Teacher Evaluation Hits the Big-time. Not much new in this article from The Christian Science Monitor, but it does provide a solid synopsis of the many angles surrounding the issue and does so in a balanced manner. As I've written in the past, I think the problem with putting to much stress on student performance as part of the evaluation process, the temptation will be to reduce it to a flat two-dimensional tool, which won't serve students well and will likely chase a lot of highly-motivated and highly-qualified people out of the profession. As this article states, teaching is as much an art as it is a science and providing a comprehensive education goes beyond the simple churning out of test scores.
At the same time, this article provides a very good description of the kind of teacher-improvement models that work and the examples are illuminating.
Bullying Report Released. As regular readers of this blog readily know, I'm not immune to the occasional smart-aleck remark, but when it comes to the subject of bullying, there really isn't anything mildly humorous that can be said. Clearly acts committed by students against other students, while often not overtly violent in a physical sense, are causing untold damage throughout the state and nation. I can think of several examples of tragedy that have occurred in SEE member districts and the pain these incidents have caused in those communities.
In reaction to the rise in bullying, the Minnesota Department of Education convened a working group this summer and the final report of the group was released on August 1. The report offers comprehensive recommendations, but the question will always be, "Will these recommendations serve as solutions?" This is an extremely complex issue, as there is a difference between misbehavior and harassment and trying to determine which behaviors fall on the appropriate sides of that line will be a difficult task for school administrators.
There will also be a question of costs as they relate to training of staff and students and reporting to the Minnesota Department of Education and with schools already underfunded, finding the resources to put together a comprehensive anti-bullying program will be difficult.
Even with these impediments, this issue has risen to the level of importance that it is virtually assured that something will be done to stem the damages by improving school environments during the 2013 session.
Here is a link to the report (downloadable): http://education.state.mn.us/MDE/Welcome/AdvBCT/PrevSchBully/
Beth Hawkins' MinnPost article: http://www.minnpost.com/learning-curve/2012/08/bullying-report-good-school-toolkit-even-if-law-changes-are-slow-come