The Introduction provides the basis and rationale for their study. I understand the need and their goals and approve of an organization to find out what is really going on in Philadelphia schools. That being said, there is a serious methodological flaw that they mention briefly on page 3: "The number of respons to [our] survey was not sufficient to consider it a representative sample, so information from this survey was treated similarly to responses to questions in the focus groups."
There are two issues I see here: a) not enough people were willing to participate in the sample, possibly because they disagree with the politics of NCTQ or they did not do a good job of following up; and b) this means NCTQ can pick and choose what anecdotes to use. Since they don't have share survey results in aggregate, they might simply show quotes that support their goals.
The next section was Standard 1: Staffing. All 16 pages seemed to be from the playbook of corporate reformers, bringing business-style strategies to the education world. While I may agree with some of those strategies, there are some important considerations to keep in mind. I've divided this up based off the findings in this section:
Finding 1.1 - NCTQ reports that the School District does not provide enough support in the way of criteria or knowledge base to support hiring high-quality candidates to their schools. I could be wrong, but when I was interviewed years ago I remember receiving some kind of "score" from my interviewer that put me at a different position on a list to be hired by an individual school. Does that score no longer exist? Otherwise, the recommendations listed here almost entirely rely on standardized assessments. I find this troubling.
Finding 1.2 - NCTQ argues that site selection should become the end-all be-all to hiring across the School District. As opposed to seniority-based decisions made by the teacher, site selection allows principals to interview and select whomever they want. While I agree in principle to this idea, in practice it could create a host of issues. Imagine a principal who holds numerous grudges against teachers who are activist in their views (like me) - perhaps those teachers will not be hired, even though their classroom experience justifies it. I would promote site selection more if teachers within the school were give more control over the hiring.
Finding 1.3 - This finding pertains to the hiring timeline in Philadelphia. I must say I agree to almost all of the commentary. The idea that most hirings happen over the summer is strange and any new hires after September seem ludicrous. That being said, I think some of that situation is caused by a lack of planning (both fiscal and otherwise) on the part of the District leadership and Union. They need to get together to work out issues like this.
Finding 1.4 - NCTQ finds that Last In, First Out (LIFO) rules of seniority are anathema to high-quality education. To me, this exacerbates the claim that teachers are to blame for the failures of our students. States like Massachusetts that have strong teacher unions and long-standing seniority rules are outperforming those that do not. If teacher quality is the only thing that matters as many reformers would have you believe, then LIFO should be considered a good thing. Additionally, how will we entice teachers to apply and continue working in Philadelphia without some guarantee of job security?
Finding 1.5 - This finding was probably the most insulting: NCTQ posits that the dismissal rate for teachers in Philadelphia is too low and that it takes too long to get rid of poor-performing teachers. On page 17 they argue this clearly by pointing out that "the average dismissal time was two years" (emphasis theirs). First of all - people should care more about the median dismissal time, which I am certain is less than that. Additionally, just because the new Peer Assistance and Review program is not dismissing that many teachers does not mean the evaluation system is broken. This clearly lays all the blame on teachers, even though many other factors contribute more collectively to the outcomes of children.
Finding 1.6 - The last finding of NCTQ I agree with almost completely. Principals need to be trained in ways to keep the good teachers more than they need to be trained in ways of getting rid of the bad ones. There are many teachers who are resigning or retiring now when they could stay in the classroom for years to come. The sacrificed morale in search of the low-quality teacher is demeaning our profession. Instead, focusing on how to train principals to keep their staff would have a better outcome in the long run.