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Rhee, Teachers To Meet on New Evaluation System

Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, stepping up her efforts to reach out to D.C. teachers, has announced a series of meetings to discuss the new evaluation system scheduled to launch in the fall. A notice on the DCPS website invites teachers to "help shape" the new approach. Rhee has said that the system will involve multiple measures of teacher performance, and will not place an undue emphasis on standardized test scores. She said it will include a "growth model" to track the improvement of individual students over the course of the school year.

There are two rounds of meetings, beginning Tuesday, for each of eight categories of educators, including general, special education and ELL teachers, counselors and library media specialists. All the sessions will be held at the Logan Annex at 215 G Street N.E.
The schedule is available at

By Bill Turque  |  March 27, 2009; 2:34 PM ET
Categories:  Bill Turque , Education  
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I see the notice about these meetings provides no information at all - just a schedule. I wonder if it was typed up 2 minutes after Obama said the following in his town hall meeting yesterday: "if we don't have teacher buy-in, if they're not enthusiastic about the reforms that we're initiating, then, ultimately, they're not going to work. So we've got to have teacher participation in developing these approaches."

Odd that just in last Sunday's NY Times Rhee warned “If we come to an impasse [with the union], we’re going to move forward with our reforms anyway.... Then it potentially gets uglier.”

Sure sounds like she had her plans all wrapped up and only the union was standing in her way.

Could these teacher input meetings be all show?

Posted by: efavorite | March 27, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Several weeks ago when I went to one of the sessions Rhee was holding with teachers, she encouraged teachers to email her with any ideas for the new evaluation system. She and her team were asking for teacher input back then. I'm sure it would be helpful. How would an art teacher be evaluated if you want to use some kind of metric, or a PE teacher? For the more academic subjects, student achievement is easier to assess, and student gains will be a part of this new evaluation. As a DCPS teacher, I welcome this opportunity to help form this new system as well as dialogue with colleagues in my subject area.

Posted by: chelita | March 27, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Fine, Chelita, but Rhee's statement in the Sunday NYT column presented her plan as a done deal, held up only by the union. If she were really still considering teacher input last week, then it follows that she had quickly completed the plan by the time the Sunday column came out.

The fact that she was asking for input last week doesn't mean she intended to use it, any more than her new calendar of teacher input sessions means she will use them.

Also, if she values teacher input she could have been getting it from the beginning? She didn't want teacher input -- she wanted to fire them.

remember - she first started meeting with "select" teachers, then she started open meetings, at the suggestion of city council. Now, in addition to her listening sessions, which are still going on, she implemented the evaluation input sessions, the day Obama mentioned it on TV.

She's tap dancing, but not fast enough.

Posted by: efavorite | March 27, 2009 6:24 PM | Report abuse

It's up to the national teachers' unions to create meaningful evaluation criteria for art teachers, gym, etc.

I know scientists who work in the field of test evaluation who know pretty well what makes good industrial training programs. For the NEA or related union to NOT hire people to create accurate evaluation of their own union members is nothing short of a shell game.

They've had, let's guesstimate, 25 years for which to decide which modern system of evaluation to adopt as their union credentialling plan.

They ignored it while society raged about poor teacher achievement.

Now it's too late for them to complain, they will get the evaluation forced upon them because they didn't choose it a decade earlier.

There is utterly no sane reason why the union shouldn't have evaluations for how they judge their own members as apprentice, journeymen, master teachers, etc. For them to abandon the students in this way gives them almost no credibility as a union.

Posted by: bbcrock | March 27, 2009 8:55 PM | Report abuse

There have always been evaluation plans for teachers. There is one in place now. Rhee's two tier system would have been a way to circumvent current evaluation results by having the right to fire "at will" any teachers who chose the green tier, irrespective of their evaluations.

Rhee also wanted to change the evaluation system to judge teachers based on student achievement - allowing her to also fire red-tier teachers if their students didn't improve academically according to standards she arbitrarily set (the way she says she's doing with principals right now).

