By Renee Carlson, Janet Foster, Enid Hutchinson, Ed Kitlowski, Amanda Koonlaba, Nancy Kunsman, Justin McGehee, Lynn Otaguro, Joy Peters, Wendi Pillars, Rachel Rich, Petra Schmid-Riggins, Jim Strickland, Rebecca Gillespie, Jamyle Kathy Acevedo and Josh Thompson – members of the Viva/NEA 360° writing collaborative.

Most teachers see themselves as having little or no influence on education policy.  We felt the same for most of our collective 275 years in the field. This is why we jumped at the chance to participate in the National Education Association’s partnership with New Voice Strategies in an online VIVA Idea Exchange™ concerning  “360° Accountability”. Over 900 NEA members across the country shared their passions and concerns. Finally, our writing collaborative was charged with synthesizing over 300 Ideas and near 1000 Comments into an official report to present to the NEA Accountability Task Force in Washington, D.C. on December 8, 2014. This was a rare opportunity to share the expertise of teachers with an organization capable of effecting real positive change for America’s students.

From the collective ideas, came six recommendations:

1) Shift Away from Blame, Toward Shared Responsibility

Policies need to be revised so that responsibility does not fall in one place. This requires moving away from models that hold any ONE stakeholder as solely responsible for a student’s learning, and moving to a model acknowledging that teachers, families, students, and policymakers share responsibility for how well students learn.

The credit (or blame) behind student learning is often ascribed entirely to the teacher, or entirely to the student, or entirely to the parent, or entirely to larger social factors like poverty. When a student drops out, or graduates with limited skills/knowledge, or fails the same class repeatedly, we are tempted to lump all the blame in one place. But when the causes are many—as they usually are—we should instead ask what can be done about each contributing factor such as poverty, hunger, or lack of family support for education.

2) Educate the Whole Child

Schools and districts must be given the freedom to work in collaboration with students, families, school counselors, and community members to define the human standards that are most important for students as unique individuals, active community members, and effective citizens in our democratic society.  These standards can then guide local curriculum decisions and setting instructional priorities. The fostering of social skills at every grade level is essential; moreover, opportunities to develop leadership skills have to be an integral part of such standards. Assessment may be more subjective in these areas, but we cannot allow this challenge to divert us from the central human purposes of public education.

3) Top Down Funding Without Top Down Control

Interstate and intrastate comparison of achievement results often used to trumpet the failure of public schools merely echo severe inequalities that plague American public education. Corporate exploitation of schools or partnerships that aim to reform education without empowering education professionals will ultimately result in a public education system that is not operated by educators; but instead, by the individuals or businesses with the most money. Educators in every state need to develop education standards, benchmarks, and assessments in all content area due to an increasingly mobile and transient student population – without dictating a specific curriculum. Also, a teacher’s focus should be on students, not on the looming threat of unemployment.

Since states continue to wrestle to find a way to adequately fund schools, here are some options:

  • Ideally, amend the U.S. Constitution to require each state to direct necessary funds toward public education.
  • Equalize state funding through state legislation and litigation until equitable educational opportunity becomes a recognized federal civil right;
  • Supplement inequitable school funding with equitable federal dollars
  • Require transparency of long-term costs (hand-scoring, helpdesks, reporting, test prep including lost instructional time) and short-term costs of required standardized tests including technology (hardware and software).

This is not an exhaustive list, but, in light of increasing resources spent on high-stakes testing, the public needs accurate information in order to determine the value and implications of such tests. The answers will no doubt require a pullback of standardized testing. It must be noted that no other nation uses the same tests for the disabled or non-fluent, and that much touted Finland only tests once.

4) Teacher Autonomy and Professionalism

Recognize educators as professionals who care about the growth of students, the climate of schools, and the state of education in today’s world, and allow them the autonomy afforded to such professionals.  Given the impact of teachers on student achievement, it is imperative that teachers be treated as trained professionals who know their students, their students needs, and how best to deliver instruction in the most appropriate way.  Allowing teachers to determine best practices will result in removing scripted, one-size-fits-all lessons that often emerge from upper-level decision-making, ignoring the human element. Classroom teachers know how to assess, monitor, and adjust, and if allowed to use their professional judgment with their own students, schools will witness student growth.

