A Madison Look at Teacher Accountability, Testing and the Education Reform Climate

Susan Troller:

The district’s recent decision to provide professional development time for middle and high school teachers through an early release time for students on Wednesdays is part of this focus, according to Wachtel. The district has sponsored an early release time for elementary school teachers since 1976.
She admits there isn’t any data yet to prove whether coaching is a good use of resources when it comes to improving student achievement.
“Anecdotally we’re hearing good things from a number of our schools, but it’s still pretty early to see many specific changes,” she says. “It takes consistency, and practice, to change the way you teach. It’s not easy for anyone; I think it has to be an ongoing effort.”

Susan did a nice job digging into the many issues around the “education reform” movement, as it were. Related topics: adult to adult spending and Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman’s recent speech on the adult employment emphasis of school districts.

  • Laurie Frost

    A bit of history regarding the issue of professional development time for MMSD high school teachers. This is taken from the 2003 West HS SLC Grant (p. 15):
    C.2.e. RESOURCE TIME. We will create a new 25-minute daily period called RESOURCE TIME. This period will provide time for students to get extra help via the Pyramid of Interventions (sec. C.2.b), meet with their Adult Advocate or Peer Mentor (sec. C.2.c), attend mini-courses from their LC (Learning Community) guidance counselor, or pursue other interests such as in-school service and extra-curriculars. THIS NEW PERIOD ALSO PROVIDES REGULAR TIME FOR LC STAFF TEAMS TO MEET AND COLLABORATE AROUND STUDENT LEARNING.
    I wonder what happened to West’s daily Resource Time? It’s fate (failure — it doesn’t happen — neither do the Adult Advocates or Peer Mentors) seems clearly relevant to the present discussion of early release for high school students. Please, let’s learn from our mistakes this time around.
    In a similar vein, I wonder what the plan is for documenting and evaluating teacher participation, professional development content, and overall initiative effectiveness? Doesn’t the Strategic Plan commit us to thorough follow-up and assessment?