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

Friday, May 10, 2013

Bill Gates's Ridiculous TED Talk, Part II

As I blogged before, Bill Gates's talk at TED about teacher evaluation was patently absurd. Gates actually said this:

(1:06) Until recently, over 98% of teachers just got one word of feedback: "Satisfactory."
That is an amazingly ignorant statement on its face. Does Gates really believe teachers get "one word of feedback" in their evaluations? Seriously?

We live in a world where powerful people like Gates are allowed to make audacious statements like this without any vetting: who has the brass to ask Gates to give his source for such an obviously ridiculous claim? The TED people didn't think it was worth their while to demand that Gates back up his clam with a citation - so I had to go digging...

My best guess as to where Gates got this ridiculous claim is from what has become the Rosetta Stone of reforminess: The Widget Effect, published by Michelle Rhee's former playpen, The New Teacher Project. Turn to page 12:
These data often stand in sharp relief against current levels of student achievement. For example, in Denver schools that did not make adequate yearly progress (AYP), more than 98 percent of tenured teachers received the highest rating—satisfactory.16 On average, over the last three years, only 10 percent17 of failing schools issued at least one unsatisfactory rating to a tenured teacher. [emphasis mine]
Did Gates get his claim from here? Dear lord, let's hope not - it would be astonishingly ignorant for Bill Gates to make the claim that "98% of teachers just got one word of feedback" on the basis of a think-tanky, un-vetted study about a small sub-section of Denver's "failing" schools.

I've been combing through the Gates MET Project's website to find another citation for Gates's claim. So far, I've found nothing: TNTP's report is all I can find. But perhaps the fine folks at the Gates Foundation will help me out...

What is the source for Bill Gates's claim that "Until recently, over 98% of teachers just got one word of feedback: 'Satisfactory.'"?

Under any reasonable standard, Gates has an obligation to provide proof for his claim. What is your source, Mr. Gates? Show us the research that backs up your assertion. As a working teacher, I would dearly love to see what has informed your opinions about my chosen career.

I've got lots of research right here! Just waiting for Windows 8 to reboot...

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Why should anyone listen to Bill Gates' misguided education schemes? Microsoft's employees get 4 words of feedback- top, good, average, & poor. Bill needs to tend to his own business and leave education to the real experts. His own evaluation system FAILED Microsoft and its employees for a decade.


"Eichenwald’s conversations reveal that a management system known as “stack ranking”—a program that forces every unit to declare a certain percentage of employees as top performers, good performers, average, and poor—effectively crippled Microsoft’s ability to innovate. “Every current and former Microsoft employee I interviewed—every one—cited stack ranking as the most destructive process inside of Microsoft, something that drove out untold numbers of employees,” Eichenwald writes. “If you were on a team of 10 people, you walked in the first day knowing that, no matter how good everyone was, 2 people were going to get a great review, 7 were going to get mediocre reviews, and 1 was going to get a terrible review,” says a former software developer. “It leads to employees focusing on competing with each other rather than competing with other companies.”