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Fwd: [ca-resisters] NYC Measuring Teachers By Test Scores
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- Subject: Fwd: [ca-resisters] NYC Measuring Teachers By Test Scores
- From: Peter Farruggio <email@example.com>
- Date: Mon, 21 Jan 2008 13:17:03 -0600
The latest reauthorization proposal for NCLB, by
Miller/Kennedy, touted this growth model "reform"
(ala NYC) as an example of fairness: to rate
individual teachers on their students' annual
test scores. Some of us pointed out that this
would INCREASE the teaching to the test and
the use of anti-intellectual, behaviorist
pedagogy, and that this had been the real
objective of high stakes accountability since its
inception, to militarize the classrooms of
working class children in order to increase the
level of social control for the New World
Order. A classic example of extending hegemony,
via propaganda and ideology, as an alternative to
using naked police state methods to control the
population as its standard of living is lowered.
Thankfully, the NCLB reauthorization has been
shelved for now. Some conservatives don't like
any kind of government spending on the poor, even
if it is for test and punish. Many more (now
called neo-liberals) think that the
Miller/Kennedy "reforms" are too mushy. These
corporate mouthpieces demand tougher and more
extensive testing, and even more control over
teachers. The loss of all this conservative
support seems to be the main reason
Miller/Kennedy's bill lost its momentum. It
appears that several of the more liberal Dems in
Congress backed away from the reauthorization
because they had heard our criticisms of NCLB,
and because the NEA has finally come out in
opposition. But how much do they really understand, or care?
The NYC case is an example of how the "growth
model" will work. It can also be used to show
how and why the corporate standardistas are
committed to standardized tests as the sole
yardstick. There must be plenty of stories in
New York schools that show the human face of how
NCLB really works. We must find them and tell
them NOW to educate the public in preparation for
the upcoming political battles.
From: Rich Gibson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
January 21, 2008
New York Measuring Teachers by Test Scores
New York City has embarked on an ambitious
experiment, yet to be announced, in which some
2,500 teachers are being measured on how much
their students improve on annual standardized tests.
The move is so contentious that principals in
some of the 140 schools participating have not
told their teachers that they are being
scrutinized based on student performance and improvement.
While officials say it is too early to determine
how they will use the data, which is already
being collected, they say it could eventually be
used to help make decisions on teacher tenure or
as a significant element in performance
evaluations and bonuses. And they hold out the
possibility that the ratings for individual teachers could be made public.
?If the only thing we do is make this data
available to every person in the city every
teacher, every parent, every principal, and say
do with it what you will that will have been a
powerful step forward,? said Chris Cerf, the
deputy schools chancellor who is overseeing the
project. ?If you know as a parent what?s the
deal, I think that whole aspect will change behavior.?
The effort comes as educators nationwide are
struggling to figure out how to find, train and
measure good teachers. Many education experts
say that until teacher quality improves in urban
schools, student performance is likely to
stagnate and the achievement gap between white
and minority students will never be closed.
Other school systems, including those in Dallas
and Houston as well as in the whole state of
Tennessee, are also using student performance
and improvement as factors in evaluating teachers.
Federation of Teachers, the city?s teachers?
union, has known about the experiment for
months, but has not been told which schools are
involved, because the Education Department has
promised those principals confidentiality.
Weingarten, the union president, said she had
grave reservations about the project, and would
fight if the city tried to use the information
for tenure or formal evaluations or even
publicized it. She and the city disagree over
whether such moves would be allowed under the contract.
?There is no way that any of this current data
could actually, fairly, honestly or with any
integrity be used to isolate the contributions
of an individual teacher,? Ms. Weingarten said.
?If one permitted this, it would be one of the
worst decisions of my professional life.?
New York invited principals from hundreds of
elementary and middle schools with sufficient
annual testing data to participate in the
program, which will produce an elaborate stream of data on 2,500 teachers.
In 140 schools a tenth of the roughly 1,400 in
the system teachers are being measured on how
many students in their classes meet basic
progress goals, how much student performance
grows each year, and how that improvement
compares with the performance of similar students with other teachers.
In another 140 schools, principals are being
asked to make subjective evaluations of roughly
the same number of teachers so officials can see
if the two systems produce widely disparate
results. New York City schools employ roughly
77,000 teachers. In all 280 schools, the
principals agreed to participate in the program.
