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

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

What Research?!

This is amazing; Tom Moran of the Star-Ledger did it again!
Tenure reform, the most important part of this package, is facing stubborn opposition. Democrats won’t kill it outright, but they may weaken it enough to justify a veto by Christie.
Research shows that children suffer lasting damage when they have a bad teacher for even one or two years. In urban districts, where more kids are struggling to begin with, the damage is magnified. [emphasis mine]
Not even a high school freshman would be able to get away with referring to "research" without a citation. But this is a regular practice at the Star-Ledger. And, frankly, it's embarrassing.

I'm not saying this research doesn't exist; it may even be of a high quality. Certainly teachers matter, but it is open to debate how much; more importantly, measuring teacher quality is hardly an exact science.

(See how I did that? You can click the link and read it for yourself. Matt DiCarlo's piece has many links as well. Simple, right?)

I have, however, yet to see a study that compares teacher effect over an extended time between urban and non-urban districts. I want to see it. I want to know what it is. Is that so crazy of me?

As to the rest of the piece: the Ruiz bill has several major flaws, which I'll be expanding on this week. I've laid out my case for tenure before, but the Ruiz bill has several specific points that need to be addressed. For now, however, let's note this:
The big fight now is over seniority protections during layoffs. To the teachers’ union and many Democrats, seniority protection for union workers is a core value. The existing rules enshrine that, by requiring the least experienced teachers go first, even when they are top performers.
The issue with seniority is whether we are going to base layoffs on inaccurate, error-prone measures, or make smart selections that take into account quantifiable measures like years of service.

(See that? See how I cited my source? You can do that in print, too; no, I swear, you can!)

And, as I always ask: where is the evidence that large numbers of "bad" senior teachers are holding back student progress? Why are we so hellbent on making this the problem, especially when the highest performing districts have both seniority and tenure?

Once again, here's Bruce Baker's chart (and a third time!):
More this week, with many, many citations.


Marie said...

Ironically, I also read this piece by Anthony Cody this morning about how his high-poverty Oakland school turned around student achievement by doing just the opposite of the reforms-du-jour: they kept all faculty and concentrated on improving professional development, training and student engagement. And it worked... until NCLB came along. This piece is both inspiring and disappointing because it's an excellent example of reform done right—and done wrong.

Anonymous said...

Why the heck is tenure such a big problem all of a sudden? Tenure haS been around for about 100 years. If they get rid of tenure, then the administrators and school boards will be dumping older more experienced teachers no matter how great they are. Once tenure is gone then the incentive for school boards to dump older more expensive teachers will be overwhelming and too tempting. NJ schools have tenure, seniority and unions and yet they rank in the top tier of US schools and score number one in some areas such as graduation rates and AP scores.

Anonymous said...

Another graph, more words--ah, that egghead stuff is too much for the troll. Can't you just come up with a catchy phrase?

By the way, folks leave off the "moron / Moran" stuff, please--even though the first syllable of that name is given the stress in the old country--MOR-uhn. Be fair to the rest of the clan.

Anonymous said...

Where is the NJEA? What are they doing about this defamation? I hope they are not making any more "teachers aren't that bad" ads. Who, besides Jazzman, will confront the slogans and insults and lies?

Anonymous said...

Go to the NJEA web site. They are fighting the good fight but are fighting against a hostile media and anti-union oligarch billions. The NJEA is damned if they do and cursed if they don't. If they spend money to get ads, to get air time, then the right wingers claim that the NJEA is wasting teachers' money. If the NJEA airs ads, it's called a bully and a bunch of thugs. The NJEA is walking on egg shells and they have to be careful not to appear too strident, too extreme because they are fighting the whole mainstream media and especially NJ 101.5, that hateful loudmouthed anti-union hate wing radio station. NJ 101.5 doesn't have to care about objectivity, facts or fairness. They can be as strident and extreme as they want, no problem, no consquences, no costs to them. Christie has an unlimited free bully pulpit with which to demonize the NJEA and teachers. The NJEA has to spend millions to even get a toe into the media door. CC gets unlimited time on NJ 101.5, Fox News and hate wing radio, in general. The NJEA is held to a much higher standard than CC or NJ 101.5. The Bully and his shills can sling mud like crazy but if the NJEA so much as belches in public, it is mocked, scorned and swift boated non stop, every day, 24/7 all year for eternity and into far distant galaxies.

Anonymous said...

An ediroial board can research its stances and make statements of broad opinion without owing professional nitpicks like Jazzman a citation.

JJ, citations in this forum are useless. Before you (Duke) click on them, you are already in cheer or jeer phase, and have a very rudimentary triage approach to finding a quick dismissal or putting a halo on it. Since the topic is so "mysteriously" popular among .edu types, you can always find some union cherrleader-type who did a study that refutued the one at hand. This all depends on whether it helps your personal JJ compensation, or hurts it.

Why do you think readers want your analysis of studies, or you should even put weight on them yourself? Lest time you did it you won't up exposing that you didn't ubderstand the difference between median and average, after embarrassing yourself through a whole thread.

Anonymous said...

Wait, anon, we know you don't like Duke, but what is wrong with his information? Surely if it is faulty you can point out where it misses the mark?

