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More Than Scores: Assessing the Future of Teacher Evaluations Agenda

An education reporting workshop with EWA and Michigan State University School of Journalism in collaboration with The Education Trust-Midwest

University of Chicago

Oct. 10-11, 2013

(This agenda is tentative and subject to change. All sessions to be held at the Gleacher Center at the University of Chicago School of Business.)

Thursday, Oct. 10

12:30 p.m. – Welcomes – Caroline Hendrie, Education Writers Association; Joe Grimm, Michigan State University School of Journalism

12:45 p.m. – Framing remarks – Tim Knowles, University of Chicago Urban Education Institute

How is the changing landscape of teacher evaluations influencing broader conversations about school improvement and student achievement?

1 p.m. – National Overview: Evaluations and Equity

How are states responding to the push for greater accountability and transparency in how teacher job performance is measured? How are union leaders helping members adjust to the new expectations? Can evaluations be used as a lever to more equitably distribute teacher talent, and ensure the neediest students get the most effective instruction?

  • Stephanie Banchero, Wall St. Journal (moderator)
  • Sandi Jacobs, National Council on Teacher Quality
  • Sarah Lenhoff, director of policy and research, Education Trust – Midwest
  • Dennis Van Roekel, National Education Association

2 p.m. Session Takeaways and Story Ideas (Cindy Johnston, NPR)

2:10 p.m. – Understanding and Using Value-Added Data

What questions should reporters be asking when using evaluation-related data in stories? What is incumbent for reporters to learn about the use of student growth, and what is incumbent for officials to provide when they report the numbers? How can reporters convey the nuance without dulling their prose?

Sabrina Laine, AIR, interviewed by Stephen Sawchuk, Education Week

3 p.m. – Session Takeaways and Story Ideas

3:15 – Break

3:30 p.m. – Classroom Observations – What do evaluators look for?

Brian Rowan of the University of Michigan will lead an interactive session: Reporters will view videos of teachers delivering lessons and then be asked to evaluate them. Rowan will then walk the participants through the videos, pointing out hallmarks of effective instruction as well as areas of concern.

4:30 p.m. – Session Takeaways and Story Ideas

4:45 p.m. – “How I Did The Story” I – Reporters share their expertise

  • Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times (Moderator)
  • Sarah Butrymowiz, The Hechinger Report
  • Scott Elliott, Indianapolis Star

5:30 p.m. – Adjourn

6:30 p.m. – Group Dinner (optional)

Friday, Oct. 11

7:30-8:15 a.m. – Breakfast

8:15 a.m. -“Confessions of a Bad Teacher”

John Owens, who worked in the media world, decided he wanted to contribute to society by becoming a teacher. He lasted only a few months and wrote an article called “Confessions of a Bad Teacher.” The column hit a nerve and the article became a book. Owens will describe his experiences as a teacher with evaluations, classroom observations and a principal who gamed the system.

Author John Owens interviewed by Greg Toppo of USA Today.

9 a.m. – The Chicago Perspective – A new model for teacher evaluations in the Windy City

How are teacher evaluations impacting teaching and learning in the nation’s fifth-largest school district? How might Chicago’s experience be a teachable moment for educators and policymakers in other communities?

  • Linda Lenz, Catalyst Chicago (moderator)
  • Carol Caref, Chicago Teachers Union
  • Paulette Poncelet, Chicago Public Schools
  • Sue Sporte, University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research

9:50 a.m. – Session Takeaways and Story Ideas

10 a.m. The Early Education Connection – Measuring the youngest learners

Robert Pianta will describe his extensive research into what makes a good early childhood education teacher and how the University of Virginia developed an instrument to measure early childhood teachers. Laura Bornfreund will discuss the different approaches being used by districts to measure student growth for the purpose of evaluating early childhood education (Pre-K-grade 3) teachers as well as the potential hurdles to widespread, reliable implementation.

  • Cornelia Grumman (moderator)
  • Laura Bornfreund, New America Foundation
  • Bob Pianta, University of Virginia

11 a.m. – Session Takeaways and Story Ideas

11:15 a.m. – BREAK

11:30 a.m. -  “How I Did the Story” II – Reporters share their expertise

  • Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times (moderator)
  • Molly Bloom, StateImpact Ohio
  • Patrick O’Donnell, Cleveland Plain Dealer

12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m. – Lunch

1:30 p.m. Teacher Voices – How evaluations are shaping classroom practice

Two classroom teachers from Hillsborough (Fla.) County Public Schools will share their experiences being evaluated, and how it has informed their classroom practice.

  • Mackenzie Ryan, Florida Today (moderator)
  • Sheri Cerni, Hillsborough County Public Schools
  • Greta Woolley, Hillsborough County Public Schools

2:15 p.m. – Session Takeaways and Story Ideas

2:30 p.m. – Teachers and Reporters Roundtables

Educators from the VIVA Teachers program will join reporters for small-group discussions.

3:30 p.m. – Brainstorming: Where do we go from here?

Emily Richmond of EWA and Joe Grimm of the MSU School of Journalism will lead breakout sessions to brainstorm story ideas based on the prior seminar sessions.

4:30 p.m. – ADJOURN

This event was made possible in part by a grant to EWA from The Joyce Foundation and a grant to the Michigan State University School of Journalism by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation through its partner The Poynter Institute. EWA and MSU retain editorial control over all programming.