School & District Management

Perfomance-Pay Architect Moves to Fulton County, Ga.

By Christina A. Samuels — April 28, 2011 1 min read

I feel like I could fill my blog on a daily basis with news of superintendent moves, and here’s another one: Robert Avossa, the chief strategy and accountability officer for the 133,600-student Charlotte-Mecklenburg district in North Carolina, will become the superintendent of the 92,000-student Fulton County, Ga. district in surburban Atlanta. He would be the seventh superintendent in 14 years.

Why is this important? Well, Avossa was instrumental in creating a new testing regime in Charlotte-Mecklenburg that has some parents upset. The district is planning to create 52 new tests that it will use not to evaluate students, but to evaluate their teachers. The scores on those tests will be part of a performance-pay package that the Charlotte-Mecklenburg district is hoping to start, though Superintendent Peter Gorham acknowledges he still doesn’t have the money part worked out.

From the Charlotte Observer article:

[Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools] will launch trial versions of 52 new tests, including an exam for kids as young as kindergarteners who must be tested one-on-one. The tests will be used to evaluate teachers, as the budget shrinks and officials prepare to lay off faculty. Superintendent Peter Gorman acknowledged Wednesday that the tests put a burden on teachers and volunteers, especially in elementary schools. But he said they ensure that kids get the best possible instruction: "We can see who's a great teacher, who's a good teacher and who's a teacher that needs improvement." Growing numbers of parents say the tests will waste class time and undermine learning. "It's very upsetting. At a time when they are cutting teachers right and left, they find funding for this and it's taking away time in the classrooms," said Amy Wlodyka, who has kids at Crestdale Middle and Providence Spring Elementary. An online petition from CMS parents protesting the use of standardized tests to evaluate teachers had 472 signatures as of Wednesday.

Avossa considers these tests “an investment in children,” so it seems likely that a similar program might be coming in Fulton County...or will it? Avossa, who went on a listening tour in Fulton County before he was officially given the superintendent job (Georgia law requires a 14-day waiting period after his name was announced) seemed to downplay the testing. From the article:

One of the first questions dealt with a regimen of 52 tests that Avossa helped develop that some parents and teachers have criticized as a waste of time and money. Avossa told the crowd at Centennial that testing has its place, but that the plan inacted in Charlotte was "very aggressive," and likely too fast-paced. He called the idea of a charter school system, which Fulton is considering, intriguing. He said he'll spent the first 30 to 60 days of his administration getting to know the district and its challenges.

This will be an interesting story to follow.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.