Archives for category: Teacher Evaluations

Peter Greene is not impressed with the Cuomo Task Force report on the Common Core, the tests, and teacher evaluation. He calls it a “nothing Sundae.” 

 

He goes through the recommendations one by one. But his big beef is that the report does not question the value of the CCSS, does not question the testing, and does not get to the problem of test-based accountability for teaching. The report assumes that the problem all along has been poor implementation, not that any of the fundamental ideas need to be changed or dropped or replaced.

 

 

Another blogger points out that the Task Force report includes this curious statement:

 

The Education Transformation Act of 2015 will remain in place, and no new legislation is required to implement the recommendations of the report, including recommendations regarding the transition period for consequences for students and teachers. During the transition, the 18 percent of teachers whose performance is measured, in part, by Common Core tests will use different local measures approved by the state, similar to the measures already being used by the majority of teachers.

 

The blogger writes:

 

Yes, tests will still count for 50% of a teacher’s evaluation.

 

 

The task force appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo to review the Common Core standards, testing, and teacher evaluation will recommend a moratorium on tying teacher evaluation to test scores--as much as four years–and a reboot of the standards and tests.

 

Why Cuomo is making these decisions is unclear because the New York State Constitution gives the governor no role in education. The New York State Board of Regents is the legal authority, not the governor, but this governor decided to take control of education.

 

Meanwhile, we wait to hear from Governor Cuomo to see what in the task force report he agrees with, since he has made himself the Decider.

John Thompson, historian and teacher in Oklahoma, has reviewed the work of economists Raj Chetty. You may recall that Chetty, a Harvard professor, was co-author of a study that purported to show that teachers could be evaluated by the test scores of their students. An effective teacher, one who raised test scores, would raise lifetime income, increase high school graduation rates, prevent teen pregnancies, and have lifelong effects on students. Raj and his colleagues John Friedman and Jonah Rockoff were cited on the first page of the New York Times (before the study was peer-reviewed), appeared on the PBS NewsHour, and were hailed by President Obama in his State of the Union speech in 2012. Their study became the #1 talking point for those who thought that using test scores–their rise and fall–would be the best way to identify effective and ineffective teachers. As Professor Friedman told the New York Times, “The message is to fire people sooner rather than later.”

 

Critics thought the findings were fairly modest. Even the Times said:

The average effect of one teacher on a single student is modest. All else equal, a student with one excellent teacher for one year between fourth and eighth grade would gain $4,600 in lifetime income, compared to a student of similar demographics who has an average teacher. The student with the excellent teacher would also be 0.5 percent more likely to attend college.

 

That works out to about $105 a year for a 40-year career, or $2 a week. But the Times then looked at the results in the aggregate and calculated that the aggregate of gains for an entire class would be $266,000 over the lifetimes of the entire class, or millions of dollars in added income when multiplied by millions of classrooms. Pretty great stuff, even though it means only $2 a week for one student.

 

The Obama administration bought into the Chetty-Friedman-Rockoff thesis whole-heartedly. Fire teachers sooner rather than later. Use test scores to find out who is a great teacher, who is a rotten teacher. It all made sense, except that it didn’t work anywhere. The scores bounced around. A teacher who was great one year was ineffective the next year; and vice versa. Teachers were rated based on the scores of students they never taught. Tests became the goal of education rather than the measure. It was a plague of madness that overcame public education across the land, embedded in Race to the Top (2009) and certified by Ivy League professors.

 

Thompson writes:

 

As it becomes more clear that value-added teacher evaluations are headed for the scrap heap of history, true believers in corporate reform continue to respond with the same old soundbites on the ways that their statistical models (VAMs) can be valid and reliable under research conditions. But, they continue to ignore the real issue and offer no evidence that VAMs can be made reliable and valid for evaluating real individuals in real schools.

 

Gates Foundation scholar Dan Goldhaber recently replied to the American Educational Research Association (AERA) statement which “cautions against VAM being used to have a high-stakes, dispositive weight in evaluations.” His protest recalls the special pleading of VAM advocates Raj Chetty, John Friedman, and Jonah Rockoff in reply to the American Statistical Association’s (ASA) 2014 statement warning about the problems with using VAMs for teacher evaluations.

 

Goldhaber criticizes the AERA by citing a couple of studies that use random samples to defend the claim that they can be causally linked to a teacher’s performance. Using random samples makes research easier but it also makes those studies irrelevant to real world policy questions. Goldhaber then cites Chetty et. al and their claim that low-stakes 1990s test scores resulted in the increased income of individuals during the subsequent economic boom in New York City during the 2000s.

