategic planning process, the district created a new system that focused on learning environments, standards, assessments, and accountability issues in a global context.The end result was a pathway to transformation for Coppell. Interestingly, while leading Coppell through this ongoing transformation, Dr.Turner was also collaborating with several other Texas superintendents to create a new vision for Texas public education. Many of the changes in Coppell mirror the articles declared in the culminating document Creating a New Vision for Public Education in Texas. So, how did they do it? What does it look like to implement the articles in the visioning document, and how were the leaders in Coppell already accomplishing this while the document itself was being written?
than 1,000 stakeholders were involved in the process. With clarity of direction established through the strategic process, leaders are now freed up throughout the As Fullan describes in Leadership and system to contribute to the creation of a Sustainability (2005), for districts to truly new and relevant system on a continuous make deep changes, leaders must understand basis. In addition, the community supports and communicate clearly about how to these changes in both tangible and make the conceptual changes, develop a intangible ways because the community coalition of leaders throughout the system was and is invited to the table to make who also are sophisticated about the the decisions. In addition, professional process, and develop a demanding culture learning in Coppell became self-directed with universal moral purpose. In Coppell, as professional learning communities were district leaders used two powerful tools formed across the district and administrators to create and nurture an organizational were engaged in a continual dialogue about culture focused on and committed to the application of these changes at the transformation: (1) stakeholder engagement campus and classroom levels. in shared decision making, and (2) strategic planning at every level of the system. When a district is winning accolades in the current system, it is important to establish a need and urgency for change with all stakeholders. As Bill Daggett, president of the International Center for Leadership in Education (ICLE) states, “You have to create more urgency for change than resistance to change.” Coppell ISD offered a plethora of opportunities for stakeholders to engage with district leaders in a dialogue about 21st century learning prior to making the systemic changes. Some of these venues included superintendent advisory groups, focus groups, open forums, and education summits. In each of these venues, the agenda included capacity building around current context and the need for systemic change. Just as important were the opportunities for input from the participants about their aspirations for students beyond the typical known and measured success on TAKS and Conceptually, the organizational other standardized assessments. transformation moved from autonomous Next, the district employed Cambridge campuses focused on the traditional Strategic Services to lead groups of students, business of school to a system that revolves parents, employees, and community around student choice, personalization, members in a strategic planning process engagement, and inquiry. Specifically, that to create a shared mission, measurable means that students at every level have objectives, clear strategies, and actionable choices about assignments, coursework, plans. Between 2003 and 2009, the district, and even schooling. At the micro level, for high school, and middle schools all engaged instance, the physics team implemented a in the strategic planning process, and more strategic action plan to transform the physics
Organizational Transformation: Why Great Isn’t Good Enough (Article V)
course to a student-driven curriculum. Students choose a topic of interest to them (e.g., windsurfing, skateboarding, music), and they learn physics by applying it to their chosen topic.As one student quipped,“The teachers really don’t do anything anymore. We are teaching ourselves physics, and the course is so much more interesting, plus we learn the skills we need to use in the real world.” Obviously, the teachers are doing a lot more, but their work is in preparation, facilitation, and differentiation while the students are doing the learning. On a larger scale, at the high school level students now have the following choices for the structure of their schooling: attending a
new choice high school with integrated courses delivered through project-based learning (see New Tech High @ Coppell, page 25), or completing a pathway at Coppell High School in a variety of highwage, high-demand career fields and/or advanced studies, including International Baccalaureate (IB); Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM); dual credit leading to an associate’s degree; public services or emerging media and
communication; or a combination of the above with virtual schooling. The College of Engineering within the STEM Academy alone, resulting from strategic planning and funded as a start-up program by city sales tax revenue, has ignited 375 students who are engaged in student-led competitions that provide the opportunity to learn essential technical and project management skills. In addition, the competitions broaden students’ ability to communicate, collaborate, and experience success as a member of a team. Competitions include robotics, solar car, and rocketry.
Above and beyond your typical high school experience...
s and enjoy helping yPublic be the right ns: choice Relatio gain. the knowledge 75019 medical career choicserved. curriculum provides m. Through business e, observation-based ettings (i.e. hospitals, e: will spend up to nts rs.org on site and experis can explore health
class at Coppell High that would be virtually to communicate effecnd take direction from ng at Baylor Grapevine h just a stepping stone he medical field, Health I wouldn’t trade it for
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) is a comprehensive, experience-based, educational program whose academic focus allows students to learn, experiment, problem-solve, and practice within the realm of engineering and engineering technology. Through the School of Engineering, students will explore the career field in two ways:
In addition, the elementary schools are currently involved in investigations moving toward open enrollment to allow students to choose from a smorgasbord of engaging options, including IB, STEM, ProblemBased Learning (PBL), and other innovative methods to capture the minds and hearts of students through powerful learner-centered environments. The goal is to improve the academic performance of students through increasing student engagement in meaningful and relevant work. Most recently, following a middle-level strategic planning session, an action team developed a middle school schedule in line with the mission and objectives of the strategic plan to allow students more flexibility within the school day. By creating a modified schedule where one size does not fit all, students will be given some unstructured time at regular intervals to be able to address enrichment or accelerated learning needs, as well as meet with peers on project teams or teachers for mentoring or additional instructional guidance. As the middle level focuses on ensuring that every student is on target for college and career readiness by the end of eighth grade, customizing the time to fit different student needs once again becomes a transformational concept for the organization.
New Digital Learning Environment: Re-imaging the Classroom (Article I) Following the transformation of the system, the next step for Coppell was to transform the learning environment. Students in Coppell are compliant, and generally follow the rules and jump through all the right hoops. However, when surveyed, today’s American students state that they are bored in school over 50 percent of the time. Visionary leader Marc Prensky says that the solution is to involve kids with more technology. When Dr. Turner asked his student advisory group in Coppell how to make classes less boring, the students gave a surprising answer. They said that if Powerpoint was banned from the classroom, it would make school more engaging. Clearly, just adding technology is not the answer to making school more engaging, and just making school more engaging is not the answer to creating a robust learning environment, but some thought-provoking leaders like Alan November make the case for creating a new digital learning environment that is both engaging and effective. That was the goal Coppell ISD hoped to realize when writing a strategy for “integrating technology into every aspect of the educational system.”
