Tuesday, November 24, 2009

RTTT Executive Summary Pt1

A thousand apologies to the blog followers for the length of time between posts. I have been traveling the last week.

Posted below is the first installment of two featuring an Executive Summary of a DSEA position paper on Race To The Top.


Delaware State Education Association Comments and Concerns Regarding RTTT and the Delaware Department of Education Strategic Plan

Executive Summary

The Race to the Top Fund (RTTT) is a federal program that provides competitive grants to encourage and reward states that are creating the conditions for education innovation and reform; implementing ambitious plans in the four education reform areas described in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA); and achieving significant improvement in student outcomes. The four education reform areas include Standards and Assessments, Data Systems to Support Instruction, Great Teachers and Leaders, and Turning Around Struggling Schools. The Delaware Department of Education created a Strategic Plan for the Delaware Public Education System, that attempts to align their plan with the four federal focus areas and adds a fifth goal of Effective, Efficient Service Delivery.

Great Teachers and Leaders

Teacher Preparation and Alternative Certification
DSEA endorses a variety of strategies to improve teacher effectiveness and the equitable distribution of qualified teachers for all of Delaware’s students:
• DSEA supports many of the recommendations made by the DOE Innovation Action Team sub-committee, dealing with teacher quality and teacher preparation programs.
• DSEA supports teacher preparation programs that will continue to recruit and prepare talented graduates, with specially designed programs for those choosing to work in Delaware’s high need schools.
• DSEA supports the implementation of teacher residency programs as part of the DOE strategic plan.

Providing Effective Teacher Supports for Instruction
DSEA favors the use of timely student data to inform and evaluate teacher and principal support programs such as professional development, collaboration, and common planning time. DSEA urges DOE to partner with Dr. Eric Hirsch and the New Teacher Center to conduct an ongoing teaching and learning conditions survey statewide.

Teacher Compensation
DSEA believes any proposed teacher compensation system must recognize the skills and knowledge of educators while promoting a collaborative work environment to enhance student growth. Additionally, compensation systems must be:
• Cooperatively developed by the state or district and the collective bargaining representative for educators.
• Developed with a differential pay component to recruit and retain teachers for low performing schools.
• Fully funded and sustainable.

DSEA does not support compensation systems that link teacher pay directly to student performance based primarily upon student assessment.

A moratorium has been placed on both National Board Certification and cluster incentives. Moreover, educators are currently working for 2.56% less than last year. Delaware must first restore basic compensation and lift the moratorium on incentives before exploring alternative compensation.

Determining Teacher Effectiveness
DSEA supports the Delaware Performance Appraisal System (II) use of multiple measures when assessing student achievement relevant to teacher evaluation. DSEA is opposed to changing the current weighting between and within the DPAS II components.

Turning Around Struggling Schools
Delaware is not unique in the struggle to find effective strategies to consistently improve low performing schools. Four options are offered by the US Department of Education for dealing with these schools:
• Turnarounds - Replacing the principal and at least 50% of the staff
• Re-Starts - Closing the school and reopening as a charter or with an education management organization
• Closures - Closing the school and transferring the students to other better performing schools in the district
• Transformations - Restructuring of the school that involves a change in school leadership, new instructional programs, extended time for students and staff, intensive support, and increased services.
DSEA acknowledges the immediate need to deal with low-performing schools and endorses the work of the Learning First Alliance (2009), a partnership of 17 major national education groups, as a responsible plan of action. The Alliance recommends the following operating principles for turnaround schools:
• Measure progress toward a broad vision of student success.
• Measure the conditions for school and student success.
• Ensure that measures are clear and available for all stakeholders.
• Track progress over time.
DSEA believes a district developed plan with adequate resources and support from DOE provides the best opportunity to turn around schools and improve student achievement.

Charter Schools
DSEA believes that charter schools have a niche in the education community, but they are not the answer to all of the challenges in education today. Delaware needs to improve its regulation of charters to ensure the responsible growth of such schools within the traditional public school system.


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