American Prospect Boosting Mike Miles' Reform Cred? & Other Twitter Questions

The must-read, full-length education story of the week is a piece by Dana Goldstein at the American Prospect, titled “The Test Generation.” Before you think this little guy has gone completely loony tunes, you have to know a couple things:

  1. The article is all about Colorado, and mainly about the implementation of Senate Bill 191, but it opens with and focuses plenty of attention on the remarkable pioneering work of Harrison School District Two; and
  2. While I don’t agree with all the article’s points and conclusions, it’s a mostly fair assessment that provides some interesting insights into Colorado’s efforts to forge ahead on enhancing educator effectiveness.

Showing the story’s release was timed well, earlier this week the co-chairs of the State Council on Educator Effectiveness presented their thick set of recommendations (PDF) to the State Board of Education for consideration. More thoughts on that to come in the near future.

More interesting is Goldstein’s close look at Harrison superintendent Mike Miles, whose focused leadership in the development of a groundbreaking new teacher evaluation and pay system have unsurprisingly garnered criticism from the teachers union. Yet so far the results speak for themselves:

According to district data, 74 of Harrison’s 820 teachers performed at the “distinguished” level during the 2009-2010 school year; 89 percent of that elite group returned to their jobs. A total of 103 tenured teachers received either an “unsatisfactory” or “progressing” evaluation score, a third of whom resigned or were dismissed.

Since Miles became superintendent, Harrison’s scores on state exams in math, reading, and writing have steadily increased. In reading, for example, 54 percent of Harrison students were proficient in 2005, compared to 61 percent in 2010….

At least one response to Goldstein’s article was priceless. Yesterday, the Fordham Institute‘s Mike Petrilli chimed in on Twitter with a link and friendly jibe:

A few minutes later the article’s author responded:

Yes, many of us in Colorado do regard Superintendent Miles as a reform hero. But even he acknowledges that much hard work remains to keep improving the system they have put in place. If you want to learn more about Harrison’s Effectiveness and Results pay plan, along with other Colorado K-12 compensation innovations, please check out my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow’s new issue paper.

And if you enjoyed that Twitter exchange replay — whether you’re on the micro-blogging site yourself or not — I invite you to follow me on Twitter, too. Why? Because many days I’m posting links and quick comments there that never get posted here:

See what I mean? You can Tweet with me about that, about whether you think Mike Miles is a reform hero, or about a thousand other education topics. Come on, it’s almost as fun as getting a new set of Legos….