Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sumter Item opens online poll on "Sweet 16"

As of this morning, the Sumter Item's online front page features a poll on "Sweet 16," the complex new teaching evaluation instrument implemented this year across Sumter County public schools.

The poll addresses "Sweet 16" directly and by name:

What's your stance on the implementation of the SWEET 16 in the Sumter School District?

I'm a teacher and I'm for it
I'm a teacher and I'm against it
I'm not a teacher and I'm for it
I'm not a teacher and I'm against it

In accompanying text drawn from the district's website, however, it is acknowledged that the model's "expectations align with National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and ADEPT, the state "system for assisting, developing and evaluating professional teaching," two different, previously-existing evaluation tools.

These expectations align with National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and ADEPT, the state "system for assisting, developing and evaluating professional teaching," according to the S.C. Department of Education web site.

The instructional activities, materials and resources are ready prior to lesson start and are appropriately aligned to the grade-level lesson objective.
The lesson standard is clearly visible and is effectively communicated to all students. The lesson objective is aligned to the grade-level standard.
The teacher reviews students' understanding of the previous lesson to make connections to current instruction.
The teacher demonstrates his or her knowledge of the subject matter by effectively modeling what students are to know and be able to do. The teacher applies and connects what was taught to real-life situations.
The variety of learning activities and teaching strategies reflects the teacher's understanding of students' needs, strengths, special interests, learning styles and required learning time.
With grouping strategies, the teacher assures that students are provided with opportunities to be group leaders, facilitators, decision leaders, peer tutors and peer leaders.
The skills, concepts and content are appropriately aligned to state and local performance standards and are taught at appropriate levels of complexity.
A variety of technology is used to engage students in lesson-related activities.
Connections are presented within and across content areas by the teacher and students.
The teacher maintains a well-managed learning environment that fosters equity, diversity and fairness.
The teachers formally and informally assess students' level of understanding during the lesson.
Questions go beyond simple recall and require students to think, synthesize, evaluate and conclude. Students are required to explain their responses and answers.
Re-teaching activities are provided for students who need additional instruction.
Students are informed as to how well they followed directions, completed tasks and were likely to achieve the lesson objective.
Homework and follow-up assignments are differentiated to meet the varying needs and strengths of the students.
A review of the lesson objective, feedback regarding students' understanding of what was taught and a preview of the next lesson is provided.

The Item has not set a clear deadline for responding to the poll.


  1. The Item is grossly missing the whole debate with a simple focus on the Sweet 16. Yes, it is just one of MANY concerns with the new district administration. Just one small indicator. It is about the dictatorial, intimidating, lying, threatening, bullying, and general abuse of teachers and school level administrators within the district. When one of the state-level presenters at the last Board meeting said that when he met with teachers in Sumter schools that they were "throwing applications" at him, I knew right then and there that Bynum and his cronies were going to seize the opportunity to change the focus away from his style of leadership to the state organization trying to recruit applicants to their professional association. Once leaders (sic) reveal themselves and their style by their actions, all of their future actions are predictable. Bynum practices the concept that the best defense is an aggressive offense.

  2. Readers will not have any idea what they are voting on when they read these expectations. The Item has not given a true picture at all of what Sweet 16 is like. Teachers don't have a problem with doing what's given in this list. We do these regularly. What we have a problem with is the ridiculous amount of time and extra work it takes us to prove in writing every day that we are doing the things on this list, and the unfairness of the way the audits are being conducted. If the true motive behind the "audit" is to simply plan Professional Development, here's a novel idea...just ask us what we need!

  3. I wrote a lengthy reply to this on the main page and then got a clue! Here is a link to my FB Note on it. I read and reread sweet 16, it's so sweet it may give me diabetes!

  4. To clarify the Sweet 16 evaluates a teacher over the course of 1 day and then based on that 1 day and 1 lesson can magically tell what kind of teacher they are?

