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Roster Verification: The Pilot

December 13, 2013

In this episode of Roster Verification, Janet and her friends experience some wacky shenanigans and unfortunate misunderstandings. Mr. Roper comes in and makes everybody feel terribly uncomfortable. In the end, everybody learns a valuable lesson about hubris.

In the television universe, production companies develop single episodes of new shows to try to sell a series to a network. This is called a pilot. In a typical year, about three pilots are developed for every show that airs.

An actual television pilot

An actual television pilot

In education reform, we only tend to pilot programs to which we have already committed, either through policy or contract (or both). That’s why teachers and administrators were excited this week to receive the following email from the SDE:

Roster Verification Coming Soon!In order to successfully collect data for the 35 percent quantitative portion of TLE, teachers will utilize a process called Roster Verification to properly link themselves to the students they teach.Why is Roster Verification important?  This process is important because no one is more knowledgeable about a teacher’s academic responsibility than the teacher of that classroom!  Rightfully so, teachers should have the opportunity to identify factors that affect their value-added results (e.g., student mobility and shared-teaching assignments).In order to assist teachers throughout this process, the Oklahoma State Department of Education (SDE) has partnered with Battelle for Kids (BFK), a non-profit school improvement organization. Together, SDE and BFK will provide teachers with an easy-to-use data collection instrument, Roster Verification training, and communication resources.During February, 2014 the Office of Educator Effectiveness is hosting webinars on Roster Verification.  The webinars will explain how to use the Batelle for Kids program to link students and teachers accurately.  Five sessions will be offered at various times.  We encourage administrators and/or data personnel to sign up for a session.  The same information will be covered at each session, and one session will be recorded and posted on the TLE Web page to access anytime.

TLE Roster Verification Webinars

Feb. 24, 1:00 – 2:30 PM;  Feb. 25, 9:00 – 10:30 AM;  Feb. 26, 3:00 – 4:30 PM; Feb. 27, 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM; Feb. 28, 9:00 – 10:30 AM

To register for a webinar session, go to:  https://oksdetraining.webex.com and click on the “upcoming” tab.  Select one of the webinars titled TLE Roster Verification.

As required by state statute, mandatory roster verification is scheduled for the spring of 2014 and should be completed by all districts.

To learn more about roster verification, please access the following link: http://ok.gov/sde/tle-roster-verification

The catch is that 2013-14 is a pilot year. Districts must participate at all of their school sites, but they can select which teachers to use. They can use one teacher, one department, or the whole school. They are testing, more or less, how well the information tracks.

When Roster Verification is in full effect, we will eventually be able to calculate how much time each student spent with each teacher in each grade. That way, as the email suggests, we will know which teachers add the most value.

I’ve made my opinions on VAM clear before. We’re going to be making personnel decisions based on test scores. In some cases, these decisions will impact teachers in non-tested grades and subjects. Roster verification is a process by which we assign a percentage of responsibility to different teachers for a student’s growth. By responsibility, of course, I mean credit and blame.

If you’re a first grade teacher, eventually we will be able to tell you what percentage of the students you’ve taught passed the third grade reading test, took accelerated math classes in middle school, and graduated high school on time. We’ll also be able to tell you how many of your students were retained in third grade, struggled in math down the road, and dropped out.

To conduct Roster Verification (and VAM), the SDE has contracted with Batelle for Kids. Here’s how BFK describes themselves:

Battelle for Kids is a national, not-for-profit organization that provides counsel and solutions to advance the development of human capital systems, the use of strategic measures, practices for improving educator effectiveness, and communication with all stakeholders in schools.

Those who have read this blog for a while know I get twitchy around the words nonprofit or not-for-profit. Essentially, I loathe the idea that you can count as a charitable donation money you have given to an organization that really isn’t a charity.

Looking up their most recent tax form 990 on Guidestar, I found out a few interesting things about BFK. Here is some basic financial information from 2011:

Total Revenue $21,398,999
Total Expenses $18,761,469
Revenue Less Expenses $2,637,530
Beginning Fund Balance $8,896,988
Ending Fund Balance $11,534,518

With such a healthy ending fund balance, I do hope they gave all of their employees a $2,000 raise!

This clearly is a non-profit on the rise. As I’ve said before, I don’t mind people making money. Profit is a good thing. I just abhor the doublespeak of non-profits making so much money. Where they make and spend their money is also interesting. They are heavily funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. They have taken money from Race to the Top. Their top 11 executives all have six-figure salaries (as do two additional consultants).

Imagine the outrage if a school district in Oklahoma with a $21 million budget had 11 employees making over $100,000 (with the leader earning about $421,000). Imagine the outrage if Governor Fallin’s supporters knew that Oklahoma’s teacher evaluation system was entangled with Race to the Top, the hallmark of federal interference.

Roster verification does not benefit students. It does not give parents or teachers more information to make decisions. It simply creates additional work for already overextended teachers and principals while lining the pockets of out-of-state companies that are beholden to the corporate reform agenda.

Unfortunately, we know the network has picked up this pilot and bought several seasons worth of episodes.

  1. December 13, 2013 at 9:06 am

    Did I look at the calendar for the webinars incorrectly? Are two of the sessions scheduled on Saturday and Sunday? And, the others scheduled during the school day? Is this training for teachers or administrators? I know it’s a tiny, unrelated, issue. But the OSDE’s expectation seems to be that we’ll be working for them on the weekend.


  2. December 13, 2013 at 9:07 am

    OK…I see, after close reading, it’s administrators whose time is a BIT more flexible during the school day…a BIT…but still! Weekend??


    • December 13, 2013 at 9:10 am

      This is partly my mistake. The SDE sent an email Wednesday with incorrect dates and another early Thursday with the correct ones. I should have used the second email. The post has been updated with correct information.


  3. Rob Miller
    December 13, 2013 at 10:54 am

    Excellent post! Did you happen to read the rest of the newsletter, particularly the TLE Spotlight of the month. Numbers of tweets as an OAM measure? Seriously! I will be posting on this later.


    • December 13, 2013 at 10:58 am

      Thanks! I read that too. That’s absurdly awesome.


  1. June 7, 2014 at 10:20 pm
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