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We know that the flawed New York City teacher ratings data that was released last week is broadly unreliable, with a high margin of error and rating teachers not just by how well their students did on tests, but by how well their students did in relation to an algorithm's sometimes unreasonable expectations of how the students would perform. That's information that's widely known and indisputable. Yet the teacher rankings are still being used to publicly vilify low-rated teachers without even a cursory investigation of whether the data's many known flaws may have made a good teacher look bad.

Value-added models such as New York is using to predict what a teacher's results should be, based on the characteristics of the students and other variables, are somewhat worse than unproven at this point. The factors in schools are too complicated, the tests have too much measurement error, and the conclusions reached by multiple studies, including from RAND and the Educational Testing Service, are that value-added models are "too imprecise" and "should not serve as the sole or principal basis for making consequential decisions about teachers." To its credit, New York isn't using the Teacher Data Reports currently in the news as the sole basis for its ultimate teacher evaluations. But despite the much more sophisticated evaluation process that has been painstakingly negotiated, and despite earlier assurances that "It is DOE's firm position and expectation that Teacher Data Reports will not and should not be disclosed or shared outside the school community" and that "In the event a [freedom of information] request for such documents is made, we will work with the [United Federation of Teachers] to craft the best legal arguments available to the effect that such documents fall within an exemption from disclosure," the city's Department of Education actually encouraged and facilitated the release of this unsophisticated, unreliable data.

Reports are pouring in of anomalies that show how many straightforward errors exist in the Teacher Data Reports. The principal at P.S. 321 writes that one year of data for two grades has errors on four to six of her teachers, including that "One teacher who taught in 08-09 but was on child care leave for years before that time has data for a previous year—impossible ... it must be data from someone who was in that same room the previous year" and "a teacher who has taught 4th grade for 5 years has no data for previous years." Diane Ravitch cites a report of a teacher who "received only two rankings, 88 percent in one year, and 38 percent in the next, yet his rating was averaged as 40 percent." (Never mind what it says about the test's reliability that a teacher could go from 88 percent to 38 percent year to year.)

In other cases, several different flaws in the data or anomalous circumstances came together to victimize specific teachers. Take Pascale Mauclair, who received a poor ranking. Reporters from Rupert Murdoch's New York Post went to her father's home, knocked on her door for so long that she had to call the police twice, and questioned her neighbors about her. The Post printed her salary and her picture. But as Edwize, a UFT blog, explains, there is not just one reason to believe Mauclair's low ranking was wrong, there's a host of them.

First off, P.S. 11, where she teaches, is a very good school as measured by ranking systems and by its popularity within its community and support from students and parents, and Mauclair is respected within the school. Yet somehow, of the school's seven sixth grade teachers, three were ranked at the zero percentile by the city's Teacher Data Reports. How do you have a very strong school if nearly half of the students in one grade are being taught by the worst teachers in the city? Might that not be a red flag that either the school is being rated better than it is, or those teachers are being rated worse? And since the school is rated well by at least two different reports and by its students and parents and it's so popular it operates over capacity, the logical explanation for the discrepancy is that there's something wrong with the teacher rankings, which are based on one data source already known to be flawed.

In fact, P.S. 11 is one of the few schools in the city where sixth grade is taught in an elementary school, rather than a middle school. That means that, unlike middle school teachers who teach one subject and teach up to 160 students through the day, these teachers teach no more than 32 students in multiple subjects. It's not just an apples to oranges comparison, it's an incredibly low sample size, which makes the data weaker.

So the story of how outrageous the New York Post's crusade against Pascale Mauclair as one of the city's worst teachers starts with school-level data that shows right off the bat that even over and above the general problems with the teacher data, there's something wrong in this specific case. Add to that Mauclair's own position as an ESL teacher, who teaches:

...small, self-contained classes of recently arrived immigrants who do not speak English. Her students arrive at different times of the school year, depending upon that date of their family’s migration; consequently, it is not unusual for her students to take the 6th grade exams when they have only been in her class for a matter of a few months.
In fact, between P.S. 11 being an elementary, not middle, school and Mauclair being an ESL teacher, she teaches so few students that she didn't even meet the minimum number of students to have a score reported for English Language Arts, and was only given a score for math, which was based on just 11 students.

All of this might be too complex for the New York Post even if it wasn't on an ideological crusade against teachers and their unions, and using Mauclair as a scapegoat in that crusade. But when you take together the known problems with value-added modeling at all, the fact that the city's actual teacher evaluation process is much more complex than one test and that this test was not supposed to be made public, the giant margin of error on the results, and the host of known errors like a teacher being attributed test results for years spent on parental leave, it's clear no reasonable person in possession of the facts could put any weight on these tests as measure of teacher effectiveness. Add to that the way the case of P.S. 11 and Pascale Mauclair shows how multiple factors in the way the data is calculated can completely distort the picture and you see how this is not only a tragedy for public education, it's also many personal tragedies visited upon undeserving teachers. Doubtless there are some bad—even terrible—teachers in the New York City schools. But the Teacher Data Reports are not the way to uncover who they are, and intense harassment and public vilification from a Rupert Murdoch newspaper are not the way to treat even bad teachers.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Sun Mar 04, 2012 at 06:55 PM PST.

