Brizard's TeacherFit Reversal

As readers here knew last night, Brizard abruptly reversed course and declared that TeacherFit results would be discretionary information for principals not make or break scores.  This is either a welcome indication of flexibility on the part of Brizard's team or a worrisome show of course-changing. And other news:

CPS reverses course on controversial teacher applicant survey Sun Times: Chicago Public Schools officials Thursday did an abrupt about-face on implementing a controversial teacher-applicant test and said TeacherFit scores would no longer be used to automatically blacklist potential teachers.

CPS principals can hire teachers even if they failed controversial survey Tribune: Chicago Public Schools principals are no longer prohibited from hiring teachers who scored low on a preapplication screening.

A Program Looks Out For Youth Safety CNC:  Chicago is participating in a nationwide program intended to increase awareness of the need for places where displaced young people can be safe.

State commission can now approve charters, too Fox: A new bill signed into law this week will allow charters to get approved by an alternative commission appointed by the State Board of Education, expanding that authority beyond just school districts. A new bill signed into law this week will allow...

School Dumps Thousands in Supplies Fox: At a time when Chicago Public Schools are struggling for money, residents might be surprised by what FOX Chicago News found in the dumpster behind one school on the Northwest Side.

College-going inches up from Chicago high schools Catalyst:  Of 2010 graduates, 55.7 percent enrolled, up from 54.4 percent in 2009. Crane, Farragut, Harper and six other neighborhood high schools—which already had the district’s lowest college-going rates—went backwards in 2010.



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  • Teacher FIT was in the works before Brizard became CEO so in my opinion he HAD to show some flexibility. What happens beyond this immediate fix will be interesting and watched by many. Will TeacherFit remain on the application? Will anybody bother to correct the inaccuracies and misspellings in the inventory? Will AUSL and TFA candidates continue to be exempt?
    The immediate case may be closed but this incident raises many troubling questions and concerns about the direction of CPS (beyond the ones that are already there). Will "human capital" be allowed by Brizard to continue to be run like a business? This example clearly shows that teaching is a human endeavor and not capitalistic and anybody that understands schools and kids and teaching immediately gets why Teacher FIT is so ludicrous. As someone who has been involved in CPS in some capacity (teacher, parent, etc.) for over 20 years, I have been shocked and angrier this week than I have ever been.

  • In reply to flaca:

    Let's be honest--Alicia Winckler is in over her head. Brizard must be beginning to understand that she is a huge liability to the district. She is a lawsuit waiting to happen and has destroyed the recruitment of teachers. She does not have the trust of the principals and treats her employees like dirt. Enough is enough.

  • In reply to insider:

    Why was the LSC at Payton promised extra programs by HC's talent management/oppd if they would pick a favored one who worked in tm/oppd for Mckitrick? How does this office get 'extra' programs to give to a school? Extra programs should be available at all schools. It should not matter who an LSC picks from the list. It starts at the top at HC.

  • The new principal at Payton came from Northside College Prep, not talent management/oppd. Can you prove what you're saying about extra programs?

  • Good for Brizard. A good hiring decision considers multiple sources of information and the policy didnt do that. The survey may provide valuable information to consider and explore in the interview process to make a final decision but should never have been a "blacklist". Which is surprising because you'd think our head of Human Capital would know what is an accepted best practice. My respect for Brizard has just grown tremendously.

  • rodentface sent this to me yesterday -- he's having trouble getting the blog to accept his comments -- and i only just realized it was on my email inbox just now. things have changed -- my fault for the delay:

    The article indicates that TeacherFit is widely used. Most telling is how differently CPS uses TeacherFit compared to other school districts. Thank you to Catalyst for providing this important perspective.

    Other school districts use this type of test as a guideline to help principals make the best possible choice about a potential employee. CPS uses the test to restrict principal decision making.

    Other school districts use this type of test to "narrow the field down a little bit." These districts appear to utilize rankings based on a curve; most test takers fall in the middle with only a few tending towards one extreme or the other. CPS uses this test as a blunt instrument to eliminate large swaths of applicants. The CPS test results in candidate outcomes split equally into thirds - 1/3 good, 1/3 maybe, 1/3 bad.

    Other districts do not use the test to functionally prohibit potential candidates from employment. CPS does.

    Other districts allow principals to decide how much weight to give the test in relation to other interactions with that employee - resume, student teaching, first hand knowledge, recommendations, interview, etc. CPS uses the test to render other interactions with and information from that employee moot.

