Friday, December 31, 2010

Study Questions Seniority-based Teacher Layoffs

At last month’s DCSS Board Meeting the Professional Personnel Layoff policy was changed to incorporate performance, rather than length of service, as the primary criteria for implementing a Reduction In Force. For those of us who plan to hold Ms. Tyson to her promise to rid DCSS of bad teachers and administrators, the following article, highlighting a study from the University of Washington, is of particular interest. This study concludes that deciding teacher layoffs based on seniority has a significant impact on student’s abilities to learn. If you notice, in bullet #2, I have highlighted the word “Improvement”. For those that worry about using test scores alone to evaluate teachers, the word “improvement” should have a significant meaning here.

Here are some highlights from the study:

  • A study of Washington state teachers has found that deciding layoffs based solely on which teachers have the least seniority has a significant impact on students' ability to learn, adding to a growing chorus calling for schools to take a hard look at union contracts dictating who gets to keep their jobs.
  • Actual layoff notice list with a list of teachers who would have been laid off using a measurement of effectiveness known as "value-added," in which teachers are judged by the improvement of their students on standardized tests.
  • Using teachers' past performance, the researchers predicted the performance of two hypothetical school systems: one in which the teachers receiving notices had actually lost their jobs, and one in which more than 1,300 of the lowest-performing teachers had been fired instead.
  • Dan Goldhaber, lead author of the study and the center's director, projected that student achievement after seniority-based layoffs would drop by an estimated 2.5 to 3.5 months of learning per student, when compared to laying off the least when compared to laying off the least effective teachers. If your bottom line is student achievement, then this is not the best system," Goldhaber said.
  • The research found that using a strict seniority system for layoffs has a variety of other consequences, including:
    • — School districts lay off more teachers to meet their budget goals because junior teachers are paid less.
    • — Some districts lay off teachers in high-demand and hard-to-fill areas such as special education.
    • — Seniority-based layoffs disproportionately hit schools where the most needy kids are and the least senior teachers usually work.

Sound familiar?

Read more: University of Washington Study Questions Seniority-Based Teacher Layoffs

Sent by Dunwoody Mom


Anonymous said...

A big issue in Dekalb though is that people like P. Guillory kept her overpaid job while far more qualified people were laid off.

Anonymous said...

So far, how many overpaid blacks with family, friends, sorority-frat connections have been laid off?

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:51, take your racist comments elsewhere. This blog is for intelligent people making intelligent comments.
And the Central Office has just as many caucasian butt kissing administrators who should have been fired years ago (Bob Moseley, Alice Thompson, Tim Freeman, etc.).

Anonymous said...

Note to all:
Pointing out someone's race if they are black is racist.
Pointing out someone's race if they are white or otherwise not black is just a point of order.

Just the rules of the game.

Anonymous said...

I am all for tracking whether the performance of individual students actually improves during the course of a year. I understand that Esis is supposed to have the ability to track student performance longitudinally (rather than by cohort group). I anticipate this may be a requirement of Race To the Top.

But what would be used as the measuring stick for improvement? EOCT tests measure whether the student has learned the state curriculum and the cut scores are manipulated year to year. I'd love to see the county use the IOWA- give it in May each year in elementary school.

Anonymous said...

The Iowa works fairly well for schools that ends with the same population it starts with. However, when I taught at Woodward, our population changed by 40% between Sept. to May. In other words I only had 50% of the students I started with at the first of the year. The other 40% gradually moved out throughout the year and the new 40% gradually moved in during the year.

This is true of most schools that have a lot of apartment kids. Unfortunately, schools with a higher rate of apartment kids often have higher rates of students behind grade level. Apartment kids move from school system to school system every year so their leaning is more disrupted. They have more parents with single moms, and then there is always the income disparity of families in apartments as contrasted with single family housing.

That's a huge reason schools with high turnover have teachers upset with performance based pay. And quite frankly schools with high turnover are the usually ones with students behind. Now if I have that kind of turnover in my classroom, I am testing a very different set of students - maybe even 15% to 20% that I only had for a few months.

How would you measure me fairly if you test me on students I haven't even had but a few months? This is a huge problem, and unless you make kids go to the same school all year long, I don't know how you'll solve it.

Anonymous said...

