Thursday Odds ‘n’ Ends

By Stephen Sawchuk — November 05, 2009 1 min read
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I’m swamped again on some long-term stuff but my wonderful colleagues have some important teacher-related stories.

• Read Lesli Maxwell’s write-up of the Strategic Management of Human Capital report here.
• Catherine Gewertz highlights the lack of research about high school instruction in this story.
• And Debbie Viadero has a must-read item up about new research on a Texas performance-pay program.

Second, the mail has been pouring in on this blog item about the SHMC report. (Reminder: I love getting direct mail from readers and I encourage you to send it. But don’t forget that your thoughts get out to a lot more people if you use the comment function on the blog.)

A few readers felt I was being glib when I said in this item that the AFT might have had a different reaction to the report if it had included more references to collaborating with unions. I assumed that this was just an oversight from the report’s drafters because many of the most high-profile changes to the teacher-quality continuum have been done with union support (think Denver Pro-Comp). But these readers admonished me for making that assumption, and argued that the report needed to be more careful and deliberative about that point. Food for thought!

A colleague of mine had an interesting perspective on the report. Her read was that it seemed to focus on individual teachers more than on teachers working together in their schools collaboratively. It’s an interesting observation, and researchers like Harvard’s Susan Moore Johnson have been wrestling with this question of individual vs. collective improvement in schools.

Finally, all eyes are on Wisconsin as it works to remove the “firewall” between teacher and student data. Apparently, if the law goes through, such data could be used in evaluations but couldn’t be used to dismiss a teacher.

I’ll confess to being a bit confused about that. Don’t evaluations, after all, ultimately factor into decisions to dismiss teachers? I’ll start sniffing around on this today, but if you have immediate details or thoughts, do enlighten us!

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.