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A typical classroom in Coppell in 2003 contained a computer for the teacher, a television, and an overhead projector.Today, a typical classroom contains a variety of technology such as interactive white boards, interactive pads, iPods, mounted projectors, social networking, one-to-one computer access, document cameras, digital cameras, Skype, podcasting equipment, e-Instruction, and printers. With technology’s pervasive nature, the list is growing daily as teachers and students find new and innovative ways to explore content and demonstrate mastery of critical knowledge and skills.
effectively deliver a rigorous and relevant curriculum using technology, assessment data, and other effective instructional strategies to engage all learners in meaningful learning experiences.
ratio as it is about learner to number of available devices, the range of technology that students can access seamlessly and appropriately for a particular problem is the key. Students may be working in a 4:1 ratio much of the day (one student using a laptop, PDA, data probe, and smartboard, for example). However, the focus is on solving the problem and applying the learning, not just on the gadgets themselves, and that is the crux of creating a digital LEARNING environment.
The first cohort will be established this school year.Ten teachers will be selected to begin the journey in the 2009–10 school year. Over the course of five years, we plan to include approximately 40 teachers across the secondary campuses. Each teacher will have the opportunity to attend 10 additional days of professional development that will New Learning Standards: focus on 21st century skills, including Changing the Game (Article 2) One way the district was able to make technology integration. Each classroom will this leap was through creating a matching be equipped with the technology necessary Because of the way technology is changing funds program. As a result of the strategic to integrate the skills learned, resulting in our world, it is imperative that we not only planning focus shared by all stakeholders, a classroom that prepares students for the change the system and the environment but the way students interact with each other the district was able to “double its money” future. and with content, which is fundamentally by matching funds generated on campus through a “write-a-check” program.These Finally, a model of the new digital learning different. At New Tech High @ Coppell, funds were used for hardware and software, environment can be found by visiting the students are assessed on the following and the district could focus most of its new choice high school, New Tech High @ learning standards on every project: oral Coppell. In this environment, the students communication, written communication, dollars on wireless infrastructure. work collaboratively using technology to content literacy, technology literacy, critical Another avenue to this new digital access resources and content to complete thinking/problem solving, collaboration, learning environment is focused on teacher interdisciplinary projects with real professional ethics and responsibility, and transformations through Club 21. In our outcomes, while the teachers facilitate the research skills. Content is delivered through quest to promote 21st century learning and deep critical thinking and problem solving. integrated courses and problem-based student-centered practices, Coppell ISD Because the new digital environment is learning so that students are immersed in established an opportunity for secondary not so much about student to computer a process to solve problems collaboratively teachers to develop the skills necessary to ensure rigorous and engaging learning New Tech High @ Coppell Graduate experiences for our students. Club 21 will build participants’ skills such as digital Project Based Small Learning Trust, Respect, literacy, critical thinking, problem solving, and collaboration through quality teaching Learning Community Responsibility and learning. This initiative will support the successful implementation of both the th Coppell High School Strategic Plan and the newly created Middle School Strategic Plan.
NEW TECH HIGH @ COPPELL GRADUATE
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This cadre of teachers will be equipped through sustained professional development to seamlessly integrate technology and instruction that engages students. Through the development of model classrooms, we will be able to achieve the strategic plan curriculum strategy, which states we will
21 Century Skills
by accessing appropriate resources, applying solutions, and presenting their results. In other words, the time they are spending learning every day is more like the world of work than a century-old school model. These students are developing a “whole new mind,” to use best-selling author Daniel Pink’s phrase, for the soft intangible skills that are fast becoming the new necessary basics. As Wagner points out in Global Achievement Gap, “In today’s highly competitive global ‘knowledge economy,’ all students need new skills for college, careers, and citizenship.” Another way that Coppell ISD has changed the game for students and created new learning standards as a result of the strategic plan is by focusing on advanced academics in a different way. Basically, the concept is that, although some specific programs have been added like the International Baccalaureate program at Coppell High School, all students need to be experiencing the rigor of advanced coursework made possible through relevance. One example is providing training in advanced academic strategies for all teachers, including PreAP strategies and Laying the Foundation training in all core areas. In addition, the newly expanded Gifted and Talented (GT) programs at the middle level, which include a math/science component called Advanced Problem-Solving and an English/social studies component called Integrated Research, will be available to all students next year.
Assessments for Learning: What Really Counts (Article 3) Once new learning standards are established in a new learning environment within a transformed organization, the way students are assessed has to change as well. Coppell ISD has begun staff development with teachers and administrators focused on a balanced assessment program, moving teachers to use formative assessment to inform instruction grounded in Rick Stiggins’ research noted in The Assessment
Manifesto: A Call for a Balanced Assessment System. Additionally, discussions and documents focus on the utilization of assessment to improve instruction through reflection on and interpretation of data. Walkthrough data is collected as a means to provide ongoing and specific feedback to encourage and provide evidence of teacher experiences in formal and informal assessment-focused professional development. This process models for teachers the use of formative assessment as expected in the classrooms. In kindergarten through grade 3, Coppell ISD has implemented a Standards Referenced reporting system. Instead of letter grades, students receive marks that show how well they have mastered a set of age-appropriate skills and where they need to improve.The new grading format more accurately reflects how children are learning under the state’s standards-based academic system. Concrete skills and knowledge are listed on the report card to help monitor whether all students are being exposed to the same curriculum and learning the skills they should develop in each grade level. Standards-based report cards keep teachers and parents focused on the student learning goals from the beginning of the year. This type of reporting gives the parent and teacher more detailed information about how a child is doing in each subject. One other great advantage is that our teachers
are more aware of all the learning standards and are becoming experts in identifying mastery of each objective.
Conclusion: Accountability for Learning (Article 4) If Coppell has succeeded in transforming the organization from the environment to the standards to the assessments, does it make sense to then evaluate its progress using the old model accountability system? Well, after Dr. Turner’s question to the community about the true goals for the district, the overwhelming response was NO! The community was hungry for more insightful, complete, and individualized information about the system than the TEA rating. However, even though the current state and federal rating systems are insufficient, that doesn’t mean that the stakeholders do not want to hold the district accountable! In fact, transparency becomes even more important in a new system because there is more risk, and trust is essential to continue to garner support for the innovations. To that end, Coppell ISD has established a few stringent accountability measures. One clear way to measure progress is continual data gathering and reporting on the strategic objectives established by the 30-member stakeholder group during the strategic planning process.
