This morning, Dallas Independent School District board trustee Carla Ranger posted to her blog a letter from a district teacher who's terrified that the DISD's going to use the Classroom Effectiveness Index to clean house. This teacher must be among the some 700 who Tawnell Hobbs writes received letters from Shirley Boss, DISD's exec director of human relations, warning them they're in "the bottom quintile" of the CEI and, quite possibly, on their way out following the 2009-'10 school year, when their contracts are set to expire.
For those who need a primer on how the district's using the CEI, I've asked DISD spokesman Jon Dahlander for an explanation. Oh, Jon?
This measures a particular class' performance with other classes with similar characteristics, such as demographics, socioeconomic status, etc.
All teachers are receiving contracts for next year. The top twenty percent who are on the high end of CEIs will receive contracts through 2011. Teachers who are ... in the bottom quintile of CEIs will receive a one-year contract and then be evaluated next year, as will teachers on a probationary contract. Again, they will remain employed during the 2009-10 school year.
One former Texas teacher once called the CEI "some magic formula based on student test scores and fairy dust"; Kent Fischer referred to it in a 2007 Dallas News story as "an arcane, decade-old teacher rating system." And Ranger's teacher, who claims to be a seven-year veteran, doesn't believe the CEI is being used properly:
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The CEI rating is comparing our students to like students in the district, not how they have grown from one year to the next. How can we be rated on one item and not take anything else into account before letting teachers go?