    Other districts use the test to inform and customize the interview process. CPS uses the test to undermine the interview process.

    Other districts appear to use this type of test for all applicants. CPS excludes its favored candidates; TFA and AUSL graduates do not take the test. Why? Because "those candidates were admitted to their programs long before the district implemented the screening." That is an embarrasing rationale. All other candidates also entered their teacher training programs - either post-secondary or graduate level - long before the district implemented the screening.

    Other school districts use this type of test to gain a better overall understanding of an applicant. CPS uses the test to arbitrarily punish applicants.

    On a positive note, at least CPS is developing an online applicant process that gives principals not only equal access to potential employees but also the ability to search based on certification and other criteria. The Chicago Public Schools has finally moved into the latter third of the 20th century. How exciting.

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    AUSL candidates did take the test.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Yes AUSL candidates did take the test (survey), however, if a AUSL candidate did not pass the test (survey) they were not "blacklisted".

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    Let's attempt to answer an example of a question from TeacherFit:

    How long do you persist on problems when you feel lost or confused?
    Very long period of time
    Long period of time
    About average period of time
    Short period of time
    Very short period of time

    If I persist on these problems for a long period of time I show great determination. On the other hand I also show that I am unable to resolve my problems in a timely fashion. Hmm.

    If I persist an average amount of time, well, I'm average. That's fine. But what the heck is an average period of time in this context? Hmm.

    If I persist a short period of time then perhaps I work through these types of problems quickly. On the other hand, maybe I give up on resolving those problems or ignore them entirely. Hmm.

    Any takers on the "correct" answer?

    These types of questions, totally devoid of any context, detail, or meaning, are ridiculous. The best teachers - those that are thoughtful, reflective, and critical thinkers - will immediately spin through their heads a dozen questions in an attempt to make sense of what this question actually means. The answer, of course, is that questions like this, and the surveys comprised of them, mean nothing.

    Left to their own devices, the administrators running the Chicago Public Schools, and especially Human Capital, just can't help themselves. Everything they touch turns to *&%#.

  • I was reading the comments in the Tribune under the article on TeacherFit. The thing that I am most bothered by, is once again how we are perceived by the public. There was comments like "teacher doesn't do well on survey and they still are allowed to teach, only in Chicago!" No matter what we seem to do, the public will always think we are inferior to the rest of the school systems in Illinois. Teachers, School Administrators, and other school personnel are in need of some major PR. The Union Contract is up at the end of the year. I can't wait to see how we are bashed in the media and by the public, especially by others outside of the system.

  • I think this shows why it's important that the CEO has experience as both a classroom teacher and a principal. Paul, Arne, and Ron had none.

  • In reply to Danaidh:

    Brizard reversed the incompetent Huberman initiative. This was easy, since why take heat or blame for Huberman's folly! Brizard needs to get a pair and fire the Huberman's PM no-no-nothings about education. He needs to man up and cut the waste that was produced by PM. Save some dollars and remove the pox called PM, which is a joke.

    Brizard has a long way to go prove himself. He needs to change CPS priorities and funding to building strong professional communities of practice in neighborhood schools.

    Brizard needs to man up and work for and not against our neighborhood schools.

    So, no Brizard has a hell of a long way to go!

  • In reply to Danaidh:

    I'm not an educator and totally understand where the principals are coming from. So I dont just think its about being an educator. It's about commen sense. It was clearly not well-thought out.

  • Power only concedes to power.

  • I do not think Brizard back peddled due to what was best for principals, schools or education. I think he did this because of a clearly insulting and poorly thought-out process, an angry union and a vulnerability to lawsuit, since TFAs do not have to take it--easy age discrimination.

  • remember too, lots of $$$ was spent on this test. If you want to be a principal in Chicago, you MUST take a test and get that test completely correct or you do not move on. This toois under Winckler's heavy wing. it is time for a new HC lead.

  • Winckler does not follow the rules, nor have any idea about how to implement a program. For the $200,000 she receives in salary from CPS, we should have high expectations for her performance. So far, she has hired her friends at six figure salaries without Board approval. Example, Debbie Graye @ $165,000--with no Board action for more than a year! Why does she disregard Board HR Policies, when she is Chief of Human Capital? She has also involved the Board in a major lawsuit with the CTU because she could not perform layoffs properly in 2010. Nobody trusts her, least of all CTU and CPAA.

