An Interview with Monique Nadeau, Executive Director of Hope Street Group: On Teacher Evaluations and Using Student Achievement

Nov 9, 2009 by

Michael F. Shaughnessy
Eastern New Mexico University
Portales, New Mexico

1) Thank you for consenting to this interview. What exactly is the Hope Street Group, who founded it, who funds it and what are you trying to accomplish

Hope Street Group is a bipartisan non-profit dedicated to building an Opportunity Economy in America, where anyone who works hard and invests in themselves has the opportunity to succeed, and where our nation prospers as a result. It convenes business, political and civic leaders online and in person to formulate policy proposals; educates policy makers about the foundations of economic opportunity; builds community and support for its American Dream Agenda; and provides a platform for social entrepreneurs and practitioners to be heard and to engage on economic opportunity issues.

Hope Street Group was founded on a Saturday in April of 2001, when seven professionals and businesspeople in their 20s and 30s got together for 8 hours in a Los Angeles living room with an electronic white board and lots of snack foods to discuss the direction that public policy in the United States had taken and what they could do to change its course for the better. Some in the group had been friends for years; others were meeting each other for the first time. What brought them together was a shared belief that principled pro-market policies were being discarded by the leadership of both national parties, in favor of parochialism, statism, and short-term politics. Our rallying cry crystallized on that first day, and has remained consistent ever since: “Expanding opportunity in the context of robust economic growth.”

We are an efficient, streamlined organization with an annual budget of about $1.4 million. We receive partial funding from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundationand Omidyar Network.  All other financial support is from individual donors.

2) I believe your report suggest that teachers should be evaluated on student achievement. I presume that you would look at standardized test scores?

The report’s recommends including objective measures of student achievement gains in teacher evaluations. That includes robust value-added data from standardized tests. The team recognized that value-added data from state tests is not available for all teachers, nor does it necessarily capture the full impact of teaching on student success. The team identified a variety of measures of student achievement that might be used in teacher evaluation. As one team participant said, “I know student-level measures are an important component for gauging what is happening in the classroom…and we need a comprehensive approach to capturing student growth.”

3) I firmly believe that all teachers are comfortable being evaluated on their success with normal average children. However, not all teachers are comfortable working with children with autism, hearing impairments, traumatic Brain injury, and those with chronic health problems such as epilepsy and asthma. How do you conduct fair, just, equitable assessments, when teachers have a preponderance of such students?

Our team included special education teachers, including Team Leader Douglas Clark from Bastrop, TX, and this is something they carefully considered. Identifying student-specific goals through the development of IEPs, for example, is one place to start. But it is important to be accountable to those goals and to be evaluated in part on evidence of student growth towards those goals.

4) Let’s face it. Some courses are more difficult than others- for example, math and science. Should they be differentially evaluated?

No, teachers should be evaluated on their effectiveness in teaching their subject.

5) How much access should said teachers have to relevant data- for example, intelligence test scores, visual motor test scores, expressive and receptive language test scores?

Our team did not recommend the use of intelligence tests, visual motor tests, and receptive language tests for evaluating teachers. Regarding information about students, we did not discuss what information teachers should have to augment their teaching.

6) Some parents are simply more involved and more helpful than others- do you see this as a relevant variable or not?

Parents play a critical role in children’s education and wellbeing, but teachers are responsible for what happens inside the classroom and they should be evaluated on that.

7) What about children with borderline mental retardation- should their scores be included in a teacher assessment? And where do you draw the line?

Special education teachers strive to advance their students toward individual goals. Accountability for that growth is appropriate and will allow the hard work of special education teachers to be recognized.

8) What have I neglected to ask?

What makes this report so unique?

This project proves that it is possible to foster meaningful collaboration online by bringing together a group of busy practitioners and other professionals in a resource-rich environment. Policy 2.0, our online platform, allows us to tap talent outside of Washington to give practitioners and engaged citizens outside of Washington a voice in the policy conversation.


9) What’s next for the recommendations?

Hope Street Group will use Policy 2.0 to build an online advocacy community. We will target 10 major systems for the adoption of these recommendations by 2012. Hope Street Group will also use the Policy 2.0 platform to build a highly engaged teacher community across the country to collaborate and effect real policy reform.

Who are the team leaders that helped Hope Street Group drive this process?

Our five team leaders that helped drive the process are:

Darcy Moody, Team Leader, Educational Consultant, Arizona

Dina Rock, Team Leader, Educator 1-6 Grades, Ohio

Douglas Clark, Team Leader, Classroom Teacher and Special Education, Department Chairperson, Texas

Lisa Mills, Team Leader, Speech Language Pathologist, Virginia

Samuel Roe, Team Leader, Legal and Policy Analyst, New York

These leaders traveled to Washington DC to deliver the report recommendations to an audience of 75 people at the National Press Club on October 26th. Following the event the leaders went with Hope Street Group’s Executive Director, Monique Nadeau, and education staff to various meetings on Capitol Hill to discuss the recommendations with education, legislative staffers.

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