@1:57 PM
You make an excellent point. Then you also have to consider that a large part of the class might be of single mother only parentage and not native born. How do you compare that teacher's effectiveness with one from,say Fernbach.

You probably come up with an answer like "there is a 60% likelihood that teacher A is 70% less effective than teacher B".

But DCSS is like the children of Lake Woebegone...all of our teachers are better than average.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:19..

Thank least someone gets it.

By the way, you will never get rid of the bad teachers...

Deltas never burn Deltas
Alphas never burn Alphas
Zetas never burn Zetas

Thats just how it is.

Since I have no affiliation with any fraternity or family "hook-ups" I am exposed. I wonder what would happen to me if I wore my college polo shirt and jeans on a non spirit day. I get reprimanded.

do they? nope. especially not on the anniversary of their organization.

Anonymous said...

Black culture in isolated places like south Dekalb has become so low performing brcause it lacks the ability for self-criticism. Criticism is too quickly dismissed as "racism." Most black folks who get out stay out, because the stuff is so embarrassing once you have been outside of the blackw orld.

Anonymous said...

"In other words I only had 50% of the students I started with at the first of the year. "

Sorry...should read:
In other words I only had 60% of the students I started with at the first of the year.

Anonymous said...

Thank God we don't have to worry about laying off teachers in DeKalb - we have so much FAT at the top that can be removed first.

Anonymous said...

"Thank God we don't have to worry about laying off teachers in DeKalb - we have so much FAT at the top that can be removed first. "

That's what I told my daughter last year who is a DCSS teacher, and doggone if they didn't cut a 100 teacher positions after cutting 274 the year before.

Private School Guy said...

Staff in administrative positions need to be able to know a good teacher from a bad teacher. When administrators start getting fired things may shape up. Until then things remain the same. How many principals and assistant principals have been let go from DCSS in the last ten years? Even when there was an over the top incident like that involving Larry Jester he just got pushed upstairs. Will someone please tell me the numbers.

Anonymous said...

Removing principals to "blame" someone else (not Central Office and BOE) for poor student achievement was a favorite Lewis ploy. A few years ago he removed 15 in one swift blow. Where they went I don't know. This Central office and BOe refuse to take responsibility for student achievement declines.

Anonymous said...

Larry Jester background for those who didn't know:

Larry's mess made national headlines back then (hey, DCSS has has been making national negative news for years).

I believe instead of firing Larry, he was moved to the Sam Moss Center (of course!).

From March 2003

Teachers and staff at a DeKalb County high school are concerned that their principal remains on the job four weeks after district officials ordered him to undergo a psychological evaluation because of allegations he threatened to shoot employees.

Cynthia Kendrick, who was Clarkston High School Principal Larry Jester's secretary until she lodged complaints against him last month, said Jester repeatedly spoke of death, suicide and wanting to kill other staff members.

"We have not been able to understand why it's been taken so lightly," said Kendrick, who said she is on medical leave for "extreme anxiety."

District officials are investigating the complaint, but have determined Jester does not present a threat to anyone at the school. They met with employees Tuesday morning.

"We've reassured the staff that we've listened to their concerns and will follow up on every one of them," Associate Superintendent Jim Williams said.

Jester declined to comment on the allegations Wednesday.

Representatives of two teachers unions said they fielded numerous complaints about Jester from Clarkston High staff members. On Tuesday, about two dozen employees met with union reps about what they say is his intimidation and bizarre behavior.

Employees say Jester has blared gospel music and sermons from his office and speaks frequently of needing to rid the school of demons. Williams said district officials were concentrating on the alleged physical threats and had not investigated other complaints.

Kendrick said she heard Jester threaten to kill people.

"He said, 'I'm just going to get my gun, shoot the whole staff and shoot myself,' " Kendrick said. "I said, 'Mr. Jester, do you know how much trouble you could be in just for saying that?' He looked up at me with this bizarre look and said, 'Mrs. Kendrick, I'm going to shoot you first.' "

District spokesman Spencer Ragsdale said her claims could not be corroborated.

District officials directed Jester to get a psychological evaluation Jan. 31.

About 20 to 30 staff members met for more than two hours Tuesday night with officials of the Organization of DeKalb Educators to express their concerns.