Teachers should be part of the decision making process with regard to all aspects of teaching, providing for avenues for teacher leadership, and consideration of teacher input and concerns. Teachers are natural problem-solvers and should be valued as such. Teachers do not always agree with administrators. Nevertheless, teachers should be free to speak openly and honestly, offering ideas and comments without fear of retaliation, whether that retaliation is reflected in evaluations, teaching reassignment, loss of privileges, or any other methods used to quiet a teacher’s voice. Teacher feedback should be sought and valued.

5) Emerge from Evaluation to Support

Distrust of teachers not doing their job, administrative coercion, evaluation by a checklist, and worship of data (standardized testing) underlie today’s current system of teacher evaluation, has the potential to ruin a teacher’s career. This creates fear and pushes teachers into early retirement, at a time of serious teacher shortages. Other professions such as doctors, lawyers, CEO’s are not observed, rated, or evaluated according to a checklist. With this evaluation system, it gives administrators too much power over a teacher’s career. Some administrators abuse their power with evaluations to get rid of teachers they don’t like. This is extremely dangerous because in the hands of the wrong administrator, one or two bad evaluations can ruin a teacher’s career.

This flawed system needs to be replaced entirely and completely due to its subjective and misrepresentative nature. Rather than administrators observing and rating teachers according to a rubric/checklist, teachers will submit an end of year final report. This report will contain and identify the skills/focus areas the teacher is working to improve, and includes all documentation of professional development, workshops, and teacher collaboration that helped the teacher achieve their goals. This places autonomy back in the hands of the professional educators where it belongs, and gives teachers equal weighted voice and responsibility to their annual professional growth. Equally important, policies tying teacher compensation, evaluation, retention, or placement to standardized test scores must be revoked!

 6) One Size Does Not Fit All

Students arrive with their own unique strengths, aptitudes, interests, and life experiences.  Education begins with recognizing who our students are as persons and facilitating the development of their gifts.  Valuing the positive in student diversity will naturally result in personalized curricula. and diverse educational outcomes. We cannot focus solely on  a narrow range of academic skills, because then students who have other strengths or intelligences are made to feel like failures.  School then becomes a source of fear and anxiety where individuality is not valued and students do not feel they belong.  When this happens, deep, positive learning comes to a screeching halt and social and emotional problems abound.

Education must extend beyond a narrow academic focus to include a broad range of human developmental goals and values.   In order to educate the whole child, we need to support student growth through individualized guidance programs, electives that nurture aptitudes and extra-curricular activities that develop social skills.  This can only happen in a safe and democratic environment. Schools and school districts must communicate to students that they are accepted, valued, and needed just as they are, regardless of their academic achievements.

Our purpose was to represent the 945 voices in the VIVA Idea Exchange, working as a team and using the democratic process throughout.   Teachers nationwide, bona fide classroom experts have spoken and are ready to challenge what is destroying our profession, our schools, our children, and thereby our democracy. We know of the many good things in our schools and have provided solutions for what isn’t working in our schools or our education systems.

The time for us to share our stories is NOW.  As professionals, we must have the courage to speak out.  We are teachers and we are the experts.  We have massive collective expertise, and are precisely the ones who have firsthand knowledge of all that goes on within our students’ academic worlds.

Our writing collaborative delivered this report to NEA with one overarching call to action: “We give you this report in trust—trust that the voices of the teachers we represent will become louder, clearer, and widely disseminated; that these words will be turned into actions; and that those actions will be backed by faithful perseverance. We ask also that this report be featured prominently on NEA’s website, and that a link to this report (and any accompanying multimedia) be e-mailed to all NEA members”.  We are grateful for our union’s support and hopeful that the NEA will honor this call to action by amplifying teacher voices!

A Bio of each writer is in the report, downloadable here: Changing the Story: Transformation towards Fair Accountability and Responsibility.

DISCLAIMER: While the guest authors of this blog are NEA members they are not spokespersons for NEA and the recommendations in the report may not reflect official NEA positions.