Objectives—Coppell ISD Strategic Plan 2009 Objectives are the measurable end results that we will achieve to fulfill our mission. n
Each learner will successfully achieve challenging goals identified within his/her personal success plan related to academics, service, activities, and career aspirations.
The number of learners who demonstrate success at the highest levels of academic excellence will increase by 33 percent.
All learners will develop and consistently demonstrate Coppell ISD character traits.
As stated earlier, when clarity is established regarding the mission, objectives, and strategies of the district through a collaborative strategic planning process, leaders are freed up throughout the system to act in accordance with this clear mission and find ways to hold themselves accountable for learning. At an elementary school in the district, it has become the mantra that the school will be a “worksheet-less campus” and that anyone wanting to use a worksheet for any reason will have to present that reason directly to the administration and get it approved. The road to truly changing the system is long and treacherous, but if visionary leaders work and share together through the process, the process is more likely to be sustainable and successful. At the heart of the matter is the student. We must create a 21st century system for a 21st century n learner.
Shannon Buerk is an education design strategist for Cambridge Strategic Services; and Mechelle Bryson is director of school improvement, and Melody Paschall is assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, at Coppell ISD.
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These objectives were the manifestation of what these stakeholders feel is valuable to measure. In fact, the amazing increases in DAP graduates, service learning, and enrollment in advanced academics are just some of these measures. In addition, the administration for the district is developing a profile of a 21st century student, teacher, and administrator based on the mission, objectives, and strategies, which will provide the individual accountability and opportunity of growth for leadership as the district continues to move toward the ideal established by the strategic plan team.
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Failing Early: Applying Pixar’s Success Model to Education by Christine Drew and Richard Erdmann During a Syfr-TASA Field Trip to Pixar Animation Studios in December 2009, participants heard from CEO Ed Catmull on how to create an organizational culture that spawns and maintains creativity. Creativity is a messy process that by its very nature treads new ground and involves considerable risk and frequent failure. Managing risk becomes a question of either containing failure or preventing it. Catmull quickly dismissed the idea of preventing failure. Most organizations prevent failure by minimizing risk, but Pixar believes that minimizing risk stifles creativity and that preventing failure is impossible in a creative environment. Pixar’s approach is to encourage creativity and accept risk as part of the business, but to evaluate choices early and often during the creative process—you can fail often, but fail early. Simplified, Pixar relies on timing, assessment, and collaboration to manage risk.
to the process. After the movie is released, post mortem resembles a school’s analysis everyone who worked on the film meets of the high-stakes test. How did we do and and discusses lessons to be learned and what do we change in order to do better? how to improve the processes. Collaboration is probably the piece that we Collaboration. There seem to be three are still working to apply. Peer observation non-negotiables at Pixar.The director is the or collaborative evaluation of teacher work decision maker, the process is collaborative, is rare. There is a stigma associated with and the story rules. Dailies, screenings, critiques and the concept of failure. This is and post mortems are all group processes. integral to Pixar’s process but only a recent If problems are encountered, there is addition in our schools. Collaborative a coaching team available upon request. learning communities are rarely a tightly The process is one of collaboration from integrated part of the overall process of beginning to end. managing our schools.
How Pixar’s Success Model Relates to Education
How successful is the Pixar model? Pixar As we listened to Catmull speak, it was has made 10 movies, and every single one clear to everyone that there were lessons for has been a box office success. Its most recent education. For example: movie, Up, won two Academy Awards. Deming believed that perfecting the Timing pertains to education as it does to right processes leads to predictable results. Pixar. We know that students will fail for a Our version of Pixar’s box office success variety of reasons.The trick is to trap failure is student performance. Perhaps creative, Timing. The process that forces timing early. In education, catching failure early collaborative processes both in and out of is what Pixar calls “dailies.” Every day, for can be done with formative assessment, the classroom with early assessments and one hour, creative staff share ideas with the classroom observation, or collaborative adjustments will provide us with our own rest of the project team. Every day there work among students and teachers in version of consistent box office successes. are critical reviews where more ideas are preparing and executing the teaching and learning processes. rejected than accepted. For more information on Pixar and what we learned and can apply to education, Assessment. The dailies are a form Assessment is similarly important in both subscribe to Story in SyfrSpace. We offer of evaluation in the sense that ideas are education and at Pixar.Through formative this free service in partnership with TASA. reviewed and judged. The second type of assessment, teachers can explore various Simply e-mail christineedrew@syfrcorp. measurement is a film screening. A Pixar means of evaluating student learning com and ask for an invitation to the Story movie has seven screenings over four years. and embed the assessment in the lesson channel. You may also choose to receive The first screening is very early in the and learning process. Benchmark testing additional content and join the collaborative process, and the last screening is completed resembles Pixar’s screening process and forums on these topics by subscribing to just prior to release. Along the way, each is a higher-stakes evaluation. Whereas n SyfrSpace™ at www.tasanet.org. screening is viewed by “new eyes”—people formative testing is very much for learning, who have not attended a previous screening, benchmark testing is a hybrid of assessment who are there to bring fresh perspectives FOR and assessment OF learning. Pixar’s
Watch for news about Syfr and TASA’s next Field Trip, scheduled for Fall 2010.
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The Texas Public Schools Research Network: A Study of Teacher Selection, Assignment, and Classroom Effectiveness in Texas Public Schools by J. Casey McCreary
The Center for Research, Evaluation and Advancement of Teacher Education (CREATE), in partnership with TASA, administers the Texas Public Schools Research Network (TPSRN), a university-public schools research collaborative devoted to cooperative design and implementation of educational research related to teacher quality and effectiveness. The Network currently comprises 17 school districts throughout the state. CREATE is a university research and development center focusing on issues of teacher quality and effectiveness. It is a consortium of 44 universities, comprising the institutions in the University of Texas System,Texas A&M University System,Texas State University System, and University of Houston System, as well as private universities throughout the state.
