Letter: COMPASS criticism incomplete

After reading a recent letter to the editor titled, “BESE plan harmful to education,” it crossed my mind that the writer’s letter doesn’t give complete information about COMPASS. The letter does not recognize the varying views on the strengths and weaknesses of COMPASS, and the fact that it was developed after hours of research and gathering feedback from hundreds of educators.

The recent plan adopted by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) referred to in the letter has more to do with allowing principals to make school decisions using student testing data such as to fund additional teacher training, reward teachers, pair teachers who are strong in areas with weaker teachers and/or when to share effective strategies. COMPASS can be a very beneficial tool in developing professionals, but it will depend on the school principal.

The changes proposed by Superintendent John White and adopted by BESE are aligned with the feedback given by teachers, principals and other educators who were part of many statewide advisory committees. These advisory committees met to compose recommendations on the development and implementation of COMPASS.

As a whole, committee members believed that principals know their teachers best. Principals are better able to use COMPASS as a way to develop teachers, reward teachers and, when necessary, remove teachers who are consistently ineffective from the classroom.

In fact, many educators’ skeptical views changed on COMPASS. I received an email from one such teacher. Previously, she had provided me with on-going feedback to take back to the advisory committee meeting. She wrote about recent changes: “OK ... I REALLY like this!! If the Value Added Measurement (VAM) data is used like this, then I totally agree with it. This is truly the difference between being data driven and driven by data.” — Veteran Teacher

With respect to COMPASS changes, over the last two and half years, I have watched committee meetings and heard of countless opportunities for educators to get involved. I have provided input and have represented professional groups on committees. I know of educators speaking with their legislators and the Louisiana Department of Education . The list of opportunities for educator input and committee service is endless.

There are educators who value local flexibility and autonomy and perceive that the principal authority shift is critical to best meet student needs. At the same time, there are educators who perceive rules and regulations as necessary to ensure school site professionals are doing their jobs. I can unequivocally say that the opportunity to provide input, take an active role in collaborating with others, receive training, and train others in order to be prepared has been available for at least the last three years, and it is available now.

Rachel Magee

district discipline coordinator

Alexandria