Education & Schools
The bottom line: States demanding proof public school teachers are effective in the classroom PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by By Ben Velderman   
Monday, 23 January 2012 14:13
BATON ROUGE, La. – Last month, the Louisiana state officials approved a plan to evaluate K-12 classroom teachers based on student performance. This marks a significant rethinking of how a teacher’s performance is assessed.
Louisiana’s outgoing evaluation process gives almost all teachers favorable reviews, which doesn’t jibe with the dismal results produced by the state’s public education system. A 2011 federal report finds only 22 percent of Louisiana’s students perform at “proficient” levels.
Fifty percent of the new evaluation process, which takes effect next school year, will be based on “growth in student achievement,” reports the Associated Press. Louisiana’s educators will be rated as highly effective, effective, or ineffective.
Any teacher rated as ineffective “will be placed in an intensive assistance program and then must be formally evaluated,” reports the National Council on Teacher Quality, a nonpartisan organization that promotes education reform.
Teachers that continually fail to demonstrate improvement over two years could be fired.
The plan hasn’t taken effect yet, but Louisiana’s teacher unions have condemned the change as “a flawed idea” and a “fiasco” that will create a generation of “demoralized teachers.”
Such union hysterics can also be heard in Oklahoma and Ohio, two other states that will soon switch to teacher evaluation models that incorporate evidence of student learning.
Louisiana, Ohio and Oklahoma are part of the growing trend toward injecting more accountability into public education. Parents and taxpayers in 23 states have passed laws requiring that teachers be evaluated based – at least partly – on whether or not they are getting the job done in the classroom.
Sandi Jacobs, vice president of the National Council on Teacher Quality, believes several more states could join the list of reformers in 2012.
“I suspect there are some states that are poised to move in (early 2012),” Jacobs told EAG, citing Connecticut, New Mexico, and New Jersey as possible contenders.
“There’s a growing realization that the old way of evaluating teachers is really dysfunctional,” she said. “There was a lot of activity about teacher evaluations in 2011.The states saw that this is not a taboo topic anymore.”
Big changes in two years
As recently as 2009, only four states linked student learning to a teacher’s performance. Many schools determined a teacher’s effectiveness based on little more than the occasional classroom observation and the level of college degree he or she had.
Union collective bargaining agreements often complicated matters by stipulating rules that made honest assessments of teacher performance difficult, if not impossible.
Some stipulate that classroom observations must be done on schedule, so teachers can be ready to put forward their best effort on that day. 

Some contracts say administrators cannot use video equipment to observe teachers without their knowledge, as if it’s somehow unfair to watch a teacher at work, doing what they generally do when they don’t think administrators are watching.
A lot has changed in two years. In addition to D.C. public schools, 17 of the 23 states that link student learning to teacher evaluations do so in a significant way, according to the NCTQ report.
The states that make student achievement a major part of teacher evaluations include: Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Tennessee, as well as D.C. public schools.
Eleven New Jersey school districts have begun implementing a pilot program that could lead to teacher tenure and pay being linked to student outcomes, reports NJSpotlight.com.
But the teacher unions still wield considerable power in all three states - Connecticut, New Mexico and New Jersey - that are close to making evaluation changes, making success far from a sure thing.
Paul Gessing, president of the Rio Grande Foundation, said that while teacher evaluation reform will be on the agenda when New Mexico’s legislators convene for the upcoming 30-day session, it’ll be “a tall order to get it done.”
“New Mexico is resistant to any reform, even though we’re 49th in almost everything, including graduation rates,” Gessing told EAG.
Gessing said the state legislature is controlled by Democrats, who are mostly controlled by the teacher unions. As a result, “Everything here happens at a snail’s pace,” he said.
Obama’s ‘Race to the Top’ credited for new reforms
In its recent “State of the States” report, the NCTQ writes that tying student learning to teacher performance  “marks an important shift in thinking about teacher quality” – away from teacher qualifications and toward “their effectiveness in the classroom and the results they get with students.”
NCTQ credits President Obama’s Race to the Top initiative for motivating states to rethink the evaluation process.
“The 2010 federal Race to the Top (RTTT) competition spurred unprecedented action among states to secure a share of $4 billion,” the report reads. To qualify for federal funds, states had to devise in-depth plans for improving their K-12 systems, many of which included new teacher evaluation systems at least partially based on student test scores.
The federal government is currently offering another reform incentive to states. States can apply for waivers from No Child Left Behind benchmarks in exchange for reform commitments, including how teachers are evaluated.
That’s happening in the Kentucky legislature, which seems likely to approve a bill that would standardize how teachers are evaluated throughout the state.
The bill’s sponsor, State Rep. Carl Rollins, a Democrat, said he supports basing 30 percent of a teacher’s evaluation on student achievement.
Unions support changes?
With the public generally supportive of accountability-based teacher evaluations, the nation’s two largest teacher unions are eager to be seen as cooperative.
“Sadly … we once again hear this myth about the union standing in the way of performance,” wrote Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, in a recent letter to the New York Times.
Weingarten urged lawmakers to find a way “to fairly evaluate” teachers.
Last summer, delegates to the National Education Association’s annual convention voted to adopt a new policy that acknowledges student performance a legitimate part of the evaluation process.
“What it says is, now we are willing to get into that arena,” NEA President Dennis Van Roekel said. “Before, we weren’t.”
But look past the agreeable rhetoric and it’s clear that the unions don’t believe it’s possible to incorporate student achievement into evaluations in a fair or scientifically valid way.
“We believe that there are no tests ready to do that,” Segun Eubanks, the director of teacher quality for the NEA, told the New York Times.
Bottom line: The national teacher unions support performance-based teacher evaluations in theory, but not in practice.
The unions’ double-talk may not matter, in the end. Lawmakers in both parties seem committed to these reforms, and this trend seems destined to keep growing.

