Teacher Group Sets Own Path

There's a new teachers' organization out there and it's striking out on its own, called the New Millenium Initiative, which as EdWeek describes (New Groups Giving Teachers Alternative Voice) it seems to fit somewhere in between the teachers unions and the reform groups despite being funded by some of the pro-reform foundations.  They've issued a new report, Classroom Experts’ Recommendations for an Effective Educator Evaluation System.  Take a look, let us know what you think.

There are other related teacher groups popping up in Chicago, too, including TeachPlus, a Gates-funded organization whose Chicago fellows nonetheless opposed SB7 over the strike right changes.

NB:  This is a corrected version of the post. The original version said IL NMI opposed SB7, based on my misreading of the EdWeek article. It was TeachPlus.

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  • The Illinois New Millennium Initiative report seems very honest and well intended. While it discussed the Performance Evaluation Reform Act (PERA), it did not really examine value added measurement of teachers except to correctly note that neither the ISAT or PSAE are very effective instruments from which to create these measurements. I did not see any discussion of the common core curriculum nor did I see any direct discussion of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) process for developing an assessment for the common core. I think both of these issues needed to be discussed in some detail and were not discussed in the report.

    I am totally on board with the report's call that "PEAC to consider use of multiple measures of student assessment including portfolios, computer-adaptive tests, observations of student
    learning behaviors and oral examinations or presentations." We are not totally on board with the idea that "teachers should be the ones taking the lead on development of these measurement tools in conjunction with other district, state and union leaders." This thinking is too narrow, the outcomes of publicly educated students are of the greatest importance to parents and the tax payers in general who fund our public schools. I think the table needs to be bigger.

    Right now the PARCC test development system is being driven by Achieve a nonprofit group closely associated with governors and corporate leaders. Psychometricians in the PARCC process will play the largest role in developing the test for the common core standards. I am very concerned that the test being developed is not about creating literate citizens prepared for both work and democracy, but rather primarily for developing a competitive workforce to defend our nation's position in a global struggle for markets and profits. Children and adults with very real deficits and limitations are not a major part of that paradigm.

    Lastly because I work for an organization that advocates exclusively for adults and children with disabilities I found this statement interesting: "Increasingly, educators are working collaboratively to improve student learning experiences and outcomes through team and co-teaching among classroom teachers, the involvement of specialists and pull-out teachers and related services staff who help students become ready to learn." I am not sure that either the team taught or pull out models of special education service provision will be sustainable for students in our state who are more mildly disabled in the next few years due to the high costs of these models. Moreover, in many places in Illinois these models have not produced educational results, after all in 2010 only about 13% of all disabled eleventh graders statewide were reading at the level considered literate by ISBE standards.

    Much more needs to be done than collaboration to effectively educate students with disabilities and many teachers in Illinois need to be cross certified in both regular education and special education to promote dramatic improvement in outcomes. Teachers need to begin to go beyond collaboration towards an educational system that serves both mildly and many moderately disabled students and non-disabled students in the same classroom with one very skilled effective teacher who is also highly compensated. There does not necessarily need to be seperate special education and regular education teachers for these students who represent the majority of all students with disabilities in Illinois. Collaboration with related service providers will always be required for these students.

    Rod Estvan

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  • it's teachplus, not NMI, whose fellows came out against SB7 --
    the edweek article discussed two different teacher groups and the NMI folks wrote to let me know that it wasn't them.

    the chicago fellows of teachplus, which gets gates funding, opposed SB7 according to edweek.

    /ar

  • more about the NMI group and their ideas about revamping teaching in chicago via catalyst
    http://www.catalyst-chicago.org/notebook/2011/09/23/illinois-teachers-give-their-ideas-how-improve-evaluations?tr=y&auid=9578721

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