Wednesday, August 28, 2013

School Grading

20 Facts about the School Grading Program in Utah
Based on SB271 S3 as Passed in the 2013 Session
Compiled by Dr. Patti Harrington for USBA/USSA/UASBO

1.     SB271 (3rd Substitute) was originally written by Parents for Choice (PCE), the same group that advocated for vouchers in 2007, seeking to use public taxpayer dollars to support for-profit schools.  The bill was sponsored by Senator Stuart Adams but President Wayne Niederhauser developed the bill with PCE and asked Senator Adams to carry the bill.  SB271 S3 was co-sponsored in the House by Representative Greg Hughes.  No public education representatives were included in its development.

2.     SB271 S3 passed on the final day of the 2013 Legislative Session by a narrow margin
(38-36 in the House and 16-10 in the Senate).

3.     This legislation adds yet another school accountability system on top of the Utah Comprehensive Accountability System (UCAS) that was created in response to 2011 legislation and for use in federal accountability and is also in addition to the required annual school improvement plans developed at the local level by school community councils.

4.     The primary political purposes of the bill are touted by Jeb Bush, former Governor of Florida.  At the time of Florida’s school grading implementation, Utah outperformed Florida in almost every indicator.  Utah still outperforms Florida in many indicators.  There is no research that connects school grading with school improvement; it remains much more of a political ideology than a research-based practice.

5.     UCAS requires measuring both student proficiency and individual growth scores by all students; SB271 S3 only counts proficiency for all students, thus failing to measure improvement made by students who have the greatest struggles in learning.

6.     The factors in SB271 S3 make it highly unlikely that any high school can change the initial grade they receive and fail to offer any meaningful measures of student or school improvement.

7.     The forced stratification of grades around a mid-point in SB271S3 limits the ability of a school to demonstrate improvement and may actually lower some grades as proficiency rates increase.

8.     Many public education stakeholders actively opposed SB271 S3 and encouraged Governor Herbert to veto it.  The bill was not vetoed in exchange for making some amendments to the bill in a Special Session of the Legislature; President Niederhauser refused to support the call for a Special Session.

9.     The first SB271 S3 grades are set to be released on September 3, 2013.

10.  The School Grading Program will assign failing grades based on participation in end of year tests regardless of unique circumstances at the school level.

11.  The School Grading Program does not allow counting the growth of students who still may be sub-proficient but have made tremendous learning gains.

12.  The School Grading Program treats all schools the same; schools that serve students with disabilities, students in mental health settings, and students in alternative schools will all be graded with the same one-size-fits-all metric.  Most unique schools will receive failing grades.

13.  The School Grading Program is roughly aligned with economic factors in a community, giving higher grades to schools located in wealthy areas and lower grades to schools located in areas of high poverty. 

14.  The School Grading Program will label schools in inaccurate and simplistic ways; not accounting for the myriad of school factors that should be included in a sensible accountability system that reflects complexity and growth aspects of schools and students.

15.  There is no current plan from the Legislature to help schools who receive poor      grades; in fact, the Utah Legislature significantly decreased funding for at-risk and accelerated students the past few years.

16.  The per-pupil legislative allocation in Utah for FY14 is $2,899, up $57 from FY13.  Utah continues to be ranked 51st in the nation in public education per pupil spending.

17.  Ninety-two percent (92%) of parents choose to send their students to Utah’s public traditional schools, including their online and special purpose options; the remaining students attend charter schools and private schools.

18.  A recent poll conducted by Phi Delta Kappa and Gallup Poll measured the public’s attitudes toward the public schools.  Seventy-seven (77%) of America’s parents gave the school their oldest child attended a grade of A or B.  These are the highest grades parents have assigned to their oldest child’s school since the poll began 44 years ago.  Twenty years ago the number was 64 percent (64%).  Locally-elected school board members listen carefully to their parents and work to continue to improve their local schools and the achievement of every child.

19.  Local boards of education support school accountability that:
·         Honors growth by concentrating attention on helping every child grow in their academic achievement and a system which values and recognizes that growth.
·         Makes clear to schools what is needed in order for them to improve in way that even small increments of improvement can be recognized, reinforced and rewarded.
·         Is devoid of limitations which arise from reliance upon a bell-shaped curve.
·         Uses a system which accurately reflects the performance and growth of the school and has a common perception as to the meaning; and
·         Provides assistance to schools which have created an improvement plan, and the resources to implement that plan.

20.  Student Growth Percentiles (SGP)
School Grading is based on student proficiency and growth (and graduation rate for high schools).  Growth is based on the Student Growth Percentile (SGP).  In the past, growth was determined by comparing students regardless of their achievement level.  Everyone was expected to grow the same.  The great value of SGPs is that growth is a measurement based on comparing students from past performance to present performance at the same achievement level. 

