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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Update to Hot - Cold

Well,..... I received a call from the state department of education officials charged with the responsibility of reviewing the submission of APPR (Annual Professional Performance Review) plans. Everything was fine - except - they wanted me to eliminate a paragraph of narrative describing the process in which we determine target goals for test data related to the school principal.This news was especially irritating because there was a single change they required me to make within that very same narrative (I had mistakenly identified the scoring range as 3-8 when in fact it should be 3-7) that they now wanted me to delete.

"Wait a minute," I exclaimed, exhausted by a process approaching an exercise in futility. "You want me to now delete the entire section which includes the specific change you prescribed during our last review conference? If you intended me to delete the entire section then why on earth did you ask me to change the numbers in the scoring range, only to have it subjected to elimination anyway?"

Any change thereby mandates a certification sign-off sheet attached with the revised submission that includes the signatures of the Board of Education president, the president of the teachers' union (even though the change does not involve teachers at all since it's language within the section devoted to the principal) and the president of the principals union (we don't even have a principals' union). The fact that their latest advisement is cosmetic and not conceptual begs the question why these signatures are necessary. They are a nuisance and inconvenience to the parties since this would be the fourth submission.

My real concern arises from the perception (casually and informally confirmed by the state official I spoke with) that most school districts have elected to submit a one year plan rather than the option of presenting a multiple year plan because of the general expectation that there's no reason to submit a multi-year plan when the state will probably change the process again next year. Such is the credibility attributed to those associated with the decision making process in the state department of education and the stress and uncertainty of those school district leaders feeling as if they are the playing in a continuous game of dodge ball..

For all the time and energy we invest in meeting the exact specifications of preparing and submitting the APPR plan (crossing all t's and dotting all i's) we are losing opportunities and resources that could better be used to actually implement the action and follow the direction of the intent of the APPR. It's like re-painting, washing, and waxing a car that has no engine under the hood. That last image of cleaning a car resembles how I have felt as I have endured and navigated this process - it feels like  you are walking through an automatic car wash, complete with the large machine driven scrubby brushes,  water guns, hot wax, and finally the powerful suction that lifts the water from the car's exterior...

AH!!!! We finally received the long awaited email confirming we have been approved! Of course, there are standard conditions and fine print issued with each approval letter indicating that teacher ratings are expected to mimic the test performance of the learners or we may be subject to review. That is, if the teacher's observations reveal ratings that are noticeably higher or lower (there is no further or specific explanation) than the assessment results of learners on state tests then questions will ensue from the state education department.

Oh well.

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