It is a beautiful day outside.The temperature is in the mid 80’s; it’s sunny, low humidity, peaceful with a light breeze.Most people would probably agree that this sounds like a very pleasant day.
Most of us could agree on the key factors that make up a beautiful day, but there would be a lot of debate on how to assign a value to each.
For what it is worth I would assign the following values: temperature = 40%, humidity = 20%, sunny = 20%, Breeze = 10% and Peaceful = 10%.
It is impossible to assign a value to every element that makes up a beautiful day.Each part of the day is important and relies on the other elements to make up the day.If just one of these elements is off (no sunshine, high humidity, etc.) the quality of the day suffers.
As silly as it is to say that a light breeze makes up 10% of a great day it’s equally silly to give different teachers a percent of a student’s success or failure.
This year the state of Ohio began the process of linking student achievement with teachers.I am one of the biggest fans of holding people accountable. In theory this sounds like a no-brainer, but there are a variety of
problems with Ohio’s linkage system.
If students only had one math teacher this would be very easy to do.The problems begin when students
receive assistance from other teachers.At my school nearly 50% of all students receive some sort of intervention from other teachers.
In addition to the normal regular education class, our school has a daily intervention class with two teachers, an academic assist class that meets twice a week (also two teachers) and some tutoring provided by a non-degree teaching assistance.
When it’s time to assign a percent of each student it can be confusing and very inconsistent.Not only do school districts differ, but even teachers at the same district might use different criteria to divide up value for students.
There are many variables that can make it complicated to assign value for student growth.The minimum a teacher can receive is 20% credit, the values must be in multiples of 10 and non-certified staff can't receive any credit for student growth.
For example, Roger is in my 2nd period math class with an intervention teacher has a daily math development class (that is team taught) and receives one period of tutoring per week.
Now we must determine who is responsible for what percent of Roger’s academic performance.Because he was tutored by a non-certified staff member the tutor receives 0%.The developmental class is a bit trickier
because I taught it with the other math teacher.Because the minimum a teacher can receive is 20% we each take 20% credit for Roger.This leaves 60% to split with myself and the intervention teacher.The intervention teacher received 20% and I received an additional 40%.
The final totals:
60% Regular Education teacher
20% Intervention teacher
20% Other math teacher
As a side note: A school 30 minutes down the road gives the regular education teacher the full 100%.All other teachers (intervention, gifted, etc.) receive no credit.
I love holding myself and others accountable for productivity.I admire Apple’s (the computer company not the bribe to a teacher) Directly Responsible Individual (DRI) practice in which an action list is created for every task and a person (the DRI) is listed next to it. I certainly believe Apple’s DRI Model can be very effective when applied to education.Linking student performance to teachers is Ohio’s attempt to incorporate a version of the DRI Model.
Despite my admiration of the Directly Responsible Individual Model I have some major concerns about how Ohio is implementing Linkage.
Creating a culture of Covering Your Ass (CYA) vs. Building Effective Teams (BETS)
As in most aspects of society teachers will quickly learn ways to game the system.Linkage will encourage teachers to take care of themselves instead of making sacrifices to help the team.
Teachers will begin to study the types of students that will give them the greatest chance to achieve growth. In most cases it will be the highest performing students.There will then begin a recruiting process among teachers.If your school ability groups there will be wide spread competition for the better groups. No teacher is going to want to get the students that struggle to show growth.
Determining the percentage each teacher receives will create uncomfortable situations for the teachers. At our school it is up to individual teachers to determine who gets what percent. An intervention teacher in 6th grade might receive 30% while the 8th grade teacher might receive 50%.An intervention teacher receiving only 20% might feel bitterness toward the person they are working with.
Teachers are going to be less likely to work with students that struggle to show growth during intervention classes or tutoring. At our school a few students in our developmental class were from the resource class.Even though we never had these students in regular class our mindset was to help any kids that needed extra assistance. We knew that there was a good chance that these student’s scores would drag down our individual performance, but we wanted to help the 7th grade as a whole.There are many teachers that will not want to take on additional students with a high probability of failing the state test.
Some schools in Ohio have a financial reward for teachers based on student growth. In theory this sounds like a great thing, but it’s another way to create staff friction.The teachers that work with the weaker students will more than likely receive smaller bonuses. In addition, teachers in subjects like social studies, science and computers will have no opportunity to receive these bonuses.
Another source of possible friction is teacher evaluations. A large part of a math (and language arts) teacher’s evaluation comes from the student growth on state test. Other subjects just make up their own assessments.These other teachers have a much greater chance of showing growth.
Teachers are also going to become even more reluctant to accept student teachers.The only way for future teachers to improve is to actually teach a class and learn from their mistakes.The more experience the better the future teachers will become. But with teacher evaluations, student growth and possible bonuses on the line fewer teachers are going to be willing to give up their classroom to student teachers.
As a side note: Mount Vernon Nazarene University in Ohio has changed their student teacher program. The students will team teach with the regular classroom teacher, instead of going solo.
The Missing Directly Responsible Individuals
Even though I have my concerns with Ohio’s Linkage system I think in general it’s a step in the right
direction.I believe the more you blend Apple’s Directly Responsible Individual (DRI) Model into education it will lead to greater things. If it was more consistent and put a greater emphasis on teaching teams I think it could have more success.
The two key missing components in the whole accountability process are the parents and students.You can develop the greatest lesson plans, care about the students, create a warm inviting environment, and be an expert in mathematics.Ultimately, if the parent and student don’t care there is a limit to what the teacher can do.
The student is his own personal product manager.The student has thirteen years of education to develop his personal product.Along the way there are many people that will have key jobs in the students (the product) development.But in the end it’s the student that is the Directly Responsible Individual.