DCTA Talks LEAP
By Bill Weisberger
Sitting in the Sandoval Room at North High School on Monday night, I was nearly brought to tears multiple times by the stories teachers told about the damaging effects of LEAP teacher evaluations in DPS. Testimony included veteran teachers demoralized by younger, less-experienced administrators, special education teachers consistently rated less than effective by evaluators with no qualification in SpEd, and expert science teachers who had been working for years in the poorest schools and had been observed by a new administrator every year due to the revolving door (30% turnover) of administration in our lower income schools. Many of these teachers needed to teach their evaluators what best practice means in a science classroom to help combat confusion and lower scores that resulted from a lack of expertise.
In my own testimony I mentioned that in his visit to my school in October, Tom Boasberg admitted to the staff at my school that it is, in fact, harder to earn an effective or distinguished score at a red school than at a green or blue school. I have spoken further with members of DPS’s offices about this issue, and they have confirmed that it’s true – you are more likely to earn a lower LEAP rating if you work at a poorer school. And what’s worse, while DPS will admit that this is an unfortunate situation, there seems to be no solution on the horizon.
So LEAP is clearly not perfect. I wrote an article outlining many of the issues with teacher evaluations several weeks ago, which can be found here. Teachers who earn distinguished marks describe changing their instruction to the detriment of their students, and teachers who believe in how they are teaching often resign themselves to low scores, unwilling to sacrifice their convictions. While I don’t know what will come of the teacher evaluation system in DPS, I am happy that DCTA has forced the conversation, and that teachers from all over the district have showed up to make it clear that a change is exactly what we need.
I look forward to working on behalf of teachers throughout the district to make our profession better for us all, which is why I’m running for DCTA Board of Directors. Win or not, I will be in this fight for us all.