I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Coming Nightmare For Principals

When they start releasing teacher VAM scores in the 'burbs, watch out:

Cheryl Champ, principal of Lakeland High School and leader of the northern Westchester/Putnam group, said she agreed with a column written this week by Microsoft founder Bill Gates in which he wrote that making ratings public would be “shaming poorly performing teachers.”
“There is a lot of fear around the numbers becoming public,” she said. “It will open a can of worms with parents fighting over teachers with the highest scores. But if we have two classes to fill, we can’t put 60 kids in one teacher’s class.” 
Andrew Rotherham, a veteran education analyst based in Virginia who writes the popular blog Eduwonk.com, said that public ratings would level the playing field for parents who aren’t plugged in on the best and worst teachers. And districts might have to address community desires when making personnel decisions.
“Would it help create more incentives to address personnel if you had this sort of pressure?” he said.
The "choice" culture that has grown up in urban districts will mitigate the pressure parents will put on principals to assign children to highly-ranked teachers. That won't be the case in the 'burbs: as soon as the yearly teacher ratings come out, principals are going to be flooded with calls by parents demanding that their child be placed with Mrs. HighVam.

At the same time, those principals will have to deal with Ms. LowVam's demand that she be moved out of the inclusion classroom and be given more high-achieving kids. And they'll have to deal with the growing resentment between the teachers who get VAM-based ratings and the ones who don't (art, music, PE, K-3, 9-12, guidance, etc.).

It's a potential nightmare, which is why so many principals are standing up against this insanity. But that's not enough. We can only stop this if the parents understand that this is going to ruin their children's education.

Will they listen?


Anonymous said...

Nope they won't and thats the problem. This issue need teachers administrators to work together to make this go away. This is going to make principals work 10 times harder and they will make all their teacher's miserable.
I admired what you write. Keep up the great work.

Deb said...

Anon - I am listening and so are thousands of others. The challenge is to educate and outreach - and fast. Duke is absolutely right but there are plenty of us who know that VAM is not only not the end all but damaging and that my children had fabulous teachers that could have been badly evaluated. No one can afford to give up - remember what Dr. Seuss says - Every Who Counts and needs to be heard.

Duke said...

Deb, parents like you make me optimistic!

Teacher Mom said...

They were waiting for the onslaught from parents after the LA release of data and it never came, or at least like it was anticipated. Turns out parents are smarter than politicians give them credit for. Besides, like the principal says in this article, what are you going to do, you have to fill the classes. Parents in the know, KNOW who the good teachers are regardless of what any VMA ranking may say.

Duke said...

TM, I hope you're right. But the propaganda has been relentless: "The teacher is the MOST important factor in learning!"

We'll see...