Superintendent Jones’ plans for growth model sound awesome

Victor Joecks

There’s a whole lot wrong with the Clark County School District. From a school board that purposely misleads the public on the size of its budget hole, to blowing $1.1 million on iPads while claiming it’s been “cut to the bone,” to using school children and personnel to call for tax increases, citizens have good reason to be cynical about CCSD.

All that having been said, the plan Superintendent Dwight Jones is going to announce, to measure and reward teachers based on their abilities, sounds awesome.

What Jones will present isn’t surprising because he had success in Colorado and is bringing his reform philosophy and methods to Las Vegas. The foundation is what’s known as the “growth model.”

The growth model focuses on measuring student progress – hence “growth” – rather than mere standardized test scores. …

The key is measuring student progress over time, which will shine a light on the best teachers. …

“Where are the pockets of excellence? We’ll have data in six months. That will draw healthy scrutiny to the system,” my source says. Teachers will be evaluated on four levels of competency, pegged to the progress made or not made by students. Schools will be similarly judged.

From there, Jones will look to nourish what’s working. A program they call “wikitools” will encourage the best teachers to showcase their techniques to other teachers and then be paid “royalties” for doing so.

Despite J. Patrick Coolican’s attempt to spin this article into a call for increasing education spending, his whole article on the growth model is worth a read.

In summary, Jones wants to measure teacher ability, reward effective teachers and improve or fire ineffective teachers.

That’s a great plan – and a great example of using the money you have more effectively.

Jones’ plan still faces significant hurdles – most notably from the teacher union, which is likely to object, like it is doing right now in Carson City, to any process that would help CCSD improve or fire bad teachers – but this plan is reason enough to be cautiously optimistic.

It’s now up to Clark County parents and concerned citizens to make sure that the pressure they bring in support of school reform outweighs the considerable power of the Clark County Education Association (and the Nevada State Education Association) to protect bad teachers.