CPS New Evaluation System = CTU Buyer's Remorse?

When students achieve high test scores on standardized tests, the teachers get all the praise. However, when the students don't do well on the standardized tests, they take no responsibility and the teachers start making excuses.

I am a fair person so I will admit that some of the excuses are valid. Some of the children have very troubled and dysfunctional home lives and that can have a huge impact on academic performance. However, I personally know some children who do really well in school despite their dysfunctional home lives. What if the kids are naturally smart or are great test takers? What if the children are taking test prep courses outside of school? Does the teacher deserve all of the glory for test scores?

My point is that teachers have to accept the good with the bad. They bear some responsibility for test scores. They are fighting (striking) to reduce the amount of their evaluation that is tied to the test scores of students. Their job is to teach the children and the standardized tests are used to determined what the child has learned. Teachers have to be evaluated on every aspect of their job. If test scores are what determines whether a child is learning or not, then teachers must be evaluated on them. Maybe a fair solution is to give a test at the beginning of the year and give the same test at the end of the year and see if there is progress.

According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, "CPS states that the new evaluation system was created in collaboration with teachers, and was negotiated and settled in March under state law." Do you smell a little buyer's remorse? Here is the official press release that was issued in March.

There were focus groups with 200 schools and CPS received feedback from 2300 teachers, representing all grades and all subjects. The design of this new system took place between April and June 2011. The teachers and the union were part of the process. Here is a quote taken from the CTU website regarding the new evaluation system:
What has been the result of negotiations on the teacher evaluation plan?
The negotiations concluded March 29, 2012. The law gives CPS the right to implement their “last best offer”, which is explained in other Questions. However, we were able to push CPS on several issues. We feel that our participation in the negotiations helped create a plan that is better for teachers than what CPS initially proposed. For example:

 CPS initially proposed that student growth count for 45% of a teacher’s evaluation. They now plan to use 25% in 2012-13 and 2013-14. However, they do plan to move up to 40% by 2016-17.
 Initially, CPS wanted to use student surveys as part of teacher evaluation. Now they will pilot surveys in 2012-13, and not count them toward teacher evaluation, although they plan to use them as 10% of a teacher’s evaluation after that.
 CPS wanted to use Explore, Plan, and ACT to measure high school student growth. Now they will pilot using these tests for evaluation in 2012-13, and not count them toward teacher evaluation but, depending on pilot results, may use them in future years.
 CPS initially wanted to evaluate every teacher every year. They will still do that, but in 2012-13, they will not evaluate tenured teachers who this year have superior or excellent ratings.
 CPS wanted to make student growth part of the evaluation of non-classroom teachers. They will not do that in 2012-13 but will look for appropriate growth measures to use in subsequent years.

They clearly had input into the New Teacher Evaluation Plan. CPS changed several items at the CTU's request. The evaluation system mentions extenuating circumstances like poverty, IEPs and homelessness as factors that will be taken into account. There are media reports that dispute the first item negotiated by CTU, listed above. Media reports say that CPS wants student test scores to represent 40% of the evaluation. The CTU claims to have negotiated that down to 25% in the first year. Did CPS go back on the deal or is there false information being leaked to the media? I'm going with the information I found on the CTU's website. The head of CTU is no stranger to supporting something and then changing her mind. Here is a quote from the Tribune about another negotiation that she was part of and then changed her stance.

"She (Karen Lewis) initially supported a state Senate bill aimed at stripping power from the union by making it easier to lengthen the school day without its consent, to dump ineffective teachers and to limit the union's ability to strike. Union members were outraged, and Lewis pulled her support from the ultimately successful bill."

Buyer's remorse is no reason to keep children out of school, so take this item off the strike list, please!

Children need to return to school and teachers need a fair and reasonable contract.  Why can't the negotiations continue while students are being taught in the classroom?


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