    Mayor Emanuel--it is time for you to support CEO Brizard and allow him to replace Winckler with someone who actually cares about our teachers and students, while following the rules. It is one disaster after another in Human Capital--just ask the teachers, principals, parents, and HR employees what they think. More lawsuits are coming!!!! Stop the embarrassment of CPS now.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Fire her for the renowned piece of crap called CPS University! From Clark St to the schools, all agree that the online application is unusable. What waste of tax payer money!!!

  • Winckler was right... but so is Brizzard. The fact is -- and Winckler knows this better than anybody -- principals are terrible at hiring. They are not trained to do it well and they do it miserably.

    So Winckler's plan -- and it's not a bad one -- is try to minimize bad hiring decisions be eliminating candidates who do not meet certain standards, like the teacher fit, even if that means that in the process she eliminates some good ones from consideration. It's not a bad strategy and in a system like CPS may be badly needed -- but it hurts some good teachers.

    Brizzard's strategy is different at least superficially and definitely less nuanced: Give principals autonomy, then hold them accountable if they don't produce. It's the right philosophy but it ignores the real problems and the lack of discipline and professionalism many principals have in making their hiring decision-making. Hiring good candidates is really hard and principals are not taught how to do it well in principal school.

    The criticism of this effort is over-the-top BS.

    Rossi is a two-bit hack and her "Mind games" headline exposes her for the cheap-shot artist, she is. She has no credibility among serious watchers of public edcaution.

    Vicki Chou's from UIC makes me laugh. Ms. Chou ran NTA for several years and ran out more staff there than Winckler could ever dream to do. Many of them remain embittered. So, her assumption of the mantel of teacher-friend is rather ludicrous. She's protecting her education program at UIC, which may or may not be worthy of protection.

    The principal quoted by Rossi? This woman mad a job offer to a candidate before she knew the results of the job fit or the other information in her on-line application. What kinds of hiring decisions is this principal making? She is probably just the kind of principal who needs ot have her decision-making questioned.

    The Union? Don't get me started. This job fit inventory primarily affects new applicants and probationers. Karen Lewis seeks to have them all replaced by laid off tenured teachers in the various lawsuits she has wasted CTU money on. So why is she suddenly their best friend? Talk about BS. The Union does anything and everything to prevent the hiring of the best qualified candidates so that it can perpetuate a system in which teachers who won't even stay at school for lunch control the system. CTU is no friend of public education, and, I predict will ultimately cause its demise in Chicago.

    And other pious commentators on this blog and elsewhere have no conception of what is necessary to herd the cats that principals are to ensure that they have the best chance of not making a stupid hiring decision. And the principals who complain are the arrogant ones who end up firing 75% of those they hire -- sometimes just because they can.

    You can hate Winckler for her agressiveness in pursuing a goal. But if you care anything about kids, you've got to love the goal.

    Brizzard has chosen a different path for now at least, perhaps out of strategy, perhaps out of philosophy, perhaps from stakeholder pressure. Whatever the reason is, Chicago school parents and supporters of public educagtion like me sure hope it's the right decision.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Alicia, is that you? Or a close relative or paramour?

    Gimme a break! Alicia Winckler has been a total failure ever since she's been at CPS. The Teacher Fit program is a prime example.

    As a tool to inform principals, it's probably not a bad idea. But this survey is hardly the MMPI (the world's most heavily researched personality inventory). Where a principal has personally interviewed a candidate, the survey should never override her professional judgment.

    You are just plain wrong to assert that Alicia Winckler is a better judge of what makes a good teacher than most principals are. (What a nutter!)