 

Interestingly, Chetty’s rebuttal of the ASA cited the same two random sample studies, as well as his own research that was cited by Goldhaber. Like Goldhaber and other value-added proponents, he acknowledged the myriad of problems with value-added evaluations, but added, “School administrators, teachers, and other relevant parties can be trained to understand how to interpret a VAM estimate properly, including measures of precision as well as the assumptions and limitations of VAM.”

 

That raises two other concerns. First, if educators should be trained in the arcane methodologies, assumptions, and limitations of regression studies in order to use VAMs, should economists not be trained in the logistics of schools so they can conduct research that is relevant to education policy? Secondly, even if they ignore the nuts and bolts of schools, isn’t it strange that Chetty and his colleagues ignore economic factors when explaining economic effects? Why are they so sure that education – not economic forces – explains economic outcomes?

 

These questions become particularly interesting when reading Chetty’s web site. If he was really committed to the use of his Big Data methodology to help improve schools and students’ subsequent economic outcomes, would he not engage in a conversation with practitioners, and ground his methods in reality, so information from his models could be used to improve schools? After all, architects run plenty of quantitative structural analyses of their construction projects but they also interview their clients and listen to how they will use their buildings.

 

Chetty could have gone back and learned what he didn’t know about schools before he joined in the social engineering experiment known as school reform. Instead, he is rushing off to promote policies for problems which seem to be equally beyond his realm of knowledge. And, he seems equally uncurious about the new people he wants to “nudge” into better behavior. His method for studying anti-poverty policy is to ignore what actually happens in schools and communities and to “treat behavioral factors like any other modeling decision, such as assuming time-separable or quasi-linear utility.” The goal of his new project is to create incentives so that policy-makers can rid poor people, especially, of their “loss aversion, present bias, mental accounting, [and] inattention” so they will move to better places.

 

I’m not an expert on Chetty’s new The Equality of Economic Opportunity Project but my reading of the evidence is that Robert Putnam, who combines qualitative and quantitative research to document the decline of social mobility, makes a much stronger case than Chetty, who believes social and economic mobility hasn’t declined. It seems to me that Putnam is right and that we must take a generational view in order to show that economic opportunity for the poor has been reduced. I also believe that Derek Thompson nails the case that each generation since the first half of the Baby Boom is seeing an economic deterioration.

 

I can’t help but wondering why Chetty doesn’t stop scurrying around complex social issues, pontificating on simplistic quick fixes, and study issues in depth. He seems more intent on promoting his Big Data methods, and defeating traditional social science, than actually solving real-world problems. Chetty (and other VAM true believers?) appear preoccupied with academic combat against traditional social scientists who still respect falsifiable hypotheses and peer review. Education and child poverty appear to be just the battlegrounds for academic combat with researchers.

 

Traditional school improvement was based on the imperfect process of drawing upon the scientific method to diagnose problems, policy debates, and the imperfect democratic process known as compromise. To do that, educators and researchers studied the history and the nature of the causes and effects of underperformance. Corporate reform sought the opposite. Rather than study and debate the nature of our schools’ shortcomings, problems and solutions, the contemporary reform movement attempted a series of bank shots. Ignoring their actual targets, they sought incentives and disincentives that would prompt others to devise solutions. The job of economists’ regression studies was to suggest rewards and punishments that would make educators improve.

 

An illustration of Chetty’s disdain for evidence-based, collaborative conversations about school improvement is the first graph on his web site. It shows the surge in student test score growth which occurs when a “High VA Teacher Enters,” and replaces a low performer. If Chetty sought to articulate a hypothesis or discuss how his hypothesis, if proven, could improve teacher quality, he would have addressed some issues. But, the graphic resembles a political attack ad more than a presentation of evidence for school improvement.