 The SGP is calculated by comparing each student with all other students who received the same scale score on the same test ( his/her academic peer), in the previous year and then comparing the scale score of these students the next year to determine their SGP.  So all students with a scale score of 150 (not proficient) the previous year, will receive an SGP of 1 – 99.  Thus, every student, regardless of achievement level, has the possibility of a low or high SGP based on their growth from previous years to the current year.  Students with low achievement can demonstrate high or low growth.  Students with high achievement can demonstrate low and high growth. 

 Then how does SB271 S3 fail to acknowledge significant improvement made by students who have the greatest struggles in learning?    By requiring a pass/fail bar (this year set at the 40th percentile), SB271 S3 prevents the SGP from reaching its full potential of awarding points for all students as it generates fewer points for low growth and higher points for high growth.  This is an attempt to try to force SGPs to be more similar to the value added growth model that the stakeholders rejected in 2012.  That stakeholder group included President Niederhauser, who now is fully rejecting the work of the original stakeholder group on which, he, himself, served. 



Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Strategic Conversations

Notes from the second day of the administrative conference.  This is a long post, but this is what principals were trained in.  I found it insightful into my own interactions as JEA President and as a Sixth Grade Teacher working within a PLC.
Guest speaker Dr. Robyn Johnson – - @Robyn_mindsteps

Building Mastery
Challenges of leading
·         How do I give effective feedback that actually changes practice?
·         How do I effectively follow up with ineffective employees?
·         What do I do with an employee who won’t admit that s/he is ineffective?
·         What do I do about a person I really don’t believe can get better?
She believes any teacher can become a master teacher with the right support and practice.
She talked about her experience evaluating teachers and how they came to fear her, they would give a “performance” rather than show genuine teaching, and they weren’t improving based on feedback.
Will and Skill
·         Effectiveness is a result of both skill and their will
·         Will: a teacher’s motivation to do what is best for students, the school community, and the profession.
·         Skill:  a teacher’s capacity and ability to implement instruction effectively.  This includes both pedagogical and subject area knowledge.
Four Types of Teachers
·         Low will/low skill:  retired on job, collecting paycheck for little work, kids like these teachers for little work and low expectations
·         High will/low skill:  often newer teachers, love kids, enthusiastic, kids and parents like these teachers because they love kids, can become low will/low skill if not lead appropriately, if you build their skill they can become a high will/high skill
·         High will/high skill:  motivated, know what they’re doing, smart, love kids, good with kids, innovators, they transform students and/or school, most neglected as far as feedback goes, they want feedback especially positive feedback, growth is up to them, typically complain about working conditions, if not supported they become low will/high skill
·         Low will/high skill:  good teacher, knows how to pass evaluation, start mutiny, have union on speed dial, blames others, ones who refuse to do what they are asked, cannot evaluate them out, push back for sake of pushing back, were likely a high will/high skill at one point, if don’t support their skills will erode and they become low will/low skill
Teachers move within the types of teachers.  Change of assignment, change of administrator, life events, or different group of students, can cause teachers to move among the types throughout a day, a school year, or career.  This is not about good and bad teachers.  Helps principals know how to approach different types of teachers and what type of help to give them.
We believe in every child, every day, but something changes when we think about adults.  How can we believe in every child but not in every teacher?
What do you do if have low will/low skill teacher who gets better, but their reputation in the community is still low?  Constantly talk about how every teacher is moving toward mastery.  Show parents that every teacher is improving and growing.  Highlight changes that teachers have made in newsletter or on website. 
Systemic approach to excellence in the classroom so there isn’t a different expectation at another school. 
You cannot solve a WILL problem with a SKILL solution.  You cannot solve a SKILL problem with a WILL solution.                                 
JPAS Domains chart – Will/Skill

Will – Does the teacher . . .
Skill – Can the teacher . . .
Managing the classroom
Treat every student fairly?
Create a positive classroom culture?
Effectively manage student behavior?
Organize space for learning?
Delivering instruction
Demonstrate flexibility and responsiveness?
Communicate with students?
Use effective questioning techniques?
Provide engaging instruction?
Interacting with students
Encourage reluctant students?
Acknowledge learning efforts?
Check for understanding?
Provide effective feedback?
Submit lesson plans?
Plan for all students’ needs?
Demonstrate high expectations?
Design effective assessments?
Demonstrate an understanding of the curriculum?
Professional responsibilities
Reflect on teaching?
Contribute to a PLC?
Maintain accurate records?
Behave in a professional manner?