 
GREENVILLE COLLEGE FALL HONORS LIST PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Greenville College   
Monday, 23 January 2012 13:31

Ansley Jo DeVrieze, a junior Biology major and the daughter of Jay & Stephanie DeVrieze of Moline, and Lisa Marie Kistner, a GSR in Elementary Education and the daughter of Dale & Marianne Kistner,also of Moline, were among the of 284 students from Greenville College who qualified for honors at the conclusion of the fall semester.

To qualify for the Dean's List, freshmen are required to maintain a 3.5 grade point average (4.0 scale). Sophomores, juniors and seniors must have a 3.7 GPA. A College Scholar is a student who has made the Dean's List for three or more consecutive semesters.

Greenville College is a four-year Christian liberal arts school located in Greenville, IL., with over 1600 traditional, adult and graduate students. Founded in 1892, it is affiliated with the Free Methodist Church. For further information please visit www.greenville.edu.

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Grassley: Iowa Students Earn Admission to West Point and Naval Academy PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 23 January 2012 13:27

WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley said today that Aloysius Richard TeKippe of Earlham has been selected for admission to the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, and Matt Truninger of Clinton has been selected for admission to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, for the 2012-2013 school year.

TeKipee will graduate in May from Earlham High School.  He is the son of Krista and Ron TeKippe.  Truninger graduated in 2009 from Northeast Middle/High School in Goose Lake.  He is the son of Gina and Mark Truninger.

“Admission to the service academies is highly competitive and a great honor,” Grassley said.  “Young people like Aloysius TeKippe and Matt Truninger work very hard to earn this kind of opportunity, and I join many others, no doubt, in wishing them well and expressing appreciation for their commitment to serving our nation.”

TeKippe and Truninger were among the Iowans Grassley nominated this year for  appointments.  Information about seeking a nomination is posted at http://grassley.senate.gov/info/academy_nominations.cfm.

For more than 200 years, the U.S. service academies have educated and trained the best and the brightest to lead and command the U.S. armed forces.

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UW-MADISON FALL DEAN'S LIST PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by John Lucas   
Monday, 23 January 2012 08:50

The University of Wisconsin-Madison has recognized students named to the Dean's List for the fall semester of the 2011-2012 academic year.
Students who achieve at a high level academically are recognized by the dean at the close of each semester. To be eligible for the Dean's List, students must complete a minimum of 12 graded degree credits in that semester. Each university school or college sets its own GPA requirements for students to be eligible to receive the honor.

To view an online listing, visit http://registrar.wisc.edu/deans_list.htm. For questions or concerns about eligibility, please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .edu.

Here are the students from your circulation area who have received this honor:

Michelle Kathryn Czarnecki, Bettendorf, IA, College of Letters and Science, Dean's List

Adam Samuel Vesole, Bettendorf, IA, College of Letters and Science, Dean's List

Meghan Elizabeth Khoury, Davenport, IA, School of Human Ecology, Dean's Honor List

Mehmet Gultekin Badur, Moline, IL, College of Engineering, Dean's Honor List; Brennan Lynn Price, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Dean's List

Andrew James Hoogerwerf, Rock Island, IL, College of Engineering, Dean's Honor List.

 
Davenport Native Kara Bartels Named to Augustana College's Dean's List PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Kelly Sprecher   
Monday, 23 January 2012 08:47

SIOUX FALLS, SD (01/19/2012)(readMedia)-- Augustana College today announced that Kara Bartels, of Davenport, IA, has been named to the Dean's List for the Fall semester of the 2011-2012 academic year.

The Dean's List recognizes full-time students who have a minimum of 10 credit hours with grade-point averages at 3.5 or above.

About Augustana

Founded in 1860, Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D., is a selective, residential, comprehensive college of the Lutheran Church. Committed to enriching lives and fostering development, Augustana combines a foundation in the liberal arts with professional skill and advanced study, leading the Templeton Guide to include the College among those that inspire students to lead ethical and civic-minded lives. With more than 1,850 students from 25 states and 30 countries, Augustana is featured among "America's Top Colleges" by Forbes; was ranked among the top 10 baccalaureate colleges in the nation for its efforts to advance social mobility, research and service by Washington Monthly; has been named a "Best Midwestern College" by The Princeton Review; and is identified in Peterson's "440 Great Colleges for Great Students."

Augustana celebrated its sesquicentennial during the 2010-2011 academic year.

 
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