May 29 2013

Huffman vs. Straw Man

Kevin Huffman is one of two TFA alumni who is currently a state education commissioner.  I was a 1991 Houston corps member and Kevin was one in 1992 so I have known him, at least informally, for over twenty years.  I interacted with him from time to time when he was a TFA vice president of public affairs for several years.

A few days ago I saw a tweet from TFA co-CEO Matt Kramer which was also retweeted by the other co-CEO Elisa Villaueva-Beard about an important op-ed written by Huffman defending a new merit pay scheme in Tennessee.

Huffman was responding to a quote from the Tennessee teachers’ union president Keith Williams in an article in a local paper the week before.  Just so I’m not accused of taking anything out of context, here is Huffman’s piece in its entirety:

On May 8, during Teacher Appreciation Week, the Tennessee Department of Education announced a new program to provide $7,000 signing bonuses and $5,000 retention bonuses for high-performing teachers willing to teach in “Priority Schools” — the schools performing at the bottom of the state in academic outcomes. Most of these schools — 69 out of 83 — are in Memphis.

The money, which in the past would have been spent on consultants, vendors or administrators, represents a historic effort to help struggling schools turn around student performance by investing directly in proven, superstar teachers.

If you are not deeply immersed in the upside-down world of public education, you might assume that the teachers union in Memphis would be ecstatic about millions of dollars flowing directly to teachers, and about the recognition of the incredible impact that great teachers have on their students’ lives.

Unfortunately, you would be wrong.

Upon learning of the signing bonuses, Memphis Education Association president Keith Williams remarkably told The Commercial Appeal in a May 9 article: “These teachers will not be able to make a substantial difference in these communities, which have economic deprivation, massive poverty and are disconnected from the fiber of society. Those students don’t do well until you put other programs in place for their families.”

Think about that for a minute. “These teachers” won’t make a difference — teachers who have the highest Level 5 competency rating and a proven track record of advancing student learning. “Those students” don’t do well, no matter their teachers — students in poverty, the children most in need of supportive adults who believe in their abilities.

Williams is dead wrong. Every day, in Memphis and across Tennessee, we see
teachers who work with students in poverty making a profound difference in the lives of children and families. Let me introduce you to two of them.
Katrina Armor and Casie Jones are both proud Memphians who teach at schools with high poverty and historically low overall achievement.

Armor has been teaching for five years and is in her first year at Corning
Achievement Elementary School. Jones, a fellow in the Teach Plus program, is an 11-year veteran teacher and is in her fourth year at Martin Luther King Jr. Student Academy.

Despite the challenges in their daily work, Armor and Jones are committed to holding themselves, their students and their colleagues to high standards. Last year, just 27 percent of the fifth-grade students at Corning were proficient in math on TCAP. This year, as they headed into TCAP, Armor had more than doubled that proficiency percentage. Because of her leadership, her students achieved significant growth that will change their academic trajectories and their future opportunities.

Jones works with students who have been part of the juvenile justice system or were expelled from their previous schools, teaching English to some 400 sixth- to 12th grade students each year.

Despite these challenges, Jones aims to ensure that all of the students she works with have access to college and other strong postsecondary opportunities and know what is possible in their futures regardless of what has happened in the past.

While not every teacher achieves great results, many do. Last year, 29 percent of Memphis City Schools teachers scored a Level 5 on rigorous performance evaluations which incorporated measures of student growth.
Most of these teachers served students in poverty, and did it extremely well. I dare say, most of them believe they make “a substantial difference” in the lives of kids and that “those students” can succeed, no matter their families’ income levels.

Poverty has a massive impact on our students, and it is without question an enormous challenge in the work of educators in Memphis. It is critical that states and cities, churches and nonprofit organizations, businesses and civic groups work together with schools and continue to address the underlying causes of poverty. Doing so will make the work of educators more manageable and sustainable, and will multiply the impact of a strong foundational education.

But we must also be clear on this point: Children in poverty can achieve at high levels when we adults give them the opportunities they deserve. This is happening every day in classrooms across our state. When exceptional teachers and great leaders build schools focused on student growth and outcomes, they can help break the cycle of poverty.

At the state Department of Education, we recently adopted five core values to guide our work. One of these values is optimism, which we defined as follows: “We believe in the potential of all Tennessee students to reach high levels of academic achievement. We believe that, in collaboration with our colleagues across the state, we can and will build a system that helps our students meet their potential. We operate with a strong sense of possibility that we can accomplish difficult tasks, and we foster innovation in ourselves and others.”