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    We all have the goal to hire the best teachers for our children. The issue here is not Winckler’s goal but her faulty implementation. Aggressiveness, without a plan, results in poor outcomes. Someone on this blog wrote that Winckler earns more than $200,000 per year. We should expect more from her as a Human Capital “professional”. Let’s ask some questions.
    • If Winckler believed that Teacher Fit was a great idea to help principals select the best teachers, why was it rolled out just weeks before school starts and not February or March to prepare an outstanding pool for principal hire? You might respond, why should we prepare a pool when we are laying off teachers? The answer is that no matter what the depth of the budget crisis, we still need teachers due to retirements, resignations etc. Special Ed, Bilingual, World Language are examples of teachers that are always in high demand in the 600+ schools. Here’s another question—Did CPS recruit teachers this year from top universities or in these high needs areas to meet the goal? The answer is NO--recruitment of teachers was suspended this year by Winckler. She has always been more interested in excluding, rather than including.
    • Why was Teacher Fit not approved/funded by the Board of Education? Why was the funding of the project shifted to the Chicago Public Education Fund? What other instruments were considered? Where are the research/best practices on how to use any instrument to meet the goal of improved hiring? The pilot Teacher Fit project last year was also not approved by the Board of Education and rushed into implementation in May, 2010. Were the results of the pilot presented to the Board/Principal’s Association/CTU with an understandable hiring process?
    • Why wasn’t the hiring process clear to the candidates, principals, community or the CEO? The inventory and its relationship to the hiring process were not divulged to anyone, because it was not well thought out and equitable. Winckler’s plan was to RUSH an implementation at the last minute without key stakeholder involvement. Now, CPS may be facing numerous costly lawsuits and has received awful press that has left our university partners, prospective teachers and our parents with a bad feeling about CPS. Though the goal of hiring the best teachers was admirable, the implementation backfired and damaged the reputation of the school district.
    • I agree that Winckler believes that principals are not great hiring managers. The question is how much training and support did she provide to the principals during the past school year to assure that they did a great job hiring this year—the answer is NONE. Hiring for the upcoming school year was “opened” for Track E schools on June 29th and for regular schools on July 1st. CPS has had up to four job fairs during the spring/summer. This year there was only one on July 21st –it was rolled out and planned in about two weeks for invitees only. The principals were given no guidance on the process and only weeks to staff their schools. No wonder they called CEO Brizard and complained. FYI-the suburbs have been hiring since February.
    • How can an experienced HC Chief believe that using the results of a single on-line inventory is the only indicator of a teacher’s potential success? In reading about Ms. Winckler, I learned that she is a trained Industrial Psychologist. She should know better than to trust the results of an instrument without other documentation or evidence to make significant decisions about who should be hired at more than 600 schools with different populations, goals /objectives and themes. Does she really “know” the needs of all 600+ schools, their cultures, their goals and aspirations? Does she really think that in an era of more principal accountability that they would not want assistance in getting the best teachers for their schools? Her arrogance is insulting to principals and their communities.

    Well, now we are left with another PR disaster, the potential for lawsuits, and damaged relationships with CPS partners (unions, universities, community groups, foundations). Instead of spending limited funds on finding the best teachers for the schools, training principals on how to attract, evaluate and retain teachers, and developing a model hiring process, CPS will spend its money defending lawsuits, grievances, and complaints due to Winckler’s negligent implementation of a lofty goal. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Ms. Winckler has gotten herself into hot water by not implementing a worthy objective correctly. Last year, her rushed plan to layoff “unsatisfactory” teachers resulted in on-going federal lawsuit with the CTU when collaboration and thoughtful implementation could have met this goal without costing millions in legal fees and settlements. I think it is time to rethink our HC strategy and find a Chief Officer who does not only have good intentions, but is able to make it happen!

  • Human capital is in need of an overhaul. How long should someone wait in line while the people behind the counter chat about their weekend instead of doing their jobs? How many times should a new hire have to go to Elizabeth before they start? How many times should someone need to submit paperwork? Do they even know who reports to whom?

  • Also how about Rahm Emanuel lets Brizard hire his own Chief Administrative Officer that lives in Chicago?

  • A few comments about Teacher Fit (and no I don't think it should bar anyone from interviewing) :
    1) It had a good bell curve with approximately 1/3 in each level (this suggests validity of results).
    2) People who claim they did not take the test seriously when they took it are liabilities to themselves and to others, either they are lying or worse they are being truthful (Really, you did not take a part of your employment application seriously? Why then should we take you seriously?)
    3) We teach writers and every other thinking person to "know your audience." This skill is especially important for teachers. To those who are so inept that you did not know your audience when you filled out this survey, then you deserve many hard questions in the interview, and an especially jaundiced eye at your application.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    I have to agree with you on this one. At first, I was angry about the assessment, but then I saw some of the questions. How on earth can you mess up on this? If you did not take it seriously, your sort of deserve to not be hired.
    I want to address your second point. I cannot tell you how many times my students have said this about assessments they take. For example, the students take the SCANTRON and end up in a remedial reading class. They prostest saying they did not take the test seriously. Well, now they are out of a core class and into a reading class. I ask them, "How is that working out for you?" Once they realize what I am telling them, they do whatever they can to improve their scores. They understand. So, I cannot fathom why anyone who wants to teach would admit he or she did not take an assessment seriously. Did they think because it wasn't going in a grade book, it didn't mean anything?

    I can only shake my head and think you may be the very best teacher on the planet, but if you cannot recognize something so important, you have a lousy work ethic.