Teacher Selection and Professional Assignment as Critical Decision Controls Teacher quality as a primary contributor to long-term student learning gains has been well documented in the recent professional literature related to value-added assessment. The construct of teacher quality has been effectively codified into state and national educational policy through passage of the federal No Child Left Behind legislation. These research findings and related policy considerations have led renewed attention to teacher job selection and professional assignment as critical decision controls affecting the quality and effectiveness of classroom teachers.What exactly are the attributes of quality teachers, and how are these qualities identified and assessed by school district administrators as they hire and place new teachers in their various campus assignments? Who makes critical hiring and placement decisions in Texas schools, and what criteria do they employ? These questions and others related to teacher selection and assignment assume renewed importance as subjects of educational research in the quest to optimize the preparation, employment, and effectiveness of the Texas teacher workforce.
Teacher Perspective of Hiring Practices A few studies have been conducted in recent years that have not only yielded interesting findings regarding teacher selection and assignment but have also introduced important conceptual constructs into the professional discourse related to teacher hiring practices in public schools. One important study is that of Liu and Johnson (2006), who surveyed a random sample of 486 newly hired teachers in California, Florida, Massachusetts, and Michigan to solicit their professional perspectives and opinions regarding their hiring
questions regarding the teacher selection and assignment practices in Texas. Members of TPSRN propose a study of Texas-based In addition to attaining teacher viewpoints teacher selection and assignment practices, of the hiring process, several studies describing current practices and assessing have examined the principal perspective the effects of these on the “position fit” of on hiring strong teachers, particularly classroom teachers, as well as considering considering the desired teaching skills and the “information richness,” general locus attributes sought by school leaders. Harris, of control in job decision making, and Rutledge, Ingle, and Thompson (2007) factors affecting the “timeliness” of teacher studied principal hiring preferences in employment in Texas school districts. Florida schools.The researchers surveyed 30 principals to determine the particular skills In this study, TPSRN members will In considering factors affecting teacher and characteristics that the principals valued examine Texas teacher selection and “position fit,” Liu and Johnson analyzed the most in the selection process, and examined assignment practices in an effort to describe locus of control in employment decision the process, tools, and criteria they used in and discover practices that hold promise making by reviewing the extant degree of assessing these critical skills among teacher for optimizing “position fit” and advancing centralized versus decentralized campus- candidates. Twelve professional factors long-ter m classroom effectiveness based decision making in school district generally sought by principals in these of teachers in our state. The study is employment systems.They also considered school settings were identified. Harris et al. conceptualized as a multi-phased, mixedthe “information richness” of district also confirmed principal reliance on three method design intended to (1) identify selection processes as an influence on primary selection tools as information the particular teaching skills and attributes teacher perceptions of “position fit.” In this sources from which to determine the sought by school district employers and instance, Liu and Johnson offer a construct presence of the teaching attributes in job their teacher preparation counterparts; (2) of “information rich hiring processes” applicants: (1) past experience, (2) job describe employment tools and processes (i.e., job information, interviewing to measure the types and qualities of job interview, and (3) professional references. protocols, and administrative procedures) information routinely gathered, distributed, and applied by both the teacher applicant A Study of Teacher Selection and currently utilized in Texas schools to hire, select, and assign classroom teachers; and, and school decision maker in arriving at Assignment Practices in Texas (3) consider the long-term effects of these mutually beneficial job selection decisions. School Districts practices as they contribute to teacher Finally, these researchers examined time/ The findings of these studies (and others) longevity and student achievement in sequence aspects of the district and campus based on professional subjects in other Texas classrooms. The particular research selection processes, studying the relative states have significant implications for Texas questions addressed by this study are as time of, and duration of, the district’s schools and entice leadership to ask similar follows: teacher employment decisions and its effects on perceptions of “job fit.” Based on 1. Desired Teaching Attributes their findings, the authors concluded that What are the desired professional attributes and teaching skills sought by school district teacher perceptions of their own position decision makers in their selection and assignment of classroom teachers? fit were generally strong in relationship to a. Do the desired attributes and skills vary dependent upon district type, campus type, their particular classroom assignment (job and/or academic performance of campuses? fit), but their assessments were less definitive b. Do the desired attributes of new teachers sought by school district decision makers with regard to their perceived match with vary from those of teacher preparation faculties in universities that supply new particular campus assignments (school fit). teacher candidates to participating school districts? Furthermore, the school district selection 2. Hiring Practices systems examined in this research were What hiring information, tools, protocols, and procedures are utilized in the teacher generally determined by the researchers to selection/assignment systems of Texas school districts? be “information poor” processes, frequently a. Do these district selection/assignment practices vary by type of district, type of actualizing employment decisions in an campus, and/or academic performance of campus? untimely and inefficient manner.
experience within their new districts. These researchers considered the degree to which district and campus selection practices contributed to the soundness of the “position fit” for newly hired teachers; i.e., the degree to which the professional skills and working philosophy of the “new hires” were perceived to coincide with the needs of students within their classrooms (job fit), as well as those of co-workers within their particular campus assignments (school fit).
Principal Perspective of Hiring Practices
Consolidated and Weatherford); 1 as an Other City Suburban district (Harlingen); and 1 as an Independent Town district (Stephenville) by the Texas Education Agency. Collectively, participating districts 3. Position Fit comprise a total of 1,046 school campuses, How do the practices manifested in district selection/assignment systems contribute to enrolling approximately 790,468 students, teacher and administrator perceptions of “job fit”? or 17 percent of total statewide enrollment. a. Are teachers hired in a more “timely” manner, perceived to have better “job fit” Of students in participating school districts, than those teachers hired in a less timely fashion? 20 percent are African American, 18 percent b. Are there differences in the “timeliness” of teacher selection and assignment are Anglo, and 57.9 percent are Hispanic. dependent on district type, campus type, and/or academic performance of campus? Within these participating districts, a total of c. Are there differences in the “timeliness” characteristics of teacher employment and/ 105 campuses have been selected as sample or assignment based on the degree of centralization in district decision-making populations, including 34 high schools, 35 systems? middle schools, and 36 elementary schools. b. To what degree do district and campus selection/assignment systems manifest “information rich” versus “information poor” practices? c. To what degree are teacher selection and assignment decisions centralized versus decentralized in Texas school districts?
4. Job Stability How do the practices manifested in district selection/assignment systems contribute to teacher job stability?