It is long past time for adults in leadership roles to express their belief in the potential of all children, and in our obligation to build a system of schools that serves them. Our best teachers share this belief and deserve to be recognized, and if any of their representatives believe otherwise it is regrettable.

Before I get into my analysis of Huffman’s statement, here is the full text of the article in which the quote that so offended Huffman appears:

Tennessee upped the ante Wednesday, offering $7,000 bonuses for high-performing teachers who agree to work for two years in any of the state’s 83 chronically low-performing schools.

The teachers will get $2,000 for signing and the remaining $5,000 the next summer. The state is also offering a $5,000 retention bonus to teachers with similar credentials who agree to stay another year in a priority school. The bonuses are effective immediately.

In both cases, the money will be forfeited if the teachers do not achieve the same high test scores, or in the case of the retention bonus, renege on their commitment to stay a year.

The Department of Education will provide the funds to the school districts. It did not say how much money it has set aside.

“We know that teacher effectiveness is the most important school-based factor impacting student achievement,” said Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman. “Our goal is to get more of our most effective educators into our struggling schools. We value our teachers, and this is a great opportunity for us to show it.”

Teachers must be Level 5 on their overall evaluation scores and three-year TVAAS average. The state says it will make allowances for teachers too new to have three years of test score data.

The bonuses also only apply to teachers who agree to leave a stronger school to work in priority schools, or those scoring in the bottom 5 percent. Those schools are all in Memphis, Davidson, Hamilton, Hardeman and Knox counties.

The bonus is expected to help teacher recruitment in the Achievement School District, which will operate 17 low-performing schools in Memphis this fall.

“We need Tennessee’s best educators to be builders of the possible in our Achievement Schools,” said Ash Solar, ASD chief talent officer.

Keith Williams, president of the Memphis Education Association, is wary. “These teachers will not be able to make a substantial difference in these communities, which have economic deprivation, massive poverty and are disconnected from the fiber of society. Those students don’t do well until you put other programs in place for their families.”

Despite the passionate rhetoric of Huffman’s writing, I believe I ‘get’ what Williams was saying and I fully agree with him.  I think that Huffman probably understands what he was saying too, but took this as an opportunity to accuse someone of having low expectations for poor kids.

What Williams said was that the teachers who transferred from the ‘better’ schools to the low performing schools would not make a ‘substantial’ difference.  I think that nearly all teachers make a positive ‘difference’ in students’ lives.  This includes teachers with ‘average’ and even ‘below average’ value-added scores.  So the idea that by bringing in some ‘ringers’ who got excellent evaluations at much easier schools will surely ‘significantly’ improve the more difficult to teach in schools is pretty unlikely.  These amazing ‘level 5′ teachers who apparently represent 30% of all the teachers in Tennessee are not at all guaranteed to get a level 5 the next year when they transfer to the lower performing school.  Maybe those teachers are a very good fit at the school that they are currently in, but would not be able to adjust to the greater demands at the new school.  Though value-added is supposed to be an unbiased measure of teacher quality, it is very fickle from year to year, even with students with similar demographics so when a teacher transfers to a school with so many more out-of-school factors to contend with, the consistency of the value-added scores is even worse.

Notice that even though Huffman describes the bonus as a $7,000 signing bonus to transfer, the second article explains that it is actually just a $2,000 bonus to transfer.  Only if the teacher gets at least a level 4 at the new school will she be able to get the remaining $5,000.  The fact that they wouldn’t just give the teacher the full $7,000 up front is an admission that the value-added scores might just not be consistent from year to year, especially if the teacher makes a big decision to leave an easier school.

I will say with a lot of confidence that very few people will take this gamble.  Giving up a position that you are excelling at, even by this limited definition of excelling, for just $2,000 is absolutely crazy.  Maybe some teachers will be duped into this if they don’t read the fine print, I guess.

Here is some of that fine print:

So a teacher would first have to have had a level 5 in 2011-2012.  Then they would be eligible to apply, BUT sometime this summer they will get back their 2012-2013 scores and if they have fallen below a level 4 they will lose their eligibility.  THEN they must also get another level 4 or better at the new school.  I know that 30% of teachers get this high rating, but if the Tennessee system (they invented value-added in Tennessee over 20 years ago, actually) is as inconsistent as it is elsewhere, this seems like a pretty big risk.

