Lisa Gibes is 50CAN’s vice president of strategy and external relations. She lives in San Francisco, CA.

Here are news and opinion stories educators, advocates, policy wonks and makers are talking about today:

News & analysis:
Research on ‘Value Added’ Highlights Tracking Problems

“Value added” gauges of teacher performance at the middle and high school level seem prone to certain kinds of bias, I report in a story in this week’s edition of Education Week.
The culprit seems to be the problem of tracking, which begins in earnest in middle school and is in high gear by high school. (Education Week) 

Transparency Watch: Obama Has Touted SIG Data, So Where Is it?
In the last two debates, President Barack Obama has told the nation that one of his biggest accomplishments on K-12 is helping to spur turnarounds at hundreds of underperforming schools around the country. (Education Week – Politics K-12)

How Strong Are U.S. Teacher Unions? A State-By-State Comparison
This timely study represents the most comprehensive analysis of American teacher unions’ strength ever conducted, ranking all fifty states and the District of Columbia according to the power and influence of their state-level unions. To assess union strength, the Fordham Institute and Education Reform Now examined thirty-seven different variables across five realms: 1) Resources and Membership; 2) Involvement in Politics; 3) Scope of Bargaining; 4) State Policies; 5) Perceived Influence. (Fordham Institute)

‘Value Added’ Measures at Secondary Level Questioned
Academic tracking in secondary education appears to confound an increasingly common method for gauging differences in teacher quality, according to two recently released studies. Failing to account for how students are sorted into more- or less-rigorous classes—as well as the effect different tracks have on student learning—can lead to biased “value added” estimates of middle and high school teachers’ ability to boost their students’ standardized-test scores, the papers conclude. (Education Week)

New Jersey:
NJ court rejects challenge to school chief pay cap

A New Jersey appeals court has rejected a challenge by three current or former school superintendents over the state’s cap on their pay. (Associated Press)

Contract With Merit Pay, Backed by Union Chiefs, Is Tough Sell for Newark Teachers
On one side of the table was the union firebrand Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. On the other was the state education commissioner handpicked by Gov. Chris Christie, who became a star among fellow Republicans for aggressively taking on public employee unions. (New York Times)



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