In addition, the TPSRN team will research questions related to selection factors as contributors to “classroom effectiveness” as measured through value-added achievement measures. The questions related to classroom effectiveness, to be conducted concurrently with the larger study, will be addressed through a pilot project using specialized value-added measures available in one of the participating school districts. The research questions related to the pilot project are as follows:
Selection Factors and Classroom Effectiveness—A Pilot Study Are there academic, teacher preparation, or experience characteristics that contribute to classroom effectiveness? If so: a. What academic characteristics contribute to teacher effectiveness? b. What teacher preparation characteristics contribute to teacher effectiveness? c. What experience characteristics contribute to teacher effectiveness?
Participating Texas School Districts Through the executive directors of CREATE and TASA, invitations to participate in the study were mailed to superintendents of 27 Texas school districts. Invited districts were selected to assure geographic diversity, as well as economic and ethnic distributions representative of the state at large.
Principals, Newly Hired Teachers, and Undergraduate Faculty Surveys To ascertain professional perspectives on the hiring process, as well as to measure opinions of job expectations and job fit, researchers will survey administrators and newly hired teachers in all sample schools. Electronic surveys will be administered to all principals in the 105 sample schools. All teachers hired for new assignments within the last two academic years (2008–09 and 2009–10) within all samples schools (estimated to be approximately 700 teachers) will be surveyed as a part of the study. A random sample of undergraduate faculty from the 10 universities contributing the largest number of newly hired teachers to participating school districts will also be surveyed to determine their perceptions of desired teacher skills, knowledge, and predispositions.
Of the 27 districts initially invited to participate, 14 accepted, including 6 classified as Major Urban districts (Dallas, Ft. Worth, Houston, North East Northside, and San Antonio); 4 as Major Suburban districts (Birdville, Highland Park, Richardson, and Round Rock); 2 as Other City Central districts (Lamar
Data Sources and Instrumentation
Significance of the Study for Texas Stakeholders
Information for this study will be collected through seven primary data sources, as When examining hir ing practices, described below: state-level statute must be considered in 1. An analysis of district and campus longitudinal employment patterns will be addition to any current or future federal conducted using data available through the Public Education Information Management legislation. In Texas, the superintendent System (PEIMS). Researchers will analyze five-year teacher employment and is designated by statute as the educational leader who is ultimately responsible for assignment patterns among participating school districts and their sample campuses. all district personnel. State statute also 2. An analysis of district selection policies, procedures, tools, and protocols will outlines responsibilities of the campus be done in an effort to better describe current practice. Researchers will request a principal, who is authorized to approve designated set of selection “artifacts” from participating districts and analyze these all teacher assignments for the campus as a data source, reflecting the formal information sets and tools that support district and the role of the campus planning and implementation of their respective selection systems. site-based decision-making committee, whose members must assist the campus 3. Human Resource Leader Focus Groups will be conducted to support artifact analysis principal in decisions regarding staffing and aid in accurate interpretation of district selection practices. Researchers will patterns that support the goals of the also conduct at least two focus group sessions involving human resource staff from campus improvement plan. As mandated participating school districts, which will serve to clarify practices and gain insight into at the state level, these responsibilities with district-level expectations and applications of the selection system. regard to teacher selection and assignment practices have led toward a decentralization 4. A Principal Questionnaire, in an electronic survey format, will be administered to of the hiring process by increasing the principals of all sample schools. Through the questionnaire, principals will provide responsibilities of the principal and the their perceptions related to four aspects of their campus selection system, including campus planning and site-based decision(a) knowledge, skills, and dispositions desired in teacher candidates; (b) description of making committee in hiring decisions. campus-level selection procedures; (c) appraisal of campus-level selection procedures; and (d) appraisal of campus and job fit of newly hired candidates. A final contribution to the context of the teacher-hiring environment in Texas 5. Principal Focus Groups will be held to support qualitative analysis and aid in that must be taken into account is local accurate interpretation of the Principal Questionnaire results (and other data sources). school district budgets affected by the Researchers will conduct at least two focus groups composed of principals of the sample dismal state of school finance. Estimates schools, which will serve to clarify and extend principal perception and opinions as of the projected state budget shortfall evidenced from survey results. fluctuate from $12 billion to $17 billion at the onset of the 82nd Texas Legislative 6. A New Teacher Questionnaire will be administered to all teachers on sample campuses Session in 2011. Superintendents, school who have been employed and assigned to the campus during either the 2008–09 board members, and administrators face or 2009–10 school year and will address the following aspects of employment at challenges in making decisions related to the campus from the teacher’s viewpoint: (a) description of campus-level selection investments in staffing and programs that procedures, (b) appraisal of campus-level selection procedures, and (3) appraisal of the can be maintained despite increasing budget degree of campus and job fit. constraints.
7. A University Faculty Questionnaire soliciting faculty perspectives regarding the knowledge, skills, and dispositions sought by employing districts will be administered to a random sample of university faculty at universities having the highest likelihood of supplying new teachers to participating school districts.
All of these factors make the examination of hiring practices in Texas districts a timely and advantageous study to ensure that an “information rich” process is in place—a process that provides an environment for both the teacher applicant and school administrator to arrive at mutually n beneficial job selection decisions.
J. Casey McCreary is assistant executive director of education policy and leadership development at the Texas Association of School Administrators; a member of the Cooperative Superintendency Program, cohort XVI, at The University of Texas at Austin; and a public school research fellow for the Texas Public Schools Research Network.
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References Liu, E., & Johnson, S. M. (2006). New teachers’ experiences of hiring: Late, rushed, and information poor. Educational Administration Quarterly, 43(3), 324–360. doi:10.1177/0013161X05282610
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Harris, D. N., Rutledge, S. A., Ingle, W. K., & Thompson, C. C. (2007). Mix and match: What principals look for when hiring teachers and what this means for teacher quality policies. Retrieved from the Teacher Quality Research Web site: http://www. teacherqualityresearch.org
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Seeds of Change for the 21st Century by Christine Drew The standards movement, followed by the pressure of accountability as measured by No Child Left Behind, has resulted in an emphasis on curriculum alignment as a keystone to successful progress for students.There was an implied assumption that the standards are what we should measure, and that test scores indicate our success against those measures. If curriculum and instruction are designed to align to the standards, students will do well on the test and be successful in life, or at least in school—something that is not always the case.What if the standards are not comprehensive, or the test is not a fair measure? What if the standards don’t really reflect 21st century skills? What if we really look at the alignment and discover that even IF the standards are adequate, the nature of the assessment and the high stakes of accountability result in an alignment process that is doomed before we begin? This article questions whether curriculum alignment (defined as the degree to which taught, tested, and written standards align) is an adequate process for ensuring success for 21st century students. While standards, accountability, and alignment all have merit, there exists a growing belief that 21st century skills introduce competing standards. Aligning to 21st century skills should encompass good standards, and they may or may not coincide with existing standards.We will not serve the 21st century student well if we are unwilling to assess knowledge and skills, as well as problem solving and critical thinking.
