Last night’s Metro Nashville Public Schools board meeting couldn’t help but touch on charter schools, although far less than in past weeks. But the board also heard details of how the district wants to reform teacher pay to tie in student test scores. Here’s what you need to know, plus a complete string of tweets for all the nitty-gritty details.
1) Teacher pay and student scores. While the integrity of the teacher evaluation system is an ongoing issue for educators, the district is pitching a plan using those rubrics to help calculate teacher pay. With plans to go into effect next school year, the new system could give all teachers the potential for annual pay increases instead of the pay freezes most teachers see in their first five years and the better part of their last 10. Because teachers in untested subjects like art and history don’t have their own student data to reflect their performance, the new MNPS scale could be limited to the observation scores. The system would continue to reward teachers for advanced degrees, but would limit it to bachelors’, masters’, and doctorates with possible one-time bonuses for content-specific endorsements or education specialists degrees. Teachers would have the choice to opt in, and if all do, the new system could cost the district $7 million. The board is expected to revisit the issue in February before forwarding the plan to the State Board of Education for required approval.
2) Translating the new charter policy. Two weeks after the school board ushered in a new narrowed set of criteria for approving charter schools in 2014, the district is ready to put those priorities in writing for next year’s charter applicants. Office of Innovation Executive Director Alan Coverstone walked the school board through how past priorities have panned out, such as by focusing on schools serving students below proficiency in the early-mid 2000s to approving schools regardless of quality to shifting to quality as the first objective. Coverstone said the district’s move to focus attention on recruiting charter schools to turn around persistently poor performing schools or open in high-population areas is evidence the district is being thoughtful about how to move forward. Board Member Will Pinkston, who authored the bill criticized by the charter school community, said he’d like to offer schools opening in South Nashville to absorb the population growth should be offered $1 million in start up capital funding. He said he would bring that idea up again at a future meeting for the board to discuss.
The state’s major charter school organization often at odds with the direction of Metro Nashville Public Schools finds 1 in 7 district seats are considered “high quality.”
The rest are almost an even split between “satisfactory” and “low quality,” according to the report by the Tennessee Charter School Center pulling data from last year’s test scores and calling for the district to let more charter schools help close the gap.
The report comes out little more than a week after the board ushered in a new policy on a 7-1 vote limiting 2014 charter school applications to converting select low-performing schools or opening in fast-growing areas — an idea the Center is calling a “moratorium on charter school growth.”
The takeaways, after the jump.
Ordering auditors to comb through the city’s attrition rates at charter and traditional schools would “politicize” the large-scale Metro audit of the local school system, the city’s audit committee agreed Tuesday.
Metro Nashville School Board Member Will Pinkston asked the panel to include charter school attrition rates in the scope of the large-scale audit last month, although the committee had already settled on the audit's framework. A request by the Tennessee Charter School Center soon followed, asking the group examine attrition at traditional schools, too.
“It would only politicize” the audit, said Rich Riebeling, the city’s director of Finance who sits on the audit committee. Other members of the five-member committee agreed, and decided to stick with the original scope, arguing another body can take up the attrition data.
We promise that every back and forth between the Mayor and the School Board won't merit a separate post, but this one does.
After the Mayor expressed disappointment in the school board's decision to limit charters for the next year to areas where the system needs schools — specifically, areas that are more than 120 percent of capacity — we reached out to the plan's author, school board member Will Pinkston, for a response.
The former Bredesen aide didn't pull any punches.
The Mayor's Office clearly does not understand the plan and, as usual, hasn't bothered asking for any information. If the mayor understood the policy, he might embrace the chance to deliver more change to more students — faster — through conversions of low-performing schools in a cost-neutral manner that doesn't fiscally undermine the progress we're making in other schools. Meanwhile, exceedingly overcrowded schools that need capacity relief also happen to be in areas of town with big opportunities for closing achievement gaps. I'm frankly surprised he wants to deny those students the same opportunities as others. We'd be happy to brief him on the plan if he wants to learn what it does and does not do.
I think it's safe to say that they're marking each other off of their holiday card lists.
Mayor Karl Dean’s administration is unhappy with the local school system’s decision to limit applications for new stand-alone charter schools to pockets of South Nashville next year.
