Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness at Aspire Public Schools

Hannah Kraus
Hannah Kraus ’17, Project 55 Fellow at Aspire Public Schools in Oakland, CA.

Hannah Kraus is from Middlebury, Vermont. At Princeton, she majored at the Woodrow Wilson School, with policy interests spanning a variety of subjects including immigration and asylum, environment, education, and health policy. Throughout her time at Princeton, she was involved in several environment-related student groups, including managing the Princeton Garden Project and serving as GreenLeader coordinator. She also sang in the Princeton University Chapel Choir, played on the Women’s Club Soccer team, and was an Outdoor Action leader.

 

Since August, I have been working at Aspire Public Schools, one of the first public K-12 charter systems in the country. Aspire runs 40 schools across California and Memphis, and predominantly serves African-American and Latino students, some ~80% of whom receive free and reduced lunch (an indicator of socioeconomic status in schools). My year has been an enormous learning experience with regards to education policy, nonprofit organization, program design, survey administration, and equity/inclusion work.

Hannah Kraus
Hannah working at her desk at Aspire Public Schools in Oakland, CA.

I specifically work on the team that deals with the complex task of evaluating teacher effectiveness in our schools. For the past five years, Aspire ran a performance compensation system, which meant that teachers were paid based on their “effectiveness evaluation” at the end of each year. This past year, performance compensation was put on hold, and so much of my work has involved analyzing how the system operated over the past five years in order to inform a redesign of teacher compensation and development systems. I have gotten to put my Woodrow Wilson School policy analysis skills to use by collecting and analyzing qualitative and quantitative data around teacher satisfaction, retention, compensation, and the many different metrics we use to evaluate teacher effectiveness as an organization. I have appreciated the opportunity to be a part of these conversations, and look forward to seeing how it influences planning for the coming school year.

In addition to this, I especially enjoyed the time I spent working at one of our Oakland schools throughout the last school year. Every Wednesday morning, I assisted seniors with their college applications, essays, financial aid, and scholarship work – many of whom are the first in their family to go to college. I am now serving as a mentor to two of these graduated seniors as they navigate their transition to UC Berkeley this fall. Building relationships with some of our students and teachers has been a very significant part of my time at Aspire so far. I am grateful not only for the opportunity to get away from my analyst desk job, but also for the privilege of better understanding the students we serve, and the ambitions they have for life after high school.

 

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