Update, April 18, 2015: I have posted an update that introduces six posts written by members of the 360 Writing Collaborative, reflecting critically on their experience as part of this process.

What do you think of the recommendations of this teacher team?


Anthony Cody
Anthony Cody

Anthony Cody worked in the high poverty schools of Oakland, California, for 24 years, 18 of them as a middle school science teacher. He was one of the organizers of the Save Our Schools March in Washington, DC in 2011 and he is a founding member of The Network for Public Education. A graduate of UC Berkeley and San Jose State University, he now lives in Mendocino County, California.


  1. howardat58    

    To the authors of this email: Do not rely on any organisation to do the emailing. Do it yourselves, to teachers you know, and a request to send it on likewise.

    1. Lynn    

      Thank you, Howardat58.

    2. teach2    

      I believe that the six recommendations of this teacher team are right on target. I agree that “shifting away from blame and gearing towards shared responsibility” would be a great place to start. Teachers are only one factor who are effecting student achievement. The teachers, students, families, policy makers, and stakeholders all need to work together in order to help children succeed. This a group effort approach versus playing the blame game. As stated above- Educators in every state need to develop education standards, benchmarks, and assessments in all content area due to an increasingly mobile and transient student population – without dictating a specific curriculum. In order for us to make relevant connections with these students- we must teach to the student- not teach to the test. The curriculum and test writers are not in these classrooms with 25 plus children, we are. We know these children and need to gear differentiated and personalized instruction in order to make each child feel successful. A house is not built in a day- sometimes we must rewind and teach the foundational skills students need in order for them to build on these. I agree that the targeted skills are important, but they will come with time and every child will most likely be progressing at a different level. “Classroom teachers know how to assess, monitor, and adjust, and if allowed to use their professional judgment with their own students, schools will witness student growth.” Much like students feeling nervous for a difficult test, teachers also feel pressured when they are being evaluated by these test and or observations on challenging curricula. If a teacher is in the room and cannot teach/be her/himself, they truly aren’t able to share and benefit the children with their own unique experiences. I personally like to have mini social-life skills/guidance lessons in my room because I think that it is important for us to talk about that. However, I am hesitant doing it at the same time- because it is not what our curriculum entails. There are so many teaching moments that happen in a day that the curriculum cannot attest for. These children are still growing developmentally and it is our job not to overwhelm them, but to keep them excited and engaged about learning for the many years to come.

  2. chemtchr    

    “Educators in every state need to develop education standards, benchmarks, and assessments in all content area due to an increasingly mobile and transient student population ”

    No, we don’t. No teacher is saying any such thing. We need to refuse to have any part of their standardized-assessment-for-control ideology.

    I’m sorry, but teachers are fighting exactly this demand for mindless and spineless collaboration right now in our buildings.

    1. 2old2tch    

      Totally agree, chemtchr. I’m not sure how this prescription is supposed to help “…an increasingly mobile and transient student population ”. Sounds like the same reform chant to me and is totally at odds with their recognition of the unique needs of each student. I find a lot to agree with, but fear this focus on standards, benchmarks and assessments is counterproductive.

    2. Lisa Smith    

      Amen! I realize this is a compilation of many voices, but you are spot on.

    3. Nunya    

      chemtchr, I am in complete agreement!

      As a teacher of 12 years and single mom in my mid 40s with a mortgage and no other marketable skills, I am now desperate enough to leave teaching. I’m going back to school and starting over.

      It’s all WAY too infuriating! It’s tragic because so many teachers, some with years of experience and expertise, are leaving because we are beyond defeated by the media, politicians and their ever-increasing and illogical mandates (driven by corporate donors with no idea as to what actual day-to-day classroom life is like), and the public, in general.

  3. Sarah    

    Why would the NEA not be 100% for this?

  4. Paul "Matt" Chonka    

    Now is when an alternative narrative must be put forth by all who work for the betterment of our students vs. those who are more interested in the betterment of their wallets. Thanks for sharing Anthony.

