Archives for category: Teacher Evaluation

Anthony Cody <a href=”http://www.livingindialogue.com/pillars-reform-collapsing-reformers-contemplate-defeat that the so-called “reform movement” is collapsing. None of its strategies work.

1. TFA is having recruitment problems. Applications are down 25%. Criticism is coming from ex-corps members who realize they were ill-prepared.

2. Charter schools are no panacea, and many are struggling, even failing.

“But now charter proponents admit they have no secret sauce beyond excluding students who are difficult or expensive to educate. Their plan is to “serve the strivers,” and let the rest flounder in an ever-more-burdened public system. The states where regulations are weakest, like Ohio, have charters that perform worse than the public schools, and even the self-described fan of free-markets, Margaret Raymond, lead researcher at CREDO, recently concluded that using market choice to improve schools has failed. In the state of Washington, where Bill Gates and other reform titans spent millions to pass a law allowing charter schools there, the first charter school to open is struggling to stay afloat, having suffered massive staff turnover in its first year. How ironic that 13 years after the corporate reformers labeled their flagship of reform “No Child Left Behind,” that now their leaders are left defending leaving behind the very children they claimed their project would save.”

3. The new and improved tests the reformers promised are not working well and are creating massive parental resistance.

4. VAM is not working anywhere.

5. Constant disruption may not be such a good strategy after all.

Cody sagely writes:

“It is perhaps a basic truth that it is easier to tear something down than to build something new. This may explain some of the trouble reformers are facing. Our schools are flawed in many ways, and do not deliver the sorts of opportunities we want all children to have access to. Racial and economic segregation, inequitable funding, and the replication of privilege are endemic — though truly addressing these issues will require change that goes far beyond the walls of our classrooms.

“Corporate-sponsored reformers have blamed the very institution of public education for these problems, and have set forth a set of alternatives and strategies to overcome social inequities. Here we are a decade into this project, and the alternative structures are collapsing, one by one.”

CommonSenseNY blogger is appalled at how little state officials understand about the defects of the state evaluation system.

He or she writes:

“Chancellor Tisch made an astonishing and appalling statement quoted in this Democrat and Chronicle article about 95% of New York teachers being rated ‘effective’ or ‘highly effective’ under Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) process. While it is true the entire process is bogus, she is wrong about the reason. A link to a Carol Burris summary of the problems with APPR can be found here. She is an award-winning principal.

“Here is what is appalling about Ms. Tisch’s understanding of the current evaluation process. She states, “The ratings show there’s much more work to do to strengthen the evaluation system. There’s a real contrast between how our students are performing and how their teachers and principals are evaluated.”

“Chancellor Tisch continues to either misrepresent, misunderstand or demonstrate little knowledge about the connection between student achievement and socio-economic and other education factors. Let’s take a quick look at the Programme for International Student Achievement (PISA) since it illustrates the point well and creates a similar context.

“If you believe the critics of American public education, our students perform miserably on PISA assessments. We’ll use math as an example. The claim is “we’ are 35th for so in the world in math. Not too good. However, when controlling for poverty – we happen to have a lot of concentrated poverty in comparison to other developed nations – we move up to sixth.

“The problem with student achievement in New York is high concentrations of poverty, particularly in urban areas. Blaming a bogus and poorly implemented (similar to the implementation of the Common Core) evaluation system for student achievement issues is just wrong.”

It seems that the most “effective” teachers work where the affluent kids live. If they cane to work in one of the state’s big cities, they would probably turn into an “ineffective” teacher.

The lawsuit of a veteran fourth grade teacher in Great Neck was postponed while the state tries to figure out how to explain the rating system. She went from effective to ineffective in one year even though nearly 70% of her students passed the new state tests (more than double the state average) in both years. Something is wrong here.

Jonathan Pelto reports that Governor Dannel Malloy of Connecticut announced he will stay the course on his corporate education reform policies, despite the huge scandal associated with the Jumoke charter school. Jumoke was one of the governor’s star charters until it was revealed that its CEO had a criminal past and a fake doctorate. Malloy supports tying teacher evaluation to test scores, despite the fact that this method has worked nowhere. And as Pelto reminds us, he proposed eliminating (not reforming but eliminating) teachers’ due process rights. He also advocated a no-union policy in the state’s poorest schools. He seems to have bought hook, line, and sinker the reformer claim that unions and tenure depress student test scores, even though the highest performing schools in the state have unions and tenure.