  5. The poll is misleading. Sweet 16 is conducted over the period of 1 day and 1 lesson. Teachers are judged on that 1 day and that day only. It is then determined "what kind of a teacher they are" . There are no multiple visits,no looking at long range or even short term plans....

  6. From my understanding of the situation, teachers were told that even if they don't do the 16 things outlined by SWEET 16 daily, they should do them on their evaluation day. Also, it was suggested to them that their first "evaluation" would indicate they aren't meeting expectations. Then, when they are evaluated 2 weeks later, they would receive results that suggest they have improved performance. The end result is to arrive at data that suggests the SWEET 16 program is effective in improving performance. Since there is no research backing SWEET 16 currently, this is an attempt by Bynum and his staff to produce research that proves SWEET 16 is working. Once they have produced "research" they can begin to market the SWEET 16 package to other districts as a tried and true method of improving the performance of teachers subjected to the evaluations. Not only can they market the program to sell to other districts, but they can also begin giving seminars and speaking engagements to further push the program. Think about what's at stake for Bynum and his two helpers. They devise a program, use public money to procure phony results at the expense of meaningful class-time, and using the "research", market SWEET 16 to other educators and make a profit. THESE PEOPLE ARE BUSINESSMEN/WOMEN, not educators- and they are exploiting public money to line their pockets.

    1. Indeed. Follow the money. All initiatives start somewhere, but they need to be developed within the community, not imposed upon it.

  7. The Item does not explain Sweet 16's evaluation/audit at all. Anything with a rubric is an evaluation tool. Change the word audit it means the same thing as evaluation. According to the State of SC, unless there is board approval another evaluation tool beyond, SAF-T is not applicable. It can not be used as part of a teacher's file. But when you are told in a meeting that they are here to reteach the village and that no teacher will pass and they will either be coached up or coached out it does not leave warm fuzzy feelings. Yes most teachers do these things everyday and we have already been evaluated on these facets through fgormal channels. Bynum admits in the TAC minutes that all elements can not be done in one day but the teachers are expected to do this song and dance while there is a person in your class the entire block, recording every word the teacher says without permission and interrupting student learning by asking a student what they are learning. Sounds like Bynum and the sisters got to the paper to put this propaganda on the SWEET 16 out there to redirect the public. Yes it sounds good, yes some elements should be done but it does not apply to every situation, in every school and in every class. Like someone posted earlier how about some useful Professional Development. Teachers will gladly share what we need and where things need to improve. But being bullied and forced into something is not positive management style. Just wait until many of Sumter's highly qualified teachers leave. They will express what really goes on in the schools and the district and the threats of firings that occur because it does not put rose colored glasses on the team from Atlanta. Last time I checked where they came from the school district is under investigation and Bynum's response of "You will not see my name on any documents." tells us exactly where he got that response from...the same person that is advising Beverly Hall. Wish our board had the guts that Texas's did. Fire. So they lose the salary better than losing highly qualified teachers that do the job and yes TFA teachers are in the area. Better than spending $500 on food at the local Steak Joint. FYI Eli Broad funds TFA. So how far removed are we from these other districts that have already felt the hand of Broad and Gates. Hope parents are saving money to send their kids to Wilson Hall and Thomas Sumter. Maybe teachers from the public school will find jobs at the private schools.

  8. The instrument is so flawed that teachers who prepared the same lesson and demonstrated the same level of mastery received different scores. This is a subjective instrument, and the feedback is worthless. Look at the salaries of the people doing the audit. If we, the taxpayers, are paying them to sit in classrooms all day long, we are wasting our money. The true cost of Sweet 16 is not just the cost of these audit members but the loss of valuable teachers who will not be subjected to harrasssment and corruption. How are teachers supposed to focus on their lessons if they spend all of their time creating documents to supposively prove they are "exceeding expectations." How does one exceed expectations? I know how to meet them but not how to exceed them. The board needs to wake up and fire Bynum and these two women. Let's get back to the business of educating our youth.

