A Focus on Spreading Largess

Meanwhile, in education, Commissioner Deborah Gist is trying to change the way in which Rhode Island schools handle’s a teacher’s career trajectory so that performance coincides with raises and advancement. (Readers from the private sector may recognize this strange concept as “the way things work.”) One of the means by which the commissioner would achieve this shift is through the certification process:

For the first time, certification would be tied to a teacher’s effectiveness in the classroom, based on the new evaluation system rolling out this fall.
Also, certification would be tiered, with new teachers receiving a three-year “initial” certificate, and advancing to a five-year “professional certificate” if their evaluations are satisfactory. To distinguish the top level, teachers who are “highly effective” would be eligible for a seven-year “advanced” certificate.

Moreover, teachers wouldn’t necessarily reap rewards for putting in their time in a college classroom, gaining credits. Instead, working with their principals — and with reference to their evaluations — they would pursue continuing education that applies to their own skill sets and situations. That could still mean college courses, but it could also mean workshops or other less formal (potentially less costly) activities.
Not surprisingly, some members of the Rhode Island Certification Policy Advisory Board, “which includes teachers union officials, the heads of schools of education at the state colleges, and representatives of teachers, principals and superintendents,” aren’t fond of the idea. Rhode Island College Dean of the School of Education Alexander Sidorkin, for example, thinks it’s important for teachers to continue purchasing his organization’s offered courses. To reach the “advanced certificate,” he’d like to require teachers to have purchased their full Master’s worth of 30 credits.
Any teacher who goes through RIC would thereby ensure that Sidorkin’s department would bring in something north of $11,400 per teacher. It doesn’t take but a bit of back-of-the-envelope calculation to observe that the market in question amounts to tens of millions of dollars.
Nonetheless, a professional analyst of such things, Arthur McKee, doesn’t think this money transfer (ultimately from the taxpayer to institutions of higher education) is necessarily worth the investment:

“By and large, getting a master’s degree in education does not increase effectiveness in the classroom, whatsoever,” he said.

But it does increase the revenue of organizations with representatives in notable positions in state government.

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Max Diesel
Max Diesel
10 years ago

“By and large, getting a master’s degree in education does not increase effectiveness in the classroom, whatsoever,” he said.
By and large that applies to a plethora of professions but it keeps the education industry rolling.

Dan
Dan
10 years ago

Just like getting a law degree does nothing to help RI police officers perform their duties, but they get it subsidized and receive an automatic pay boost for getting one.
Just like getting an MBA does nothing to help engineers working for the Federal Government, but they get it subsidized and it authorizes them for stratospheric pay increases in the GS-scale.
Just like expensive continuing legal education courses mandated by the state of RI do nothing to help attorneys perform their jobs (you aren’t even required to take them in your field of practice, you just need “credits.”)
Are we noticing a pattern here?

mangeek
mangeek
10 years ago

“getting a master’s degree in education does not increase effectiveness in the classroom”
Interesting debate with a teacher friend of mine a few weeks ago, she was recently bumped out of her district for someone with a worse record, so she’s in a mood to say what’s on her mind about ‘the system’.
She asked why someone with a specialization in a particular subject should be made to teach a different subject just because they were senior. I asked why a Masters’ in Education should qualify anyone to teach any class. I can understand why you would want an education degree for grade school classes, but once you get into middle school and above where students travel to different teachers who supposedly are ‘experts’ in their field, their education should relate to the field in question, not education, right?
It seems strange that someone with a Masters’ in Education would be able to bump someone with a degree in any of the hard sciences to teach a science class.

Russ
Russ
10 years ago

“By and large, getting a master’s degree in education does not increase effectiveness in the classroom, whatsoever,” he said.

Yes, workshops at the local library will be sooo much more effective. No proof necessary.
Just like in medicine! A medical “degree” doesn’t nessarily make you a good doctor. That’s why I go to a guy I know who had took a workshop on first aid instead. What could possibly go wrong! And just think of the savings.

Max Diesel
Max Diesel
10 years ago

Way to go Russ. Did he diagnose your inability to put forth an intelligent argument?

Patrick
Patrick
10 years ago

“A medical “degree” doesn’t nessarily make you a good doctor.”
This is exactly true. A medical degree doesn’t even let you practice medicine in most places. You still have to go through a 3-10 year residency and sometimes a fellowship to be a good doctor.
But what happens to bad doctors? They get fired, they get sued and they turn to a different profession where they can no longer harm people.
What happens to bad teachers? They bump out better teachers who have less seniority but are an expert in the field. Sure, that’s makes sense.

Russ
Russ
10 years ago

“But what happens to bad doctors? They get fired…”
Wrong, it’s actually quite difficult to determine which doctors are worse than others. At least in healthcare we don’t pretend that the most visible metrics are accurate.

Russ
Russ
10 years ago

“Did he diagnose your inability to put forth an intelligent argument?”
No, but my aroma therapist did (she took a workshop so you know she’s good). What’s your excuse?!

msteven
msteven
10 years ago

Russ,
I work in healthcare metrics and agree with you that the most visible ones (i.e.: mortality rates, etc.) do not accurately define whether a doctor is ‘good or bad. Nor do I believe metrics a good basis for determining effective teachers.
Yet the point is that once doctors their degree in order to practice medicine, they don’t get paid more or increased job security based on further education. This is not the case in public education.
At least argue the issue not the strawman you put up.

Russ
Russ
10 years ago

“But what happens to bad doctors? …they get sued”
Wait a minute, isn’t that what you righties claim is wrong with healthcare? Can’t have it both ways.

Russ
Russ
10 years ago

Yet the point is that once doctors their degree in order to practice medicine, they don’t get paid more or increased job security based on further education.

Of course they do. Let’s admit that residency is part of a doctor’s education and that residents are paid next to nothing compared to what they can make after they complete it.
Look, we can argue about compensation but the point above was that “getting a master’s degree in education does not increase effectiveness.” IN my mind, that’s a deliberate obfuscation of two things: well qualified teachers and effective teaching. I’ve pointed this out here before that many good teachers are not effective, because of and number of external factors.
This is, in fact, quite similar to the dilemma in medicine. Many good physicians are not effective in terms of outcomes, not through their own short-comings but because of differences in patient health risk. The numbers don’t always clearly reflect it, but I’d still pay more to see a specialist (those with more education) if I had say a heart condition.

mangeek
mangeek
10 years ago

Russ, I’d be surprised if anyone here supported tort reform to that extent. Limiting liability to levels that are pre-determined based on the actual damages seems like a good idea, though.
Still, that won’t make a big difference in the overall cost of care.
Plus, nobody here (wild guess) thinks bad teachers should get sued, just that a system be put into place to identify them and prevent them from stepping-up and getting tenure be put into place.
Long and short, ::waves hand:: these aren’t the right-wing droids you’re looking for.

mangeek
mangeek
10 years ago

My last comment was sponsored by the Department of Redundancy Department.
I’m eating lunch standing up, commenting, and trying to do my job all at once.

msteven
msteven
10 years ago

Residency is part of the requirement to become a doctor and practice medicine as a billing provider. Just as student teaching is part of the requirement to be certified to teach. Residency and student teaching are part of the education process to begin their careers in that field.
Of course, good teachers are by-definition ‘effective’ as are good doctors. The issue is that being effective does not necessarily show up in visible metrics. Qualified, effective physicians may have bad outcomes just as qualified effective teachers.
But that is not the issue; the issue is whether it is fair that further education alone should constitute job security. Any reasonable answer is “no” and that should also apply in the private sector where education p-lays too big a role in hiring decision making.
Finally, comparing this issue of further education to a health care specialist just says you aren’t interested in a serious discussion. It’s not the same thing in any way.

mangeek
mangeek
10 years ago

I used to work on an IT help desk. Once I was pulled aside and asked why I closed so few tickets and why my average ticket was two days old. My peers had many more tickets closed and averaged much shorter times.
I had to explain that my job was actually to absorb the real head-scratcher cases from my peers, cases which took more than a phone call and a quick fix to resolve.
I get it. Still, there were ways to measure my effectiveness, like asking my peers how important my job was and if I performed the job that I said I did.

Dan
Dan
10 years ago

Speaking of questionable forays into higher education, RIFuture contributor Bruce Reilly is causing quite a stir in the legal blog community regarding his acceptance at Tulane Law School. If it were my alma mater, I would not be pleased.
abovethelaw.com/2011/09/new-tulane-1l-is-an-advocate-a-writer-and-a-murderer/
In other news, first degree murder apparently gets you 12 years in prison in RI.

leprechaun
leprechaun
10 years ago

I guess Ms. Gist must have forgotten about the language requirement she was going to check on in the certification process. It wasn’t even mentioned. I think a lot of parents of Providence school children will be disappointed. She told the parents she would see to it that there would be not be ANY teachers in their children’s schools who could converse fluently in ENGLISH with their students.

Bucket Chick
Bucket Chick
10 years ago

What bugs me about this is that the taxpayers subsidize these public employees to get these degrees and then when they get them, the taxpayers are required to pay them more because they have the higher degree. That is insane to me. We’re encouraging people (by offering to pay for it) to cost us more…

Dan
Dan
10 years ago

Bucket Chick – I don’t think you understand – they *need* that law degree to start their second career after they retire and start collecting their disability pension at age 45. You expect them to retire on 50k a year?

BobN
BobN
10 years ago

The practice of medicine, being based on science and dealing with real situations with tangible consequences, lends itself much better to scientific education and rigorous training, and so having a medical degree is a valid qualification.
The modern teaching “profession” as it exists in America today is an airy-fairy bunch of psychobabble and pseudo-intellectual, cultural-Marxist BS with zero accountability for results. Advanced university level training in such nonsense does nothing to improve the quality of the product.
Gist’s plan to make such training focus on more relevant and effective subjects is a small step in the right direction.
For the above reasons, Russ’s troll in this thread is obviously a steaming pile.

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