 

Chetty’s graphic is strangely opaque about what he means by “high VA” teachers or how many of them there are. In fact, those gains he showcased are the educational equivalent of a White Rhinoceros.
Chetty emphasizes the incredible size of his database.  His data spans the school years 1988-1989 through 2008-2009 and covers roughly 2.5 million children in grades 3-8. Because there are 974,686 unique students in the dataset, his Power Points seem impressive. But, it is extremely difficult to find the key number which a traditional social scientist would have volunteered at the beginning of a study. Chetty’s graphs that illustrate such dramatic gains are based on samples as small as 1135. In other words, about 12 to 17 of these top-performing New York City teachers transferred, per year, into low value-added classrooms.
Chetty doesn’t ask why such transfers are so rare. Moreover, he makes it extremely difficult for a reader to learn the most important facts that would prompt that essential question and a constructive discussion of solution. Instead, he indicates that the answer is using VAMs to fire low-performing teachers and, without evidence, he implies that there are enough top 5% teachers who would respond to modest incentives and transfer to those low value-added classrooms. Otherwise, Chetty’s work on transfers might earn him academic awards but it is just theory, irrelevant for real world policy.
Sadly, it looks like Chetty’s new studies are equally simplistic. The problem, he implies, is not that the economic ladder out of poverty is broken. The problem is getting poor families to move from places without opportunity to places where there is opportunity. So, we in Oklahoma City should forget that Supply Side economics incentivized the mass transfer of good-paying jobs to the exurbs. In Oklahoma County, where poor children’s economic opportunity is in the bottom 17% of the nation, we should incentivize the movement of poor families to Cleveland County where social mobility hasn’t declined.
Presumably, the additional good-paying jobs for the influx of poor families would magically appear. In other words, Chetty’s logic on moving to opportunity is the first cousin of his faith that top teachers will flock to the inner city because they want to be evaluated with an algorithm which is biased against inner city teachers.
I wish I didn’t feel compelled to sound so sarcastic. I really do. But, for every complicated question, there is an answer that is quick, simple, and wrong. Why are Chetty et. al so quick to conclude that it is schools – not the totality of market and historical forces – that drive economic outcomes? Even though the market has undermined the futures of poor families, why does he remain convinced that it can fix schools?
And, the inconsistencies of Chetty and other corporate reformers drive me up the wall. He now proclaims, “We find that every year of exposure to a better environment improves a child’s chances of success.” Were he consistent, Chetty might understand that exposure to education environments might improve his chance of studying education in a way that improves his chances of successfully helping students.
Why does Chetty not take the time to understand the environments of poor children, and build better school environments? Why not help create learning environments that would attract high value-added teachers, not drive them out of the profession? Rather than demand that teachers and poor families learn to look at their worlds the way Chetty does, why not listen to the people who he says he wants to help?

In New Mexico, District Judge David K. Thomson issued a preliminary injunction against the use of the state’s teacher evaluation system, which tied consequences for teachers to student test scores. Unfortunately for the state, the research, the facts, and the evidence were not on their side.

 

Audrey Amrein-Beardsley was the expert witness against the New Mexico Public Education Department’s value-added teacher evaluation system, and she explains here what happened in court. Her account includes a link to the judge’s full ruling.

 

She writes:

 

Late yesterday [Tuesday], state District Judge David K. Thomson, who presided over the ongoing teacher-evaluation lawsuit in New Mexico, granted a preliminary injunction preventing consequences from being attached to the state’s teacher evaluation data. More specifically, Judge Thomson ruled that the state can proceed with “developing” and “improving” its teacher evaluation system, but the state is not to make any consequential decisions about New Mexico’s teachers using the data the state collects until the state (and/or others external to the state) can evidence to the court during another trial (set for now, for April) that the system is reliable, valid, fair, uniform, and the like.

 

As you all likely recall, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), joined by the Albuquerque Teachers Federation (ATF), last year, filed a “Lawsuit in New Mexico Challenging [the] State’s Teacher Evaluation System.” Plaintiffs charged that the state’s teacher evaluation system, imposed on the state in 2012 by the state’s current Public Education Department (PED) Secretary Hanna Skandera (with value-added counting for 50% of teachers’ evaluation scores), is unfair, error-ridden, spurious, harming teachers, and depriving students of high-quality educators, among other claims (see the actual lawsuit here).

 

Thereafter, one scheduled day of testimonies turned into five, in Santa Fe, that ran from the end of September through the beginning of October (each of which I covered here, here, here, here, and here). I served as the expert witness for the plaintiff’s side, along with other witnesses including lawmakers (e.g., a state senator) and educators (e.g., teachers, superintendents) who made various (and very articulate) claims about the state’s teacher evaluation system on the stand. Thomas Kane served as the expert witness for the defendant’s side, along with other witnesses including lawmakers and educators who made counter claims about the state’s teacher evaluation system, some of which backfired unfortunately for the defense, primarily during cross-examination. [Kane, an economist] has been the chief research advisor to the Gates Foundation about teacher evaluation.]

 

Open the post to see her many links, her analysis of the decision, and the many local articles about it.