Deputy Chancellor Cerf said that how students
performed on tests would not be the only factor
considered in any system to rate teachers. All
decisions will include personal circumstances
and experiences, he said, but the point will be
to put a focus on whether or not students are improving.
?This isn?t about how hard we try,? Mr. Cerf
said. ?This is about however you got here, are your students learning??
Ms. Weingarten said the system was not needed.
?Any real educator can know within five minutes
of walking into a classroom if a teacher is
effective,? she said. ?These tests were never
intended and have never been validated for the use of evaluating teachers.?
The experiment is in line with the city?s
increasing use of standardized test scores to
measure whether students are improving, and to
judge school quality. A new bonus program for
teachers and principals, as well as the letter
grading system for schools unveiled last fall,
are all linked to improvement in scores.
Nationally, too, school systems are increasingly
relying on these measures to judge schools.
Virtually all education experts agree that
finding high-quality teachers is critical to
improving student learning, particularly in
high-poverty urban areas, where good teachers
are usually more difficult to find. Recent
research has found that the best teachers can
help struggling students catch up to more advanced students within three years.
But experts are grappling with how to determine
what makes a good teacher. Neither graduate
programs in education schools nor previous
academic records are reliable predictors, they
say. The federal
Child Left Behind law requires that districts
place a ?highly qualified? teacher in every
classroom, which typically means one who has
completed a certification program, but this,
too, is not necessarily a good indicator of quality.
?It seems hard to know who is going to be
effective in the classroom until they are
actually in the classroom,? said Thomas J. Kane,
a professor of education and economics at
Harvard, who is conducting several research
projects on teacher quality in New York City,
and who is involved in the new effort.
Mr. Kane said there was little evidence that
teachers with the ?right paper qualifications?
were any more effective than those without them.
?But most school districts spend very little
time trying to assess how good teachers are in
their first couple of years, when it is most important,? he said.
Nationwide, more than 95 percent of teachers
receive tenure within their first three years of
teaching, according to some studies. And once
teachers receive tenure, it is extremely
difficult to have them removed from classrooms.
In some sense, New York?s effort to judge
teachers partly on their students? improvement
is a logical extension of the grading system for
schools that was unveiled last fall, although
officials adamantly say they have no plans to
assign letter grades to individual teachers.
?I don?t think anyone here would embrace the
formulaic use of even the most sophisticated
instrument you get tenure if this, you don?t
get tenure if that,? Mr. Cerf said.
He added that the new effort was just one of
several ways in which the city was exploring how
to evaluate and improve teacher quality. In
recent months, city officials have begun
training new lawyers to help principals navigate
the considerable red tape required to remove inadequate teachers.
They have increased recruiting efforts to
attract talented teachers to hard-to-staff
schools. And they are allowing schools to earn
merit bonus pools to distribute to teachers based on test scores.
?This should simply be one more way to think
about things,? said Frank A. Cimino, the
principal of P.S. 193 in Brooklyn, who said he
was participating in the experiment. ?It is
going to tell you some things you don?t know,
but it will miss the other things that go on in a classroom.?
William Sanders, a researcher in North Carolina
who was one of the first to begin evaluating
teachers and schools based on student test score
improvements, said that while such a system
could be used to make broad judgments, it was
difficult to use it with precision enough to
find differences among teachers who are simply average.
?Can you distinguish the top teachers? Yes,? Mr.
Sanders said. ?Can you distinguish the bottom
teachers? The answer is yes, too. But it would
be risky to make decisions using information at
the classroom level for teachers who are just in
the middle. You might miss a lot that way.?
The city?s pilot program uses a statistical
analysis to measure students? previous-year test
scores, their numbers of absences and whether
they receive special education services or free
lunch, as well as class size, among other factors.
Based on all those factors, that analysis then
sets a ?predicted gain? for a teacher?s class,
which is measured against students? actual gains
to determine how much a teacher has contributed to students? growth.
The two-page report for each teacher examines
information both from one year and over three
years. The information also compares the teacher
with all other teachers in the city, and with
teachers who have similar classrooms and
experience levels. The second part of the report
measures how well a teacher does with students
with different skill levels, showing, for
example, whether the teacher seems to work well with struggling students.
Mr. Cerf said officials expected to decide by
the ?early summer? whether they would use the
analysis to evaluate individual teachers for
tenure or other decisions, and if so, how they
would do so. Such a decision would undoubtedly
open up a legal battle with the teacher?s union.