Friday, February 27, 2009

NEA and the DoE

Arne Duncan meets with the NEA! The DoE is reaching out to NEA, and they have monthly meetings set up. Arne even came to the NEA building to meet with President VanRoekel!! What a difference 8 years makes. What a concept- the Department of Education talking to educators about what our students need.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Shaping the National Education Association's Agenda

This fall I was appointed by the NEA President, Dennis Van Roekel, to the Professional Standards and Practice Committee. We are charged with examining and making recommendations on educator evaluation systems, online education and student accountability systems. I'm sitting here with local educators (about 12 of us) from across the country working on a report and making recommendations on NEA policies. It's a great opportunity for local leaders to tell our national association what is really happening in the field. It's really important for our national policies to be shaped by the realities of our schools. Our recommendations will be voted on by the about 10,000 NEA Delegates this summer.

DCTA has been focused on developing an induction and mentoring system that provides real support for our new teachers. We spent a lot of time talking about the effectiveness/meaningfulness of the evaluations conducted by principals in Denver, and across the country. Looking at formative and summative evaluations of teachers is critical to improving practice in our schools. Fortunately, DCTA and DPS have been working jointly on all aspects of teacher development through our Professional Practices Work Group. This committee is a great way for me to share the success of Denver's work group and using our work to shape what happens around the country.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Well, it's that time of year again... for third grade, anyway. I've been out in schools this week where people are STRESSED about this test- teachers, principals, students, and parents. It never ceases to amaze me seeing how the CSAP turns schools upside down...

Schools rearrange their schedules, and rituals and routines are thrown out the window;
Students miss out on classes including arts, science, social studies etc. for the duration of the test;
Other teachers and students in non-CSAP grades lose their routines to help those that are in CSAP grades;
Teachers are rushing to collect test books from secure locations before testing and returning them after (signing them in and out... in blood! lol);
Teachers are scrambling to remember all of the ethics and test security guidelines;
Teachers are covering and/or taking down all charts in their rooms so that they they are in compliance;
Some students are done way too early (did they really finish already?)
Some students feel great after the test.
Others break down and cry.
Little red Stop signs are put up on doors so that testing isn't interrupted; and
Stock in #2 pencils skyrockets!

Another small fact: this lasts about 3 weeks every year--just for CSAP! (plus all of the other tests)

p.s. The kindergarten CELA test (CO English Language Acquisition) is forty two (42) pages long!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Council of Great City Schools Revelation...

While sitting at the Board of Ed. meeting tonight, I continued my usual multi-tasking until Mike Casserly took his spot at the big table. It was time for the long awaited report from the Council of Great City Schools. Mike began by commending the district for its improvements in growth, accountability, and systems architecture. He praised the administration, staff and school board for their efforts...

Then, I perked up, and put away my article on transformational dialogues. (by Daniel Kim; by the way it was EXCELLENT!!) CSCS found in its evaluation that...
professional development is fractured, and that teachers don't get much out of professional development. Its implementation is inconsistent between schools and classrooms.

Can you believe it?? DCTA has been saying this for a couple of years, and it has fallen on deaf ears. One of our issues in bargaining and IIC has been the lack of teacher voice in professional development. We have had ongoing conversations about the need to differentiate based on the knowledge and skills of teachers and students. In fact, this is where our School Leadership Teams (found in Article 5-4) proposal came from this year- so that teachers can determine the professional development in their school so that it is relevant to the needs of the school and students. It gets better...

When it got to questions, one board member wanted to know who has the best professional development program. Shocking answer... no one has the best but...
The most successful professional development programs are those that are done in collaboration with the union AND that aren't taken off of the shelf!

I was waiting for the skies to open, and balloons and confetti to drop. WOW! Working with the teachers union makes a difference in implementing effective professional development. Do you think it might impact student learning too??