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Assessment tool expected to help school system identify best job candidates

Wednesday, May 22, 2013 6:12 PM
Last updated Thursday, May 23, 2013 1:36 AM
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The Richmond County Board of Education will purchase a leadership assessment tool from polling firm Gallup Inc. to help identify the best candidates for teaching and administrative positions.

For $78,000 per year, the online assessment presents candidates with questions to measure their strengths and ability to have an impact on students.

With millions of dollars in state funding cuts and district staff working to balance the 2013-14 budget, there was disagreement among board members Tuesday as to whether now was the time to make such a purchase. The purchase passed 6-3 with members Barbara Pulliam, Venus Cain and Jack Padgett in dissent and Alex Howard absent.

Pulliam said with the school system unable to pay for enough paraprofessionals, transportation for alternative program students and the restoration of furlough days, this tool should be the last on the list.

“Everything is ‘no money,’ ” Pulliam said. “We couldn’t replace a director of high schools, they said no money. Student services, no money … we need to prioritize. I don’t think this should be at the top … because we don’t have no money.”

In a committee meeting last week, board members asked staff to research whether Title II grants, federal funding to improve teacher quality, could cover the costs. According to Controller Gene Spires, that arrangement has not worked out and the $78,000 will have to come from the district’s general fund.

Board member Frank Dolan said the program is worth the price because bad teachers and bad principals cost the system more in money and achievement.

He also said there is a problem with cronyism in the hiring practices, with people landing jobs based on who they know or are related to. Gallup’s program scores candidates based on timed assessments, which Dolan said would create an objective list of candidates.

“Let’s get the best quality teachers,” Dolan said. “Look at the grades. How much does a year of bad grades cost? If you can save a bad hire and put a good hire in and get people that are qualified from the start, I think that would be well worth the amount of money we’re talking about.”

Gallup Senior Consultant Kelly Peaks Horner said her team will soon work to train the Richmond County schools human resources department and principals in the assessment program and could begin testing candidates by the fall.

Gwinnett, Muscogee, Dekalb, Atlanta Public Schools, Decatur and Henry school districts use the assessment. Horner said the appeal comes from research showing if a student has an ineffective teacher for one year, it takes three years to make up for the deficit. If a student experiences three ineffective teachers in a row, the deficit is never recovered.

Horner said the Gallup tool correlates candidates’ scores to those who identified as the most effective teachers in a controlled group, taking any favoritism or guessing out of the process.

“(The assessment) will determine who within the applicant pool has the greatest potential of delivering high student achievement outcomes,” she said.

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concerned consumer
concerned consumer 05/22/13 - 10:13 pm
When is Frank Dolan and the

When is Frank Dolan and the other Board members going to realize that Norman Hill was placed in his position by Dr. Bedden and Marion Barnes. It is obvious that he had no Human Resoures' experience prior to coming to the position that was created for him. Why would the Board Members continue to spend monies that the school system does not currently have nor will they receive in funds from the state. Mr. Dolan you are quick to forget that he cost the school system almost a half million dollars with the Retired Teachers fiasco over payment. You (Mr. Dolan ) have got to be kidding if you think that this new assessment tool will stop him (Mr. Hill) from hiring friends and family.
Please reconsider your decision Board Members and become good stewarts of my tax money.

giwi 05/23/13 - 12:16 am
Double negative

...because we don't have no money per Pulliman! RC has it share of incompetences and the Board of Education is no exception. It's a shame that current personnel cannot take the assessment.

scoobynews 05/23/13 - 05:13 am
You have got to be kidding!!!

You have got to be kidding!!! This is why good teachers leave Richmond county schools. I saw many incompetent people get leadership positions while more qualified applicants got pushed aside.

avidreader 05/23/13 - 05:39 am
A Sad Day!

It has always been my practice to support our BOE, hoping that the good will outweigh the bad; the dedicated will overshadow the "hangers-on". However, I see this Gallup leadership assessment as somewhat of a slap in the face to the educators and support staff of Richmond County. It seems doubtful that furlough days will ever be rescinded. There will always be something "more important" to buy.

Cronyism is a reality, and I seriously doubt that a Gallup assessment is going to change this. I hope I am wrong.

Riverman1 05/23/13 - 05:43 am

"Gwinnett, Muscogee, Dekalb, Atlanta Public Schools, Decatur and Henry school districts use the assessment."

Because these poorly performing counties use the online assessment doesn't mean it's a valid and effective mechanism. It also doesn't follow if other counties don't use it they will have substandard teachers and results. Salespeople...ggggrrrrrrrr!

Riverman1 05/23/13 - 06:09 am
What They Do

From their website, this is the mechanism for evaluating teachers. Just do it. I saved you $78,000 PER YEAR.

“The Danielson framework begins with four domains (planning and preparation, classroom environment, instruction, and professional responsibilities), then breaks them into 22 components. A scoring rubric serves as the standard for rating teachers in each of the components, and teachers are rated at one of four levels ranging from “unsatisfactory” to “distinguished.”

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 05/23/13 - 06:25 am

I've worked with people my whole life from different levels of education and backgrounds. Of course I know we all have, but, testing? Again, I've worked with people who can ace these tests but can't frame a simple sentence or get an idea across. These people more often than not have "advanced degrees"! Some of the smartest and most successful people I know, have no more than a High School diploma and can run circles around them. A test doesn't show common sense. That's what interviews are for. A test doesn't show background or backbone, that's what checking references and previous employers does. The best litmus test of a potential employee are the following questions: "Do you have any type of relationship with the potential employee or any relative of that employee?" and "If this person worked for you in the past, would you rehire them in the same capacity that I am looking into?" The answer to the first question will let you know how reliable any reference will be, the second will let you know if you really want to hire that person.

soapy_725 05/23/13 - 08:27 am
Buy the tool and fire

the entire RCBOE. Throw the free loading bums out.

sassylassie 05/23/13 - 03:56 pm
The identification of

The identification of candidates is fine but can be done without paying that amount every year. Until the PEOPLE DOING THE HIRING are replaced, nothing will change.
That money would be better used to hire teachers.

mrsbras 05/23/13 - 10:04 pm

What there not telling you is that even though they are going to pay gallop to tell them who the best person is does not mean they will choose them. Gallop will only make a recommendation and they will hire there family and friends anyway here is my question why take a teachers salary and pay a machine to do something we pay a whole department to do. But what I really think is happening is our tax dollars are paying people to get up and come to work but some of the board members are doing there jobs by telling who to hire who to fire who to listen who not to listen to how to sleep how not to sleep.. Look at frank Roberson he can't make a decision on his own

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