  5. Lisa Smith    

    Unless I am missing something here, this is missing three things I feel essential: (1) well-stocked libraries with qualified librarians, (2) support professionals (nurses, guidance counselors, psychologists, social workers) to meet the needs of students and staff to optimize learning, and (3) physical activity PE, recess, etc.) to promote physical health and provide opportunities to burn off energy so students can learn in their regular classrooms. ^O^

  6. chemtchr    

    Again I quote the toxic punchline of this otherwise mealy-mouthed pablum:
    “Educators in every state need to develop education standards, benchmarks, and assessments in all content area due to an increasingly mobile and transient student population ”

    Is this supposedly based on the NEA call for ideas I answered? Whoever oversaw this “report” at NEA has betrayed honest teachers who gave our input. It will now be used and cited against us in the corporate campaign to force teachers to create “tools” to enslave our students’ minds for every precious minute minute of their day. Clearly, NEA and online pundits can continue to bask in the rosy glow of cooperation with stooges like Randi Weingarten, Linda Darling Hammond, and the deep-pocketed vultures who feed on the accountability hoax.

    They come in to our classrooms now, trying to hold us accountable to cloud-based templates which demand that teachers help produce the multitudes of assessment instruments in every subject. These will be pushed out to our students through their iPads through the Edwin student data dashboard. Thinkgate inc will use algorithms in the cloud to process those results to assess teacher effectiveness, and personalize the student’s educational opportunities.

  7. Susan Kay Anderson    

    chemtchr–You bring up the realities of this increasingly accelerated nightmare teachers are mandated to keep up with. We need to speak up about the most basic civil and human rights while being bulldozed. It is nearly impossible. I like this because it attempts to put into words what needs to be done NOW. I agree with Lisa Smith, too, we need to keep qualified school librarian positions at the schools.

  8. okteacher    

    The purpose of this recommendation is for the protection of a child’s education. It is Pollyanna thinking to assume all states and/or districts/schools educate at the same level as each other.

    And as for overseeing this report, be aware we did receive pushes that were resisted. And I will add, this report is a starting point. It has not been accepted or voted on by NEA. Actionable steps are still being written.

    Please offer something worth taking action on. I will pass it on.

    1. chemtchr    

      Cross-posted on Diane Ravitch
      Doesn’t it creep you out at all that you were “identified using a proprietary algorithm” to write up the input of teachers to reflect the agenda of VIVA Idea Exchange™? The teachers involved agree there was pressure from VIVA to insert extraneous formulations that didn’t reflect the 945 respondents at all. Several have stated that changes were made to your finished report, but you somehow felt you had to tolerate that. I have to wonder what the selection criteria were, that leave you so confident of your authority to talk down to people who question the resulting distortions: “Please offer something worth taking action on. I will pass it on.”

      “Identified using a proprietary algorithm, a small group from the initial conversation is invited to form a Writing Collaborative to distill the ideas generated by the large group into an action plan.”

      On Diane’s post regarding this “report”, you assert:
      “This group of teachers are currently working on turning these into more actionable items. One area that will be presented is the idea that teacher education programs need to strengthen rigor… ”

      Could you possibly point to any item in this report calls for the NEA to join in the Gates Foundation’s attacks on teacher preparation programs? Whose action plan are you articulating? Is it possible you were selected to be a sock puppet and not even notice it?

  9. Josh Thompson    

    Chemtcher – The process for building consensus had to show evidence from the NEA Idea Exchange so that if a majority of people said “we can’t have national standards” and one person said “we need national standards,” we had to go with what the majority of teachers said who were part of the idea exchange. However, I think your extrapolation of this distilled version of the complete report is unfounded. I teach in a district where K-12 mobility annually is 46%. I teach students every day who’ve moved 17 times by the time they’re thirteen. Local control over state and education standards strongly disadvantages students. The full report is clear that teachers should be involved from every involved state with multistate standards and given the fight over NGSS, AP US History in Jefferson Co. Colorado, and TX textbook adoption, it was fully well understood that national or multistate standards are frought with issues. You should also know that teachers across this country are deeply divided about Common Core and NGSS. Teachers in my state actually took a stand in favor of CCSS overall, and most of the teachers here are highly in favor simply because of the issues we face with such a transient population due to minerals work. We deal with transfer students daily who lack every basal skill because they changed schools two to three times. There is a ton of educational research that mobility in grades K-8 is highly likely to impact whether a student drops out and adversely affects students. You should know that in the presentation and in the actual report, we did our best to acknowledge that many see these as part of the corporate education reform movement and school privatization effort, but at the same time acknowledge how local control disadvantages an increasingly transient and migrant student population. That too is a matter of fact, not opinion.

