Monday, February 28, 2011

Accountability Measures

There has been a ton of "chatter" of late in the news, in the Twittersphere, in the Blogosphere, in the education journals ... you get the picture .. about teacher evaluation - teacher accountability - measuring teacher performance. A noted and highly regarded educational reformer and former educational leader was recently interviewed on NPR and she said (paraphrasing) that teacher performance should not be measured. Really? That makes no sense ... In my opinion, all employee performance should be measured. Whether one is a dentist, a lawyer, a baker, a teacher, an engineer, an architect, a factory worker - you get the point - everyone should be coached, guided, mentored, led, evaluated, helped to become excellent.

My whole focus is on EXCELLENCE - I have lived my life by this focus, I conduct my work by this focus. As a public school superintendent - a proud superintendent - my charge is to support student growth and learning every day - I am held to high standards by my school board, my staff, the students, the community - everyone. And I should be held accountable to very high standards, and my performance is measured - as it should be - according to established best practices and internationally accepted standards for leadership.

I also have the honor of working as a Sr. Educational Consultant for HUMANeX Ventures (Ventures for Excellence) as a practitioner scientist, researcher, trainer, and developer of leaders. In my roles (private and public) I work on helping others reach heights higher than they thought they could reach through scientifically validated highly predictive instruments and research and analyses used in selection and development of staff.

During my nearly two decades of public educational leadership, I value the coaching I have received through mentors and coaches powerfully dedicated to supporting my impact as a leader. As I read the news about "reforms" and legislation and philanthropic efforts toward impacting education, I state emphatically and publicly that selection of staff AND the development of staff will lead to excellence in our schools.

I state that we all deserve to be held accountable - not by student test scores and other measures with way too many intervening variables to isolate elements of excellence in the classroom by classroom teachers - but by scientifically validated, research and practice proven methods and processes that focus on instructional excellence.

Students and communities deserve Excellence in their child's classroom - every day - every year - period.

Teacher performance must be evaluated - fairly and justly, with integrity and honor.

The aim of teacher evaluation should be formative as well as summative, and it should be orientated towards the improvement of excellence and impact!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Evaluation - Performance - Assessment

Leadership is often about taking a stand.

Current rhetoric across the nation is about "reform" and "accountability" and about "labor rights". It is revolutionary ... what is happening around the world in the Middle East, in North Africa, and even in Wisconsin and Indiana. Today during a Twitter conversation I indicated that excellence is not equal to experience. A noted educational leader seemed to indicate that my opinion was that of others in education being one in favor of limiting rights or that test scores, student test scores should measure teacher effectiveness- actually that could not be further from the truth. Since the earliest days in my career, and now, I completely support worker's rights and as you read this post, you will discover why I do not support the notion that student tests are appropriate measures of teacher excellence!

I do not support any assertion or over value on experience though - alone, experience is equal to "being there" or showing up. I believe that talent, talent in new, older, and experienced and inexperienced staff makes the difference. I am knowledgeable about how to predict talent and identify talent through scientifically validated structured selection instruments. I know how to develop talents in people through using the selection instruments as part of development, or coaching.

The "stand" I take is that we all should be accountable for our performance. We all should be committed to talent and excellence. We should hold professionals accountable for excellence and competence. I do not believe that student performance on tests - standardized (culturally biased in many cases) tests should "judge" a teacher's performance or efficacy. I believe that proper evaluation and accountability through formative assessment measures should "judge" teacher performance.

Perhaps we in education can develop "boards" or proficiency exams - tests for adults - to help determine our competence and to hold us accountable. Perhaps we in education can "force our way to the table" of policymakers and legislators and those who fund initiatives to develop real / authentic tools to evaluate and hold us accountable.

Student performance tests are measures that show student performance.

Well designed and implemented teacher appraisal systems measure teacher performance.

I stand for scientifically validated assessment for selection and development of staff.

I stand for accountability measures that measure standards-based indices.

Is anyone listening??

Monday, February 14, 2011

Web Quest for in-district Professional Development with Google Apps for Education

In an effort to demonstrate differentiated adult learning, I put together this webquest in support of our school district's "gone Google" efforts. The most and least "techhie" among the staff can benefit from the tools, resources, tasks, and exercises.