  9. The Board can not fire Bynum unless/until he does something illegal or if misrepresented himeself in the hiring process- unless the county wants to buy out his contract on our already tight budget. In the meantime, they seem to rank and file behind him- which to an extent, they should, but not at the expense of our community and our students. So, that being said, we in the community need to understand fully what is happening, keep the Board assured that we will and do hold them accountable for what is occuring in our schools, and let the students and teachers know we are here and we are asking questions.
    Regarding the poll, the biased nature of the poll's introduction was incredibly frustrating and disheartening to me. "These expectations align with National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and ADEPT, the state "system for assisting, developing and evaluating professional teaching," according to the S.C. Department of Education web site."
    While drawn from the District website, this misrepresnetation of The S.C. State Department of Education's stance on Sweet 16 should have been clarified or omitted (at the very least, they could have noted that this tid-bit of info was taken from the Distric Website and cited them as the source). That particular phrase rubbed me as intentionally leading the reader to the conclusion that the Dept of Education sanctions the evaluation tool known as Sweet 16. They don't. I called them. They do not have anything on their website about Sweet 16 nor did the supervisor I spoke to express a particular postion. I believe the wording is meant to mislead, while leaving open the excuse that they were stating they took the ADEPT definition from the State Department of Education. This sort of underhanded, double-speak has been seen before from Mr. Bynum Recall all the back and forth when they decided to stop labeling Sweet 16 as an evaluation and call it an audit instead. Whatever they want to call it, it is an evaluation tool that is used to busy the teachers while attempting to make themselves look effective in their new, very- well payed rolls. Of course, if looking at Atlanta can teach us something it is that playing with numbers and testing tools is not a new past time in districts Mr. Bynum has been associated with.

    1. Thank you for asking questions, researching this and following up with the S.C. Department of Education. That certainly needed to be clarified for a community member who has no background or understanding of SWEET 16.

  10. So teachers can be fired for not adhering to a bogus, unenforceable standard but Bynum can't be fired for sidestepping ADEPT and and forcing his unproven, newly contrived, never before researched Sweet 16 on our teachers?

    That concept of a "right to work" state goes both ways, does it not?

  11. As a retired public school administrator, I understand what is going on here. The teachers and critics of the so called Sweet 16 should demand the actual studies to prove that the Sweet 16 is 1) a valid instrument and 2) that is reliable. I saw in Bynum's response to Monday's meeting how he uses word play to try to dupe his critics. He said that items on the Sweet 16 have been studied and found valid. That is absolutely not the same as reliability and validity studies on the instrument as a whole.Keep falling for Bynum's games and your school district will fail. Make that Sumter public school students will fail. This style of school leadership is so far off target that it defies explanation. If the community and school board do not come to their senses very soon, you can expect severe problems that will take years to overcome. Good luck, you are going to need it.

  12. Where is Joe Perry from The Item? They were so quick to investigate Tuomey why won't they investigate Bynum and his
    chiefs from Atlanta? Research the Broad foundation. Follow the money given to Atlanta public schools by the Gates and Wallace foundation. They couldn't produce improvement in test scores after receiving millions from these foundations they put pressure on principals and teachers to cheat to show improved data. Do we want this for our community?? Hit the Road, Broad!!

  13. Somebody needs to get in there and do some investigating
    before we lose all our good teachers!

  14. Disgusted with the article in the Item today in which they just reported the official line from the district. No investigative reporting at all. What a total snow job on the public. Now its so bad we can't even go to the bathroom unless we call the office for someone to cover our class or take our class out to stand in another teacher's room. Draconian, to say the least. Certainly physically harmful to teachers. I feel so sick about all this. It's not just about the Sweet 16. The problems in the district go much, much deeper than that.

  15. The article in Sunday's The Item was full of spin and nontruths....... Read this Georgia blog.It mirrors what is going on in Sumter and has simply gotten worse this year: