Future of Teaching

Union signals coming appeal of teacher placement ruling

Updated: As promised, Colorado’s largest teachers union filed a notice Tuesday that they intend to appeal a Denver judge’s ruling that left the state’s teacher evaluation law untouched.

The Colorado Education Association (CEA) is challenging the dismissal of a case they filed earlier last year. In their January lawsuit, CEA, along with the Denver teachers union, alleged Denver Public Schools (DPS) abused the mutual consent provision of the law, which requires both principals and teachers to agree to a teacher’s placement. The union said that DPS’ practices violated teachers’ due process rights, while supporters of the state law said the lawsuit was intended to bring down the whole system.

In June, a Denver judge threw out the case, saying it covered ground laid by other similar lawsuits, also previously dismissed.

In the wake of the suit’s dismissal, the CEA promised to appeal. They made good on that promise Tuesday afternoon.

The notice lists the issues the union intends to make a part of their appeals, which are largely a reiteration of its arguments from the original lawsuit. The actual appeal will come later. In the meantime, the case will be transferred from the district court, where it was dismissed, to the state’s appeals court. That bureaucratic process must occur within 91 days, after which a schedule will be set for briefings on the case.

A group of organizations, including the Gates Family Foundation and A+ Denver, who support the law issued a statement Thursday, criticizing the coming appeal.

“We feel this intent to appeal is an unnecessary waste of resources and waste of time for our state—hurting Colorado’s children the most,” they said in a statement.

The full notice is below:

Struggling Detroit schools

The list of promises is long: Arts, music, robotics, gifted programs and more. Will Detroit schools be able to deliver?

PHOTO: Detroit Public Television
Detroit schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti answers questions at a community meeting in Detroit.

Arts. Music. Robotics. Programs for gifted kids. New computers. New textbooks. Dual enrollment programs that let high school students take college classes. International Baccalaureate. Advanced Placement.

They’re all on the list of things that Detroit schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti told a group of community members assembled in a Brightmoor neighborhood church that he would introduce or expand as soon as next school year.

Vitti didn’t get into the specifics of how the main Detroit district would find the money or partnerships needed to deliver on all of those promises, but they’re part of the plan for the future, he said.

The comments came in a question and answer session last month with students, parents and community members following Vitti’s appearance on Detroit Public Television’s American Black Journal/One Detroit Roadshow. The discussion was recorded at City Covenant Church. DPTV is one of Chalkbeat’s partners in the Detroit Journalism Cooperative.

Vitti has been appearing at community events since taking over the Detroit schools last spring. He is scheduled next week to join officials from two of the city’s major charter school authorizers, Central Michigan University and Grand Valley State University, at a State of the Schools address on October 25.

 

Watch the full Q&A with Vitti below.

Another error

Missing student data means 900 Tennessee teachers could see their growth scores change

PHOTO: TN.gov

Tennessee’s testing problems continue. This time the issue is missing students.

Students’ test scores are used to evaluate teachers, and the failure of a data processing vendor to include scores for thousands of students may have skewed results for some teachers, officials said.

The scores, known as TVAAS, are based on how students improved under a teacher’s watch. The scores affect a teacher’s overall evaluation and in some districts, like Shelby County Schools, determine if a teacher gets a raise.

The error affects 1,700 teachers statewide, or about 9 percent of the 19,000 Tennessee teachers who receive scores. About 900 of those teachers had five or more students missing from their score, which could change their result.

The latest glitch follows a series of mishaps, including test scanning errors, which also affect teacher evaluations. A delay earlier this summer from the Tennessee Department of Education’s testing vendor, Questar, set off a chain of events that resulted in the missing student scores.

To calculate a teacher’s growth score, students and their test scores are assigned to a teacher. About 3 percent of the 1.5 million student-teacher assignments statewide had to be manually submitted in Excel files after Questar experienced software issues and fell behind on releasing raw scores to districts.

RANDA Solutions, a data processing vendor for the state, failed to input all of those Excel files, leading to the teachers’ scores being calculated without their full roster of students, said Sara Gast, a state spokeswoman. The error will not affect school or district TVAAS scores. (District-level TVAAS scores were released in September.)

Gast did not immediately confirm when the state will finalize those teachers’ scores with corrected student rosters. The state sent letters to districts last week informing them of the error and at least one Memphis teacher was told she had more than 80 of her 120 students missing from her score.

In the past, the process for matching students to the right teachers began at the end of the year, “which does not leave much room for adjustments in the case of unexpected delays,” Gast said in an email. The state had already planned to open the process earlier this year. Teachers can begin to verify their rosters next week, she said.