Tuesday, February 14, 2012

CMS teacher ratings: What's the buzz?

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board will get an update on the talent effectiveness project tonight, with a target of making decisions this spring about how to pilot new teacher ratings in 2012-13.

It was just about a year ago that news of the district's expanded testing program broke. Anxiety among teachers was high, as CMS official Andy Baxter visited schools trying to explain new value-added ratings based on test scores. Then-Superintendent Peter Gorman fueled further outrage when state representatives introduced a bill his staff had helped draft that would allow CMS to launch performance pay without teacher approval.

Since then Gorman has departed, the bill is on hold and the folks who remain are trying to hit  "reset"  on the effort.  CMS is still using the additional tests,  and leaders still plan to replace the current pay scale,  based on experience and credentials,  with one based on student results and other measures of performance.  But they're trying to do a better job of listening to teachers and building buy-in for the changes.

Is it working?  I'm not hearing the angst that I was this time last year.  But it's hard to know if that's because teachers are happier,  or just because it's not a front-burner item.

At tonight's meeting,  teachers who have been working with CMS to craft better measures of effectiveness will report. The board won't take action,  but anyone who's interested can attend the meeting, turn on CMS-TV 3 or watch online.  (There's a budget meeting beforehand,  and if experience is any guide,  that could mean a late start to the 6 p.m. business meeting.)

As always, the electronic floor is open for discussion.

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