 

The state, not surprisingly, called the decision “frivolous” and “a legal PR stunt.” It claimed that it would continue doing what the judge said it was not allow to do. I think a judge’s order trumps the will of the New Mexico PED.

 

 

 

Randi Weingarten tweeted good news in a lawsuit in New Mexico against the state’s test-based teacher evaluation system:

 

 

“Breaking!!!! @AFTNM @atfunion win preliminary injunction against New Mexico #vam -Huge step 4 teaching & learning & the end of blame& shame”

John Thompson, historian and teacher, says that the Gates Foundation is fighting a losing battle to justify value-added assessment. At its root, he says, is an assault on public education, facilitated by a worship of data and a belief in the value of teacher churn.

 

He writes:
One of the Gates Foundation’s star value-added scholars, Dan Goldhaber, has voiced “concerns about the use of VAM estimates at the high school level for the evaluation of individual teachers.” Two years ago, he asked and answered “yes” to the question of whether reformers would have placed less emphasis the value-added evaluations of individual teachers if research had focused on high schools rather than elementary schools.
I once saw Goldhaber’s statement as “a hopeful sign that research by non-educators may become more reality-based.”
As the use of estimates of test score growth in evaluations becomes even more discredited, Goldhaber is not alone in making statements such as, “The early evidence on states and localities using value added as a portion of more comprehensive evaluation systems suggests that it may not be differentiating teachers to the degree that was envisioned (Anderson, 2013).”
So, what is now happening in the aftermath of the latest warning against value-added evaluations? This time, the American Educational Research Association AERA Council “cautions against VAM being used to have a high-stakes, dispositive weight in evaluations.”
The logic used by the nation’s largest education research professional association is very similar to what I thought Goldhaber meant when he warned against using various tests and models that produce so many different estimates of the effectiveness of high school teachers. The point seems obvious. If VAMs are imposed on all types of schools and teachers with all types of tests and students, then they must work properly in that wide range of situations. It’s not good enough to say we should fire inner city high school teachers because some researchers believe that VAMs can measure the quality of teaching with random samples of low-poverty elementary students.
Goldhaber now notes, “AERA’s statement adds to the cacophony of voices urging either restraint or outright prohibition of VAMs for evaluating educators or institutions. Doubtless, these stakeholders are genuinely concerned about potential unintended consequences of adopting these performance measures.”
However, Goldhaber and other supporters of corporate reform still twist themselves into pretzels in arguing that we should remain on their value-added path. Ignoring the effects of sorting as one of the factors that make VAMs invalid and unreliable for evaluating individuals, Goldhaber counters the AERA by illogically citing a couple of studies that use random samples to defend the claim that they can be causally linked to a teacher’s performance.

 

In other words, Goldhaber grasps at any straws to claim that it might not have been a mistake to mandate the risky value-added experiment before studying its likely negative effects. His bottom line is that VAMs might not be worse than many other inaccurate education metrics. And, yes, many things in education, as in all other sectors of society, don’t work. But, even if VAMs were reliable and valid for evaluating individuals, most people who understand school systems would reject the inclusion of test scores in evaluations because of the predictable and destructive policies it would encourage.

 

 