Four levels of skill
·         Novice
·         Apprentice
·         Practitioner
·         Master
Building skill
·         Differentiated practice

Skill level
Has minimal exposure/experience/expertise.
Needs to acquire a concrete understanding of what it takes to be a good teacher.
Is building expertise but still needs supervision.  Can perform some more routine tasks on their own.
Needs to internalize the standards and principles in order to become independent problem solvers and develop their own “teacher sense”.
Makes accurate and reliable judgments.  Teaching practice shows both skill and economy.  Can teach others.
Needs help integrating skills into a seamless performance and develop adaptive expertise.
Can deal with unusual and tough cases.  Judgments set best practice, standards, regulations, or ideal.  Practice is seamless.
Needs help remaining mindful in their practice.

·         Deliberate practice
o   Evaluation
o   Elaboration
o   Observation
o   Practice
o   Feedback
o   Coaching
o   Collaboration
o   Reflection

·         Developmental practice
o   Must pass through skill levels gradually by changing approach as move through levels.
o   Not going to be an expert immediately.
o   Novice – acquire
o   Apprentice – apply
o   Practitioner – assimilate
o   Master – adapt
§  Same rigor framework used for students
Four Will Drivers
·         Autonomy: I have some control over the things that matter to me.
·         Mastery:  I can get good at the things that matter to me.
·         Purpose:  I am involved in something that matters.
·         Belonging:  I am important to people who matter.
Each person has a different key will driver.  The other three can be in place, but if that key will driver is not met, the others won’t matter.  Need to know your own key will driver, because it impacts your relationship with others. 
Improving school wide – implementing changes
·         Explore – why, skills development (4-6 weeks)
·         Expect – checking to see if doing (3-4 weeks)
·         Evaluate – see at high quality based on feedback (6-8 weeks)
·         Extend – individualizing (ongoing)
Example:  Carolina High School
·         Administrative Training – needed to align feedback
·         Initial rigor PD for all staff
·         Differentiated PD based on four levels of teacher skill
·         Ongoing observations and discussions
·         Improved instructional quality
·         Common core implementation with fidelity
·         Improved test scores
Example:  Marion County, Florida
·         Administrator training on will and skill
·         Administrator training on strategic conversations
·         Increased fidelity among administrators with the observation tool
·         Increase quality in teacher feedback and significant teacher growth
Example:  Connecticut
·         Training on strategic conversations
·         Increased interaction and accountability
·         Increased follow up with struggling teachers
·         Increased administrator comfort with difficult conversations
Strategic Conversations for Instructional Leaders
Teachers tell you how they need to be led based on complaints, comments, or behavior.  These show their will diver. 
A series of targeted, individualized interactions with teachers that are designed to help them significantly improve their instruction.  Take into account their skill and their will and will driver.  Not one-sided.  Jointly working to solve a problem.
Why strategic conversations?
·         Engage teachers as partners
·         Create joint ownership over the problem and solution
o   Help teacher fix his/her own problem
·         Tap into shared knowledge and expertise
·         Gain cooperation rather than compliance
Match the conversation to each teacher's needs

Reflective conversation: help teachers make connections between their attitudes and approach and student achievement.
·         Low will/low skill: must reflect on something specific and concrete, may take several days, not a good starting place for these types of teachers High will/low skill: struggle with connection because they don't know enough, they want to answer the question but may not be able to make the connection High will/high skill: love these types of conversations Low will/high skill: help you (questioner) reflect, bounce ideas off this type of person and ask for their opinion, establish trust and start building on the topic, you need to be vulnerable first

Dr. Jackson referenced Brene Brown's The Power of Vulnerability video on YouTube and said that leaders must be vulnerable first.

Need to be reflective ongoing, not just after the evaluation.

Facilitating conversations: help teachers make commitments to improve their instructional practice.

·         Low will: this is place to start, may have to revisit multiple times to gain commitment, share data and give feedback and decide on commitment

Coaching conversations: help teacher make corrections to their teaching behaviors to improve student achievement Low will: commit to fixing before suggesting corrections High will/low skill: welcome this type of conversation, love coaching, be careful because they can become dependent on coaching High will/high skill: they will often come to you to ask for coaching, if not they will try to figure it out on their own

·         When coaching, give people two options to fix the problem then let the teacher choose. Can determine a viable third option.

Directive conversations: help teachers make changes in their teaching behavior because it puts students in immediate danger or because they have not responded to other supports.

·         Too often default to this type of conversation, but really don't need to use this very often.
·         Usually document this kind of conversation.
·         High will/high skill: if no kids in immediate danger use a facilitative conversation, directive will kill motivation Should follow up within two days with a reflective conversation so the teacher can talk about the direction given.  Trying to process at the time just makes the situation worse.