This article essentially draws three conclusions. n
First, alignment as it is currently practiced focuses our attention on skills and knowledge that are too narrow relative to what we know about the breadth of cognition. Specifically, the alignment on current standards lacks focus on analysis, application, evaluation, and creativity.
Second, 21st century skills, with few exceptions, are largely the reintroduction of skills that have been recognized for their importance since the time of Socrates but are difficult to define and measure, yet easy to spot on an intuitive level.They range from what we might identify as “work habits” or “habits of mind” (characteristics like passion and persistence, goal setting, and self-management) to the more traditional and academic skills of problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and even metacognition (thinking about thinking, or “knowing how to know”).
Third, it is a mistake to view 21st century skills and 20th century skills, such as content knowledge, as competing ideas. Instead, the broad set of skills required in the 21st century ranges from the academic, including content knowledge and the ability to recall it, to the social, aesthetic, personal, and even physical. We should take time to recall that Bloom’s taxonomy, with which we are all familiar, was intended to have three levels: the cognitive, which most of us are very familiar with, as well as the affective and psychomotor. (Likewise, Marzano’s taxonomy includes the Knowledge Domain, the Self-System, the Metacognitive System, and the Cognitive System.) When Benjamin Bloom first presented what has come to be known as “Bloom’s Taxonomy” in 1956, he intended to motivate educators to focus on all three domains, creating a more holistic form of education.Today’s emphasis on collaboration and the neuroscience research on exercise and learning may revive an interest in the psychomotor and affective domains of Bloom’s work.
This article also raises three questions.
Referring back to the first conclusion on page 33; let’s n First, since Bloom came on the scene, we have tended to organize skills in a hierarchy. think about where curriculum Recall or Remembering is at the bottom, and Creativity or Evaluation is at the top. Is alignment actually leads us. a hierarchy the right way to think of these skills? A hierarchy implies a value judgment (that may or may not be justified) relative to importance or difficulty of the skills.
Second, the issue of a hierarchy becomes important in light of the emphasis on collaboration. The value of collaboration comes from groups who are cognitively diverse. We easily think of cognitive diversity as a group of individuals with different content knowledge; an interdisciplinary team, for example. But cognitive diversity could also come from a team of individuals with different thinking skills. One person might be creative, another might have a prodigious memory, and a third might be very analytical. Is one of these skill sets really superior to another? Working in teams and collaborating to create solutions suggest that all of these different skills are valuable to the work, and perhaps the notion of a hierarchy should be questioned.
Third, the “habits” part of the picture is very important. In a recent field trip organized by Syfr and TASA to three 21st century companies, one of the presenters, Jon Pittman of Autodesk, discussed another way of describing the 21st century skilled worker. He described a “T”-shaped individual with the vertical bar as content expertise, and the horizontal bar ranging from metacognitive skills (“knowing how to know” or “thinking about thinking”) to many of the “habits” schools rarely teach, or even include, in the curriculum or in the design of learning activities. He referred to a sense of journey, the ability to work across disciplines and with others, and empirical and quantitative reasoning, to name a few. Do we need to pay more attention to these skills, and if so how?
Figure 1: Bloom’s Old and New Taxonomy
A few years ago, Dr. Norman Webb, a senior research scientist at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at the University of Wisconsin, was asked to evaluate the standards and tests of the Texas Education Agency. Dr. Webb has done this for many states. First looking at Dr.Webb’s approach and then at the evaluation itself sets the stage for why we need to reframe our thinking about the targets for alignment. Webb’s work revisits—and reframes— Benjamin Bloom’s work from the mid1950s, stating that “Depth of Knowledge” is not hierarchical. Part of Bloom’s work proposes a hierarchy of skills, with learning at the higher levels dependent on having attained prerequisite knowledge and skills at lower levels (Orlich et al., 2004). When Bloom’s taxonomy was revised in 2001 by Lorin Anderson (a former student of Bloom’s) and others, the nouns in the categories were changed to verbs, and modifications were made in the top categories. In both versions, the foundation is based on knowledge, recall, and the skills to acquire knowledge. Figure 1 (left) provides a refresher on Bloom’s taxonomy and Lorin Anderson’s work, which may be new to some readers. Bloom’s original taxonomy includes an assumed feedback loop as one evaluates and improves. In the revised version, creating something new takes the top spot, and it may reflect today’s American emphasis on discovery, innovation, and invention as our competitive advantage.
Terminology changes. “The graphic is a representation of the NEW verbiage associated with the long-familiar Bloom’s taxonomy. Note the change on the new version from nouns to verbs [e.g., Application to Applying] to describe the different levels of the taxonomy. Note that the top two levels are essentially reversed on the new version.” (Schultz, 2005) Source: http://www.odu.edu/educ/llschult/blooms_taxonomy.htm
In Webb’s reframing, he does a number of things of interest for us. First, he continues to build on a foundation of knowledge and recall, and then progresses through applying knowledge, which implies understanding at a conceptual level.
Webb then simplifies the top categories by broadening them to strategic thinking and extended thinking. Strategic thinking Figure 3: TAKS Grade 5 Math and Webb’s Depth of Knowledge incorporates some of our “habits” in that it requires the creation of a scope and procedure of work. Extended thinking implements the work, derives conclusions, evaluates, and adjusts. If we return to what we learned from the Syfr-TASA field trip to 21st century companies, both Autodesk and Pixar created handoffs of tasks between teams of individuals whose personalities and skill sets were best suited to the work to be done. This leads to Webb’s third contribution for us—he does not assume a hierarchy. What we as outsiders might consider the most creative or imaginative processes at both Autodesk and Pixar are done at the beginning. Very different skills are applied as a creative idea is tested, developed, and brought to market. In Autodesk’s terms, the person with a creative idea moves a concept of what might be impossible to the improbable, while the engineer moves it from the improbable to the possible.The business group in finance and marketing move it from the possible to the expected, and then the public moves it to the required. There is no hierarchy assumed in this process. Webb’s depth of knowledge (DOK) can be contrasted to the new version of Bloom’s taxonomy using Figure 2.