Moreover, Goldhaber is attacking a straw man. The AERA and corporate reform opponents aren’t urging a multi-billion dollar investment to scale up failed policies! My classroom’s windows and ceiling leaked, even as I taught effectively. But, that doesn’t mean we should punch holes in roofs across the nation so that all schools have huge puddles of water on the floor!
For reasons that escape me if the goal was improving schools as opposed to defeating unions, Goldhaber also testified in the infamous Vergara case, which would wipe out all California laws protecting teachers’ rights. He chronicled the negative sides of seniority, but not the benefits of that legally-negotiated provision. One would have thought that a court would have sought evidence on both sides of the issue, and Goldhaber only explored one side.
Goldhaber estimated the harm that could be done through “a strict adherence” to the seniority provision of “Last In, First Out” (“LIFO”). I’m sure it occasionally happens, but I’ve never witnessed such a process where the union refused to engage in a give and take in regard to lay-offs. More importantly, it once would have been easy to adopt the old union proposal that LIFO rights not be extended to teachers who have earned an “Unsatisfactory” evaluation. An agreement on that issue could have propelled a collaborative effort to make teacher evaluations more rigorous (especially if they included peer review.)
Reformers like Goldhaber ignore the reasons why we must periodically mend, but not end seniority. His work did not address the enormous social and civil rights benefits of seniority. It is the teacher’s First Amendment. Without it, the jobs of leaders who resist nonstop teach-to-the test will be endangered. Systems will have a green light to fire veteran teachers merely to get rid of their higher salaries and benefits. Without LIFO, corporate reformers will mandate even more mass closures of urban schools. Test scores will remain the ammunition in a war to the death against teachers unions. The poorest children of color will continue to be the prime collateral damage.
Even though he did not do so before testifying in Vergara, I hoped that Goldhaber would subsequently update his methodology in order to study both sides – both the costs and the benefits to students – of seniority protections. He has not done so, even though his new research tackles some other issues. In fact, I would have once been cautiously optimistic when reading Are There Hidden Costs Associated with Lay-offs? Goldhaber, Katherine Strunk, David Knight, and Nate Brown focus on the stress created by layoffs. They conclude, “teachers laid off and hired back to teach in the next school year have significantly lower value added in their return year than they had in years unthreatened by layoffs.” They find that the stress of receiving a lay-off notice undermines instructional quality and contributes to the teacher “churn” that especially hurts children in the poorest schools.
In a rational world, such a finding would argue for the reform of the education budgeting process that distresses educators – not for punitive measures against teachers who were blameless in this matter. In an even more rational world, Goldhaber et. al’s research would be used as an argument for more funding so that systems don’t have to cut it so close, and to provide support to teachers and students in stressful high-challenge schools.
By the way, I once faced such a layoff. It wouldn’t make my list as one of the thousands of the most stressful events of my career. The transparency of the process mitigated the uncertainty, minimized the chance of losing my job, and eliminated the chance that I would lose my career in an unfair manner. If Goldhaber and Strunk are really curious about the causes of teacher churn, they should visit the inner city and take a look at the real world that their metrics are supposed to represent. But, that is unlikely. Corporate reform worships at the idol of teacher churn. It is the cornerstone of the test, sort, reward, and punish policies that VAMs are a part of.
Goldhaber still seems to be sticking with the party line: Teacher churn is bad, except when it is good. We must punish teachers by undermining their legal rights in order to address the failings of the entire society. We must fight the stress fostered by generational poverty by imposing more stress on teachers and students in poor schools.
Once I believed that Gates-funded quantitative researchers were merely ignorant of the realities in schools. Maybe they simply did not know how to connect the dots and see how the policies they were advocating would interact with other anti-teacher, anti-union campaigns. Maybe I was naïve in believing that. But, at a time when the Broad Foundation is trying to replace half of Los Angeles’s schools with charters, we must remember the real danger of mandates for VAMs and against seniority in a competition-driven reform era where test scores are a matter of life and death for individual schools, as well as the careers of individual educators.
Every single rushed policy defended by Goldhaber may be a mere mistake. But, whether he understands it or not, the real danger comes from combining those policies in a top-down assault on public education.

I don’t know who wrote this song, but it is terrific.

 

You don’t have to live in New York to get the insanity of rating teachers and principals by test scores. Follow the singer as he explains the bureaucratic rabbit-hole that he falls into as he tries to comply with a state law that can compete with anything in “Alice in Wonderland” for sheer nuttiness.

 

Follow the the song and see if you can figure out what all this mumbo-jumbo jargon has to do with children or education. And the kicker is that teachers in charter schools are exempt from the maze of regulations that every public school teacher and principal must comply with.

 

By the time the song concludes, you too will sing, “APPR is how we rate, teachers in New York State.”

 

Towards the end, you may recognize Carol Burris, the principal who led the rebellion against APPR.

 

And you will surely recognize John King, soon to be Secretary of Education, who loved APPR.

Jeff Bryant writes that test-based evaluation of teachers is going, going, and almost dead.

 

He says that the most interesting thing about Hillary Clinton’s derisive comments about evaluating teachers by test scores is that few, if any, of the reformer crowd rose up to disagree with her.

 

Hillary said recently that it didn’t make any sense to evaluate teachers by the test scores of their students.

 

This policy was the jewel in the crown of Arne Duncan and President Obama’s Race to the Top. Duncan even saluted the Los Angeles Times for publishing its own ratings of thousands of teachers based on this fraudulent measure. He was silent when one of those teachers–Rigoberto Ruelas– committed suicide.  (See here and here and here.)

 

Bryant writes:

 

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton recently shook up the education policy world when she challenged one of the pillars of the education establishment for the last 10-15 years, that teachers’ job evaluations and pay should be linked to how students – even students they don’t teach – perform on standardized tests.

