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'Value-Added' Ratings At Schools Raise Questions

The Charlotte Observer's Ann Doss Helms on Sunday continued an examination of CMS Superintendent Peter Gorman's plans to pay teachers based on student performance by 2014. Her piece looks at the "value-added" ratings now given to about 40 percent of CMS teachers. The story includes a chart that has a ratings compilation for each school. From Helms' report: Those numbers raise questions about who's getting the district's best and worst teachers, based on the new measure. They're likely to rattle parents' perceptions. For instance: Wilson Middle, a long-struggling high-poverty school, is rated near the top for teacher effectiveness. By the same measure, Davidson IB, an academic powerhouse, drags the bottom. West Charlotte and West Mecklenburg highs have more top-rated teachers than Providence, Myers Park or Ardrey Kell. The ratings prompted Davidson IB principal Jo Karney to make changes that some would call teaching to the test. She realized her students weren't spending as much time on math and language arts as other middle schools, Helms reports. Knowing how high the stakes will eventually be for her teachers, she juggled this year's schedule, cutting into social studies and science to provide more time on subjects with state exams. Helms also had this report from March 6th that delves into many teachers' anxiety, skepticism and opposition to pay-for-performance. The person in charge of the district's pay-performance plan told Helms his reception at schools ranges from "hostility to lukewarm."