Thursday, March 31, 2011

Keep up with CMS performance-pay controversy

The twists and turns of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools' push for teacher performance pay are generating questions from employees, parents and taxpayers. Here's a primer on keeping up.

To read the bill N.C. Rep. Ruth Samuelson introduced this week to give the CMS board authority to revise teacher pay and evaluations, click here. Note: The part about money is confusing. Superintendent Peter Gorman said it's supposed to indicate that CMS does not expect extra money but also does not expect to be penalized financially for taking this approach. He said it may need clarification.

To read the 2007 law that authorized performance-pay pilots, along with details of the CMS plan that won approval, click here for a state report.

To read questions about testing and performance pay submitted by Gorman's Teacher Advisory Commmittee, with adminstration responses in red type, click here.

To see a new CMS publication explaining all the tests students take, click here.

To see Gorman's video report on testing and teacher effectiveness sent to CMS employees this week, click here.

CMS has extensive reports on its own pay plan and performance pay elsewhere archived here.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The changing face of Charlotte

The 2010 Census highlights the growth and diversity of North Carolina and Charlotte over the last decade, the Observer's Jim Morrill reports in Sunday's paper. Among the findings:
  • Charlotte's nonwhite population rose above 50 percent for the first time. The same happened in Greensboro and Winston-Salem.
  • Once-small suburban towns have exploded in population. Huntersville now has more people than Hickory.
  • Indian Trail in Union County and Mooresville in Iredell County, both fast-growing suburbs, eclipsed their respective county seats in population.
UNC Charlotte's Urban Institute looked at population changes in the 11 N.C. counties in the Charlotte region. (South Carolina's numbers haven't come out.) See the Urban Institute's findings here.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

New demands on CMS teacher assistants

Teachers aren't the only ones facing layoffs in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. The preliminary 2011-12 budget plan calls for getting rid of teacher assistants in grades one and two, a loss of about 350 jobs.

Some assistants say a letter they received in February created a near-impossible barrier to keeping their jobs. The letter notifies principals that credentials that had previously been required only for assistants in high-poverty schools that get federal Title I money will now be required for all assistants, with documentation required by April 1.

Read the letter here.

Superintendent Peter Gorman and Chief Operating Officer Hugh Hattabaugh said today they've been urging all assistants to get these credentials for years. Failure to have the credentials by the deadline won't result in automatic dismissal, they said, and decisions about who's laid off will be based on performance ratings. But they said even assistants with top ratings could have a tough time competing for the remaining jobs if they lack credentials required to work in the Title I schools.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

CMS approves layoff criteria; 559 could lose jobs

About 560 educators -- including teachers, librarians and counselors -- face layoffs next year under criteria the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board approved Tuesday night, the Observer's Ann Doss Helms reports.
Approval of layoff criteria is the first step step toward a worst-case scenario that would cut jobs to trim $100 million from the CMS budget. Here's the full CMS memo outlining the layoff criteria.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Judge Manning and CMS on testing

As Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and stats officials try to sort out how many tests kids should take, Judge Howard Manning has weighed in on a legislative plan to reduce the number of high-school End of Course exams. Manning presides over the long-running Leandro case over constitutional rights to a sound basic education. In Manning's view, eliminating tests jeopardizes students; read his 22-page memo here.

And as CMS officials are gearing up to add tests, here's the memo officials recently sent to schools to explain the process.

Key dates and Information for Upcoming District Field Tests and Summative Assessments
CMS will be using district summative assessments as part of an effort to align all courses to the NC Standard Course of Study or CMS objectives in the case of a local course. This will help to calculate student growth and provide data needed to execute Strategic Plan 2014. Additionally, the summative tests support a recent recommendation made during our AdvancED accreditation visit. In order to prepare for these tests, the office of accountability will administer a field test the week of April 4th. After successfully administering the field tests, a pilot administration of the district summative assessments will occur at the end of the 2010-2011 school year.
Items for these assessments have been developed by a professional item vendor and reviewed by CMS staff from the office of accountability and curriculum and instruction. The field tests allow us to test the questions and use the data to make informed decisions about the final version of district summative assessments for the 2011-2012 school year. The tests for the 2010-2011 school year are listed in this document.

Field Test Background: Field tests are part of the normal protocol in developing tests to ensure that the test questions will measure what they are supposed to measure.  No feedback from the field tests will be available to teachers or schools since the purpose is to ensure the quality of test field questions not to measure individual student knowledge.  The field testing will allow us to administer a pilot summative test this spring to give feedback to teachers and schools on the performance of their class. This feedback from the pilot tests is important to empower schools to adjust their instruction for the 2011-12 school year in light of these new standards.
·        Subjects tested: Reading/Math/Science/Social Studies
o       Performance related tasks only
o       Healthful living and visual and performing arts summative testing will be added in the 2011-2012 school year
o       Field test window – April 4–8, 2011
o       Summative test window – May 9-27, 2011
o       Do not count as part of a student’s grade this year
o       Results from pilot tests are only to be used for planning purposes

Elementary (3-5)/Middle:
·        Science/Social Studies
o       Science administered to students in grades 3, 4, 6, and 7. Social studies administered to all students in grades 3-8.
o       40 Multiple Choice
o       Field test window – April 6, 2011
o       Summative test window – May 9-20, 2011
o       Do not count as part of a student’s grade this year
o       Results from pilot tests are only to be used for planning purposes
High School:
·        Some subjects will have district summative assessments beginning in the 2011-2012 school year
·        Subjects tested in spring of 2011: World History, African-American studies, Contemporary Law and Justice, Contemporary Issues in North Carolina, Sociology, Psychology, Greenhouse Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Earth Science, Forensic Science, Honors Physics, Honors Chemistry, Foundations of English I, Literacy I, English Composition, English 3, English 4, Journalism 1-4, Film as Literature, Student Media Assistant, Foundations of Algebra, Algebra IA, Foundations of Geometry, Intro to Math, Advanced Functions and Modeling, Discrete Mathematics
o       In most cases 40 Multiple Choice Questions
o       Field test administration window
§         April 6, 2011
o       Summative test window
§         June 1-10, 2011
o       Any student enrolled in the above courses will take a pilot test in June 2011
o       Do not count as 25 percent of a student’s final grade this year
o       Results from pilot tests are only to be used for planning purposes