I actually would support giving all teachers in a high poverty school a raise, even though I know this is something that the union might not like.  Another way to compensate teachers for teaching at the toughest schools would be to have their class sizes capped at 20 students, or have them just teach four classes a day instead of five or six if they are a secondary school.

Looking at Huffman’s argument, we see that he highlights two teachers who ‘prove’ that teachers can make ‘profound’ differences.  One teacher, Katrina Armor, is an experienced teacher who is in her first year at a charter school in the Tennessee Achievement District.  The school, Huffman says, only had 27% of the 5th graders scoring proficient in Math last year and now, look at the careful wording, “This year, as they headed into TCAP, Armor had more than doubled that proficiency percentage.”  Not that her students got the 50% proficiency, since I don’t think the tests are even scored yet, but that she did this “as they headed into the TCAP,” maybe on some diagnostic, I guess.  Perhaps her students will get good results when they come back, but it is a bit funny that of all the teachers he could have chosen, he has picked one that he doesn’t have hard data supporting how good she is at improving test scores.

The other miracle teacher is working with the toughest to serve population, kids who have been expelled or are imprisoned.  And the evidence of her success isn’t ‘data-driven’ at all, but just “Jones aims to ensure that all of the students she works with have access to college and other strong postsecondary opportunities.”  So she “aims to ensure,” but does she actually accomplish it?  Huffman is very careful with his words.

Perhaps Keith Williams could have been a bit more careful so that Huffman wouldn’t misunderstand (or at least pretend that he misunderstood) what his point was.  It isn’t that teachers can’t, or don’t, make a difference.  It is just that bringing in ‘ringers’ from the easier schools getting a whopping $2,000 signing bonus aren’t going to make a difference that is ‘substantial.’  I guess it depends on what you think qualifies as ‘substantial,’ but based on my definition, I’d agree with him.

28 Responses

  1. KrazyTA

    Gary R: simply and accurately stated.

    I keep waiting for the self-styled “education reformers” to fight fair. But I’m not holding my breath—that would be life threatening.

    Thank you for keeping it honest amid a swirl of hype and pr spin and catchy slogans. Mr. Huffman seems so smitten with playing his political games that he seems to have misunderstood this admonitory bit of humor by Will Rogers: “If you ever injected truth into politics, you would have no politics.”

    And congratulations on the Skinny Award. Well deserved.

    :)

  2. meghank

    It’s a small error, but the school Armor teaches at is not a charter; it is direct-run by the Achievement School District. The reason this is important is that all of the teachers at that school were surplussed so that it could be “turned around” by the state. My colleague was heart-breakingly surplussed from that school last year, only to come to my school, which was also closed down this year to be turned over to the state.

    She loves the neighborhood she lives in (Frayser) and is determined to teach only in Frayser, so she’ll probably be surplussed again. The ASD has a plan to take over every public school in Frayser in order to create a good location for a Charter Management Organization to come in and manage.

    She dislikes the ASD because she says they are kicking out kids from her former school. She knows the kids and their parents, living in the area, and says that enrollment, which was 400 when she was there, is now 220.

    Well, my point is, they got rid of amazing teachers like this one, so Armor had better be absolutely spectacular.

    Also, if the test results do improve, it is probably a result of expelling troublemakers.

    • Educator

      What does surplussed mean? Just curious…

      • meghank

        It’s the term my district once used to describe teachers who have been let go from their current school due to low enrollment or school closing, but were once guaranteed a job elsewhere in the district.

        This is the first year those teachers are not guaranteed a job elsewhere in the district, and we are now referred to as “excessed” teachers (the change in terms was meant to signify, I suppose, that we are no longer guaranteed a job).

        • Educator

          Thanks! So this makes me think –

          So let’s say I’m a teacher looking for a job, and I have the choice between a low-income, low-scoring school and a higher-income, higher-scoring school.

          Low-income, low-scoring schools tend to have declining enrollment as charters open up around the neighborhood. So why as a potential teacher would I want to go to a school where I can more easily be excessed in a year or two. Maybe this can be dismissed as collateral damage in the effort to bring more “high performing” schools into the neighborhood….

          • meghank

            You wouldn’t. You also wouldn’t want to go to a school that isn’t making “growth,” because the school-wide VAM score counts for 50 percent of your evaluation for the majority of elementary teachers. Schools that are struggling will only get worse under these “reforms.”

