Angie Sullivan, kindergarten teacher in Clark County (Las Vegas), Nevada, works in a school that is eligible for “turnaround.” All the teachers were called for interviews. Here is her report on what happened:

 

 

The CCSD turnaround school selection process is a nonsensical destructive monster. They claim school turnaround is based on data – and this is a lie. This CCSD “empire” needs to be reviewed and reconsidered.

 

At a time when 30,000 CCSD students do not have a licensed teacher – the highly qualified fully licensed teachers at my school were “interviewed” yesterday. The main product of the turnaround interview: scaring real teachers who have been under threat of interview since December 15th.

 

There are plenty of schools in the district to “turnaround” since many places have only long term substitutes as staff. Opportunties for “take-over” are plentiful.

 

There is no good reason to threaten to implode a fully staffed CCSD school by interviewing us all day.

 

I was interviewed last year and this year. The strange turnaround interview questions are all about assessment and data driven instruction. I understand from the questioning – someone powerful thinks data is learning.

 

I will state here – it is not. Kids are more than a score. If the focus is only data – a full education is not obtained. Period. Many, many things are learned by students in my classroom everyday which will never be measured but are essential. Data is a tool – one tool. That is all. And computer data is only one snap-shot in time and measure what computer data can measure. That is all. Data will only measure a small piece of learning.

 

For those of you who do not know what turnaround is . . .

 

The district takes a school with low standardized scores and removes the principal and interviews the staff. Some staff are allowed to stay but many teachers have to find a new place to work. It implodes the school. Then “turns the school around” by over-testing and micro-managing the staff and students. It is not proven to be effective. If you study results of turnaround schools across the United States – it has not been a success. It is proven to be scary and disruptive – removing teachers and dispacing them. It is primarily used to re-organize schools with students and parents who cannot effectively advocate for themselves. Children of color re-organized into robotic scary testing scripted education environments. At a time when the teachers were fighting for pay and insurance, “turnaround” CCSD administrators were at the school board asking for another test for African American students. The turnaround focus is not on finding and retaining geat teachers or caring about students – the focus is improving testing scores.

 

Having gone through the turnaround interview process twice now – I am convinced it is most effective at targeting veteran teachers and harrassing them.

 

Why do I say this?

 

My school has not been able to use standardized tests for two years. We were a pilot school for SBAC in 2014 and it didn’t run. Then last year 2015 when SBAC was implemented for all Nevada – SBAC failed across the state. Our last valid standardized testing was three years ago 2013 because that was when the computers could run the test.

 

My school has no current standardized data.

 

Turnaround is based on standardized testing – but the testing hasn’t happened.

 

I was interviewed because of testing my school did three years ago in 2013? Mysterious data qualified my school for turnaround.

 

Some of the other assessments that could have been used are questionable as far as accuracy – I mentioned this openly to the interviewers. My direct langauage was: They are crap because they are.

 

There is an current environment in which we are not encouraged to openly question the validity of the tests we are mandated to use – but we should. Just because someone spent a lot of money doesn’t meanwhile it is a worthwhile test.

 

My school keeps having to interview because my school computers did not run the test in 2014 and 2015?

 

I kept asking at the interview which data was being used because we haven’t been able to test our kids for two years. We have a lot of data from other types of tests. Which mystery data was driving the turnaround selection process? No one could tell me why my school was selected or which data my school “failed” to be selected for turnaround.

 

Selection of my school to interview this year was random.

 

Admin used the words data to justify harrassing my school staff and no one was supposed to question. I am very angry. Being randomly interviewed based on events in 2013 is harrassment. And this was the answer I was given when I asked.

 

The turnaround interview team who was sent did not know why they were there. I asked them.

 

The turnaround interview team asks sterile weird questions about data and assessment and evalution. I told them many important things that would be helpful if people cared – but the computerized form did not allow for them to record this input. If it did not fit into the computerized interview slot – it was rejected and not needed. This was not an interview where I could particpate.

 

Some of the questions were encouraging staff to disparage each other. I don’t appreciate interviews that ask me to talk badly about the people I work with. Schools are a community and teachers should help each other.

 

Some of the questions were asking me to disparage my administrator. I felt like asking if I needed to invoke Weingarten Rights and get a union representative to help me. My adminstrator is excellent because kids come first.

 

Some of the questions were encouraging staff to evaluate each other by wandering around other classrooms. Teachers should not be encouraged to “spy” on each other – it destroys a schools environment when this happens. We learn best from each other but not if staff are encourage to report so teachers will be punished.

 

Some of the questions were degrading and insulting. Yes or No questions with no win-win answers. Totally frustrating because teaching is not black and white.

 

What are the components of an effective lesson? This old teacher would frankly state there are many effective ways to instruct – which one do you want? What subject are you teaching? What is the goal of the lesson? Again – no one right answer.

 

I consider the whole turnaround interview process harrassment. It felt like an attack on my due process and like I was set up to fail. The interview people were nice enough but sent to fill in the blanks not to help my school. The scare tactic of interviewing teaching staff with decades of experience is not nice. It is bullying and union-busting. Period.

 

I think the decision has already been made somewhere far away from my classroom – but they were instructed to torture us anyhow to prove some point or meet a random goal.

 

None of the questions asked about kids. I offered but it didn’t fit in the blank.

 

This interview was not about caring or authentic instruction which is essential to real learning. This interview could not provide any real information to anyone about what actually goes on in my classroom.

 

It was an investigation about my peers, my principal, and my data.

 

I feel like my union representation should have been there.

 

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In summary:

 

Turnaround being data driven is a lie. It is random and scary. Any school could be selected at anytime and my school proves this. Current CCSD turnaround interviews are terrible data too – since the computer only allows certain answers to be recorded.

 

The district has many, many places which are ripe to “turnaround” because they are decimated already. Threatening to destroy my school so someone powerful can check off a box somewhere for money is ridiculous.

 

The computers not working at my school – this is a problem that is not solved by interviewing my staff. My school does not have the tools to give anyone reliable data.

 

Everyone needs to be asking frank questions about the turnaround selection process and this empire as a whole. CCSD turnaround grabbing a school like mine to interview makes absolutely zero sense unless something outside of valid data is actually the basis for being considered.

 

The CCSD turnaround monster is gobbling up real teachers and students. Is it making progress according to its own teribble strict data collection?

 

Someone needs to be asking questions. Big ones.

 

And I will state the obvious – we are short licensed highly qualified teachers.

 

Even on my worst day, I’m better than a long term sub who doesn’t have a college degree. You get rid of people like me and replace me with whom?

 

What are we doing?

 

Crazytown. Stressful. Waste of time and money.