Headway but no pact in D97 teacher contract talks

Parties agree on pilot to create link between student growth and teacher performance ratings

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By Dan Haley

Editor and Publisher

Following Monday's continued contract negotiations, representatives of District 97's administration, board and the Oak Park Teachers Association issued a statement affirming progress they are making and saying they won't seek quick compromises to wrap up a contract.

Additionally, the parties released a memo laying out terms for creating a pilot program to develop a model for measuring student growth. In turn, student growth could then be a factor in rating teacher performance. The District 97 elementary school board is expecting to vote on the Memorandum of Understanding at its meeting on Aug. 19.

The pilot program would extend over two years with crafting the model being the goal of year one and a test run of the model in the second year. The pact is clear that the measurement process implemented in year two would carry a "no-consequence" provision, meaning it would not be used to evaluate teacher performance during the 2015-2016 school year.

Parties on both sides of this contract negotiation have been direct in saying the contract offered an opportunity for a wider discussion of educational goals and strategies and how faculty compensation and evaluation, work rules and other contract provisions are tied to those goals.

The negotiating teams will meet again this Monday, Aug. 18. The press release says, "We will continue to work together to finalize the terms of the contract. With that said, we will not compromise the long-term success of this critical endeavor for the sake of expediency. Our primary goal remains the creation of an agreement that will benefit everyone involved and help build a better tomorrow for our community and the children we serve."

The first day of classes for students is Monday, Aug. 25.  

Email: dhaley@wjinc.com Twitter: @OPEditor

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Posted: August 18th, 2014 5:30 PM

Whether you like it or not, the state requires student growth to be at last 30% of a teacher's eval no later than 2 years from now. D97 is just dong what is required, though it doesn't have to be in contract language. A joint committee called for in state law of equal numbers of teachers and admins makes the final decisions.

Former Teacher  

Posted: August 18th, 2014 3:04 PM

Res 253- The challenge is to create individual norms and realistic goals for each of 25 kids, and then compare dissimilar groups to measure teacher success. It doesn't happen. What happens is administrators say, "Mrs. X's class averaged 27 percentile point gains, but Mrs. Y's class only averaged 22." But Mrs. Y may be the more experienced teacher who got all of the most difficult students.

OP Res 253  

Posted: August 18th, 2014 11:05 AM

@Another, I understand that nominal student outcome is not solely reflective of the effort, talent or dedication of the teacher. However, comparative progress of a child year over year would be a basis of educational quality, no? How much progress is expected and achieved by a given child, in a given classroom, not a raw score, is relevant. Perfect, no? You know who else has to deal with imperfect and somewhat subjective evaluations of performance that determine salary? EVERYBODY ELSE.

Another former feacher  

Posted: August 18th, 2014 10:00 AM

@former teacher..thanks for the post. As a special ed. teacher, I worked with students with severe academic and behavioral challenges. They were not academic superstars, and school was simply a place they had to be. So I get to be evaluated based on their progress right along side the gifted teacher who works with the cream of the crop?? Hmm, something doesn't add up here. How does the district make the distinction? Be afraid teachers. Be very afraid.

Former Teacher  

Posted: August 18th, 2014 9:43 AM

I was a classroom teacher for almost 20 years. I did not want my work to be evaluated based upon student assessment. I had years where student assessment made me look like the best teacher in the world, and I had years where student assessment made me look terrible. The bad years were inevitably the ones where I worked the hardest. There's politics to student placement, and classrooms get stacked. Often, the hardest working teachers get poor results because they get the more challenging kids.


Posted: August 18th, 2014 9:20 AM

Congragulations to d97 for talking about teacher evaluations. It seems that d200 simply bowed to the union and gave in to lane increases and ripping off the TRS with early retirement payments. Stay firm d97 board.

Another parent  

Posted: August 17th, 2014 11:26 AM

HSParent's comment interests me because we did the same and I I don't know how many other parents did too. A popular veteran 1st grade teacher at our elementary was very vocal about being anti-testing and anti-homework, and the kids learned nothing that year. At the end of the school year, a bunch of barely used workbooks were sent home in a big envelope. That summer I could see my child was behind and we began supplementing from there. Looking back, I'm so glad we became skeptical.


Posted: August 17th, 2014 6:28 AM

In our home, the bulk of the elementary school learning was done at home and school provided a nice social place. For the parents that think the early true education comes at elementary school and want results, good luck! Oh, and feed your kid breakfast before school, make sure they get 8 hours of sleep and limit screen time. Schools can give more homework if you have too much downtime.

former D97 mom  

Posted: August 16th, 2014 9:49 PM

Shockingly, the fact that teachers are willing to measure student growth is a huge step forward. In the past opposition has been absolute, including petty bickering about each school's right to collect and store data in its own way rather than use a district-wide format. It shouldn't have taken this long and we will need the next step - in which student progress DOES matter, but this is an important first step.


Posted: August 15th, 2014 4:38 PM

I don't understand why in the bluest of blue cities, in the bluest of blue states, with one of the bluest of blue Presidents who champions education reform that our local leadership cannot get through teacher evaluations. We trusted them with the last funding referendum. They should trust our elected leaders with evaluations. In the words of the late great General Anthony Clement McAuliffe, "Nuts!"

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