But, but, but... she could get tenure, and then suddenly become a horrible teacher! And there's research to support that this is a big problem... somewhere.... I think.... uh....You would think the Department of Education would want to replicate Ms. Isaacson — who has degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia — and sprinkle Ms. Isaacsons all over town. Instead, the department’s accountability experts have developed a complex formula to calculate how much academic progress a teacher’s students make in a year — the teacher’s value-added score — and that formula indicates that Ms. Isaacson is one of the city’s worst teachers.According to the formula, Ms. Isaacson ranks in the 7th percentile among her teaching peers — meaning 93 per cent are better.This may seem disconnected from reality, but it has real ramifications. Because of her 7th percentile, Ms. Isaacson was told in February that it was virtually certain that she would not be getting tenure this year. “My principal said that given the opportunity, she would advocate for me,” Ms. Isaacson said. “But she said don’t get your hopes up, with a 7th percentile, there wasn’t much she could do.”That’s not the only problem Ms. Isaacson’s 7th percentile has caused. If the mayor and governor have their way, and layoffs are no longer based on seniority but instead are based on the city’s formulas that scientifically identify good teachers, Ms. Isaacson is pretty sure she’d be cooked.She may leave anyway. She is 33 and had a successful career in advertising and finance before taking the teaching job, at half the pay.“I love teaching,” she said. “I love my principal, I feel so lucky to work for her. But the people at the Department of Education — you feel demoralized.” [emphasis mine]
In an e-mail, Matthew Mittenthal, a department spokesman said: “We are saying that a teacher’s tenure decision should simply be delayed (not denied) until that teacher has demonstrated effective practice for consecutive years in all three categories. The alternative is what we’ve had in the past — 90-plus percent of teachers who are up for tenure receive it. Do you think journalists deserve lifetime jobs after their third year in the business?”I think any publisher who judges a journalist on a formula like this:
will lose his best journalists and watch his paper fold very, very quickly.