CPS Stamps Teacher Applications 'Not Recommended'

September 24, 2010

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A printout from one teacher's online application, with the designation "not recommended." (Linda Lultton/WBEZ)

Some laid-off teachers applying for jobs in Chicago Public Schools have complained they can't get hired. Maybe a secret rating system has something to do with it.

RELATED: CPS Explains Secret Teacher Rating System


Here's how teacher Williette Price described herself to members of the Chicago Board of Education this week.

 

PRICE: Twenty-year veteran, highly qualified, teacher, literacy coach.

 

She lost her job this summer in budget cuts. But she came to the Board with a bigger problem:

 

PRICE: Just recently on Monday, I went for an interview at a school, and the principal was going to the online application. When she pulled it down, she said, “Mmm. Something's wrong.' She said, ‘Williette, I need to let you see this.' On my application—”online application— there was ‘not recommended.'”

 

That designation was put there by a teacher Price doesn't know, who's never seen her teach or looked at how well any of her students has done in the past.

 

Chicago Public Schools says it's using 30 reviewers—all top-notch, National Board Certified teachers—to look over its online teacher applications. They've so far reviewed 4,000 applications and added a designation to each one.

 

In an e-mail, human resources head Alicia Winckler said the possible ratings include: "highly recommend," "recommend," "recommend with reservations," or "do not recommend."

 

Winckler said reviewers are trained and are using a rubric developed several years ago by CPS and The New Teacher Project. That's a national group dedicated to getting high quality teachers into needy schools.

 

But Chicago teachers say all this is news to them. Karen Lewis is head of the Chicago Teachers Union. She says teachers were encouraged to apply online, but were never told that's how they'd be judged.

 

LEWIS: We don't know what they're using, what criteria are involved in this. This is something we were never, ever consulted about.

 

WBEZ asked district officials to explain why they've implemented the rating system and to provide more details. But the district didn't answer those questions.