A big fan of privately-run publicly-funded charter schools, his spokeswoman Bonna Johnson said it’s “difficult to see how much such a plan will advance the cause of improving student achievement.”
Her full statement:
“Mayor Dean firmly believes that every Nashville child deserves access to a high quality education. To now basically limit charter school growth to certain zip codes, based on capacity issues alone, is fundamentally troubling. In fact, the city’s highest performing charter schools — which were some of the highest performing schools in the state and which serve our most at risk students — would not even exist under this plan. It is difficult to see how such a plan will advance the cause of improving student achievement.”
More after the jump.
Gov. Bill Haslam doesn’t know what to think of Metro Schools narrowing the types of charter school applications it’s willing to accept next year, but said he wants to talk to the district to find out more.
It would be the first sit-down between the the governor and Director of Schools Jesse Register since shortly after MNPS rejected Great Hearts Academies, which led to the state slapping the district with a $3.4 million fine, the school board threatening litigation and the House Speaker pushing for the state to approve future rejected charter schools.
The resolution directs the district to only consider charter applications that propose turning around schools labeled low-performing for three consecutive years, or seek to locate in parts of the district with high population growth, such as South Nashville.
“I was interested to see that they put those geographic restrictions on there and I’d love to hear their justification for doing that,” Haslam told reporters Thursday. “In terms of the ultimate goal of providing better education for students, I understand the financial reasons behind that decision. I really do. Being somebody who’s been responsible for financial decisions, I never discount that as a motive or theory.”
More, after the jump:
While the state’s largest school systems agitate over inadequacies in the state’s education funding formula, Gov. Bill Haslam is offering little on whether he’s willing to tackle that issue himself.
Anecdotally, Haslam said he finds at least 90 percent of the education community telling him they’re not getting a fair shake under the complex Basic Education Program funding formula that dictates how much state money is divvied out to schools statewide.
“Anything that’s driven by formula like that is going to leave people feeling that way,” he told Pith. “That’s one of the things we’re having discussions about. I mean, that’s kind of been out there in the background forever.”
Board members from the state’s four largest school districts met over the weekend as the Coalition of Large School Systems to talk about how the proliferation of charter schools has eaten up chunks of the Metro Nashville school district’s budget.
The Metro Nashville School Board tackled a monster agenda last night, sparking another round of debate about charter schools’ place in Nashville to OK-ing a $4.3 million early retirement plan and resolving capacity issues at one of the city’s magnet schools.
Here’s the breakdown, after the jump:
As the Tennessee School Boards Association met at the Opryland Convention Center this weekend, school board members from the state’s four largest districts broke off to talk strategy on Sunday, finding themselves with joint appetites to coalesce against the state.
The target: the state’s education funding formula.
Driven by a presentation from Metro Nashville School Board’s Will Pinkston explaining how charter school growth will cost the school district an estimated $23 million in its next budget, the state’s four largest school districts rallied around the idea of challenging the Basic Education Program formula as a way to address school choice finances.
“Consider this is a glimpse of what the future will look like in your budgets,” said Pinkston, pointing to charter school costs climbing from $4.6 million in 2008 to an estimated $62 million next year. “Make no mistake, they’re headed your way if they haven't gotten there already.”
Careful to say some charter schools have been good to the school district, Pinkston pointed to 21 charter schools calling the state home four years ago, compared to 22 of the schools on the books now in Nashville alone.
Gov. Bill Haslam said he “hasn’t made a final decision” whether to push his small-scale voucher program again after his limited plan — giving private school tuition to 5,000 low-income students at the state’s worst schools — was nearly hijacked by a handful of Senate Republicans who wanted a bigger program this year.
“It’s not a deal to be struck,” said Haslam, acknowledging ramped up efforts from pro-voucher groups and lawmakers. “We obviously proposed last year what we thought was the right approach and there’s nothing that’s changed our mind.”
As we reported in this week’s dead tree edition, where to go on vouchers is a matter of unfinished business for the GOP-led legislature to address in the new year, along with a state panel to authorize rejected charter schools. Although House Speaker Beth Harwell wants to see the authorizer bill passed, she hinted the state should slow down and take a pass on vouchers.
More, after the jump.
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