Month: December 2013

Book Recommendation – Steve Jobs

Mark Tuminello’s latest blog post –

Mark Tuminello book reviewI’ve been a fan of Walter Isaacson for number of years.  His biographies of Benjamin Franklin and Henry Kissinger are outstanding pieces of literature.  Even though I have his book Albert Einstein on my to-read shelf, I decided to move ahead with his most recent book, Steve Jobs.  I’d read amazing reviews and even gotten a few personal recommendations from people who know me well.

One of Isaacson’s strengths is choosing exciting material, and the life of Steve Jobs is no different.  Getting an inside look into the birth of one of the most successful companies in history, through every challenge and setback, was a thrill.  I’m not a tech nerd or anything like that, but following his life alongside the launches of iTunes, iPods, and Pixar made it very easy to track the narrative.  The many celebrity cameos in his life were also fun, including outstanding recounts of conversations between Jobs and Bill Clinton, Rupert Murdoch, Bob Dylan, and Bill Gates.

Isaacson spent years working with Jobs on the book, and that’s something that really makes the book stand out in Isaacson’s catalogue.  By the end, he himself is almost a character.  How else could he describe extended conversations between Jobs and himself during his final days?  And a few pages are dedicated to Jobs’ particular wishes for the book, and later we learn how those wishes change.  While unique for Isaacson, it is this personal experience that made this book so tremendous.  He is able to compare facts and events as Jobs remembers, and then get opposing perspectives from former coworkers and family.

The story of Steve Jobs has been told many times, and I was loosely familiar with his professional life.  What was a shock were the events leading to his death.  Instead of seeking modern treatment, of which he would have been afforded the finest we have to offer, Jobs sought homeopathic and new age treatments.  I don’t have firm opinions, ultimately, on these kinds of treatments, but I know that there’s no sense in taking a chance with cancer.  Learning from a doctor that he felt Jobs could have been saved with appropriate and timely treatment comes like a punch to the gut.

I recommend this book for anyone interested in biographies.  The theme legacy is prominent, and I’m happy to have read it as we wait to see what the legacy of Steve Jobs will become.

from Mark Tuminello

Teacher Assessment Before Hiring

Gallup’s TeacherInsight and the Haberman Star Teacher Pre-Screener have been a part of teacher hiring in this country for years.  Each service assesses the applicant’s attitudes and beliefs toward their job, as well as gives an estimate of how a teacher will fit in with a school’s culture.  This looks likely to start to change as society looks more and more toward test scores as the primary way to asses a teacher’s competency.

TeacherMatch is one of the companies cooking up new algorithms that puts test scores at the forefront of teacher assessment, and it looks like they will be profitable.  Hanover Research, another such forward-looking company, is expecting a $10m year in 2014.  This is big business, and it will directly affect the education of our country.

Mark Tuminello - teacher hiringBoth of these companies are claiming that their proprietary algorithms will revolutionize teacher selection, driving test scores up.  While this would be great, as we could use a boost there, one wonders the potential losses in a system like this.  There has been a lot of backlash against other types of programs that rely mostly on test scores to make hiring and pay decisions, particularly the rating of schools themselves over the past decade.

What is promising about TeacherMatch is that the CEO previously worked for the Chicago Public School system.  His company was born out of a real need, that the teachers being hired did not possess the qualifications his school system needed.  His company is now three years old, and already making headlines in education circles.

My first question after learning about all of this was: how do you asses what a teacher’s test scores will look like before they get the job?  There has been testing to determine this.  The Northwest Evaluation Association and University of Chicago has found that test scores can be adequately predicted based on teaching skills, qualifications, attitude, and cognitive ability.  I don’t know just how they determine all of these factors, but it’s what they’re busy developing.  TeacherMatch even gives a hard score after everything is computed.

Just another step toward the future for an industry that really needs it.

from Mark Tuminello – newest post from the blog of Mark Tuminello

Can You Predict a Teacher’s Competence Before Hiring?

New post from Mark Tuminello –

Two companies are trying to help schools hire more effective teachers and they are using an interesting method to do so.  TeacherMatch based out of Chicago and Hanover Research from Washington have both created algorithms that could revolutionize the teacher selection process.  The driving force is test scores.  Both of these companies claim that their system will help school districts (they have been contracted by over twenty school districts between them) find teachers that can build up student scores.

For years Gallup’s TeacherInsight and the Haberman Star Teacher Pre-Screener have been the foundation of teacher hires across the country.  Both programs stressing a teacher’s beliefs and attitudes towards teaching.  These programs also focus more on a potential hire fitting in well with the school environment and culture.

Teacher Assessment - Mark TuminelloTeacherMatch CEO Don Fraynd was previously the chief improvement officer for the Chicago Public School system.  During that time he realized that how incoming teachers were being hired was not based on the qualifications he was looking for.  This caused him to leave CPS and he founded TeacherMatch three years ago.

To test his theory on qualifications he conducted a research study and partnered with others such as the Northwest Evaluation Association and University of Chicago.  The priority was to define what teacher qualities could identify into student test scores.  Every bit of research showed that four main factors needed to be judged when hiring a teacher: teaching skills, qualifications, attitude, and cognitive ability.  An elaborate algorithm was then created and judging these four things TeacherMatch can give each candidate a hard score.

While student performance is paramount and ineffective teachers tend to give students a disadvantage when it comes to testing there is also a business aspect to TeacherMatch and Hanover Research.  With their client list growing it appears teacher competence may become a $10 million industry for Hanover Research as early as next year.

from Mark Tuminello

Time to Sell Twitter Stock?

Philip Pearlman, an avid trader and stock market analyst has concluded that it might be that time.  In a recent article posted on Yahoo Pearlman states that its original value was at $50 to begin December but it was able to recover and was up 40%.  But as Pearlman says, “nothing lasts forever.”  The stock was down 5% the morning of December 27.

So how could the stock come up so quickly and then now it is finding its way back down?

Pearlman gives three fundamental reasons.

Mark Tuminello TwitterFirst, Twitter may be able to develop searches that are tailored to their users and allow these searches to be monetized bringing in good revenue for the social networking site.  Twitter would be using tools similar to Google searches and would be able to place relevant ads right next to a user’s search.  This has Pearlman excited about the future for Twitter and says that Twitter will have “kinds of value few yet foresee.”

Second, hedge funds have successfully, to what Pearlman states, “gorged” on Twitter shares.  With the end of the year approaching there has been a strong play at chase performance and hedge funds “were going to pile” in the low period.

Third, Twitter stock has looked impressive at times holding at level 40 and sometimes rising to level 50.  Because of the increase though the stock has “stretched” a bit which has caused a dip.  Pearlman calls this a “parabolic” shift in nature.

If you have paid attention to the big move that has happened in December for Twitter Pearlman explains now might be a good time to lighten up on the stock.  The hedge fund and the chase is now considered to be out of the market mostly.  Still be encouraged in Twitter however.  It appears that it has longevity and with potential moves towards search engine reconstruction it may be a winner for 2014 once again.

from Mark Tuminello – latest post by Mark Tuminello