          • teacherkate

            I am a Memphis teacher who was in one of the lowest performing schools in the city. My TVAAS score was a 1. I moved to one of the higher performing schools and received a TVAAS score of 4. My teaching did not change that drastically in just one year. I do feel I improve as a teacher each year (I’m still new to the profession), but I didn’t change that much. The only change was the drive of the students I was teaching.

          • Educator

            teacherkate–
            Isn’t the theory that you are being scored against your peers (if value added test scores are in the TVAAS method, which I don’t know)? So, in your case, when you were at the low performing school, you were one of the weaker teachers. Now that you are at a high performing school you are one of the stronger ones….according to TVAAS….relative to other teachers at your high performing school.

            Is this correct? Just curious how these scores work.

          • meghank

            Educator – Incorrect. While I believe the TVAAS scores are a bunch of hocus-pocus, and won’t believe they mean ANYTHING until the formula is made public– this is what they CLAIM they do to come up with a school-wide score: Compare your student’s scores with the score they were expected to make based on their scores the previous year (or all previous years they have taken the TCAP, if there has been more than one). So, a student scored 60% on the third grade TCAP and is expected to earn a 60% on the fourth grade TCAP. If that happens (and all your students perform similarly), you will make a 3 on a scale from 1 to 5.

            You might be correct that they compare scores of your students with scores of other students in the current administration of the test to determine the score they were “expected” to make. But in that case they compare that student’s score to the scores of students throughout the state, not to the scores of students in your particular school or district.

            The thing that makes all of this completely nonsensical is that grades Pre-K to 2 do not take the TCAP. So even a third-grade teacher is not judged on the scores her students make. All teachers in an elementary school with the exception of 4th and 5th grade teachers take the average TVAAS score of the 4th and 5th grade teachers as half of their evaluation score. How much sense does that make?

    • Meg

      What I find really interesting about the comparison is that they’re comparing Corning’s scores in the year before they were ASD to the first year they’re a part of the ASD. There’s no available data yet to tell us how the ASD did on TCAP this year, but I think it’s comparing apples and oranges. Who’s to say their previous teacher wouldn’t have made similar gains under new management/systems? How can we know how much of the “change” is on the teacher and not reflecting a change in school policy (or perhaps the student body).

  3. Educator

    The problem with editorials like this one is that the general public, many who are not involved with public education and don’t understand the complexities, will read this and think “Oh my gosh those low expectation teachers! Get rid of them!, etc…Go Rhee kick butt, etc…”

    I think this is why I am deeply disappointed in the reform movement. They have become the new status quo, as much of what they exclaim is skewed from real truth. And the general public buys it (I don’t blame them. I would buy it if I was reading editorials like this one and had little to no experience in front of students.) This is causing a serious distraction from productive discussion and policies that would have a better chance of doing well, like the ones Gary describes above.

    The education reform status quo now needs to protect itself from being outed by folks like Gary and the NPE, so they write editorials like this one. So disappointed.

    I do think many in the ed reform movement do have good intentions (I know, lots of readers here disagree with me). Just think about how powerful they could be if they didn’t have to protect their jobs.

    • Educator

      Sorry last comment.

      I think I misread the details of the plan. It doesn’t seem like they’re firing anyone if their scores drop (I think?). It seems like all it is is a small way to entice high scoring teachers to shift to a low scoring school, in return for $2,000 and potentially another $5,000 if they can repeat. Assuming these teacher scores are valid (which is hard to imagine)…not worth it IMHO.

      But I’m not totally against this idea. I think it’s orders of magnitudes more difficult to teach in low-income schools, so why not formulate a policy to entice teachers to go to those schools? I think the key is to not have high-stakes attached to this. For example, let’s say this superstar teacher decides to go to the difficult school, and doesn’t do so well. Give him/her the opportunity to transfer back to the school they left where they were doing well. But don’t threaten to fire them. I don’t know. I wonder what readers here think of the policy. I think I’m missing something.

      • gkm001

        Gary’s idea is spectacular, IMO. Why not cap class sizes at the low-income schools, and/or (preferably and) lower the number of hours teachers spend in classroom teaching, so they can spend more hours on preparing rich lessons, tutoring the neediest children, collaborating with special ed teachers, and doing observations in each other’s classes so they can give/receive peer feedback? This would make them more effective at their jobs, make their jobs more satisfying, and help prevent burnout. It’s not always about the money.

