Archives for category: Teacher Evaluations

At the Vergara trial, a student identified one of her teachers as undeserving of tenure. She named Christine McLaughlin of Blair Middle School. Ms. McLaughlin had been selected as Pasadena Teacher of the Year. So which is she?

This reader writes:

“Here’s a video of one of the “grossly ineffective teachers” and “2013 Pasadena Teacher of the Year” named in this lawsuit (by her former student and plaintiff Raylene Monterroza):

Mind you, this above video was played during court, and Ms. Monterroza was questioned about how it felt to watch the video of students praising her “grossly ineffective teacher” (starting at 00:49). She replied that watching it was upsetting, and that those students must have been lying as that wasn’t Ms. Monterroza’s experience.

Hmmm…

Watch the “teacher of the year” video again, starting at 00:49, where the students give their opinion of the teachers.

Do these kids sound like they’re lying? Do the kids’ description of their teacher Ms. McLaughlin align with the criteria of the stereotypical “grossly ineffective teacher” that the Vergara legal team claims that Ms. McLaughlin is?

Again, this is a video portrait, as you see, celebrating and profiling Ms. McLaughlin’s award-winning teaching, as the “Rotary’s Pasadena 2013 Teacher of the Year.”

The student plaintiff, Ms. Raylene Monterroza, claimed in her testimony that those students in the video can’t be telling the truth, as it conflicts with her own experience. She said that watching that video prior to her testimony, “upset” her… as it included countless students contradicting her and the entire Vergara team’s claims that Ms. McLaughlin is… again… “a grossly ineffective teacher.”

Again, watch the video portrait of Ms. McLaughlin (who was also won the Pasadena NAACP’s “2008 Star of Education” award, by the way) and ask yourself…

So which is Ms. McLaughlin?

a deserving, multi-award-winning “Teacher of the Year”, praised to the hilt by countless students in the video?

OR

“a grossly ineffective teacher” according to JUST ONE student, and a teacher who taught the (Vergara plaintiff) Ms. Monterroza “nothing,” and thus destroyed Ms. Monterroza’s education?

“Indeed, this whole Vergara trial was like something out of Mao’s “Cultural Revolution” in China during the 1960′s. For those not acquainted with this, here’s primer: zealous students, under party leaders’ directions, would persecute their teachers. Kids would get their jollies as they put their teachers on a stage, put dunce caps on them, then screamed at them while forcing their teachers to bow their heads, kneel down, and confess their “crimes” and on and on…

These kids—appointed and empowered as “Red Guards” by Mao’s henchmen— would parade their former teachers through the streets…

Hey wait… there’s a scene from THE LAST EMPEROR that shows this way better than I could describe it…

Watch from: 01:19 – 04:19

(at which point—04:19—some female Red Guard students start performing an inane Commie “line dance” of sorts… creepy…)

At 02:45, watch “Pu Yi”—the former-Chinese-emperor-now-gardener—as he tries to stand up for his former teacher (for clarification: years ago, while Pu Yi’s was imprisoned, his teacher was referred to as “governor.”)

In response to Pu Yi, a teenage “Red Guard” zealot screams in his face:

“Join us (in the persecution of teachers), Comrade, or f— off!”

Next, the students force Pu Yi’s former teacher to his knees and demand that he “confess his crimes.” Amazingly, he refuses.

Pu Yi then chimes in, shouting:

“But he is a teacher! A good teacher! You cannot do this to him!”

… before Pu Yi is violently subdued by the student fanatics.

Anyway, this scene is all happening AGAIN, and it’s happening HERE in the Vergara case courtroom, and soon will in countless more “Vergara” courtrooms to come. It’s a less intense version, to be sure, but THE overall situation is the same:

we know we have kids—directed by and empowered by evil adults with an evil agenda—enthusiastically persecuting their innocent teachers.”

Ed Johnson is a longtime critic of test mania in Atlanta and in the nation. He was one of the few people who was not surprised when Atlanta’s nationally acclaimed superintendent Beverly Hall was ensnared in a cheating scandal. When test scores become the measure of everything, they assume far too much importance.

In this letter by Ed Johnson (posted on Audrey Beardsley’s blog VAMboozled), Johnson rips into Raj Chetty and his much-hyped touting of testing and VAM.

This is a terrific article by Steve Nelson. I wish I could republish it in full but that is not allowed.

He actually says that what is called reform is “a national delusion.”

He writes:

“As I watch the education “debate” in America I wonder if we have simply lost our minds. In the cacophony of reform chatter — online programs, charter schools, vouchers, testing, more testing, accountability, Common Core, value-added assessments, blaming teachers, blaming tenure, blaming unions, blaming parents — one can barely hear the children crying out: “Pay attention to us!”

“None of the things on the partial list above will have the slightest effect on the so-called achievement gap or the supposed decline in America’s international education rankings. Every bit of education reform — every think tank remedy proposed by wet-behind-the-ears MBAs, every piece of legislation, every one of these things — is an excuse to continue the unconscionable neglect of our children.”

Read it!

His conclusion:

“Doing meaningful education with the most advantaged kids and ample resources is challenging enough with classes of 20. Doing meaningful work with children in communities we have decimated through greed and neglect might require classes of 10 or fewer. When will Bill Gates, Eli Broad, the Walton Family, Michelle Rhee, Arne Duncan and other education reformers recommend that?

“No, that’s not forthcoming. Their solution is more iPads and trying to fatten up little Hansel and Gretel by weighing them more often. Pearson will make the scales.

“Only in contemporary America can a humanitarian crisis be just another way to make a buck.”

Stephanie Simon reports at politico.com that former high-level Obama advisors will help the fight against teacher unions and due process rights. Campbell Brown, a former CNN anchor who is highly antagonistic to teachers’ unions, is creating an organization to pursue a Vergara-style lawsuit in New York against teachers’ job protections. Her campaign will have the public relations support of an agency led by Robert Gibbs, former Obama Press Secretary, and Ben LaBolt, former Obama campaign spokesman.

Simon writes:

“Teachers unions are girding for a tough fight to defend tenure laws against a coming blitz of lawsuits — and an all-out public relations campaign led by former aides to President Barack Obama.

“The Incite Agency, founded by former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs and former Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt, will lead a national public relations drive to support a series of lawsuits aimed at challenging tenure, seniority and other job protections that teachers unions have defended ferociously. LaBolt and another former Obama aide, Jon Jones — the first digital strategist of the 2008 campaign — will take the lead role in the public relations initiative.”

Campbell Brown achieved a certain notoriety or renown for articles she wrote in the Wall Street Journal and elsewhere insisting that the unions were protecting “sexual predators” in the classroom.

When the Gates Foundation issued a press release calling for a two-year moratorium on the use of test scores to evaluate teachers, its position met a mixed reception. Some saw it as a victory for the critics of high-stakes testing; others as an attempt to weaken the critics by deferring the high stakes.

Anthony Cody says, don’t be fooled. The Gates Foundation gives no indication that it understands that its path is wrong, it is simply buying time.

The question we should all be asking is how this one very rich foundation took charge of American education and is in a position to issue policy statements that should be the domain of state and local school boards. What we have lost is democratic control of public education; while no one was looking, it got outsourced to the Gates Foundation.

Cody writes:

“As a thought experiment, what would it look like if the Gates Foundation truly was attending to the research and evidence that is showing how damaging the new Common Core tests and high stakes accountability systems are? Would they simply be calling to defer the worst effects of this system for two years?

A real appraisal of the evidence would reveal:

“VAM systems are unreliable and destructive when used for teacher evaluations, even as one of several measurements.

“School closures based on test scores result in no real gains for the students, and tremendous community disruption.

“Charter schools are not providing systemic improvements, and are expanding inequity and segregation.

“Attacks on teacher seniority and due process are destabilizing a fragile profession, increasing turnover.

“Tech-based solutions are often wildly oversold, and deliver disappointing results. Witness K12 Inc’s rapidly expanded virtual charter school chain, described here earlier this year.

“Our public education system is not broken, but is burdened with growing levels of poverty, inequity and racial isolation. Genuine reform means supporting schools, not abandoning them.

“The fundamental problem with the Gates Foundation is that it is driving education down a path towards more and more reliance on tests as the feedback mechanism for a market-driven system. This is indeed a full-blown ideology, reinforced by Gates’ own experience as a successful technocrat. The most likely hypothesis regarding the recent suggestion that high stakes be delayed by two years is that this is a tactical maneuver intended to diffuse opposition and preserve the Common Core project – rather than a recognition that these consequences do more harm than good.”

Moratorium or no, he notes, we are locked into a failed paradigm of testing and accountability. Standards and tests are not vehicles to advance equity and civil rights. If anything, they have become a way to undermine democracy and standardize education.

Gary Rubinstein wondered how the “reform” sector reacted to the two big events of the past two weeks: the Vergara decision and the Gates Foundation’s advice to suspend test-based evaluations for teachers for two years. Reformers like Arne Duncan, StudentsFirst, and The New Teacher Project were delighted by the Vergara decision, which strikes at job protections for veteran teachers (more openings for newbies). Teach for America was unusually silent.

But what about the Gates moratorium? He found some confusion among the usual cheerleaders for high-stakes testing. Again, Teach for America stayed out of the fray. Reformers split into two camps.

Gary writes:

“You’ve got Bill Gates, who is essentially the Secretary of Education in this country, saying to slow down on this. And you have StudentsFirstNY, though not yet StudentsFirst, saying that slowing down is a mistake. And maybe this is all for show, some good cops and some bad cops — as long as things continue to move in the ‘reform’ direction.

“But I do think that the fact that any ‘reformers’ support a slow down is a big deal. You see, if I were a ‘reformer’ and I had confidence in the golden calf known as value-added, I would be against the slow down. Since the concept of value-added is that if it was already accurate enough to be 35% or 50% (in Denver) for teacher evaluations, then the harder (more ‘rigorous’) Common Core exams would not make it any less accurate. This is the whole point of value-added. It shouldn’t matter, to a value-added believer, if the new tests are more difficult. Everyone is working under the same handicap so the value-added formulas should, in theory, account for that.”

Two years is about all the time left to Duncan. What happens next? Maybe by then even the politicians will realize that VAM is a failed idea.

The District of Columbia has suspended the use of test scores as part of teacher evaluations, a practice which was the hallmark of Michelle Rhee’s tenure as chancellor of that district and which led to the firing of hundreds of teachers.

Chancellor Kaya Henderson said the district needs time to phase in new Common Core tests.

“Chancellor Kaya Henderson announced the decision, saying officials are concerned it wouldn’t be fair to use the new tests until a baseline is established and any complications are worked out.

“The District has fired hundreds of teachers under the system, which was put in place by Henderson’s predecessor, Michelle Rhee. Test scores make up 35 percent of evaluations for those who teach students in the tested grades and subjects.

“Last week, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation joined the two largest teachers’ unions in calling for a temporary halt to evaluating teachers based on Common Core tests. The foundation has spent more than $200 million implementing the Common Core standards nationwide.

“The U.S. Education Department has not backed the idea of a moratorium, which is also being considered in New York. Gov. Andrew Cuomo introduced a bill on Thursday that would remove test scores from teacher evaluations for two years, and a handful of states have delayed using test scores to make personnel decisions. But no state that already includes test scores in evaluations has committed to pausing the practice.”

Alan Singer of Hostra University in New York wrote a critique of edTPA, a new assessment of student teachers, which was posted here. He called it “The Big Lie Behind High Stakes Testing of Student Teachers.”

A group of faculty at the City University of New York wrote to explain why they support edTPA, and it was posted here.

In a new article, Alan Singer writes that “edTPA is currently being implemented in a number of states through a partnership of SCALE (the Stanford University Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity), the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE), and the publishing and testing mega-giant Pearson Education. About the same time, SCALE released “edTPA MYTHS and FACTS,” which responded to critics of edTPA and purports to set the “record straight.”

In his comments here, Singer points out that the supporters of edTPA are a small fraction of the CUNY faculty, and he challenges their defense of edTPA.

Governor Cuomo reached a compromise with teachers’ unions and legislators to protect teachers who received the lowest ratings on the Common Core tests. Such teachers will not be evaluated by the tests. Only 1% of the state’s teachers were rated ineffective. What this deal really means is that a meaningless and deeply flawed teacher evaluation system, cobbled together to get Race to the Top funding, is now rendered utterly meaningless.

Unfortunately for students, there is no relief from the many hours required for Common Core testing. Kids will continue to sit for three hours for each exam, plus dozens of hours of interim testing. Perhaps this is early preparation for the SAT or bar exams, starting in third grade.

Peter Greene says that corporate reformers have discovered the secret to generating an endless supply of “ineffective” teachers: just keep proclaiming that teachers are ineffective if their students get low scores.

“In the wake of Vergara, we’ve repeatedly heard an old piece of reformster wisdom: Poor students are nearly twice as likely as their wealthier peers to have ineffective, or low-performing, teachers. This new interpretation of “ineffective” or “low-performing” guarantees that there will always be an endless supply of ineffective teachers.

“The new definition of “ineffective teacher” is “teacher whose students score poorly on test.”

“Add to that the assumption that a student only scores low on a test because of the student had an ineffective teacher.

“You have now created a perfect circular definition. And the beauty of this is that in order to generate the statistics tossed around in the poster above, you don’t even have to evaluate teachers!”

And he adds:

“You can have people trade places all day — you will always find roughly the same distribution of slow/fast, wet/dry. good/bad vision. Because what you are fixing is not the source of your problem. It’s like getting a bad meal in a restaurant and demanding that a different waiter bring it to you.”

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