I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

#NSBAConference2015 Nashville-Day 2

Day 2 of #NSBA2015 started early with a data-rich presentation on different strategies emerging from around the nation regarding teacher assessments.  This presentation was given by Jim Hull of the NSBA's Center for Public Education.

The big takeaways from Hull's presentation are that there are no magic bullets to perfectly identify and rate effective teachers.  However, over the last 10 years there has been a concerted effort nationwide to do a better job of evaluating teachers.  This presentation gave an overview on several strategies, such as Value Added Models (VAM) which utilize individual student scores to narrow down the teacher's impact on learning gains on a classroom by classroom basis.  This technique  is very tedious and requires lots of heavy lifting by statisticians and is still not a perfect system.

Less cumbersome and becoming more common is the  use of student growth percentiles, which is a system that looks at student achievement without looking at other factors that influence or detract from student performance.  This method is  not as accurate as VAM, however it is easier to implement and is becoming more widely utilized.

Other methods of evaluation were discussed, including the standard classroom observation model, which is still the most prevalent method of teacher evaluation in use today.  Additional models listed included the use of student surveys, which our presenter characterized as "surprisingly accurate, yet not wildly supported by teachers"  Other models include use of student portfolios and student learning objectives.

The next big issue in teacher evaluation will be the litigation that is occurring that is seeking to make teacher effectiveness data/teacher evaluation data publicly available for inspection by parents.

Today's general session featured Yahoo Tech chief David Pogue giving the crowd an overview of many amazing technical advances that we have in the world today.   His talk was extremely entertaining; he utilized humor and anecdotes to keep the audience riveted as he went through a litany of new technologies, Apps, and other devices on the horizon that are and/or will soon be making our lives more comfortable in the years ahead;  He pointed out that this technology is also impacting, positively, the way students learn in schools.

The last session of the day featured a district from Connecticut, the Meridan Public Schools, that have implemented a confidential survey protocol that is mandatory for students to complete yearly from 3rd grade on.  The purpose of this test is student safety and to provide appropriate staff early warning of any situation where a student may be being bullied or may need counseling.  This survey also assists staff of the schools in identifying those students who may be acting overly aggressively toward other students/staff.  The goal is to identify such students early-on, in order to make appropriate support resources available to those students requiring assistance--with the overall goal of fostering a safer school climate overall. I plan to bring this idea to the next Escambia County School Board Workshop as an idea for implementation locally to improve school safety/school climate.

Finally, at the end of the day, about 50 board members from around the country were invited to a private tour/dinner reception at the Johnny Cash Museum in Nashville, sponsored by ABM, Inc.  The dinner was good, and the entertainer looked and sounded eerily similar to Johnny Cash.  He performed many of the greatest hits Cash ever recorded, and the assembled group appreciated this singer/guitarist's talent and showmanship.  It was a nice finish to a very productive day in Nashville

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