 

In an informal “roundtable” with president of the American Federation of Teachers Randi Weingarten and a select audience of AFT members, Clinton stated, “I have for a very long time also been against the idea that you tie teacher evaluation and even teacher pay to test outcomes. There’s no evidence. There’s no evidence.”

 

“This is a direct shot at Obama’s education policy,” reported Vox the next day. “The Education Department pushed states to adopt policies that would link teachers’ professional evaluations in part to their students’ test scores.”

 

Echoing that accusation, The Washington Post reported Clinton was “dismissing a key feature of education policies promoted by the Obama administration.”

 

But the important story here isn’t that Clinton’s remark indicates what we can expect from her administration for education policy.

 

First, her statement wasn’t all that definitive. She followed the remark with a vague comment about linking tests to “school performance,” whatever that means, and she declared, “you’ve got to have something,” presumably meaning she would want to maintain annual testing favored by Obama.

 

Second, you can disagree with what Clinton said, or argue about the way she said it, but the reality is,  federal pressures to require teacher evaluations to include test score data are likely going away. That’s because in the latest version of new federal policy being negotiated in Congress, “there would be no role for the feds whatsoever in teacher evaluation,” Education Week reports.

 

But, the important story isn’t as much about what Clinton said as it is about the response it got from the establishment that’s been in charge of education policy for nearly three decades.

 

The response: Silence.

 

The Establishment is ready to go to the mat for charter schools, 93% of which are non-union. But, bye-bye, teacher evaluation based on test scores.

 

 

 

 


In a major story today in the New York Times, Governor Cuomo of New York is said to be backing down from his rigid stance on evaluating teachers by test scores. This represents a huge victory for the parents of the 220,000 students who opted out of state testing last spring.

 

Kate Taylor, the reporter, says that Cuomo may not only reduce the role of testing in teacher evaluation, but eliminate it altogether, which has been the main demand of parents. Parents have been outraged to see their teachers rated by their children’s test scores, which has made the testing more important than any other aspect of schooling. They are outraged to see their school’s resources diverted to test prep and time stolen from the arts, physical education, and everything but the tested subjects of reading and math.

 

[PLEASE NOTE IN THE NEW YORK TIMES’ STORY THAT THE REPORTER REFERS TO NAEP PROFICENCY AS “GRADE LEVEL.” THIS IS WRONG. NAEP PRIFICENCY IS NOT GRADE LEVEL; IT IS EQUIVALENT TO AN A OR A-. NAEP “BASIC” IS A CLOSE APPROXIMATION OF GRADE LEVEL. MOST NEW YORK STUDENTS ARE BASIC OR ABOVE ON NAEP. ]

 

But beware, parents. This may be a hoax, a temporary moratorium intended to deflate the Opt Out Movement and cause it to disappear. Do not rest until the law is changed to delink testing and teacher-principal evaluations. The new federal law–not yet enacted–eliminates the federal mandate that Duncan imposed without authorization by Congress. New York may now permanently eliminate this punitive, anti-educational requirement.

 

New York parents: As Ronald Reagan said,  “Trust, but verify.” I suggest turning that saying around: “Verify, then trust.” Meanwhile, to quote an even older saying, keep your troops together and “keep your powder dry.”

 

The leaders of Long Island Opt Out and the New York State Allies for Public Education have proven to be effective, organized, strategic, and articulate. They have attended every meeting of the Regents, of legislative hearings, of Cuomo’s Common Core task force, and show up wherever they can inform other parents and policymakers. Their dedication and relentlessness made a difference.

 

I travel the country, and parents everywhere are in awe of the organized parents who opted out in New York. One of every five children did not take the tests, and that number could only go up.

 

Let’s remain watchful and wait to see what happens. In the meanwhile, this is reason for joy on the day before Thanksgiving.

 

Democracy works. It can even overcome billionaires when the public is informed, alert, and organized.

The superintendents association of Nassau County (Long Island), Néw York, have called on the state to stop evaluating teachers by test scores. Nassau County has some of the state’s most successful schools.

“They wrote that they understand the need for a system that ensures highly effective instruction, but said “the exaggerated use of student test data” undermines that goal. The letter cited position papers by the American Educational Research Association and the American Statistical Association that question such use of student test data.

“Equally flawed, they said, has been the attempt to devise a rating system for the vast majority of educators who teach subjects or grade levels not associated with the state exams in English language arts and math given to students in grades three through eight.”

The full text of the document is included in the link.

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