    1. 2old2tch    

      Standards should be guidelines. As soon as you attach assessments to them, you turn them into mandates that drive instruction. Before the advent of test to death, our students showed steady growth on both national and international assessments. When disaggregated by racial and socioeconomic groups, everyone showed improvement. We know that our students from high socioeconomic backgrounds perform extremely well, and even our poor students outperform all other students from similar backgrounds. For the past several years of NCLB and RTTT, however, we have proven that raising standards and demanding that students perform at this higher level or else does not improve performance or, for that matter, learning. Standards/guidelines that suggest a focus based on both content knowledge and an understanding of child development should inform not drive instruction. The more rigid and far reaching a framework we set up, the fewer children we will serve well.

    2. chemtchr    

      Josh, as I consider the pressure your group was put under to produce a product acceptable to VIVA Idea Exchange™, I’m heartened that you guys went rogue, and produced a document unacceptable to them. I can’t let this go, because this particular disastrous demand, that teachers themselves must create and submit to ever more specific standardized high-stakes assessments, in being imposed with ferocity on working teachers, right in our schools. I wonder if your team had written the word “standards”, rather than “assessments”?

      Your group steadfastly reflected some great teacher ideas in your report, and I see why you’ve gone to these lengths to publish it. As far as I can find, New Voice Strategies hasn’t done so. The bullet I mentioned is all that supports VIVA’s actual project of lobbying for an expanded and intensified oversight system. I think perhaps they failed to deliver on their promises to other hidden partners.

      As you see from okteacher’s comment on Diane Ravitch, though, the mysteriously generated “action plans” are still forthcoming. I hope your group will step forward into the light, with a full disclosure of this trademarked process, and fight for the deeper integrity of public engagement.

  10. VanessaVaile    

    Did NEA look closely at New Voice Strategies’ other partners (i.e. Gates Foundation) before signing on? That connection makes recommending and sharing more than a little problematic for me

    1. okteacher    

      NEA was answering a call to a new business item voted on by our members at our representative assembly this summer. If you are interested in what that NBI is, here is the link:

      They hired New Voice Strategies, a company they have used when Dennis Van Roekle was president. I believe it is in earnest that NEA is wanting this NBI fulfilled.

      As for the authenticity of the voices in this report, let me assure you, no one participated more than I did. And when in Phase 2, writing the report, our writing collaboration went to extremes to hold to the authenticity of the 945+ teachers who voiced ideas. VIVA did make suggestions that we took as totally inappropriate and not at all in alignment with the way we heard these voices, so as a team of 18 teachers, we stayed true to the voice of teachers in the exchange.

      And keep in mind, not everyone of those voices were in agreement. That means someone may not agree with what is in this report. But I assure you, what is in this report is not a reflection of Paul Toner or VIVA. It is a sincere reflection of the writing collaborative to report the messages of the 945+ teachers.

