"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was and never will be...nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe." – Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

2012 Medley #4, Part 2: More from New York...

NYC teachers' rankings based on test scores published.

(Click here to see Part 1, It's all About New York.)

The attacks on public education and public school teachers will continue until America's millions of teachers stand up and say, "No more." No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top have shown what the politicians mean to do to America's public schools. Our union leaders tell us we need a seat at the table. The experiences in Los Angeles and New York have shown that strategy to be a mistake. The "seat at the table" has backfired and teachers, who hoped for cooperation from the administration can now see what that cooperation has gotten them.

The students in America's public schools are counting on us to make sure that there is a qualified, well-trained professional in every classroom, not someone with five weeks of training who is marking time between their Bachelors degree and a business career. Our students are counting on us to return content to the curriculum and end the damage that the insanity of mindless testing has caused. Our students are counting on us to be their voice...to tell the nation that enough is enough and that we need to return real learning to the classroom.

Dennis Van Roekel and Randi Weingarten take note...we should be fighting to save public education not relying on untrustworthy politicians to do it for us.

How to Demoralize Teachers

Diane Ravitch reminds us that the VAM assessment data is invalid and unreliable. Why then, is it being publicized? She has the answer for that, too.
Most testing experts believe that value-added assessment has many technical problems that reduce its validity and reliability. The most recent research review appears in the current issue of the Phi Delta Kappan. Unfortunately, advocates of measuring teacher quality by student test scores never let research or evidence or, in New York City's case, unequivocal commitments to privacy, get in their way.

The New York Post exulted with a front-page, full-page banner headline: "REVEALED: TEACHER GRADES." On day one, it printed a picture of and story about "the best teacher," and on day two, a picture of and story about "the worst teacher." The Post interviewed parents who said they wanted their child out of that teacher's class or they wanted her fired. In recent years, the Post has often run stories about teachers who allegedly are criminals, perverts, or just plain lazy, greedy dummies who can't be trusted to teach anything and shouldn't be allowed near children. It seems that the Murdoch journal won't be satisfied until every school has been turned over to private management, with no unions, no seniority, and no job protections whatever for teachers.

Why we won’t publish individual teachers’ value-added scores

One publication, Gothamschools.org, has refused to publish the information.
But before we publish any piece of information, we always have to ask a question. Does the information we have do a fair job of describing the subject we want to write about? If it doesn’t, is there any additional information — context, anecdotes, quantitative data — that we can provide to paint a fuller picture?

In the case of the Teacher Data Reports, “value-added” assessments of teachers’ effectiveness that were produced in 2009 and 2010 for reading and math teachers in grades 3 to 8, the answer to both those questions was no.

New York City Teacher Ratings: Teacher Data Reports Publicly Released Amid Controversy

The president of the NYC teachers union, Michael Mulgrew has written a full page ad to explain why the numbers shouldn't be used to evaluate teachers. He includes the facts that the data uses tests which have since been labeled invalid, the reports are full of errors, and the methodology contains a margin of error so large as to make the results meaningless.

He also reminds everyone the procedure was so experimental that even former Chancellor Joel Klein
...promised when it began that the results would be available only to teachers and their supervisors. Then the Department of Education reneged on its pledge and has released them to the public.
From Huffington Post...
In response, the union, the United Federation of Teachers, has launched a city-wide newspaper advertising campaign. The ad headlines, "This Is No Way To Rate A Teacher!" followed by a lengthy and complicated mathematical formula as well as a letter from UFT President Michael Mulgrew with a list of all the reasons he says the data reports are faulty and unreliable.

Crunching the New York Teacher Evaluations 2/24/2012 12:00:00 PM

The Wall Street Journal, rarely a friend to public school teachers, posted a video interview with it's "Numbers Guy," Carl Bialik, who tries to explain the "reliability" and unintended consequences of the evaluations.

Bialik said,
...you can reallly only control for data that you can measure...There could be all sorts of unintended consequences that you really want to address ahead of time. Things like, maybe it's harder to get people to enter the profession if they know they're going to be judged based on a number. Maybe teachers start teaching even more to the test than maybe they have been already if their career is decided based on it. Maybe you have a big expense from administering all the data needed to actually get these numbers.
Bialik's point about it being harder to get people to enter teaching is important. Why would anyone want to be an education professional when public humiliation based on inadequate and invalid data hangs over their heads? The threat of public evaluations is going to cause a qualified teacher shortage. Would you want your child to choose a career like that? Maybe we need to use valid instruments to evaluate teachers.

U.S. schools chief endorses release of teacher data

Just as a reminder...a year and a half ago, when the Los Angeles Times released the same data for teachers in LA, Arne Duncan praised the newspaper. From August 16, 2010...
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said Monday that parents have a right to know if their children's teachers are effective, endorsing the public release of information about how well individual teachers fare at raising their students' test scores.

"What's there to hide?" Duncan said in an interview one day after The Times published an analysis of teacher effectiveness in the Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation's second largest school system. "In education, we've been scared to talk about success."
Parents have a right to know if their child's teacher is effective...but let's use valid and reliable instruments to evaluate teachers. No teacher should be against fair and appropriate accountability.

UPDATE: Here's the story of one NY teacher who was the subject of misinformation, harassment and personal humiliation.

The True Story of Pascale Mauclair
As in many other cases, the story of Pascale Mauclair and P.S. 11 begins with a tale of the flawed methodology and invalid measurements of the Teacher Data Reports.

P.S. 11 is located at the epicenter of a number of different immigrant communities in northern Queens, and over a quarter of its students are English Language Learners. Mauclair is an ESL teacher, and over the last five years she has had small, self-contained classes of recently arrived immigrants who do not speak English. Her students arrive at different times of the school year, depending upon that date of their family’s migration; consequently, it is not unusual for her students to take the 6th grade exams when they have only been in her class for a matter of a few months. Two factors which produce particularly contorted TDR results – teaching the highest academic need students and having a small sample of students that take the standardized state exams – define her teaching situation.
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