the first 20 percent

Some teachers to get a sneak peek of new evaluations this week

A screenshot from one school’s ARIS “Community Space” shows that teachers were able to download “growth scores” for their colleagues last week. Teachers in tested grades and subjects are set to receive last year’s growth scores, which will factor into new evaluations, this week.

About one in five city teachers will get a sneak peek on Tuesday about how they might be rated under a new evaluation system.

That’s when the city Department of Education will be sharing the state’s “growth scores” with teachers for whom a score was generated. The scores reflect how well a teacher’s students performed on state math and reading exams last year compared to other students like them and, according to state law, must eventually constitute 25 percent of annual evaluations for teachers who work in tested grades and subjects.

In New York City, about 17 percent of teachers teach fourth or fifth grade or English or math in middle school. They will get their growth score for the 2011-2012 school year Tuesday evening in their Department of Education email, department officials said.

The department has had the information since the end of the summer, state education officials said at a briefing for reporters last month. Principals got the reports last week and are expected to use the scores to help teachers at their school improve, according to Connie Pankratz, a department spokeswoman. But teachers are supposed to get access only to their own scores.

At at least one school, last week’s data upload did not go as planned. Starting Wednesday, when teachers at a large middle school in Brooklyn, logged on to the department’s data warehouse, they could download the effectiveness reports for all of their colleagues. The reports appeared in a long list in a section of the data system, ARIS, called the “Community Space.”

That should not have happened, Pankratz said. “We are working to ensure that only administrators or other authorized staff have access to the growth scores,” she said.

The reports, which the State Education Department generated, show the number of students tested and the percentage who scored above the state average. They also show how many of the students outperformed other students like them, using disability, socioeconomic status, proficiency in English, and prior test score history to break students into smaller groups. A poor fourth-grader with special needs whose native language is English and who scored at the lowest level on his third-grade tests would have his scores compared only to other students who fell into the same categories.

Compiling their students’ adjusted performance gives teachers an “adjusted mean growth percentile” that is then converted into a  score between 0 and 20, representing what would account for 20 percent of the teachers’ annual rating under an evaluation system that conforms to the state’s new evaluation law. Teachers with a rating between 9 and 17 will fall into the “effective” category.

Those data points will be made public, in aggregate form, for each school early next year.

In addition, a chart on each teacher’s growth score report shows the performance of students with disabilities, English language learners, poor students, and students with particularly high or low test scores in the past. (The information will be displayed only for groups that contained 16 or more students.) The subgroup information will be used for school accountability, state officials said, but will not be reflected in the teacher effectiveness scores that are released publicly next year.

For the 83 percent of city teachers who do not work in tested grades or subjects, the state will calculate student growth using a different set of measures. Those measures, known as Student Learning Objectives, require districts to choose state, homemade, or third-party assessments that can be used to calculate how much students have improved over the course of a school year.

Detroit week in review

Week in review: The state’s year-round scramble to fill teaching jobs

Miss Michigan Heather Heather Kendrick spent the day with students at the Charles H. Wright Academy of Arts and Science in Detroit

While much of the media attention has been focused this year on the severe teacher shortage in the main Detroit district, our story this week looks at how district and charter schools throughout the region are now scrambling year-round to fill vacant teaching jobs — an instability driven by liberal school choice laws, a decentralized school system and a shrinking pool of available teachers.

The teacher shortage has also made it difficult for schools to find substitutes as many are filling in on long-term assignments while schools try to fill vacancies. Two bills proposed in a state senate committee would make it easier for schools to hire retirees and reduce the requirements for certifying subs.  

Also, don’t forget to reserve your seat for Wednesday’s State of the Schools address. The event will be one of the first times in recent years when the leader of the city’s main district — Nikolai Vitti — will appear on the same stage as the leaders of the city’s two largest charter school authorizers. For those who can’t make it, we will carry it live on Chalkbeat Detroit.

Have a good week!

