- This report is a clarion call for using NJASK scores in teacher evaluations. Doesn't matter that every expert who knows anything about issue has said not to do this, including EPI, which is cited in the Task Force Report itself! Well, experts be damned:
Some say growth scores should not be used in evaluations. But based on our research, we believe that they provide important, if not perfect, information. When used in conjunction with other measures, growth can tell us a great deal. Despite limitations, these scores tell us something; that is, evaluations are better off using them than disregarding them altogether.
It doesn't matter if you think "growth scores" are "important" - the real question you should ask is: "Are they accurate?" They are not, and their inaccuracy is not open to debate.We recommend that the new system use growth alongside other measures and that the State work with testing experts to continually improve their validity. [bold emphasis mine]
"But they tell us something!" Yeah, they tell you how a kid did on a test. They were never designed to tell you how well a teacher teaches. And we know that they do not do that.
This task force is setting NJ up for a wave of lawsuits the likes of which the education establishment has never seen. When the first wave of teachers is fired using these faulty methods, no court in the world will side with the state. It is a disaster in the making, and it all falls squarely on the shoulders of this group of unqualified people.
- I find it hilarious that the DC schools, from which St. Michele Rhee was recently ousted, is held up as a model throughout the report. Task Force, if you knew anything about this stuff, you'd know that it's simply too early to know if IMPACT, DC's evaluation system, has worked or not.
- The problem of basing evaluations on standardized tests when so many teachers do not teach subjects where those tests are used is basically brushed aside:
Because not all subjects and grades have statewide assessments, currently growth scores can be computed for a limited number of teachers. For math and language arts/literacy in grades 4 – 8, these scores will be available in the fall of 2012.
The Task Force recommends that the State work to develop standardized assessments in as many additional subjects and grades as appropriate so growth scores can be calculated for a growing number of teachers.
The Task Force recommends that the Commissioner approve the types of assessments that are acceptable for use in these areas in advance of the development of standardized assessments.
Hey, that was easy! Now all we have to do is develop the assessments, make sure they are valid and reliable for measuring teacher effectiveness, administer them, record the data, and repeat - EVERY YEAR! Oh, and come up with the money to pay for it all! Piece of cake...In some subjects, standardized year-end assessments may never be suitable (e.g., art, music, physical education, or career-tech fields). In these cases, the Task Force recommends the use of other rigorous performance-based evaluations of student work. The use of re- and post- tests would be ideal so student growth, not merely attainment, can be gauged.
Think about what these people are saying: there are so many "bad" teachers who are so "ineffective" that we need to come up with standardized tests in every subject at every grade level - Kindergarten through 12th - to root these "bad" teachers out. And it's worth it to take away all of the children's instructional time - and shoulder the cost - to prepare and administer these tests in every grade level and in every subject.
Has anyone ever proven there are so many "bad" teachers that it's worth it to do this? And do you want to send your kid to a school that spends this much time testing for the sake of teacher evaluations - NOT student evaluations?
- These are the same people who say money needs to flow to the classroom, yet they want MORE administration time spent on observations. How are we going to do that? More administrators? More money? Anybody bother to think about this?
- The Task Force wants principals to be evaluated in part on how they retain effective teachers. The teachers will be judged effective based on their students' standardized tests score "growth." So a principal will have a built-in incentive to give the students most likely to show "growth" to the teachers who have previously been judged "effective."
What do you think is going to happen when the principal makes the class lists for the next year? Who is going to get the best students?
This is another recipe for disaster. Again, the lawsuits will be unbelievable; even worse, camaraderie and morale will be destroyed. Too bad no one on the task force has a background as a classroom teacher; this is an embarrassingly obvious failure of the entire system.
That's all for now; there's going to be a lot to unpack here. But, at the end of the day, it all comes down to this:
Teachers are already evaluated; this only makes the process more onerous and arbitrary. But even if you manage to remove a few "bad" teachers...
Who will you replace them with?