Colorado teachers TELL all

How will state officials and educational leaders know whether Senate Bill 10-191, the so-called teacher effectiveness, law is achieving the desired effect of creating better teachers?

Middle school math classroom
<em>EdNews</em> file photo

In part, they will consult annual results of the TELL Teaching, Empowering, Leading & Learning (TELL) Survey. The preliminary 2013 results, released Tuesday, will be used as baseline data for the new evaluation system.

Among other things, the 2013 survey found that:

  • Six out of 10 educators — or 62 percent respondents — report that the teacher evaluation process improves teachers’ instructional strategies.
  • Four out of five educators report teacher evaluations are fair in their school and six out of 10 educators — or 62 percent — agree that the teacher evaluation process accurately identifies effectiveness.
  • Of note, 27 districts piloting the State Model Evaluation System are more positive about evaluation than other educators across Colorado, including improving instructional strategies and accurately identifying effectiveness.

These are a few of the findings in a preliminary report released by the New Teacher Center, the organization that administers the survey, based on responses from  more than 33,000 educators representing 55 percent of the state’s teachers.

This represents an 8 percentage point increase from the 47 percent responding in 2011 and a 19 percentage point increase from the first TELL Survey in 2009.

On average, 57 percent of elementary school educators responded in the survey, 61 percent of middle school educators responded, 48 percent of high school educators responded, and 35 percent of educators from other types of schools, such as alternative or vocational responded.

Sixty percent of schools in the state met or exceeded the 50 percent response rate threshold required to receive an individual school-level data report and 112 of the state’s districts had sufficient response rates to attain district-level data.

Here are other key findings:

  • Six out of 10 educators, or 60 percent, agree that teachers have time available to collaborate with colleagues compared to 56 percent in 2011.
  • More than half of educators report that teachers have sufficient non-instructional time.
  • Fifty-seven percent of educators report that teacher class sizes are sufficient to help them meet individual learner needs.
  • A majority of educators agree that school leadership acknowledges teacher expertise, hold teachers to high standards and provide opportunities for teachers to lead in their school assessments and curriculum to shape instruction.
  • Four out of five educators agree that teachers in their school are recognized as educational experts (79 percent) and are trusted to make sound professional decisions about instruction (78 percent).
  • More than three-quarters of educators also report that their school leadership consistently supports teachers (77 percent).

Similar to 2011, it appears that the state’s newest teachers are not necessarily receiving strong mentoring support that will help them get better, faster. About one-quarter of the 3,853 teachers in their first three years were not assigned a mentor in 2013.

There will also be additional analyses and reports examining the connections of teaching and learning conditions with student achievement and teacher retention; validity and reliability of the survey instrument; and a variety of group comparisons (principals and teachers, etc.). All resources and reporting will be made available electronically at

The New Teacher Center is a national non-profit dedicated to “improving student learning by accelerating the effectiveness of new teachers and school leaders,” according to its website. NTC works with schools districts, state policymakers and educators across the country to develop and implement induction programs aligned with district learning goals.

What's Your Education Story?

As the 2018 school year begins, join us for storytelling from Indianapolis educators

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy/Chalkbeat
Sarah TeKolste, right, and Lori Jenkins at a Teacher Story Slam, in April.

In partnership with Teachers Lounge Indy, Chalkbeat is hosting another teacher story slam this fall featuring educators from across the city.

Over the past couple of years, Chalkbeat has brought readers personal stories from teachers and students through the events. Some of our favorites touched on how a teacher won the trust of her most skeptical student, why another teacher decided to come out to his students, and one educator’s call to ramp up the number of students pursuing a college education.

The event, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, is free and open to the public — please RSVP here.

Event details:

5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018
Tube Factory artspace
1125 Cruft St., Indianapolis, IN 46203
Get tickets here and find more on Facebook

School safety

Hiring more security officers in Memphis after school shootings could have unintended consequences

PHOTO: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Tennessee’s largest district, Shelby County Schools, is slated to add more school resource officers under the proposed budget for next school year.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson earmarked $2 million to hire 30 school resource officers in addition to the 98 already in some of its 150-plus schools. The school board is scheduled to vote on the budget Tuesday.

But an increase in law enforcement officers could have unintended consequences.

A new state law that bans local governments from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials could put school resource officers in an awkward position.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen recently reminded school personnel they are not obligated to release student information regarding immigration status. School resource officers employed by police or sheriff’s departments, however, do not answer to school districts. Shelby County Schools is still reviewing the law, but school board members have previously gone on the record emphasizing their commitment to protecting undocumented students.

“Right now we are just trying to get a better understanding of the law and the impact that it may have,” said Natalia Powers, a district spokeswoman.

Also, incidents of excessive force and racial bias toward black students have cropped up in recent years. Two white Memphis officers were fired in 2013 after hitting a black student and wrestling her to the ground because she was “yelling and cussing” on school grounds. And mothers of four elementary school students recently filed a lawsuit against a Murfreesboro officer who arrested them at school in 2016 for failing to break up a fight that occurred off-campus.

Just how common those incidents are in Memphis is unclear. In response to Chalkbeat’s query for the number and type of complaints in the last two school years, Shelby County Schools said it “does not have any documents responsive to this request.”

Currently, 38 school resource officers are sheriff’s deputies, and the rest are security officers hired by Shelby County Schools. The officers respond and work to prevent criminal activity in all high schools and middle schools, Hopson said. The 30 additional officers would augment staffing at some schools and for the first time, branch out to some elementary schools. Hopson said those decisions will be based on crime rates in surrounding neighborhoods and school incidents.

Hopson’s initial recommendation for more school resource officers was in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and sparked a wave of student activism on school safety, including in Memphis.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s recent $30 million budget boost would allow school districts across Tennessee to hire more law enforcement officers or improve building security. Measures to arm some teachers with guns or outlaw certain types of guns have fallen flat.

For more on the role and history of school resource officers in Tennessee, read our five things to know.

Sheriff’s deputies and district security officers meet weekly, said Capt. Dallas Lavergne of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. When the Memphis Police Department pulled their officers out of school buildings following the merger of city and county school systems, the county Sheriff’s Office replaced them with deputies.

All deputy recruits go through school resource officer training, and those who are assigned to schools get additional annual training. In a 2013 review of police academies across the nation, Tennessee was cited as the only state that had specific training for officers deployed to schools.