GUEST BLOGGER: Mary Anne Mather, Using Data Facilitator & Social Media Liaison on Twitter & FaceBook

Shimmering water view Falmouth, Massachusetts

A beautiful morning walk in Falmouth, Massachusetts

A recent weekend wedding celebration on Cape Cod brought together a stirring mix of sapphire shimmering ocean, stunning bride (who I had the joy of watching transform over the years from little girl to accomplished young woman), and satisfying conversation with long-time friends—an enjoyable mix of hilarity, nostalgia, and sometimes serious discourse.

During several early-morning walks with friends connected through our work as educators, the more serious discourse returned time and again to an impassioned discussion about teacher evaluation. This conversation was prompted in particular by a June 4 Washington Post article, Maryland Teacher Evaluation Redesign Bogs Down. We were somewhat stunned to learn two pieces of data: 1) Almost a year ago, Maryland won a $250 million federal grant to build a “transparent and fair” teacher and principal evaluation model that would tie their success to student test scores and learning, and 2) The state is seeking a year’s extension to fully execute the evaluation system it has yet to develop.

“Two-hundred fifty million,” my friend mused. “They could hire 250 people and pay them a million dollars each. With that kind of brain trust you’d think something could be developed in a year.” We laughed, but think about it. (more…)

You might enjoy listening to the Etta James classic hit At Last you read this blog entry. It’s the tune I’m hearing, having just re-read what I consider to be one of the most insightful counterpoints to the recent federal policy recommendations that outline compliance requirements in order for states to participate in the education stimulus Etta James Album Cover At Lastfund efforts. I’m referring specifically to requiring states to implement processes for evaluating teacher quality solely on the basis of student achievement results.

Coincidentally, the inspiring article I refer to is by another Etta—Etta Kralovec—in her piece “A More Complete Evaluation” (Educational Leadership, Dec. 2010)

To offer a little context…Etta K. is an associate professor of teacher education at the University of Arizona. In an effort to re-align her thinking about what it really takes to be an effective teacher and education leader, she arranged for a leave from her university in order to assume the principalship of a small high school. (Would that more education professors and pundits could temper their views with a similar hands-on eye-opener.) (more…)