"Many people feel as if they've been intimidated, demeaned, harassed, bullied. Those are the recurring words we've heard," said David Schutten, president of the Organization of DeKalb Educators. "We feel like this problem needs to be addressed immediately by the administrators."

Superintendent Johnny Brown declined to comment Wednesday, saying through a spokesman he might have to make a decision on the case.

David Hirsch, who teaches English as a second language at Clarkston High, said Jester, a former corrections officer, had bragged to him while still an assistant principal at the school about having a cache of weapons.

"When I first started working there I had hall duty and he would [come out and] talk about his guns and riding his Harley and that some of his best friends were police officers," said Hirsch.

Jester became principal at Clarkston in October. He returned to the school after spending two months at Stephenson High School.

Paula Caldarella said...

Teacher and School Evaluations are on their way - starting next school year. Thus, the urgency for Ms. Tyson to begin weeding out the bad teachers here in DCSS...

For subjects where students take standardized tests, 50 percent of the teacher’s performance would be based on their test scores. School leaders will also be judged by test scores when the new model rolls out in 26 districts this fall....Teachers and principals will be rated on whether they reduced the achievement gap, on lesson plans or school improvement plans, and, for teachers, classroom observations.

But the most controversial and complicated change will be including student test data in teacher and principal evaluations. The new system will take into account “student-growth” scores, arrived at by plugging three years of a student’s test results into a mathematical formula to predict future scores. Educators will be rated on how closely students follow that trajectory.

Cerebration said...

Great info, DM - Let's post that as a thread.

Anonymous said...

@ DM and others who have not taught in low income, high turnover rate schools

I know no one has considered this, but it needs to be addressed. If you live in a house, this never occurs to anyone.

Before I retired a number of years ago, I taught at Woodward off Buford Highway. My turnover rate from September to May was often as high as 40%. In other words, 40% of my students left over the course of the year while 40% came in over the year, many in January. This was because almost all of my students came from apartments. So I was only teaching about half of the students I started with.

This is not an unusual situation in many DCSS schools. As a matter of fact, many of the schools that fail to make AYP and have low test scores in DCSS have this situation. They are the children of low income parents and their parents move much more often than parents who are higher income and homeowners - thus more interruptions to their education as another factor.

How will you evaluate teachers with high rates of turnover? These are the very schools in which we are trying to improve student achievement so it is a consistent and very real problem in DCSS (probably APS as well).

Will you evaluate the teacher on half of her class - the ones that he/she has had all year? Or will you evaluate the teacher on students that came into his/her class in March and then took the test in May after the teacher has had them for 2 months?

Sometimes I would have as many as 50 on my roll throughout the year. I left them there because I often had a students in September and October that left (maybe just moved up the street to a different complex - some of these complexes offer a free first month rent so they apartment hop) only to return in March or April.

This is a hugely complex issue. Perhaps many of you do not understand that the very schools that have low test scores are the schools that have this high turnover and therefore the teacher has only a fraction of his/her class all year. Please don't say this is a rare or isolated problem. It isn't, and these are the exact students we are trying to reach.

Anonymous said...

People do not appreciate just how bad things are on the southside. Three to five grades a week, with "classwork" making up the bulk of the grade. Numerous chances to make up zeros. No discipline to speak of. Want to get rid of students who make it impossibel to teach? Take it up with their parents. The administrators don't want to deal with too many referrals. Students so poorly prepared that they can barely read the test for comprehension, let alone answer the questions. But, hey, the system ensures that they will get passed along anyway. And you want to make teachers responsible for test scores in this environment? Good luck. Please send some delegations down south of Memorial to get a real sense of just how far down things have gone, before you start arguing that this approach will work.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ December 31, 2010 10:12 AM...

While I agree wholeheartedly with the overall purpose of your message, I must point out that Alice Thompson is, in fact, African-American. Just reporting the facts....

Anonymous said...

"Removing principals to "blame" someone else (not Central Office and BOE) for poor student achievement was a favorite Lewis ploy. A few years ago he removed 15 in one swift blow."

So sorry. I was incorrect. Lewis removed 19 principals 3 years ago - to deflect accountability for declining test scores from him, his administrative team and the BOE. See this Crossroads article: