Archives for category: Teacher Evaluations

This is an excellent letter to the U.S. Department of Education, which patiently explains the harm caused by value-added modeling (VAM). It was submitted by a Néw York group called “Change the Stakes,” which opposes high-stakes testing. The letter was written by psychologist Dr. Rosalie Friend, a member of Change the Stakes. It is a good source for parents and educators who want to explain why testing is being overused and misused.

USDOE’s Proposed Regs for Teacher Education Programs

Change the Stakes submitted these comments in response to the U.S. Department of Education’s proposal to impose new accountability measures on teacher education programs,

The U.S. Department of Education has proposed that teacher education programs be rated by the employment, placement, and performance of their graduates. Ratings of the performance of graduates would include the test scores of the students who are taught by graduates of those programs.

Change the Stakes (, an organization of New York City parents and educators promoting alternatives to high-stakes testing, opposes this proposal.

Rating teacher education programs by what teachers do after they leave the programs is unrealistic. The decisions made by graduates and their employers are not determined by the teacher education programs. Teacher education programs are already assessed by professional accrediting boards that understand the nuances of teaching and learning.

The accountability procedures imposed on K-12 schools have diverted astounding amounts of money and time from teaching and learning. The accountability procedures have not led to any measurable improvement in student achievement. Extending these ill-conceived procedures to teacher education programs is counter-productive. Attaching high stakes to evaluation leads to the distortion of the processes that are being evaluated, as documented by Dr. Donald Campbell, the pre-eminent social scientist.

Teaching is a difficult profession. Industrial-type accountability procedures distract from the focus on teaching and learning. We want teachers to learn how to engage children in learning new ideas and using those ideas to reason and solve problems. At the same time, teachers must be able to assist children with developing socially and emotionally. This requires dealing with enormous differences among children’s backgrounds and personalities. Of course, teachers must also be expert in the skills and materials they teach. Teacher education programs must prepare teachers to think on their feet and respond to the ever changing conditions under which they labor, not to drill children for shallow, regimented tests.

Teachers’ working conditions are a major factor in their professional achievement. Social conditions, school culture, school leadership, class assignments, and relationships among colleagues are all important in determining both students’ and teachers’ success. Management expert, W. Edwards Deming, said, “It is the structure of the organization rather than the employees, alone, which holds the key to improving the quality of output.” All these factors are independent of teacher education programs.

Perhaps the most wrong-headed part of the proposal is the use of student test scores in assessing the teachers who graduated from the programs. Using student scores to evaluate teachers and then to use that “so-called” data to rate their teacher education programs is unsound and unacceptable for the following reasons.

Low Reliability of Standardized Test Results

Value-added modeling (VAM) cannot be accurately used for a small sample such as a single class. The aggregation of student test scores to derive a score for an individual teacher has been demonstrated to be wildly unstable, especially while assigning scores to a given teacher from year to year or even from class to class. The American Statistical Association has warned against the use of VAM for teacher evaluation. Using these unreliable figures to draw conclusions about the programs that educated teachers is folly.

Low Validity of Standardized Test Results

Tests cannot adequately account for every factor outside of a teacher’s instruction that impacts how students perform on a test because there are far too many other factors affecting students’ scores. Research shows that whatever teachers’ impact is, it accounts for only 1-14% of student variability in standardized test scores. If the teacher’s score is based on factors other than the teacher’s influence, it is not valid.

Studies since the 1966 Coleman report continue to show that nothing affects student achievement as much as the student’s home. Parents in poor families cannot provide their children with the same social and learning supports and enrichment that affluent and middle-class parents can provide. Furthermore, well-funded schools in prosperous communities consistently get higher test scores than cash starved schools in poverty-stricken neighborhoods.

A teacher’s effectiveness is directly affected by the composition of the class assigned to that teacher even within the same school. What kind of academic background do the children have? Are their goals aligned with the school’s goals? How cooperative are they? How well behaved or self-regulated are they?


The entire process of professional training of an educator is exceptionally complex. While a school of education affects the resulting quality of the professional educator, so much more goes into their success. Any evaluation of such an institution should be developed to be inclusive of all the contributing factors, not simply the ones for which quantitative data (however invalid and unreliable) are available.

Ignoring these additional factors and the research supporting them is an injustice not only to the programs the Education Department plans to rate but also to students, teachers, parents, and communities alike.


American Statistical Association. (2014). ASA Statement on Using Value-Added Models for Educational Assessment.

Baker, E. L., Barton, P. E., Darling-Hammond, L. D., Haertel, E., Ladd, H. F., Linn, R. L., Ravitch, D., Rothstein, R., Shavelson, R. J., & Shepard, L.A. (2010). Problems with the Use of Student Test Scores to Evaluate Teachers: Briefing Paper 278. Washington, DC: Economic Policy Institute.

Campbell, D.T. (1976). Assessing the Impact of Planned Social Change. Dartmouth College, Occasional Paper Series, #8.

Greene, D. (2013). Doing the Right Thing: A Teacher Speaks. Victoria, Canada: Friesen Press.

Haertel, E.H. (2013) Reliability and validity of inferences about teachers based on student test scores. William H. Angoff Memorial Lecture Series. Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service.

Johnson, S.M., Kraft, M.A., & Papay, J.P. (2012). How Context Matters in High-Need Schools: The Effects of Teachers’ Working Conditions on Their Professional Satisfaction and Their Students’ Achievement, Teachers College Record, 114:1-39.

Viadero, D. (2006). Race Report’s Influence Felt 40 Years Later: Legacy of Coleman study was new view of equity. EdWeek [Online] Available

These comments were written by Dr. Rosalie Friend, Educational Psychologist and a member of Change the Stakes.

New York, beware. Governor Cuomo and State Board of Regents Merryl Tisch are both very dissatisfied, having learned that only 1% of the state’s teachers were rated ineffective. They assume that if a child gets low scores on the state tests, the teacher must be an ineffective teacher. With the new Common Core tests, the state “proficiency” rate plummeted to only 30%, so the state must be full of “bad” teachers. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to him that the “cut score” or “passing score” on the tests was set absurdly high. Nor do they know that the use of VAM (value-added modeling) has been criticized by the American Statistical Association, the American Education Research Association, and the National Academy of Education.


Now the New York Daily News, owned by billionaire Mortimer Zuckerman (who also owns US News and World Report), has written an editorial calling on legislators to “Listen to Mrs. Tisch.” That is, be prepared to fire up to 10% of teachers every year. No questions asked about where new teachers will come from; no questions about why these new teachers will be better qualified than those who were fired using a dubious method; no questions about the VAM methodology, which is now being challenged in court in New York as arbitrary; no awareness of the extensive research and experience showing that the methodology is unstable and inaccurate. Just fire teachers, do it again and again, and the scores will go up. This is faith-based ideology, not an expression of thoughtfulness not a display of knowledge about teacher evaluation.

Governor Andrew Cuomo was very disappointed when only 1% of teachers were found “ineffective” in their state ratings. He demanded tougher evaluations, using the “value-added model” whose validity has been questioned by many research groups, including the American Statistical Association, the American Education Research Association, and the National Academy of Education.

In this post, high school principal Carol Burris reports that the chairperson of the state Board of Regents, Merryl Tisch, responded to Governor Cuomo’s piqué by offering to double the importance of test scores in teacher evaluations.

Burris cites the example of fourth grade teacher Sheri Lederman, who was rated highly effective one year, then ineffective the next year. Her students performed twice as well as the state average–both years. Lederman is suing the state.

Burris writes:

“Sheri Lederman, is a gifted and beloved fourth-grade teacher in Great Neck, New York. Her principal adores her and relies on her to help mentor her colleagues. Over twice as many of her students have met the state standard than the average percentage for the rest of the state. Sheri is also a scholar. She received the 2012 H. Alan Robinson Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation award for her research on how 10-year-olds learn science. Yet her growth score based on the results of student Common Core standardized tests found her to be an “ineffective” teacher.

“Under the present teacher evaluation system in New York, known as APPR (Annual Professional Performance Review), she is not in danger of losing her job. She was rated effective overall due to the points she received on the local measure of her students’ achievement, combined with those based on the observation of her teaching. But that will change if Chancellor Merryl Tisch has her way. Sheri would be rated ineffective overall, and one more such rating would get her fired.

“The short version of what she [Tisch] wants to do now is this—double down on test scores and strip away the power of local school boards to negotiate the majority of the evaluation plan. Tisch would get rid of the locally selected measures of achievement, which now comprise 20 percent of the evaluation, and double the state test score portion, to 40 percent. She also recommends that the score ranges for the observation process be taken out of the hands of local districts, and be determined by Albany instead. Dr. Lederman, start packing up. Merryl Tisch and Andrew Cuomo, whom you have never met, know your talents better than your local school board, your principal and the parents of the children you teach.”

We will watch Sheri Lederman’s lawsuit. How can the state justify rating her “ineffective” based on her students’ outstanding test scores? The formula makes no sense.

Governor Cuomo is in an unusual position, vis-a-vis education. He has nothing to do with it, except for his power over the budget. He does not appoint the state Board of Regents (the State Assembly does). He does not appoint the State Commissioner of Education (the Board of Regents does). He is out of the loop. But in recent months, he has convinced himself that he is the state’s foremost expert on education. He thinks he knows how to “fix” education. He loves charter schools, as are his friends and contributors on Wall Street. He disdains public schools and is convinced that the state has a failing school system, not recognizing that academic results are closely correlated with the socioeconomics of each district. He loves standardized testing and especially high-stakes testing, where teachers and principals quake with fear when their evaluations are tied to test scores. Cuomo has made clear that the new evaluation system has not been tough enough; he wants one that identifies more “failing” teachers. He has promised to “break” the public-school “monopoly,” which others think of as an essential public service.


Gary Stern of speculates on what Cuomo will propose in his state of the state address. One thing seems sure: after the John King era, after the entry of Cuomo into the role of education maven, local control is dead in New York state.


Stern writes:


Now he wants to take on the whole education bureaucracy. But what goodies will Cuomo actually propose in his State of the State?


Will he try to change how Regents are selected, a move that Assembly Democrats would oppose? Would he dare propose a system of renewable tenure, which unions would fight? Might he propose a strategy for helping urban schools, other than threatening to close them? Or will he simply renew his interest in tougher teacher evaluations and charter schools?


One question Cuomo hasn’t asked is what educators on the ground think. More than likely, he’s going to tell them what to do.

We’re All Mad Here: The Conference on English Education’s (CEE) Response to the US Department of Education’s Proposed Regulations for Teacher Preparation



On Dec. 3, 2014, the United States’ Department of Education (DOE) released a document proposing new regulations for teacher preparation programs, citing the need for greater accountability for teacher preparation programs, as well as the development and distribution of data focused on the quality of those programs. The public was then invited to comment on the regulations, with the comment period closing on Feb. 2, 2015. Note, however, that the Office of Management & Budget “is required to make a decision regarding the collection of information contained in the proposed regulations between 30 and 60 days after publication of the proposed regulations.”3 For full consideration of the public’s response, therefore, comments should be submitted by Jan. 2, 2015.


The Conference on English Education (CEE) urges its membership, as well as teachers, parents and students, to make use of this public comment period to respond to the proposed regulations – ideally by Jan. 2.


These regulations are disingenuous at best, hypocritical at worst, in their misrepresentation of and approach to quality teacher education. Therefore, we must state clearly and forcefully – to the DOE, as well as to US senators, state representatives, university presidents, state superintendents, school principals, teachers, students, neighbors and the public at large – that the proposed regulations will do more harm than good.


Whether online, through the media or in person, we must speak against the misguided beliefs driving such regulation: that teacher performance can be equated to student performance; that standardized tests provide meaningful evidence of learning; that student learning occurs in a vacuum; that there is one set approach that works with all students. We have been invited to speak, and we must accept the invitation – although it feels a bit like being invited to the Mad Hatter’s tea party, doesn’t it? “But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked. “Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.” “How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice. “You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”


Despite very little evidence to support its efficacy for student learning, standardized testing has claimed our classrooms. “Objective” data drives decision-making rather than the “subjective” issues that affect the children we seek to educate. Teachers are constantly labeled as ineffective, uncaring, unprepared. Patently unqualified corporations, millionaires and for-profit businesses are invited to “solve” educational issues while patently qualified teachers, teacher educators and educational researchers are excluded from the discussion.


The document is found at!documentDetail;D=ED-2014-OPE-0057-0001


To do so, visit!submitComment;D=ED-2014-OPE-0057-0001


For additional information, view Jane West’s webinar: uploads/2014/12/Teacher-Preparation-Regulations-for-CEEDAR.pdf


For an excellent example, see Anne Elrod Whitney’s piece Proposed Regulations Bad for Kids, Teachers, and Schools: teachers-and-schools/ And now, teacher education programs have moved into the line of fire. If the proposed regulations are to be believed, teacher preparation currently functions with little accountability, producing poor quality candidates whose abilities are not properly assessed. The evidence for such claims consists of flawed measures and unreliable research from questionable sources.


Yet, the answer to this (unproven) assumption is to increase assessment and accountability measures, despite no evidence that these measures have been beneficial as implemented in the public schools. Madness. Teacher preparation programs are, indeed, held accountable; they undergo assessment; they use data to inform their decision-making processes.


As the professional organization for English teacher education, CEE created the Standards for Initial Preparation of Teachers of Secondary English Language Arts 7-12; revised in 2012, these standards delineate the required competencies of knowledge, skills and dispositions connected to content, pedagogy, learners and professionalism. The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) uses these standards to assess and recognize the abilities of English teacher education programs to prepare quality secondary English teachers. To meet these standards, programs must gather, analyze and report a wide range of data from both the program and the candidates. This external accountability is in addition to the internal accountability of the programs themselves. In-house, as it were, teacher preparation programs must remain cognizant of and respond to the internal and external pressures driving education in order to prepare teachers for the classroom.


Do some teacher education programs fail in this endeavor? Admittedly, yes. But the way to improve our teacher education programs is not with more assessment and accountability, measures in and of themselves that are already present and valued in higher education. Could these measures be improved? Certainly, as any educator knows. Teacher education programs recognize the need to improve our efforts to gather better data from and about our graduates; we are constantly revising our means of candidate assessment in order to respond to our needs and the requirements of an outside accrediting body.


What we don’t do is expect the test scores of our graduates’ students to provide a worthwhile measure of their teacher’s efficacy. Value added measurement (VAM) has little support among those with the ability to understand the nuances of assessment5, much less those of teaching and learning. Parents certainly do not support the current over-testing of their children; teachers know that reliance on externally developed high-stakes tests offers a distorted view of a child’s abilities; teacher educators recognize that assessment is a nuanced process that requires multiple measures over time. We know that assessing teachers’ worth on the test scores of the complex human beings they teach is a deeply flawed measure of ability, with no recognition of the many factors influencing both teaching and learning. Rather than admit this and seek better ways to determine quality teaching, however, the US Department of Education now proposes to assess the teachers of the teachers’ worth on those same test scores. Madness. Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said: “one can’t believe impossible things.” “I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”


For more on those nuances, see the American Statistical Association’s Statement on Using Value-Added Models for Educational Assessment: These regulations promulgate beliefs that those in education know to be false: that there is one right measure of learning, that there is one right method of teaching, that there is one right type of teacher, that there is one right way to prepare teachers. Teaching is a complex, complicated, challenging, often contentious, endeavor because those we seek to teach – and the subjects we seek to teach them – are complex and complicated and challenging and, often, contentious. We understand, though, that teacher education creates the foundation that our students build on for the rest of their teaching career rather than hubristically assuming that we can boil teaching down to a set of “one size fits all” approaches that will serve in any situation.


Teacher education programs educate prospective teachers to understand, examine and respond to issues of content, pedagogy, learners and learning. It isn’t an easy job – hence the diversity of approaches and the ongoing assessment of those approaches in teacher education programs around the country. While the foundational principles of education may remain the same, English education programs in New York City are not – and should not be – the same as those in Cheyenne. What my students in West Lafayette, Indiana need to know in order to teach a largely rural population differs from what my colleague’s students in Tampa, Florida need to know in order to teach a largely urban population.


Yet, every day, we in teacher education embrace this difficult task of preparing young men and woman to respond as experienced professionals to every possible combination of factors they will meet in their future classrooms. These regulations trade on the common complaint that many beginning teachers feel unprepared when they first enter the classroom, pointing back to a lack of preparation from their teacher education programs. Solidifying such unproven cause and effect into ill-suited regulation belies the many factors that shape a teacher’s entry into the classroom: the type of school, the level of support, the number of resources, the diversity of student issues in addition to the teacher’s individual abilities, understandings and personality. Assuming that this one factor – how teachers are prepared – contributes to the high rate of teacher turnover is yet another unproven cause and effect. Teachers don’t leave simply because they aren’t prepared well. They leave because political, social and rhetorical conditions in this country destroy their will to teach. And those conditions are now poised to destroy teacher education.


Has it occurred to no one (except educators) that one reason teachers leave the classroom is because many schools have become unpleasant places to be? This has less to do with their preparation – teacher education programs cannot control the factors their students will meet upon entering the classroom – and everything to do with the current climate in this country surrounding teachers and education. Why would anyone want to enter a profession that is continuously attacked, denigrated and demeaned in every public avenue? And, yet, I have students in my college classrooms wanting to do just that. These bright young women and men are cognizant that their choice of career is held in little regard; they understand that they will work long hours for little external reward; they accept that the public will disregard their intelligence, their ability and their commitment in seeking to become English teachers. They want to teach, however, because they want to do something meaningful with their brains and their bodies.


These young college graduates willingly take on an astounding level of responsibility from their very first day in the classroom because, as one of my students wrote recently, “How are we, as future teachers, supposed to challenge our students if we never challenge ourselves?” “Take some more tea,” the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly. “I’ve had nothing yet,” Alice replied in an offended tone, “so I can’t take more.” “You mean you can’t take LESS,” said the Hatter: “it’s very easy to take MORE than nothing.”


At this point in our country’s history, teachers and teacher educators are doing their best with more of nothing: no public support for their work, no understanding of their professionalism, no recognition of the contributory factors to student learning. That extends to the teacher education programs that prepare them. We work against the fallacy that teacher education at the college level is of little benefit, that sixweek boot camps can prepare anyone for the classroom, that those with no understanding of or background in education are better suited to do our work. The US DOE regulations of teacher education programs cost more time and more money – millions, in fact – while implementing an assessment system in higher education that has proven seriously flawed in the public schools. They assume a reductive approach to teacher preparation that belies the complex factors teacher education programs must navigate to educate their candidates. They dismiss the solid work happening in teacher education programs every day throughout the country in favor of pushing an agenda that neither conforms to reality nor recognizes expertise.


Like Alice, we need to push away from our seat at this table by clearly speaking against the misguided beliefs propelling these regulations. We need to publicly proclaim this party for the madness it is, opposing those who lead it and shaking those who slumber while it happens. We know better, as teacher educators. Every day, we do better, as teacher educators. It’s time we spoke up, as teacher educators, and established that we are better at assessing our students’ abilities as teachers than the measures proffered by these fundamentally flawed regulations.


Respectfully submitted,


Melanie Shoffner, PhD Chair, Conference on English Education

I recently received this email from Tim Farley, an elementary school principal in Néw York:

Here is the link to a blog written in the fall of 2013 by the Head of Schools for Woodland Hill, Susan Kambrich. In this letter turned blog, she writes to her parents of her experience at the annual NYSAIS (New York State Association of Independent Schools) Heads of Schools conference.

Woodland Hill may sound familiar to you and your readers because this is the school that the soon-to-be-former New York State Education Commissioner John King sends his children to. If he were to send his children to public school, his children would attend the Bethlehem Central School District – a highly respected public school in the suburbs of Albany.

In her blog, Susan writes about the featured presenter, Yong Zhao, a highly respected author and professor at the University of Oregon. His message focused on the importance of having an education system that promotes creative and strategic thinking. He posits that the United States has typically produced students who are by-and-large not good test takers, as opposed to students in China. Zhao, according to Susan, also spoke on the importance for the United States to help its students to “develop entrepreneurial qualities such as risk-taking, empathy, confidence, alertness to opportunity…”

Susan continues by writing, “Zhao says that investing in testing will only create good test takers, and test scores are not valid predictors of success. If we invest our resources in tests, we will get good test-takers; if we spend our time celebrating and encouraging our variety of abilities, creativity, and diverse thinking we will better help our students succeed. Testing should be a tool, not the focus.” She concludes with, “Interestingly, he also mentioned that his children went to a Montessori school.”

The reason I bring this blog to your readers’ attention is to highlight the hypocrisy of John King’s personal decisions compared to the decisions he made that affect well over a million students throughout New York state. It appears after reading about Woodland Hill’s philosophy on their web page (, that they have embraced much of what Zhao says is good for students. Teachers at Woodland Hill have the autonomy to create an individualized education for their students. Furthermore, there is no test-based accountability system at Woodland Hill.

This sounds like an absolutely wonderful school and I have already contacted the school to schedule a tour. I do not begrudge John King for deciding to send his children to Woodland Hill. In fact, I believe all parents should be making these decisions for their children. However, as Commissioner, John King prescribed a very different educational experience for the children whose parents do not have the same opportunities that he has. Many parents can ill-afford the tuition at a school such as Woodland Hill.

Commissioner King has foisting a punitive, highly competitive, rank and sort, test-based accountability school system on all of our children. Mr. King knows all too well the benefits of sending his children to a school like Woodland Hill, but he refuses to allow public school children the same opportunities. This is the epitome of hypocrisy – Common Core, high stakes testing, and data-mining for the masses; an individualized collaborative and creative learning experience for his children.

If Mr. King knows what is best for his kids, shouldn’t he be trying his best as Commissioner to give all New York students the same thing?


Tim Farley

Education Advocate

Recognizing that Race to the Top may be defunded in the next budget, Peter Greene explains the program’s original purposes, priorities, and policies.


Greene calls it a “giant turkey” with its neck on the chopping block and warns that it is too soon to celebrate. It might be saved at the last minute.


After surveying its many parts, he concludes:


“Yes, when lost in the haze of debate and discussion, sometimes it’s best to go back to the basics. Here it is– exactly what the feds wanted. Good paperwork. A teacher rank and rate system based on student test scores that would drive everything from training. More charters. More school takeovers.

“While the document says that RttT ‘will reward states that have demonstrated success in raising student achievement,’ that’s not really what it rewards. It rewards states for remaking their education systems along the lines demanded by the feds. And though the document promised that the best models would spread their reform ideas across the country, five years later, there are no signs of any such spreading infection. But then, there are no signs that any of these federal ideas about fixing schools has actually improved education for any students in this country.

“If Congress actually manages to shut this mess down, there will be no cause for tears.”

Be sure to read the first comment about the turmoil unleashed by Arne Duncan, and the effect of chaos on students.

Anthony Cody <a href=” 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.”

Before the elections, Governor Andrew Cuomo in New York offered legislation to defer high-stakes for teachers based on the new Common Core tests. However, he never pushed his own legislation, and it was never passed. Now, he says that he wants a new system because he is disappointed that so few teachers were found to be “ineffective.” Some of Cuomo’s campaign supporters–like the hedge-fund managers’ “Democrats for Education Reform”– want to see teacher evaluation toughened and more teachers fired. Cuomo also appears to believe that if students don’t get high and higher test scores, their teachers are to blame and must be held “accountable.” Most research on teacher evaluation shows that the largest impact on test scores is students’ home life–poverty, nutrition, health, and other factors that affect their motivation and opportunity to learn.


He focused on the relatively few teachers who earned the lowest ratings in the 2013-14 school year, calling out New York City in particular, where 7 percent earned a “developing” rating and 1.2 percent earned an “ineffective” rating. (Just 2.4 percent of teachers in the rest of the state earned one of those low ratings.)
“It is incredible to believe that is an accurate reflection of the state of education in New York,” Cuomo said. “I think everybody knows it doesn’t reflect reality,” he added.
Cuomo did not say what he would consider a more realistic distribution of the four ratings, though he said his vision is to “reward the high performers and give the low performers the help they need.” His comments were the latest indication that he will mount an aggressive charge to change the teacher evaluation law for a fourth consecutive year, this time to make it more difficult for districts to ensure teachers earn top ratings.
The state only determines 20 percent of a teacher’s final rating, leading to a patchwork of plans across the state’s roughly 700 school districts. Cuomo said the current law gave a “disproportionate amount of power” to teachers unions, whose approval is required on all district plans.

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.


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