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

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Syracuse: The Failure Of Test-Based Teacher Evaluation

No wonder NY Education Commissioner John King is hiding in an undisclosed location:  
Syracuse -- Virtually all the teachers at Henninger High School received fewer points than they should have on performance evaluations handed out Friday, several teachers told The Post-Standard.
The issue drove some teachers from an "effective" rating to "developing," and others from "developing" to "ineffective." Teachers in the developing and ineffective categories are required to create improvement plans. Those rated "ineffective" two years in a row are subject to an expedited dismissal procedure.
"There were a lot of devastated looks on people's faces," said one veteran teacher who asked not to be identified because she feared repercussions from the district.
"There were teachers crying," another said. "People were furious." [emphasis mine]
But... but... but... we have to put the kids' first! If crying teachers is the price we pay to have New York's children get a few more bubble test questions correct, isn't that worth it?  
The teachers said they picked up their long-awaited evaluations at the end of the school day and were stunned to see that they had all received zeroes on the 20 points of the 100-point evaluation that show the school's improvement on Regents exams.
The score should have been 12, because Henninger students improved in algebra, global studies and U.S. history, they said.
The scoring issue at the city's largest high school, with more than 100 teachers, confirmed teachers' worst fears about the evaluations -- that a rushed and complicated plan was prone to mistakes or manipulation.
Wait a minute - why would the scores in algebra or history matter to all of the teachers? 
In the district, central office administrators and the union, working together, based the local student growth measure on schoolwide improvement on state tests, graduation rates and a few other measures.
 In any given school, every teacher was given the same score on that local measure, whether they taught subjects that are tested by the state or not. Even physical education, music and art teachers were rated on that measure.

Forty percent 
of teachers in Syracuse -- and a similar percentage in Rochester -- have received evaluations requiring them to create improvement plans. Union officials cite anecdotal information suggesting that many suburban districts have very few teachers below the "effective" and "highly effective" ranges, raising questions about the validity of the evaluations, which are based partly on student scores on state tests.
 But... but... but... BAD TEACHERS! It MUST be why our urban schools are "failing"! It's not like there's anything else going on in Upstate New York that would explain changes in test scores...

And, as Aaron Pallas shows, this isn't the only massive failure in Syracuse's teacher rating system. How many more stories like this must we read before the reformies admit that test-based teacher evaluation is a failed policy?

Thankfully, New York's teachers have a strong union that can stand up to this nonsense. Which, of course, is why de-unionization remains at the top of the reformy agenda.

I wonder how much longer we can get away with this garbage?


CitizensArrest said...

The self destruction of VAM by VAM accelerates. http://schoolfinance101.wordpress.com/2013/10/16/the-value-added-growth-score-train-wreck-is-here/

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