Why would a Democratic governor advocate for the failed policies of corporate reform? One guess. Connecticut has a large concentration of hedge fund managers, whose ideology and campaign contributions are aligned. In their highly speculative business, no one has unions or tenure. When stocks or investments go bad, they dump them. They think that schools should live by their principles. They should read Jamie Vollmer’s famous blueberry story. You can’t throw away the bad blueberries. Unless you run a charter school. Then you can exclude bad blueberries and kick out other bad blueberries.

A study commissioned by school leaders in New York’s Lower Hudson Valley reviewed the state’s teacher evaluation system and concluded that it was irreparably flawed.

“The study, released Friday, found that the state formula for calculating evaluations forces school districts to inflate classroom-observation ratings so teachers do not get poor overall scores.

“If districts were to give more accurate grades to teachers after classroom visits, the study found, many teachers would “unjustly” receive overall ratings of “developing” or “ineffective.” Such districts would “end up looking like they have an underperforming workforce,” the report said.

“This is not something that can be fixed; the state Education Department needs to start over,” said Louis Wool, Harrison schools superintendent, who was president of the Lower Hudson Council of School Superintendents when the group commissioned the study last year.

“The study reviewed 2012-13 evaluation results for 1,400 teachers in 32 districts in Westchester, Rockland, Putnam and Dutchess counties. The superintendents group provided the data to Education Analytics, a non-profit organization in Madison, Wisconsin, which did the study.

“Researchers credited New York state with improving its methods of measuring teacher effectiveness. In fact, the report called New York “a pioneer” in developing a modern evaluation system. But researchers said there are few examples nationally of effective implementation and that strong use of data may not necessarily translate into good policy.”

The state apparently wants a system that gives many teachers low scores so they can be fired; schools and districts want to retain their decision-making power over which teachers should be kept or terminated. The state is trying to take that authority away from schools and districts by creating a mechanical formula. The formula doesn’t work, and no such formula works anywhere in the country. The biggest problem in teaching today is recruiting, supporting, and retaining good teachers, not finding and firing bad ones. Any administrator worth her salt knows how to do the firing part.

The state should not start over. The state should get out of the way.

Thanks to Pam Hricik for sending this gem of a question.

Read this and evaluate Mr. Jackson.

EduShyster has been trying to crack the case of the mysterious disappearance of minority teachers in urban districts. She takes a close look at Boston, especially the prestigious Boston Latin School.

Here is her beginning:

“Today’s high-stakes question involves the demographics of our nation’s teaching force. When and where is it appropriate to discuss the urgent need to diversify the nation’s teaching force whilst failing to acknowledge what’s happening to the ranks of minority teachers who are already teaching? The answer: in whatever city Arne Duncan’s *bigger rigor* bus tour happens to have landed. You see, even as a much-needed conversation about the vital importance of having teachers of color in front of an increasingly diverse student body is taking place, a bouquet of reform policies is effectively pushing out existing teachers of color. Bundle up reader, because we’re headed to Boston where the nip of fall is in the air and minority teachers are being *reformed* right out of the city’s public schools.”

Read her links by opening her sad tale of the use of new evaluation systems to screen out teachers of color.

Peter Greene has an endless willingness to read the steady deluge of think-tank reports on how to fix teaching, how to fix schools, etc. it is not necessary to be a teacher to write these reports. That’s what think tanks do.

In this instance, he has read and dissected TNTP’s new report on how to fix tenure. Bear in mind that the original name of the organization, founded by Michelle Rhee (some claim that it was actually founded by Wendy Kopp but what difference), was The New Teacher Project. Its purpose was to place new teachers in urban districts. Thus, TNTP has a vested interest in teacher turnover as it creates more slots for its recruits to fill.

Given that anywhere from 40-50% of teachers don’t last five years, there are already plenty of slots anyway. One would think that a genuine reform would focus on how to recruit, support, and retain excellent teachers who want to make a career of teaching. But no, we still live inn an era when reformers are obsessed with he idea that schools are granting tenure too easily, and tenured teachers are in need of constant watch, lest they slip into their lazy, slacker habits bred of complacency.

Recommendation number one of the report is that no one should get tenure in less than five years. Greene says that any administrator who needs five years to decide whether a teacher is worthy of due process is a dope. (My word, not his.) it is also suggested that tenure be revocable based on test scores, which means it is not tenure at all.