        • Educator

          These ideas are too simple for policy makers to understand.

          All kidding aside, I’m seriously not sure why ideas like this one don’t happen. It’s more costly for lower class sizes, so that obviously has its challenges. And then there might be issues if students get less instructional time. I don’t think it’s a bad idea but it doesn’t sell well: “Your child gets 5 hours of better instruction rather than 6 hours of not as great instruction.” I think the teachers, and their unions, would be accused of trying to do less work.

          • gkm001

            They would also be accused of trying to make more jobs for teachers. Smaller class sizes = more teachers, obviously, but also, having more teachers at a school would mean you could create release time without sacrificing instructional time. This would be easy to do at the secondary level by offering more classes; in the primary grades, it could be done by giving children instruction in the arts, a foreign language, P.E., and enrichment activities like outdoor education or other specialized classes, while their teachers took time for planning, collaboration, documentation, and observations. (Also, we could lengthen recess time for outdoor unstructured play, which is healthy for children’s physical, emotional, and social development.) The public, taxpayer money currently going into bonus and reward systems could go instead to hiring these additional teachers. Meanwhile, the private, foundation money currently going to influence public policy in favor of reforms could go … well, anywhere else.

          • Educator

            Good ideas gkm001. Now the tricky part is convincing people who can make these choices choose this over the more “emotionally satisfying” won’t back down type of reforms like firing people, closing schools, shifting resources to charters, etc…

            As I think about it, it takes more courage to do these types of changes you suggest than the no-excuses reforms. The politicians like the no-excuses types of reforms because it comes off as “transformational” or “taking on the education machine” or “disruptive leadership” while the reforms you mention don’t really score any points from the public.

  4. Educator

    Does anyone find it odd that many in the education reform movement have little education experience, or perhaps a few years of teaching experience before they jumped into “greater transformational change”? Of course, there are exceptions to this, but in general the reformers (Superintendents, think tanks, politicians, mayors, CMO leaders, etc…) have little education experience from what I can tell. I think there are 2 ways to look at this:

    1) The less education experience you have, the better, as you’re not indebted to protect the status quo. The longer one stays in education, the more entrenched they are in the system. Hence, they must agitate the system externally through state laws, parent triggers, going into charter management, etc…These little education experience leaders bring transformational change perspective to the education establishment.

    Or

    2) For those who stay in the classroom, they get more experience, and hence, more knowledge about what works and what doesn’t. Therefore, they don’t generally support corporate education reform ideas because they know they don’t work, based on their experience. They fight the corporate education reform movement because they know it’s a bad idea, not because they’re trying to protect the status quo. They don’t want education getting worse.

    Editorials like the one above make it more difficult for experienced educators to be heard by society. Kind of sad. I think education is now one of the few professions where more experience counts against you when trying to make a difference.

    • gkm001

      For politicians and billionaires, “bad teachers” are a convenient scapegoat, taking the blame for the injustices and inequities of our entire society. Of course, teachers matter, and of course, schools should give children the social and intellectual tools they need in order to support themselves and participate in civic life. But after decades of disinvestment in schools that serve the poor, decades of re-segregation of schools, decades of stagnant wages and shredding of the social safety net, and a decade of corrupting the public school system with high-stakes testing that they imposed, how dare leaders turn around and ask teachers why children here aren’t thriving and learning the way they are in countries that take better care of children?

      One group that can be allied with teachers in seeking smaller classes, rich curriculum, balanced assessments, and better-resourced schools is, of course, parents, who want all these things for their children (see John Tierney’s article The Coming Revolution in Public Education: http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/04/the-coming-revolution-in-public-education/275163/).

      Another group is educational researchers, many of whom have looked at the evidence and concluded that, as Arthur Camins put it in a recent Answer Sheet guest blog, “school reform preserves the ‘status quo’” of unequal educational outcomes: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/05/29/how-school-reform-preserves-the-status-quo-and-what-real-change-would-look-like/

      I think the cracks in ed reform are starting to show. Even politicians are looking for new solutions. (http://www.edsource.org/today/2013/california-looks-to-ontario-schools-reformer-for-guidance/30644) Teachers, parents, and others who care about children need to keep speaking up about real change.