It was only after 1) she couldn't get her two-tier system passed and 2) she and Fenty gave up on their idea of asking congress for a federal takeover and 3) the city council reprimanded her for not reaching out to teachers that 4) she started asking for teacher input about anything. And it was only yesterday, oddly coinciding with Obama’s statement about the need for teacher buy-in on school reform, that 5)she set up meetings with teachers specifically about evaluation.

I wonder what her #6 move will be. She's threatened something ugly.

Posted by: efavorite | March 28, 2009 10:03 AM | Report abuse

I agree with you Efavorite. Everything she does is in step with what she knows. Her agenda has not changed. IT's a dog and pony because the language of the Obama administration speaks to the importance of teachers and not to their demise. I also read the NYT interview and she clearly stated that if there is an impasse, she would move on and things could get ugly. Why would anybody trust her now? She worked hard for this reputation and she's actually doing what she was hired to do. Her mission is to destroy public education. My hope is that she will self destruct at a faster pace, right before our eyes!

Posted by: candycane1 | March 29, 2009 4:35 AM | Report abuse

CandyCane, DCPS exists in a destroyed state currently and Janey most certainly brought us there as sure as Barry opened the gates. You cannot be trusted or believed if you do not admit that DCPS as it was when Fenty took over was:
1. Non-functional
2. Universally unsuccessful
3. Existing in a state best described as "destroyed"
4. Thoroughly infiltrated by political crony hires with no education, experience or talent for teaching

Rhee cannot destroy something that existed in a destroyed state prior to her being hired. If you think DCPS exists in some functional state then I invite you to visit any school district that receives less money per student than DCPS, such as FCPS, MCPS or Arlington County. I can say with utter certainty having read your comments for weeks that not one time have you described DCPS reality in a truthful and honest way. Not once have you written the truth.

Posted by: bbcrock | March 29, 2009 10:31 PM | Report abuse

I just got word that my son's friends teacher at his old school got fired by Rhee. That means that there are Kindergarten students who had BOTH their teachers fired so far for incompetence.

Does anyone find that normal that when kids start schools that both of their teachers are so incompetent that they get fired?

Posted by: bbcrock | March 30, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Clearly efavorite is spending time whining on a message board instead of preparing his/her lesson plans. Those of us who are doing our jobs well WELCOME the idea of the dead wood being chopped off.

Posted by: maggie17 | March 30, 2009 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Hello, Maggie17, I don't see anything I've said that indicates that I am a teacher.

If you are a teacher, I recommend that you practice not making a straw-man argument based on limited information and preconceived notions. It suggests a lapse in critical thinking and is not a good example for your students, no matter what subject you teach.

By the way, responsible employees in every field disapprove of "dead wood" in their midst.

As for the legitimacy of CandyCane's perspective and information, I'll leave it to the readers here to determine which commenters seem the most reasonable and genuine.

Posted by: efavorite | March 31, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Thank you Efavorite. As always, your insight is very much appreciated. As a practice, I never attack posters. If I agree I will tell you. If I don't agree, I don't respond. Everyone is free to his/her opinion. I have never responded to bbcrock. As stated, bbcrock has read my comments for weeks. I take that to mean that there is some interest in the things I say. To that I say "Thank you". Other than that, I don't have a need to respond.

Posted by: candycane1 | April 1, 2009 7:58 AM | Report abuse

It is a mistake to assume that just because Rhee fires someone he or she is actually incompetent -- poor teacher evaluation requirements or political vendetta are likely reasons. And it is also a mistake, as EFavorite points out, to assume that Rhee is holding these meetings with the hope of gaining real input from teachers. She doing it because in politics, appearances are everything, and she knows it. But my guess is that she has a plan ready-made and she's smart enough to know she should like like she's listening. But teacher input will fall on deaf ears.

Because the Fenty administration doesn't like to listen to anyone. Hollow political dance is their bread and butter.

Posted by: bluraccoon | April 1, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse

**look like she's listening**

Posted by: bluraccoon | April 1, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

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