Follow up

·         plan a series of interactions rather than just one
·         stay the course even when things become uncomfortable, frustrating, or seem to be going nowhere.  Don't stop too soon.

This is not going to be easy. You need to decide if you are going to continue doing what you have done in the past, or are you going to commit to looking at individuals will and skill and having appropriate conversations with them.

Some schools take 2-3 years to make changes. Dramatic change is right around the corner, and we often stop too soon.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Administrative Conference Notes

Strategic conversations is the topic because every child deserves a master teacher, every teacher deserves a master principal, every principal deserves a master administrator at the district level.

Dr. Johnson reiterated the "every child, every day" mission.  Three areas of focus 2012: PLCs, core implementation, data. CRT data is trending upward for all tested subjects and all tested grades.

2013-14 challenges
  • Growing student population:  We need to get behind a bond.  Boundary changes are likely.
  • New teacher and administrator evaluation systems:  30 schools piloting this year.  This means conferencing and talking with teachers often.
  • Implementing new core:  There will be new SAGE Computer Adaptive Test.  The scores will likely decline, because it is more rigorous thinking and working.  This is a shift for teachers.
Challenges are vehicles to our happiness and success as we meet them.

Research on being successful from "The Value of Happiness" by Shawn Achor discusses the relationship between success and happiness. 90% of happiness depends on how our mind processes our surroundings.  Happiness is the joy you feel striving toward your potential.  Greatest predictors of success include establishing strong social connections and demonstrating optimism.
You will never have worked harder than this year.


Mark Bouchard, Chairman of Prosperity 2020, said the challenge is failure to recognize the importance of education. Don't make tough decisions to show it is important. Education is most important thing we as a society do. In 1960s, mom was at home and helping kids value and achieve at education. Today, a good percentage of homes in district are single parent homes. English may not be language at home. Concerned about 18% of Jordan District students who don't graduate from high school, because they become a liability for the state when don't graduate. Poverty and low income areas have the common thread of no education. The idea that education is just responsibility of teachers or that it can be legislated is old thinking. Education is a village and community responsibility. Begins by giving educators the things we need. Ask educators what they need to do their jobs. Empower employees to lead themselves by being at their best. Prosperity 2020 is a business led organization with most local chambers of commerce engaged in dialogue with Governor Herbert and the legislature asking what they are doing for education. The legislature's responsibility is to "provide for" education, which means to fund it. It is the state school board's responsibility to decide "how" education happens.  

In a poll of teachers on what they want, money does not come up in the top three items. Teacher development, class size, greater participation from community with compensation as fourth. The state could pay more if it were willing to do so. Educators are caring and giving people who want to help others develop and take joy in the success of others. This is not corporate America.

With governors commission on education, interviewed 36 high school seniors and asked about public education experiences. They know who good and bad teachers are.  They learn differently than we did. Devices do everything. None of them want to be teachers.

Education needs to be asking, "How an I going to replenish my workforce?" Technology cannot replace a teacher. In his company, each person gets new technology (laptop/iPad/software updates) every four years. If did that in public education, would cost $72 million yearly. This does not include devices for students. This means the legislature would have to provide $175 million new money each year just to maintain the status quo on salary and benefits and keep up with technology changes. A $175 million increase has only been done once and is not likely to happen yearly. It is not feasible to think technology will replace teachers.

Education task force in legislature is interviewing lots of people about what education should be doing. People who need to be running education are educators. Any other model simply won't work. We cannot take non-experts to direct how we do our work. Prosperity 2020's counsel to Governor Herbert is that if educators don't believe you, they won't do the work. Basics are simple. Allow subject matter experts to lead.


June LeMaster, Director of HR, reviewed administrative appointments. Expect 350 new teachers this year. Still have 28 unfilled positions. Reviewed negotiations, of which there was none for JEA and administrators, because "JEA honored the two-year agreement and did not enter into the negotiations process." Classified had changes to some policies. Department Advisory Council, like SAC, is first place to resolve issues. Then move to classified DAC if unresolved. Changes to hours of work that clarifies when an employee may be called back in after ending their shift. Info on website under associations.


Corey Fairholm, Region VI-Jordan PTA President, with Kayleen Whitelock serving as associate director due to number of PTA members. Advocate, involve, and develop is mission. Purposes to promote child welfare, raise home life standards, laws to protect children, closer relationship between home and school, and develop united effort for public education.  Local, council, region, state, national with 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization. Gave benefits of being PTA rather than PTO.

PTA does not exist to raise money, but raises money to exist. Every child, one voice. Jordan has a strong PTA in Utah.

Ended by showing this video.  Change is good. You go first.