Jere Hochman is superintendent of the Bedford School District in New York state. I am adding his name to the highly elite honor roll of superintendents. Hochman understands that a school functions best as a community. He has created an evaluation system for teachers that will take the pressure away from “teaching to the test.” New York State requires that all districts judge teachers in this way: 20% based on state tests; 20% on measures devised by the district; 60% on observations. Some districts are allocating 40% of the state tests because they don’t have the money to buy new tests. Jere Hochman decided that the second 20% would be based on the ELA test and that the whole school would dedicate its efforts to promoting literacy.

Here is his explanation:

  • It’s the right thing to do for all students: literacy everywhere
  • We are not writing (1,000s of hours and dollars) “SLOs” for teachers/class that do not have a state test.
  • It saves hundreds of hours of class time lost to testing, local test grading, and teacher pull out of classroom
  • Teachers who do not have a state test will not have to use/give TWO “local” tests to measure growth and achievement (one SLO and one local assessment)
  • It rallies the entire school around writing, reading, thinking, and speaking across the disciplines – and everyone teaches vocabulary.
  • It means every teacher gets the same “points” on the school-wide goal which clusters the total score, taking the stress off of it. 
  • It lowers the parent scrutiny because a teacher’s “score” isn’t just about that one teacher.
  • It gets us all focused on the foundation of everything no matter if it’s an Ivy-league bound kid or a non-English speaker: literacy!
  • It reinforces the systemic approach to closing the achievement gap, raising all students instead of accusations of focusing more on “lower achieving kids”
  • The union likes it (and teases me) because of all of the above and because they know I hate anything that is one-size-fits-all and they are getting pleasure out of this “union-like” approach of “one-size-fits all”