Lawsuit filed over unfair teacher evaluations

The Washington Post is reporting on a lawsuit being filed by Florida teachers, that cold shake the foundations of a lot of teacher evaluation systems both in Florida, but across the country, including here in Ohio

A group of teachers and their unions filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against Florida officials that challenges the state’s educator evaluation system, under which many teachers are evaluated on the standardized test scores of students they do not teach.

The seven teachers who filed the lawsuit include Kim Cook, who, as this post explains, was evaluated at Irby Elementary, a K-2 school where she works and was named Teacher of the Year last December. But 40 percent of that evaluation was based on test scores of students at Alachua Elementary, a school into which Irby feeds, whom she never taught.

Kim Cook's story is very unneverving

Here’s the crazy story of Kim Cook, a teacher at Irby Elementary, a K-2 school which feeds into Alachua Elementary, for grades 3-5, just down the road in Alachua, Fla. She was recently chosen by the teachers at her school as their Teacher of the Year.

Her plight stems back to last spring when the Florida Legislature passed Senate Bill 736, which mandates that 40 percent of a teacher’s evaluation must be based on student scores on the state’s standardized tests, a method known as the value-added model, or VAM. It is essentially a formula that supposedly tells how much “value” a teacher has added to a student’s test score. Assessment experts say it is a terrible way to evaluate teachers but it has still been adopted by many states with the support of the Obama administration.

Since Cook’s school only goes through second grade, her school district is using the FCAT scores from the third graders at Alachua Elementary School to determine the VAM score for every teacher at her school.

Alachua Elementary School did not do well in 2011-12 evaluations that just came out; it received a D. Under the VAM model, the state awarded that school — and Cook’s school, by default — 10 points out of 100 for their D.

In this school district, there are three components to teacher evaluations:
1. A lesson study worth 20 percent. In the lesson study, small groups of teachers work together to create an exemplary lesson, observe one of the teachers implement it, critique the teacher’s performance and discuss improvement.
2. Principal appraisal worth 40 percent of overall score.
3. VAM data (scores from the standardized Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test scores for elementary schools) worth 40 percent of the overall score.

Cook received full points on her lesson study: 100 x .20 (20%) = 20 points
Cook received an 88/100 from her former principal: 88/100 x .40 (40%) = 35.2 points
On VAM data — points awarded by the state for the FCAT scores at Alachua Elementary School: 10/100 x .40 (40%) = 4 points
Total points that she received: 59.2 (Unsatisfactory)

Here's a video of Kim speaking on this issue

We imaging this to be the first, not the last legal action against many of the provisions corporate education reformers are trying to cram into teacher evaluations.

20 years after DeRolph case school funding in Ohio isn't fixed

Nate DeRolph knows a lot about how Ohio finances public education. Twenty years ago, a lawsuit bearing his name was filed in Perry County challenging the state's school funding system.

The case was filed by the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy of School Funding on behalf of children who were being educated in schools similar to DeRolph's.

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Public school battles city over charter

Excellent read of a NY City schools battle with the city over a charter school

But on Dec. 20, city officials unveiled a holiday surprise. The department said it planned to move a middle-grade charter school — Brooklyn East Collegiate, a member of the Uncommon Schools charter chain — into the space opening up at P.S. 9.

In the four months since, P.S. 9 parents have fought City Hall, scoring a few upset victories. But they have also learned a hard lesson: once the mayor’s people set their sights on a location, the chances of successfully challenging a charter are slim. Supporters of district schools fear that once a charter moves in, it will take over the building. They resent being compared academically, when on average, charters in New York City have fewer poor, immigrant and special-education students.

Even before the P.S. 9 parents got started, they were too late.

To add a middle school, department regulations required P.S. 9 to have filed a letter of intent by April 13, 2010; the final application was supposed to have been filed by July 15, 2010.

A classic Catch-22: There was no reason to apply until space was available, but by the time space was available, it was too late to apply.