  5. bruce

    I have been watching this “reform” movement for awhile and go through a range of emotions from fear to anger to doubt and everything in between. I have been teaching 23 years, and take strong exception to the underlying presumption that older teachers are ineffective. But, then I laugh to myself. Let TFA come in and take jobs in difficult schools. Those poor, young, idealistic kids will be eaten alive. Let charters take over. If they can educate them, discipline them, transport them, counsel them better than the status qua, more power to them, but I doubt it. As for these great bonuses for merit pay, well, just read between the lines. It seems to be talked about, but I have yet to see teachers driving expensive cars because of the merit pay they received. Remember NCLB teachers. They were suppose to get great money, well, in Florida at least, even the letters behind your name are worthless.
    The people who think they can run these charter schools for a profit are going to have to convince some very smart, savvy investors that they can make a profit. From what I have read so far, investors are not falling all over themselves to get involved. Educating kids is not profitable, never has been, never will be. So, in conclusion, I think there will be a lot of damage, and good people will be hurt, but we will eventually teach the same way we have been doing it for 5,000 years; a dedicated adult connecting with young minds.

  6. skepticnotcynic

    The current reform movement is a sham. Merit pay doesn’t work in education, and incentive bonuses in Tennessee are an insult to competent teachers.

    Huffman know absolutely nothing about economics or human psychology. At the end of the day, he is either really dumb or a sell out. In his case, I actually think both.

  7. Merit pay increases focus on short-term, individual goals. Part of what collapsed Enron was the pressure to close enormous deals – even if those deals were poorly-planned and likely failures, bonuses rested on closing big deals. The housing bubble fed on bonuses, too – who cares how risky that CDO really is as long as you make a good bonus on putting it together and massaging out a good rating.

    So why would it be any different in education? It hasn’t been yet – all attention is on short-term test score gains, not actual learning, and clearly there is pressure to cheat your way to success.

    I also doubt that high-performing teachers at low needs schools will be equally high-performing at high needs schools. Teaching at a high-needs school is different, with different responsibilities and pressures. In my experience, teachers at high needs schools have less freedom to move away from assigned, scripted curricula and there’s an increased focus on test practice and standardization across classrooms. You also need very different management strategies.

    • Educator

      Yes, I think the biggest challenge is classroom management strategies. It’s very challenging in low-income schools. So I don’t think a “high performing” teacher from another school will necessarily do so much better at a low-income school.

      Still, I don’t think it’s a terrible idea, as long as there aren’t any negative stakes. It is orders of magnitude more difficult to teach in low income areas I think, so there shouldn’t be a threat if one chooses to try teaching there.

      • skepticnotcynic

        Having taught in both environments, the challenges are different, so I don’t think a high-performing teacher from a more affluent school would necessarily be any more effective than a high-performing teacher in a low-income school would be if they transferred to a more affluent school.

        At least at the secondary level, I think having an understanding of your content is more heavily scrutinized at a more affluent school. Therefore, if you aren’t a strong classroom manger but you have expertise in your content you may do ok in a more affluent school, but you will more than likely struggle immensely in a low-income school.

        I also think some teachers who are great with culture and management in low-income schools but weaker in content would get destroyed in more affluent schools by their students questioning their competence.

        At the end of the day, we’re all different and have different motivations, so policies like these are dumb. Most educators are obviously not that motivated by money, or at least not a tradeoff of 7 grand for instability, insecurity, and more difficult working conditions. In fact, if I could guarantee a teacher better working conditions rather than what they have to deal with now, they would probably even give up some of their salary to work in that environment.

        The incentives in education are incredibly skewed.

  8. Yes, teachers make a difference in the lives of their students, but teaching is not an individual activity; it is very much a team ‘sport’ and all experienced teachers know this. I will be very curious to see how many experienced teachers take the gamble.

    In Minneapolis, the teachers union offered to have teams of teachers move to low performing schools for a bonus, but the district wouldn’t do it. Turns out, the district was really not as interested in achievement gains as they were in maintaining or gaining more control.

  9. Bruce

    A “high performing teacher” is an interesting concept. I know teachers that are in gifted classes, and their students perform very well. I teach the “normal” middle and working class kids, kids that come to schools with a whole array of issues. We are not “high performing” but we do learn and are successful. To be honest, I would not want to be in the high performing classroom, it is not my style, and I think those teachers feel the same about my job.

  10. JoeyBootes

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