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Leadership Blog

On Performance

Justin Baeder is a public school principal in Seattle and a doctoral student studying principal performance and productivity at the University of Washington. In this blog he aims to examine issues of performance, improvement, and the changing nature of the education profession. (On Performance ceased publishing in November 2012.)

Education Opinion A Farewell
When I started this blog two years ago, I set out to learn what performance means in education. I've focused on teacher and principal evaluation, on international comparisons, and on a host of other issues that have come up along the way. I've only scratched the surface of performance issues in education, but I've learned a great deal and hopefully shared a few insights of value.
Justin Baeder, November 14, 2012
1 min read
Education Opinion Why U.S. Schools Are Simply the Best
Pat Quinn, the "RTI Guy," (not the Pat Quinn who is the Governor of Illinois) recently sent this article to his mailing list, and graciously agreed to allow me to re-post it here. I wanted to share it for further discussion since it speaks very directly to issues of educational performance.
Justin Baeder, October 22, 2012
10 min read
Education Opinion A Real "System," American Style
I said recently that I don't think our 13,000-plus school districts and states can coherently form an education "system" the way smaller nations like South Korea and Finland can, and for that reason, we will never see the same level of performance from our schools.
Justin Baeder, October 19, 2012
2 min read
Education Opinion The Meta-Work Trap: The Downside of a "Laser-Like Focus on Student Achievement"
How can educational leaders make the greatest difference for students? If you're not the one who actually does the teaching, what can you do to ensure that good things happen in your school or district?
Justin Baeder, October 15, 2012
4 min read
School & District Management Opinion The Magical Thinking of State-Level Education Goals
There's quite a controversy brewing over Florida's different academic proficiency targets for different ethnic groups. While most educators will be familiar with NCLB-style disaggregated student achievement goals (which are based on improvement over past scores, not lowered expectations for some groups), apparently such racially disaggregated goals at the state level are something new, part of Florida's NCLB waiver. Many are crying foul, labeling the goals "the soft bigotry of low expectations," to borrow a phrase from former President Bush.
Justin Baeder, October 14, 2012
4 min read
Education Opinion How to Crush Principals with Meaningless Work
I'm all for better teacher evaluations, as well as devoting substantial time to informal instructional leadership activities. Time spent in classrooms is time well spent.
Justin Baeder, October 11, 2012
3 min read
Education Opinion Equity and Waning Local Control
What is the relationship between educational excellence and local control? In my last post, I concluded that we will never have the kind of world-class education system that Finland or Singapore have as long as our "system" is made up of some 13,000 local school districts. Our approach, which Ken Mortland recently called "an extremely loose confederation," is never going to keep pace with a tightly coordinated, centralized system.
Justin Baeder, October 9, 2012
3 min read
Education Opinion The Efficiency Opportunity
I spent most of this morning reading Marc Tucker's last few posts on his excellent Top Performers blog here at EdWeek. In this post, he compares the US education and healthcare systems to those in the rest of the developed world, and explores the reasons our systems are so inefficient:
Justin Baeder, October 5, 2012
3 min read
Recruitment & Retention Opinion Chicago Contract Busts Budget; Layoffs Loom for Lowest Performers
Chicago teachers voted overwhelmingly today to ratify their new contract, sealing the deal that ended September's 7-day strike. The Chicago Teachers Union prevailed in obtaining a 2-3% annual raise for the next three to four years (totaling as much as 17.6% cumulatively), and in keeping the teacher workday short despite a lengthening of the school day for elementary students.
Justin Baeder, October 4, 2012
2 min read
Teaching Profession Opinion Sabotage as a Professional Responsibility
Valerie Strauss has a great guest post on her Answer Sheet blog from NY principal Carol Burris, who argues that new teacher evaluations incorporating student test scores are in fact harming students. She explains that principals are now reassigning students to prevent great teachers from repeatedly receiving low scores:
Justin Baeder, October 2, 2012
2 min read
Teaching Profession Opinion Oversimplification Abounds in Teacher Evaluation Discussion
Should student achievement data be a major factor in teacher evaluations? While the political winds are whispering "yes" more loudly every day—and in many places, the whispers have become shouts—it seems that the louder we yell, the dumber we get.
Justin Baeder, September 27, 2012
2 min read
School & District Management Opinion An Interview With LearnZillion Founder Eric Westendorf
I'm intrigued by any effort to reduce our perpetual re-invention of the wheel in education, so it's with great interest that I've followed the progress of LearnZillion over the past few months. LearnZillion isn't a nonprofit; it's a "social venture" that offers free lessons from great teachers, but it's not what you might expect.
Justin Baeder, September 26, 2012
6 min read
Education Opinion Doug Reeves Charged With Indecent Assault & Battery of a Child
I was saddened to learn earlier this month that Douglas Reeves, the well-known author and education consultant, has been charged with felony indecent assault stemming from an alleged 2006 incident. Patch.com reports that Reeves
Justin Baeder, September 24, 2012
1 min read
Teacher Preparation Opinion Is a Master's Degree a Good Value in Professional Development?
Note to readers: I am currently in the process of moving cross-country and will be offline for the next week and a half. Normal posting will resume the week of September 17. You can sign up to receive an email notification when my next post is up.
Justin Baeder, September 2, 2012
4 min read