Figure 2: Webb’s Depth of Knowledge/ Bloom
(The full analysis is available here: http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/student.assessment/ resources/techdig06/TechDigest-A14.pdf.)
In Figure 3 (above), Webb’s categories are applied to the TEA standards and tests within the TEA 2006 Texas Alignment Study Report. The results are not encouraging. As a result, alignment from the classroom through the standards falls short, and the shortcoming is compounded as we move closer to the classroom. When we move from the standards to the test,
only a subset of the standards survive, and they tend, as shown by Webb, to move further from our 21st century goals. They do not represent a cross section of the skills required.When we move to the classroom, the subset is reduced further, and if we allow teachers to align to the cut score, we have distanced ourselves even further from the 21st century.
Figure 4: Alignment
Figure 4 (left) shows this progression from the standards or written curriculum to the cut score curriculum, which is often what is taught. The further we move from the standards, the further from the strategic and extended thinking we get, so that eventually, few of the 21st century skills are actually incorporated at all.
The Syfr sunflower—our logo— illustrates our thinking about 21st century skills. Em p
y ath ense etic S h t s Ae Social Skills Reaso nin g Div
W Communicat e i
Technical Savvy e Ability ativ e r C ss llne on
nsibility spo Re
n ssio Pa
owledge Content Kn
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The soil on which the flower is planted represents knowledge and skills and the content of our curriculum that is necessary to build the understandings for successful intelligence in the 21st century. The stem represents the journey to becoming a lifelong learner, as it supports these understandings and holds the leaves of the kinds of attitudes of learning condensed from the great teachings of Sizer and Costa. It is characteristics like persistence, curiosity, passion, and adaptability that motivate students and their teachers on their journey from knowing and understanding to creating and producing. They provide the intrinsic rewards necessary for continued success over a very prolonged period of lifelong learning. This is our way of conveying a new kind of bloom for 21st century teaching and learning. 42
We can now turn to the next conclusion— 21st century skills are really an incorporation of skills we have always valued. There are many excellent frameworks of 21st century skills, including those of Marzano, Daggett, P21, and others. For our purposes, we will use the work of Michele and Robert Root-Bernstein, authors of Sparks of Genius. (See Figure 5, below.) We pick the RootBernstein work because it focuses on the issues of creativity, discovery, invention, and innovation, which seem to be driving the thinking about American competitiveness. Comparing them to Bloom provides some indication that these are not new skills. They also do not present these thinking tools as a hierarchy or a sequence. The verbs in the Bernstein thinking tools, or “sparks of genius,” provide us with both an indication of what constitutes teaching to a broader set of skills and how we might evaluate them. For example, modeling would suggest that students not only be asked to model what they are considering or learning but that teachers model the expectations of students. Teachers have generally been excellent at modeling routine functions, such as mathematical computation algorithms, but modeling
synthesizing is considerably more challenging. It also suggests that the model be a basis for evaluation—something like we see in the current robotics competition embraced by everyone from Lego to Autodesk. Perhaps more important is that the RootBernstein work is based on the study of artists and scientists of the 20th century— meaning that it is not a new set of skills being advocated but a re-incorporation of skills that have always been important. This takes us to the third conclusion that 21st century skills cannot replace current curriculum but instead must incorporate and expand it. Whether we are looking at Bloom or Webb, Stiggins, Marzano, or Daggett, we are left with the conclusion that this is not an either/or proposition but, as we learned from Pixar on the field trip, a yes and no proposition.Yes, the 21st century skills are necessary, and they must also include the traditional skills of the 20th century. The question then becomes how to incorporate both. If alignment as we currently define it does not create the right
Figure 5: Bloom’s (New) Taxonomy* and Imaginative Thinking Tools**
Through formative classroom assessment, which could be placed in teacher-initiated action research projects, we will begin to solve this problem well in advance of our state or national efforts, which tend to get bogged down in both the educational and party politics of the times.
developing personal habits of work and mind. The TASA/Syfr field trip involved three companies: Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI), Pixar, and Autodesk. Top executives in three companies discussed in their own ways the top bar of the “T” mentioned earlier. A critical element in all three discussions was the sense of “always becoming” or “enjoying the journey.” Ted Sizer, founder of the Essential Schools movement, talks of “Joy” in learning; and Arthur Costa, in his Habits of Mind, speaks of “wonderment and awe.”Though two of these individuals are educational experts and three are very successful corporate executives, all see destinations as transitory and sometimes misleading, as they can give the sense of having arrived. Instead, they all understand that the drive to learn is somehow tied to curiosity, and not knowing but needing to know. The 21st century productive citizen is on a journey, not in the sense of traveling from one place to another but on a course or passage from one stage or experience to another.
Although this article focuses on alignment, it is important to emphasize one of the questions left unanswered—the role of
Over the past 10 to 20 years, intelligence and cognitive theories have been widely taught and either adopted or criticized.The
mix, and the new standards are unknown, where does that leave us? In the 1980s, this author had an opportunity to work with a superintendent whose mantra was “what is not measured is not taught.” If we do not have assessments that adequately address the demands of the 21st century, we should begin to invest in developing that capacity with our teachers through the development of formative assessments, or assessments FOR learning. There are numerous excellent frameworks available from which we can begin the conversation, but Figure 6 (below) provides an idea of how the work of Norman Webb could be tied to multiple types of assessment.
personal characteristics that encompass 21st century skills or “wisdom” have been described by Robert Sternberg, as well as Ted Sizer and Arthur Costa. This article does not address these characteristics but raises them as questions to be answered. They are very important, because these personal characteristics are the very attitudes that increase aptitudes. These are the executive functions described by today’s neuroscientists and the habits of the mind described by Costa. With new information growing exponentially, it is one’s attitude toward learning that increases content knowledge, as well as productivity n in society. Christine Drew is the president and COO of Syfr. Her work in alignment and curriculum and assessment spans two decades of consulting with school districts and publishers to create mirror state assessments and formative instruments for local curriculum. With Syfr’s CEO, Richard Erdmann, she developed the nation’s first standards-based report card as part of an instructional management system. Syfr develops the content for www.syfrspace.net, where The Texas Visioning Institute collaborates and “shares the vision.” Contact Syfr at 205. 276.4552, www.syfrcorp.com.