  11. F. Kevin Moquin    

    I believe you are on to something. I also believe that the new mind set towards accountability, as a verb needs to include a high level of sophistication if we are to get widespread support. The Japanese professional development model called lesson study incorporates all of the features you have listed in the article above. It is a bottom up, top down approach. Administrators and education officials in the Japanese government rely on the teachers to study lessons and report their findings. In turn, the findings are used to adjust national curriculum. Teachers are respected as researchers and drivers of reform. Additionally, the professional development model accommodates local needs and problems. It is not a one size fit all model. However, it is a sophisticated, systematic way of gathering authentic classroom data that is generated by students that is used to improve instruction. Lesson study was first created over one hundred years ago. It is not a fad. This approach to professional development can work in the United States. There are over 600 lesson study groups functioning in America at this time. The problem that we are facing as lesson study groups is how to fit this model into the existing structures in American schools. Grants have helped, but it is not enough. More time for collaboration is needed during the school day to improve our instruction. Further, all of the components of effective professional development are woven into the lesson study process. Dr. Doerr contends, ” The smartest people to solve the educational problems are already in the room.” She was referring to teachers and that means us! Accountability is not something that should be done to us. As Dr. Fullane states, accountability should be an intrinsically motivating endeavor. Japanese teachers have rich professional lives. I want that here in America too!

  12. chemtchr    

    This isn’t the work of an “NEA Idea Exchange”. Living in Dialog should make the authorship of such documents transparent when it presents them as representing the voices of NEA teachers. New Voice Strategies is an opinion-molding PR front, funded by corporate reform. Living in Dialog should also disclose that, since he coordinated this “NEA partnership”, former Massachusetts Teachers Association president Paul Toner has gone on to take direct employment with the firm.

    After failing in his bid to be elected to the NEA Board, “Paul Toner, New Voice Strategies – Viva Idea Exchange Cambridge” has now aligned himself with incoming Republican Governor-elect Charlie Baker.

    This information should be available to readers of this column. I was one of the 900 NEA educators whose input was sold out and distorted by Toner’s private interests. We are working hard to heal the damage his duplicity has caused among the honest union teachers and leaders who were duped in Massachusetts.

  13. chemtchr    

    Dec 23 Comment exchange on Diane Ravitch’s post:

    December 23, 2014 at 11:03 am
    This report does address parent responsibility but it is limited. In the original 945+ teacher voices much discussion focused on how to hold parents accountable. It can be difficult coming up with concrete actions to hold them responsible. Yes, they can be held accountable if students fail to come to school. But how do we hold them accountable to study with or oversee homework? How can we make them attend parent-teacher conferences? We all know the parents who tend to come are ones whose children are doing well. Sometimes parents with struggling students come hoping to find answers. But, especially in secondary school, when kids shut down, parents are lost as to handling the shutdown and tend to back off.
    When I previously asked for concrete suggestions, Chentchr misunderstood my tone as being flippant. We all need suggestions on holding parents accountable. One suggestion was offering tax breaks to parents whose students have perfect attendance or some similar options.
    Together, lets figure out how to hold them accountable.

    December 23, 2014 at 11:11 am
    “One suggestion was offering tax breaks to parents whose students have perfect attendance or some similar options.”
    Regressive tax policy.

    December 23, 2014 at 5:12 pm
    okteacher, who in god’s name is talking about “holding parents accountable”, and to whom?
    Parents’ love and protection for their children is the primary asset humanity has on so many fronts. Parents are our allies in this struggle. If you have to ask, “But how do we hold them accountable to study with or oversee homework? How can we make them attend parent-teacher conferences?”, you need to take a hard look at what exactly you’re trying to shove down people’s throats.
    Again, the Chicago Teachers Union and the MTA are showing the way to shared community voice and democratic power in our schools. Through our Reclaiming Public Education forums, we are working, instead, to unite with parents. Don’t you dare pretend to speak for me if you aren’t willing and able to demonstrate how much we share parents’ concern for their children’s future. If the parent conferences you envision are so mean and ugly you have to call for punitive measures to drag parents to them, it is you who need to look at your values.
    This poisonous ideology exposes the “new accountability” narrative as another anti-democratic hoax. It can’t be allowed to short-circuit the genuine transformation that’s underway in both NEA and AFT unions.

    1. chemtchr    

      This grotesque inversion shows why we can’t let corporate-sponsored ghost writers control teacher voices. Many of the 945 respondents to the “360° Accountability” prompt undoubtedly agreed that parents share responsibility with teachers for the welfare of children. We are working every day to build that new vision now, with the parents and communities we serve. That’s the OPPOSITE of this demand that parents and teachers be “held accountable” to some system of mandated rewards and punishments for compliance with dictated homework policy, or attendance at mandated parent events. You can see those policies in action already, at KIPP, White Hat, and Success Academy. This was a set-up all along, to insert their forced-compliance model.