Anthony Cody notes a rift among allies. Mark NAISON wrote critically about PAR–Peer Assistance and Review.

Writing from his experience, Cody explains how PAR works.

The bottom line is this: If choosing how to be evaluated as a teacher, would you rather be evaluated by the rise or fall of test scores (VAM); by the principal, acting alone; or by a committee of peers and administrators whose first obligation is to help you?

Paul Karrer, who teaches in Castroville, California, writes a scorching review of what is laughingly called “reform.”

He begins:

“Arne Duncan and his patron President Barack Obama have gotten themselves in a bit of an educational bind. Big news came out of the White House on Aug. 21 but a lot of America missed it. It seems a collision course of: 1. sunsetting of the year 2014 and the imbecilic impossible fatwa of No Child Left Behind (the obscenity of schools held accountable for testing without a morsel of input for poverty); and 2. a large push by teacher unions to dethrone he of the basketball — Sir Arne Duncan.”

So Duncan made his statement about testing “sucking the oxygen” out of teaching, a typical Duncanism in which he denounces the policies he promote and still enforces.

Says Karrer of Duncan’s fancy step:

“Is it a complete flip flop? No, it is a little greasy middle-of-the-road weaseling meant to gain favor from Obama’s once-upon-a-time education supporters and to patch the rebellious hemorrhaging of his pet bamboozle Race To The Top and its ugly stepsister Common Core. Ever since Obama initiated his slash and burn policy regarding public education with pro-privatization, the green light to pro-charter corporations, his relationship with publishing-testing companies, and his knee in the groin and knife in the backs of teachers with rigorous evaluations based on kids’ test scores, he’s been trusted about as much as a pedophile at a playground by those who once-upon-a-halo included him in their sacred prayers.”

Karrer says time is running out for the Age of Test and Punish. More and more people are speaking up and the public is catching on to the failure of test, test, test. The momentum is growing. Time is running out.

Levi Cavener, a teacher of special education in Idaho, learned that Idaho will give the Common Core test SBAC) to tenth graders even though it includes eleventh grade content.

“However, I was shocked during this exchange when the Director told me that the decision was due to the fact the state was worried students wouldn’t take the test seriously, and they didn’t want their data set tainted…because, you know, then the results wouldn’t be valid.

“Here is the Director’s response to my question of the logic in giving 10th graders the SBAC instead of 11th graders:

[The director said “Grade 11 is optional this year as your juniors have already met graduation requirements with the old ISATs and might not take the new tests seriously if they were used for accountability.”
Well, that’s convenient. I’m glad the State Department can cherry-pick the students who take the SBAC “seriously” and which students will not; I’m sure they will give that same privilege to teachers…oh..err…I guess not.]

See, here’s why my jaw was left open: The Director of Assessment admitted, rightfully and logically, that if students won’t take the test seriously, then there is no point in assessing them because the data will be invalid. And, if that’s true, let’s not assess those kidos because it would be a total waste of time and resources, not to mention the fact that the data would be completely invalid.

Thus, it would be logical to conclude that if the data is not accurate, then the SDE surely wouldn’t want to tie those scores to something as significant as a teacher’s livelihood.

Oh wait…they want to do exactly that? Shucks!

According to the the Idaho State Department of Education’s recent Tiered Licensure recommendations, SBAC data will be tied directly to a teacher’s certification, employment, and compensation.

Yet, If the Dept. of Ed admits SBAC data isn’t accurate, then what in the world are they doing on insisting that the data be tied to a teacher’s certification, employment, and compensation?

The insistence of tying data that is admittedly invalid is synonymous to tying a fortune cookie to real-world events. I don’t know about you, but my lucky numbers haven’t hit the lottery; what a scam!”

The test is more than eight hours long.

Writes Levi, “Isn’t it logical to conclude that at some point that kidos decide they would rather go outside to recess rather than reading closely on a difficult text passage or spending more time editing a written response? When the kido makes that decision, do we hold the teacher responsible for the invalid data?”

And what about special education kids? “Let’s compound that scenario for special education teachers who work with a population of students qualifying for a special education eligibility under categories of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders, Emotional Disturbances, and Autism Spectrum diagnosis.

“Yup, I’m sure these students will always take the multi-day SBAC with the utmost earnestness; it’s not like the very behaviors they demonstrated to qualify for special education services to begin with would impede their ability to complete the SBAC with total validity of the results?”

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