Figure 6: Assessment Alternatives and DOK
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Legal Insights Administrator Evaluations:
Avoiding Anonymity An effective means of providing focus and direction to a school district leadership team is a well-conceptualized and welldeveloped evaluation process. Under Texas law, a school district is required to conduct an annual written evaluation of each administrator’s performance utilizing the appraisal process and performance criteria recommended by the Texas Commissioner of Education or an alternative process and performance criteria appropriately adopted by the district’s board of trustees.Tex. Educ. Code §21.354(c). The administrator’s evaluation process, including the criteria for evaluation, the timeline, and the instrument, must be conducted through the use of a written evaluation instrument. The evaluation instrument should be cooperatively developed and reviewed in advance of the evaluation so that the district and its administrators can prepare for and benefit from the evaluation process. 19 Tex.Admin. Code §150.1022(b) (“Each school district shall involve appropriate administrators in developing, selecting, or revising instruments and process.”). Before conducting the appraisals, each appraiser must be trained “in appropriate personnel evaluation skills related to the locally established criteria and process.” 19 Tex. Admin. Code §150.1022(c). The 46
Texas Administrative Code establishes minimum criteria for the administrator’s evaluation process. 19 Tex. Admin. Code §150.1021. Those criteria, called “domains and descriptors,” are: • Instructional management • School or organization morale • School or organization improvement • Personnel management • Management of administrative, fiscal, and facilities functions • Student management • School or community relations • Professional growth and development • Academic excellence indicators and campus performance objectives • School board relations (for superintendents only)
The use of Web-based survey technology and other types of “organizational health inventories” has become an increasingly popular means of evaluating personnel. Consequently, some distr icts may choose to integrate one or more of these methodologies into the administrator appraisal process. In fact, anecdotal evidence suggests that some districts are already using such tools to evaluate principals and superintendents. See Tex. Att’y Gen. Op. ORD 2001-5525; See also, Rado, Diane. “Dallas Schools’ Work Atmospheres Vary Widely, Survey Shows.” Dallas Morning News, December 22, 2009. Web-based surveys and organizational inventories often include an anonymous response component, which some districts may be tempted to use for administrator appraisals. See Id. However, because of the prohibition against using anonymous input Whether a district chooses to use to evaluate administrators, districts must the commissioner-recommended avoid this temptation. See 19 Tex. Admin. appraisal process or develops its own, Code §150.1022(d). Specifically, section the administrators’ formal evaluation 150.1022(d) provides that “[i]f a school should mirror the goals, objectives, and district implements a process for collecting expectations of the district. For a more staff input to evaluate administrators, the detailed discussion of the evaluation process, input must not be anonymous.” Id. please see Legal Insights: The Superintendent Evaluation (TASA INSIGHT, Spring 2009, Vol. 24, No. 1)).
The implication of section 150.1022(d) of the Texas Administrative Code for superintendents is twofold. First, every superintendent must be vigilant in assuring that the evaluative process for each district administrator does not include anonymous staff input. If a district fails to follow applicable guidelines with regard to an administrator’s appraisal, such as using anonymous staff input, the aggrieved administrator generally has an option to file a grievance and have the appraisal declared void. For superintendents, as the chief executive officer of the district, a district’s failure to adhere to state-mandated appraisal guidelines for other district administrators could have a more profound personal effect—it could lead to disciplinary action and may constitute “good cause” for terminating the superintendent’s contract pursuant to section 21.211 of the Texas Education Code. If a superintendent becomes aware that anonymous staff input is being used to evaluate any administrator under the superintendent’s supervision, the superintendent should take steps to immediately remove the anonymous staff input as a component of the administrator’s evaluation.
that there is no component of anonymous staff input related to their evaluation. If a superintendent determines that there is an anonymous staff input component to the superintendent’s evaluation, the superintendent should immediately notify the president of the board of trustees and ensure that the board’s legal counsel is also notified. Further, the superintendent should seek advice from his or her own legal counsel. If a superintendent has reason to believe that he or she has received an unfavorable evaluation on a matter due to inappropriate anonymous staff input, the superintendent may have grounds to file a grievance and seek to have the inappropriate evaluation considered void. An important point to consider in relation to the validity of any administrator’s evaluation is that district funds may not be used to pay an administrator who has not been evaluated under section 21.254 of the Texas Education Code in the preceding fifteen (15) months. Tex. Educ. Code §21.354(d). Accordingly, timely assurance that anonymous staff input is not being used in a district’s administrator evaluations can have a significant financial impact for all Texas school administrators.
The minimum criteria used to evaluate district administrators are established by state law, and the development of the evaluation instrument and process must be a collaborative effort between the district and its administrators. A well-designed evaluation process for administrators that is conducted in accordance with state law creates ongoing opportunities for district leadership to discuss student performance and clarify goals and expectations for the district. However, contrary to what appears to be a developing trend in some districts across the state of Texas, the evaluation process cannot involve staff input that is n cloaked in anonymity. 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. Neal W. Adams Jerry D. Bullard Allan S. Graves Adams, Lynch & Loftin, P.C.
The second implication relates to whether a GENERAL COUNSEL district is inappropriately using anonymous The administrator evaluation is staff input in the superintendent’s evaluation. unique in comparison to how other TEXAS ASSOCIATION OF SCHOOL Every superintendent should make sure professional educators are evaluated. ADMINISTRATORS
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Nominate your board for the TASA 2010 School Board Awards! The TASA School Board Awards Committee will select 5 Texas Honor School Boards by August 31, and the Texas Outstanding School Board will be named during the First General Session at the 2010 TASA/TASB Convention (Houston, September 24). Deadlines
TASA Executive Director Johnny Veselka presents Outstanding School Board of Texas award to Weatherford ISD Board President Yale Young. Individual awards were presented to each board member and to WISD Superintendent Deborah Cron.
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