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SOS Husted directive to Franklin County BoE RE: SB5 petition

Secretary of State John Husted sent the following directive to the Franklin County Board of Elections regarding the SB 5 repeal petitions that were just filed.

April 6, 2011

To: Franklin County Board of Elections Re: Initial Petitions Filed re: Prospective Referendum Petition Against Am. Sub. S.B. NO.5 (collective bargaining law affecting public employees) ofthe 1291h General Assembly

This Directive provides instructions to the Franklin County Board of Elections on the examination, scanning, and certification of signatures on two separate petitions that have been submitted to the Secretary of State to begin the referendum process against Am. Sub. S.B. NO.5. The Board must complete its examination and certification consistent with the instructions outlined below and return its certification and the part-petitions to the Secretary of State's office not later than next Monday, Ap.-illl, 2011.

Read the rest at the link. Just a few more days to certify the 3,000 signatures!

SB 5 - The Citizen Veto Basics

[list class="bullet-check"] [li]April 6, 2011- last day to pass SB 5 and file it with the SOS so that a referendum would have to be at the 2011 general election. If filed after April 6th, the referendum would be at the 2012 general. The law must be signed by the Governor, Speaker of the House and President of the Senate before filing.[/li] [li]Full or Part- a referendum petition may be filed on all of the law or only sections.[/li] [li]Effect of Referendum Petition- delays the effective date the law is filed with the SOS.[/li] [li]1,000 Signatures- before a referendum petition may be circulated, the referendum committee must write a summary of SB 5 and submit it to the SOS & Ag with the full text of the law and a petition signed by a minimum of 1,000 electors. The SOS compares the full text to the law on file in his office and issues a certification. The AG compares the summary with the full text of the law and issues a certification that the summary is “fair and truthful.” The summary and both certifications must be printed on the referendum petitions and the full text of the law must also be attached to each. The SOS and AG have 10 business days to act. If the AG states that the summary is in his opinion not fair and truthful, the committee may repeat the process and/or challenge the decision in the Ohio Supreme Court. There is no limit on the number if times the process may be repeated, but it takes time away from the 90 days the committee has to circulate a referendum petition. The 90 days begins the day after the law was filed by the Governor with the SOS.[/li] [li]231,149- The minimum number of signature that must be collected to file the referendum petition. This is equal to 6% of the total vote for governor in 2010. In addition, the signatures must meet a minimum distribution requirement of 3% of the gubernatorial vote in 44 counties.[/li] [li]90 Days- The referendum petition must be filed with the SOS no later than 90 days after the law was filed with the SOS.[/li] [li]July 5, 2011- If SB 5 is filed with SOS on April 6th, this will be the deadline for filing the referendum petition.[/li] [li]July 26, 2011- Last date by which the SOS must determine if there are sufficient valid signature of registered voters on the petition to meet the overall 6% and the 3% in 44 counties requirements. After the petition is filed, the SOS sends the individual petitions to the county boards of elections to validate the signatures and review the circulator statements and if the summary and full text is included of the law are included.[/li] [li]10 Day Period- If the SOS determines that the petition contains insufficient valid signatures, the committee has 10 days to file supplemental signatures. Based on past interpretation of the law, this is a deadline for “filing” supplemental signatures and the committee may actually begin collecting such signatures beforehand.[/li] [li]August 5, 2011- Deadline to file supplemental signatures if SOS gives notice of deficiency on 7/26.[/li] [li]September 4, 2011- Deadline for SOS to determine sufficiency of supplemental signatures.[/li] [li]Ballot Language- The ballot language is written by the 5 member Ohio Ballot Board made up of the SOS, and one member each appointed by the majority and minority leadership of the House & Senate.[/li] [li]Vote NO- Referendum supporters are the vote “no” side. The ballot question is “shall the law be approved?”[/li] [li]Challenges to the Petition- Must be brought in the Ohio Supreme Court. Decision must be issued 85/45 days before the election.[/li] [/list]