You trust billionaires and newspapers--how are you with telemarketers! (I ask because you claim that you are just a taxpayer-- not a professional lackey.)

If there were no nits (or nitwits who follow them), one wouldn't need to nitpick.

Anonymous said...

I don't dislike Duke...he is like a puppy at the park, fun to watch, but I wouldn't take him hunting.

Filling your opinion pieces with citations and links to your cherry-picked sources is not compelling in an area like education reform that attracts defensive academic homers like mommy bunnies attract daddy bunnies.

The research Moran referenced is probably the Harvard study from earlier this year: http://obs.rc.fas.harvard.edu/chetty/value_added.html It was covered all over the place, NYTimes, all the wires, the author's name and the word "teacher" gets 116,000 google hits.

Somehow, Jazzman, like that puppy in the park, kneejerk charges so hard into the prickers that he pretzels himself around to arguing that teachers are NOT as valuable as you may think.

lol.....how could you not like him? I don't have to comb him out! :-)

czarejs said...

Probably, but we'll never know that will we?

C'mon Troll, anyone who disagrees with your position is a "academic homer"? Yet anyone you would cite wouldn't be? A little hypocritical no?

Nobody argues that teachers aren't valuable, just that standardized tests and value added models aren't an accurate way of measuring.

Anonymous said...

We need to all walk out of work one day. I'm sick of being treated like crap by the government and the corporate media.

My wife was working on her bio cert to teach and the garbage outkm. of christies month convinced her to, switch to nursing school. Her license exam is in the summer . A former student of mine switched out of education and into finance this year. He said his parents convinced him teaching is a dead end job. So, there are two less teachers of the future. Heck of a job christie. I am also thinking of getting out of teaching after a decade. Sick of the bashing and lies about my profession.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't want to be represented by a lawyer or accountant or operated on a doctor that is only in their career cuz they 'ner heard a discouraging word. Better to shake them out now than to live a life of burnout after tenured.

Jazzman -- once again, you cherry pick your own statistics to differentiate between high performing and low performing districts.

You forgot one, a huge one. Huge in covering costs, morale, continuity of education, sub expenses, etc.

Look it up and compare for us. Newark to-----anywhere Top 10.

Teacher absences.

Lisa said...

The much-reported (and also criticized) Harvard study (Chetty, Friedman, and Rockoff) used test-score data from the 1990's (which is a "duh" since the student subjects are now 28), well before NCLB, high stakes testing, and "accountability." It applied the new metric of VAM to old tests and old methods. (And to during a time, btw, that included tenure, seniority, strong teacher unions, higher teacher annual raises, and no systemic teacher-bashing).

The only thing that study shows in the macro is that our old pre-NCLB system worked.

Duke said...

Oh, Lisa. Lisa, Lisa, Lisa...

Chetty is "good" research! It may be .edu, but it's GOOD .edu! And we can infer pretty much anything we want from it without looking at it's limitations! Because that would be biased!

Thx to you all for posting. The fact that you keep leaving your thoughts here is obviously making some folks very, very nervous.

Gosh, wonder why?

Anonymous said...

Lisa -- in a study on life outcomes would you suggest only studying current students? Because I'll bet Duke will link it as a citation if you do! :-)

The...I don't know, "sad" doesn't cover it....pethetic part of the debate here on this blog is that teachers should be cheering a report like this because it shows how important, vital and crucial it is. Teacher's should be waving this as an argument for merit pay and higher pay.

And I'm sure many are. But Jazzman views it as a threat, only sees the downside of the bad teachers, not the upside of the great teachers, and wants to downplay the importance of teachers.

Dunno why. Maybe music isn't that mission critical?

Lisa said...

[Lisa -- in a study on life outcomes would you suggest only studying current students?]

Anon -- Not only did they NOT study ANY current students, they used current metrics (that have their own predictive problems) applied to 20 year old low stakes non-standardized testing data, 20 year old teaching methods, 20 year old curricula, 20 year old instructional methods, 20 year old policy, and the culture, economy, zeitgeist, and demographics of 20 years ago.

Would you suggest that a study of what we did 20 years ago with different measures and methods would produce the same results now, and are of any value in determining current policy and positive change?

Dunno why. Maybe the scientific method, reliable predictors, and accurate conclusions aren't mission critical.

Anonymous said...

You better not, be talking about my wife. She was very upset because she wanted to inspire a love of science in kids, but we also need to be able to take care of our family. Massive cuts in staff, a large pay cut due to the new benefits law and 15 years of, both political parties not funding the pension system as they are obligated to do, doesn't make teaching attractive to many young people.

Teachers are, not charity workers and are highly educated professionals. You can't expect people to become teachers if there is no ability to support your family.

Duke said...

Anon 6:43: Tell your wife that the vast majority of folks in NJ appreciate her and her service. Tell her what she is doing is important.

Tell her the governor is wrong: she can be a great teacher, and it doesn't reflect on her "passion" that she puts her family first.

Tell her she is not greedy for expecting the promises made to her when she entered the field to be honored.

Thank you to all of you teachers who come here and read and post.

Duke said...

Anon 6:16 AM: Great question.

Anon 7:17 AM: Great answer.

Stand by...