Thursday, August 7, 2014
The Journal of Law and Education's upcoming Fall issue includes a particularly timely set of articles dealing with the new era of teacher evaluation and the ethics of education leadership. The abstract for each is below. I cannot help but mention that this is the third article by Preston Green that I have posted in the last few weeks. Kudos to Professor Green
An Analysis of the Policy, Research, and Legal Issues Surrounding the Exclusion of Charter Schools from the Teacher Evaluation Revolution by Preston Green, John and Carla Klein Professor of Urban Education, University of Connecticut
Abstract: Analysts such as Diane Ravitch have pointed out that charter schools try “to have it both ways” by obtaining public funding under state constitutional law while having private school autonomy with respect to student and teacher rights. This article contributes to the national discussion by analyzing the legal and policy implications of exempting charter schools from the teacher evaluation policies that apply to traditional public schools.
Evaluating Evaluation: Assessing Massachusetts School Districts' Implementation of Educator Evaluation Requirements by Ranjini Govender Dowley, Policy and Government Affairs Director, Stand for Children MassachusettsAbstract: This Article presents an assessment of the district-level implementation of educator evaluation regulations adopted by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 2011. By comparing the evaluation plans submitted to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education by Race to the Top-participating school districts and charter schools to the state model evaluation system, we were able to identify patterns in the aspects of the model system that districts were choosing to maintain or amend. Of the 229 districts and charter schools included in this analysis, only 28% adopted the Model System without amendment. This group was comprised of 18% of the traditional school districts included in this analysis and nearly 80% of the charter schools.
A much larger number of districts are implementing modified versions of the Massachusetts Model System for Educator Evaluation. Though not all districts’ amendments to the Model System will have a substantial effect on the substance of that system, in our opinion, many will. Over 70% of traditional school districts made amendments to the Model System that we classified as major or substantial. Common amendments fell largely into two categories: amendments that would limit the overall evidence collected for each evaluation, and amendments that would diminish evaluator flexibility in the ways that evidence can be collected. Though on-the-ground implementation will ultimately determine whether or not the new systems accomplish the regulatory goals, these types of changes place added obstacles in the way of making educator evaluation an effective part of the mission to maximize student learning.
State Ethical Codes for School Leaders by Perry Zirkel, Professor of Educational Leadership, Lehigh University
Abstract: Do state laws fill the gap in terms of more detailed coverage and force? A recent systematic analysis (Zirkel, in press) revealed that 34 states currently have ethical codes that cover K–12 school leaders, with most but not all of them with clear legal force. Perhaps more significantly, only four—Connecticut, Minnesota, New Jersey, and South Dakota—were specific to public school administrators, with all the rest covering school leaders within a generic rubric for educators. Other findings included the following:
• the content of the 34 codes fit into nine identifiable, albeit overlapping, categories: (a) specific to the law; (b) specific to the school board; (c)) specific to employees; (d) specific to students; (e) specific to parents and community; (f) equitable environment; (g) character traits; (h) behavior - broad; and (i) behavior - specific. The majority of the codes addressed in part all these categories except for parent/community-specific conduct. The two most frequent categories were specific educator behaviors and student-specific conduct.
• content analysis also yielded identifiable subsets for each of the nine categories, with the highest weighted frequencies accorded to (a) protecting student safety (specific-to-student category); (b) avoiding other discrimination (equitable environment category); (c) reporting information honestly (specific-to-the-board category); (d) avoiding personal gain (broad behavior category); (e) maintaining confidential (specific behavior category); (f) exhibiting consistent integrity (character trait category); (g) maintaining professional relationships with students (specific-to-student category); and (h) entering and fulfilling contracts - law category)
• approximately 70% of the 34 state codes of ethics expressly authorized one or more sanctions for violations, usually but not uniformly including suspension or revocation of certificate