  • In reply to judgejury81:

    Ooops, "they PROTEST"... I also want to add one more point. If as a teacher, you don't take assessments seriously, how will you push your students to do so?

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    #1 Oops! Someone doesn't know what *validity* is. Sigh.

    #2 It isn't a test; it's a survey. And a rather ridiculous survey at that.

    #3 You really are clueless, aren't you? Again, this is a survey. The point is to inform oneself about one's attitudes, not an "audience." Further, if you answer survey questions trying to please your "audience," then it is likely you are not always answering truthfully. Where do you draw the line between trying to make a good impression in a job interview and outright lying? (Of course, this will be moot come next year. Every education school in the state will have prepped their graduates how to answer these questions come next round.)

    If you were aiming for well-reasoned response, you failed.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    #1 Oops! Someone doesn't have any idea about the concept of *validity*. Sigh.

    #2 TeacherFit isn't a test; it's a survey. (And not a very good one at that.)

    #3 The point of a survey is to inform one's self how one compares to others who have taken the same survey. There is no "audience" for a survey. Further, you are implying that it is more important to please the "audience" than to answer honestly. This is contrary to the goals of the survey-makers and may be viewed by others as dishonest. Where would you draw the line between trying to make a good impression in a job interview and lying?

    If it was your aim to write a well-reasoned response, you failed.

  • In reply to Danaidh:

    Sure. Of course you are correct. I never said it was a test. I said it was an "assessment". Big difference. And, no one said it was valid, just that because the curve had an equal distribution it "suggests" validity. Again, big difference. There was no implication of pleasing an audience. And, if a survey/assessment (you can call it what you will, either is looking for information about you) is part of a job application process, you can rest assured that YOU are NOT the only audience.
    Stop being so angry and really read what you are reading instead of reading what you WANT to read.

  • In reply to judgejury81:

    Also, please point to where I stated that one needs to please the "audience". If you can, I will see your point. But, I am pretty sure that was not stated. My point was about taking these things seriously. Many today just flip through these types of things and then cry when it bites them in the old arse. Read the stories that have accompanied many of these sobs. Some have said they did not take it seriously.
    By the way, why did you post twice and differently, yet the same?

  • In reply to judgejury81:

    The real tyranny is that top administrators who don't have the skill set nor successful experience in systematically building a world class public school district, can't help themselves on making one mistake after another.

    Teacher Fit is another example of how CPS takes a tool and corrupts it. for their devious purposes. Corruption! This is Chicago where clout trumps logic. That is to you Rahm and Brizard Trolls! You know you are!

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Do you mean "irony"? I mean, I know that tyranny can be used to describe unrestrained exercise of power, but does it fit here? Anyway, no I am NOT a Rahm or Brizard Troll. I did NOT vote for Rahm. I do NOT care for Mr. Brizard. I am a teacher. What I am observing in the news about this issue is something I observe in my classroom as well-People who feel they don't have to take assessments/surveys seriously, do them just to get them done, and cry when they are called to task for it. That is all.

  • In reply to Danaidh:

    1) Yeah, you have no clue.

    2) What a stupid comment: its an employment survey.

    3) Funny, coming from someone who doesn't know how to post here, correctly. And when you do you write gibberish: "The point of a survey is to inform one's self how one compares to others who have taken the same survey." No it's not, your an idiot.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    No, "your an idiot"... it is always funny when someone gets on their high horse only to make a even dumber mistake.

  • I agree with you, especially your number 3. Those people who claim they didn't know how to answer a survey as part of an apllication that is called "teacher fit" are fools. Teachers have to know how they are communicating and how that communication will be received. If you don't know that, then you will make a lousy teacher. It's NOT about you, applicant.

  • Testing anonymously.

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    I am so over the general public making judgements about teachers! Many, many teachers have graduate degrees and are forced to continue to further their education beyond their masters to renew their teaching licenses. Most teachers are more educated than the average working person. The fact that teachers are subject to the scrutiny of every average idiot on a daily basis is just unfair. How would accountants, plumbers, businessmen, etc... like it if their profession was constantly being blasted in the media and scrutinized. Teachers are in the only profession that is chastised for becoming more experienced. I am so over hearing "We don't need tenured teachers...." By saying that you are ensure that all children will be educated by people with 3 or less years of experience. How would any other professional like to be told that the more experience that they got, the worse they look in the eyes of others?? Bizarre. Lay off the teachers, they work hard, put up with more than most people could imagine on a daily basis and for a lot less money.

  • In reply to anonymous:


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