– Julie Topping, Editor, Chalkbeat Detroit

STATE OF THE SCHOOLS: The State of the Schools address will pair Vitti with the leaders of the schools he’s publicly vowed to put out of business, even as schools advocates say city kids could benefit if the leaders of the city’s fractured school system worked together to solve common problems.

LOOKING FOR TEACHERS: The city’s teacher shortage mirrors similar challenges across the country but the problem in Detroit is exacerbated by liberal school choice policies that have forced schools to compete with each other for students and teachers.

Hiring efforts continue at Detroit’s main school district, which is planning another job fair. Head Start centers are also looking for teachers. Three new teachers talk about the challenges, rewards and obstacles of the classroom.

WHOSE MONEY IS IT? The state Senate sent a bill to the House that would allow charters to receive a portion of property tax hikes approved by voters. Those funds have historically gone only to traditional district schools.

UNITED THEY STAND: Teachers in this southwest Detroit charter school voted to join a union, but nationally, union membership for teachers has been falling for two decades.

COLLEGE AND CAREERS: A national foundation based in Michigan granted $450,000 to a major Detroit business coalition to help more students finish college.

High school seniors across the state will be encouraged to apply to at least one college this month. The main Detroit district meanwhile showed off a technical center that prepares youngsters and adults for careers in construction, plumbing and carpentry and other fields.  

STEPS TO IMPROVEMENT: A prominent news publisher explains why he told lawmakers he believes eliminating the state board of education is the right thing to do. An advocate urged Michigan to look to other states for K-12 solutions. And one local newspaper says the governor is on the right track to improving education in Michigan.

This think tank believes businesses should be more engaged in education debates.

LISTEN TO US: The newly elected president of a state teachers union says teachers just want to be heard when policy is being made. She wrote in a Detroit newspaper that it takes passion and determination to succeed in today’s classrooms.

A PIONEER: Funeral services for a trailblazing African American educator have been scheduled for Saturday.

Also, the mother-in-law of U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, died in her west Michigan home.

FARM-TO-SCHOOL:  A state program that provides extra money to school districts for locally grown produce has expanded to include more schools.

BETTER THAN AN APPLE: Nominate your favorite educator for Michigan Teacher of the Year before the 11:59 deadline tonight.

An Ann Arbor schools leader has been named the 2018 Michigan Superintendent of the Year by a state group of school administrators.

MYSTERY SMELL: The odor from a failed light bulb forced a Detroit high school to dismiss students early this week.

EXTRA CREDIT: Miss Michigan encouraged students at one Detroit school to consider the arts as they follow their dreams. The city schools foundation honored two philanthropic leaders as champions for education.

And high school students were inspired by a former college football player. 

Struggling Detroit schools

The list of promises is long: Arts, music, robotics, gifted programs and more. Will Detroit schools be able to deliver?

PHOTO: Detroit Public Television
Detroit schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti answers questions at a community meeting in Detroit.

Arts. Music. Robotics. Programs for gifted kids. New computers. New textbooks. Dual enrollment programs that let high school students take college classes. International Baccalaureate. Advanced Placement.

They’re all on the list of things that Detroit schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti told a group of community members assembled in a Brightmoor neighborhood church that he would introduce or expand as soon as next school year.

Vitti didn’t get into the specifics of how the main Detroit district would find the money or partnerships needed to deliver on all of those promises, but they’re part of the plan for the future, he said.

The comments came in a question and answer session last month with students, parents and community members following Vitti’s appearance on Detroit Public Television’s American Black Journal/One Detroit Roadshow. The discussion was recorded at City Covenant Church. DPTV is one of Chalkbeat’s partners in the Detroit Journalism Cooperative.

Vitti has been appearing at community events since taking over the Detroit schools last spring. He is scheduled next week to join officials from two of the city’s major charter school authorizers, Central Michigan University and Grand Valley State University, at a State of the Schools address on October 25.


Watch the full Q&A with Vitti below.