      This is the charter industry talking, not the NEA. I’m disgusted and furious with Living in Dialog for knowingly foisting this twisted enterprise on teachers and union activists while concealing the “back story”. Now that it’s been anointed by deceptive headlines like “A new Vision of Teacher Responsibility” and “The Wisdom of Teachers”, Living in Dialog enjoys the happy editorial prerogative of brokering the deceptive “conversation” with VIVA Idea Exchange™ and its shadow “Voice”. The actual NEA didn’t even get a chance to respond to Paul Toner’s organizational coup. Our own supposed “allies” have marginalized the voice of teachers here in Massachusetts, and armed the incoming Republican privatizers with a facade of legitimacy.

  14. chemtchr    

    This discussion has continued on Diane Ravitch’s link.

    There is the problem when a pre-selected group of teachers assumes it has the authority to challenge others to stand with them, instead of standing with the teachers who were not chosen by their corporate sponsor’s proprietary algorithm. How can you demand this, when you agree there is ongoing pressure form the private group to mold your action recommendations?

    To see it more objectively, take a look at the finished “report” New Voice Strategies prepared for The Arizona Charter School Association:

    “During Phase II, a group of seven teachers whose active participation in Phase 1 was clear in terms of both quantity and quality were invited to join The VIVA Arizona Charter Teachers Writing Collaborative. Their assignment: Take the ideas presented during Phase I and summarize and synthesize them into discrete, workable recommendations for implementing Common Core Standards in a way most likely to result in improved student learning.”

    It’s noteworthy that the selected Arizona charter teachers produce a recommendation remarkably similar to yours.
    “RECOMMENDATION 8 Ease the Transition from AIMS to PARCC Standardized Tests. Proposed Solutions:
    26. Appoint a committee of Arizona educational leaders and teachers to participate in designing the new standardized state tests”

    Many of us who answered the New Voice survey prompt realized it was phrased to elicit supporting “evidence” for imposing a 360 degree version of accountability for compliance with undemocratic mandates, and we see that reflected in the discussion of action steps. okteacher asks for suggestions to compel parent compliance with homework and conference demands, for example.

    Again, I invite members of the Viva Writers group to leave their non-representative, corporate-sponsored organization, and participate in our authentic effort to reclaim a vision of shared, democratic authority and responsibility with our communities and the families we serve.

    1. Lynn    

      Chemtchr, I don’t know if it will make a difference, but if you want to look at the whole report, there is a link at the bottom of the blog, right above the disclaimer. When I was rereading the report, I did see that we mentioned some things that are similar to ideas that you seem to support. When the question of accountability is asked, many people only think about tests and evaluations. The report at least raises the question of our larger responsibility in education, as people who teach and care about children, and it tries to convey the thoughts of teachers.
      Thanks, also, for that link to the Arizona report.

  15. chemtchr    

    More resources. Gates Foundation grant,
    New Voice Strategies

    Date: October 2013
    Purpose: to support growth of VIVA Teachers and VIVA Idea Exchanges
    Amount: $1,726,129
    Term: 27
    Topic: College-Ready
    Regions Served: GLOBAL|NORTH AMERICA
    Program: United States
    Grantee Location: Chicago, Illinois
    Grantee Website:

  16. chemtchr    

    Still posting resources

    The Colorado VIVA cohort specifically rejected the proposal to tie license renewal to the new evaluation system. We just fought this off in MA, where Keystone Center was hired by the DOE to fabricate teacher buy in. There is a link to the PDF.

    The report was submitted in Dec 2013, about one month after the Gates Foundation announced its new grant of $1,726,129 to New Voice Strategies.

  17. Amanda    

    That’s the first time I’ve seen that number from 2013 chemtchr. That’s a lot of money…especially considering teachers are writing these reports for free. What is that amount of money even spent on? I can’t fathom it.

  18. Amanda    

    Also, maybe you could ease up on your attacks of the teachers who participated in this report. I can’t see how that is productive.

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