Tuesday, February 14, 2012

CMS rethinks testing, ratings

Here's the letter interim Superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh sent to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools employees before Tuesday night's school board meeting. The new "summative," or end-of-year tests and the value-added ratings based partly on those scores created controversy among teachers and parents last spring.

From: "Hugh E. Hattabaugh" <hugh.hattabaugh@cms.k12.nc.us>
Date: February 14, 2012 6:00:52 PM EST
To: cmsmailall <cmsmailall@cms.k12.nc.us>
Subject: Update on Assessments in CMS/Evaluations

Dear CMS employees:

We are changing the way we approach two areas of accountability and I wanted to share the specifics with you in advance of tonight’s Board of Education meeting where I will discuss the changes.

The first change involves summative testing. Starting next year, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) will pilot summative tests in nearly all subject areas. DPI has also recruited CMS to help develop these tests because we had already begun designing our own.

To avoid duplication, CMS will no longer work on developing our own summative tests except in three areas where the state has no plans to test. Those areas are fine and performing arts, and world languages. We will use the state summative tests to track student progress and instructional effectiveness in all other areas. We also do not plan to allocate any money for developing summative tests in the 2012-2013 budget.

We remain committed to measuring student achievement and using that data to strengthen our schools. Assessment is a key component of that. We will also continue to work on developing more effective ways to measure the quality of teaching.

The second change involves teacher and principal effectiveness measures on the state evaluation forms. As you know, CMS has been developing a value-added measure to assess teacher effectiveness in raising student achievement. Earlier this month, however, the State Board of Education approved an additional standard on teacher and principal evaluations. The additional standard – Standard Six on the teacher evaluation, Standard Eight on the principal evaluation -- is based on growth in student achievement. We have decided to use the state’s value-added measure, rather than continuing to develop our own.

Our value-added work was intended to measure what teachers bring to the classroom – how well they teach students. Based on our discussions with the state, and the information we have now, we think the state’s measurement for Standards Six and Eight will allow us to effectively evaluate teachers and principals’ contribution to student achievement.

The measure the state proposes to use is based on an EVAAS value-added measure. EVAAS  stands for Education Value-Added Assessment System. It’s a customized software system that is widely recognized and widely used -- including in CMS where teachers and principals have had the option of using EVAAS scores for at least five years. We are confident that it will be fair to teachers, principals and to students. It will not be completely transparent because it belongs to a private company, SAS. We will not be able to reproduce or recalculate it because we won’t have access to the calculation method.

We don’t know yet how many rankings on the evaluations there will be, or what they are. We do know that our teachers will be measured against a state average, rather than against just their peers in CMS. And we know that three years of a teacher’s EVAAS score will be used to calculate effectiveness, not just a single year.

Standards Six and Eight will go into effect this year, for the evaluations that will be done later this spring. But they won’t have data until September or October, after the state has processed state-test results and calculated EVAAS for our teachers and principals. So there’s a disconnect in time on those standards. The data for Standards Six and Eight will be put into the individual evaluations in the fall when it becomes available, and we will share the EVAAS data with teachers and principals.

We continue to believe that measuring teachers and principals using an academic growth standard as part of the evaluation is essential. We think the new state standards will do that – and using them will keep us from spending money to duplicate something the state has decided to do.

Hugh E. Hattabaugh
Interim Superintendent
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
Government Center
600 East 4th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202

Friday, February 10, 2012

Cogdell: County lacks money for CMS raises

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools shouldn't expect Mecklenburg County commissioners to raise taxes or slash services to provide across-the-board raises for CMS employees,  commissioners' Chair Harold Cogdell warned in a letter to CMS officials.

Read his letter here.

Interim Superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh unveiled his proposal to ask commissioners for an additional $25 million to $30 million for raises at a school board session in mid-January.  See the proposal and videos that CMS created to make its case here.

Cogdell sent the letter to CMS board Chair Ericka Ellis-Stewart after meeting with her on Thursday.  Cogdell and Ellis-Stewart were both elected to lead their boards in December.  Cogdell said Thursday was the first chance they had to get together and talk about the 2012-13 budget.