Also republished by New York City and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  This is a very important diary (8+ / 0-)

    thank you for posting on this topic.

    You might want to re-think those ties. - Erin Brockovich

    by mahakali overdrive on Sun Mar 04, 2012 at 07:11:15 PM PST

    •  Agreed. Who is paying for these value added (4+ / 0-)

      tests to be done?  How much do they cost?  Can the group who is doing them be held accountable ... both for the "glitches" in their data and the effect they are having on peoples' careers and lives?  

      And, I'm just getting started on the questions I have about this situation.

      Hi, MO. :)

      Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

      by bkamr on Sun Mar 04, 2012 at 07:38:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  There are no special tests (8+ / 0-)

        which is in fact part of the problem. The tests were not designed to generate data for this kind of analysis.

        What they are doing is taking the spring tests given to kids in every state, and comparing the child's percentile from year to year. So, if the child was in the 70th percentile in 4th grade and is in the 60th percentile in 5th grade, "obviously" the fifth grade teacher is a loser. And if the child hits 80th percentile, "obviously" the 5th grade teacher is brilliant.

        This neglects many many important points:
        - tests in different grades are on completely different material. This is not a pre test and post test situation.
        - because most of these tests are using percentiles in some way to norm the grades, the rank of your students depends in part on how other students not in your class perform
        - tests judge student achievement, and since students have minds of their own, they don't really count or care whether the teacher imparted that knowledge or not
        - tests cover only a tiny bit of the skills the student was expected to learn
        - the models fail a crucial test, which is that you can predict a child's 2nd grade scores from the 4th grade teacher. This means that the "variables" affecting student performance are not even close to being isolated. It's known, for example, that you can lower test scores by having snow days or by having the misfortune of test day right after spring break.

        I've watched test scores at my daughter's school over the years. It's one class per grade and the student and teacher population is relatively stable, so all the kids have all the same teachers. What you see is noise. The second grade class kicks butt and then in 4th grade, they fall. But a different class aces 4th grade after mediocre 2nd grade scores.

        All this doesn't even touch on the fact that there isn't data for most teachers, because the grade or subject they teach isn't tested or because their kids are shared with other teachers during the year.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Sun Mar 04, 2012 at 08:07:47 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Oh, good grief. This is pathetic. Thank you (4+ / 0-)

          for the explanation.

          Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

          by bkamr on Sun Mar 04, 2012 at 08:25:10 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  It also doesn't consider outside factors (5+ / 0-)

          such as a divorce of child's parents in the 5th grade and a new super nice supportive step parent in 6th grade

          or child is in a class of bullies in 5th grade and changes schools in 6th grade

          or child found the keys to mom and dad's liquor cabinet in 5th grade and they didn't find out til 6th grade

          or a child's medications were changed from year to year

          I could name 100 more reasons  why a child's could have year to year major swings in test scores but you probably get it by now.

           It is so sad that others obviously do not.  Literally a teacher can lose a job over outside factors beyond his or her control.  Shameful, indeed.

          •  I usually say (5+ / 0-)

            if the scores are good for a particular student, you know that that student knows something. It's hard (save cheating) to get a good score by chance.

            But there are lots of reasons for a bad score, and a low score doesn't tell you much except that you should start asking questions.

            And none of these say anything about the teacher. My daughter is most likely going to get good scores regardless of who teaches her, because she has two highly educated parents who care about her education and because she is pretty good at tests.

            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

            by elfling on Sun Mar 04, 2012 at 09:27:15 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Unless you can explain why children whose parents (0+ / 0-)

            divorce in 5th grade or who change schools in 6th grade are preferentially assigned to a particular teacher the following year this doesn't matter - over 25+ students (for a teacher who has one student cohort all day) or 100+ students (for a teacher who teaches one class multiple periods) you average these issues out.

        •  Teacher performance needs input from parents (4+ / 0-)

          I don't see where that is provided for. It may not be unbiased if the teacher likes the child but if they should happen to not like the child and he/she is suffering because of that, it needs to be known.

          One of my children had this experience. The teacher was uncooperative when I asked her to work with me to help my child improve her performance. Since my daughter was ADD and had a special plan written up for achievement , the teacher was supposed to cooperate. It happens.

          •  Well the truth is ... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Amber6541, Linda Wood

            That teacher should not have graduated from college unless they had proved that they had the mental capacity to handle various situations such as that one you described.

            But, unfortunately, many aren't. I know the teachers union will start throwing rocks at me for saying this, but a lot of teachers are graduating from college totally clueless about pretty much everything.

            I am wondering if that teacher wasn't trying to be uncooperative, but actually didn't know how to help improve your child's performance.

            I actually know one teacher when I was young that was so lost she asked the older kid in my class what she should be doing, then for the rest of the year she read from the old textbooks and did no actual teaching herself.

            Teachers like that, and also ones like you described, should not have been given a classroom until they had proved they could handle the job given to them, and they should not be blindly protected by the teachers union because at that point all the union is doing is protecting the mediocrity of our teachers as well as our children.

            I know some people won't like my words here, and I'm sorry. It is what it is.

            On the plains of hesitation lie the blackened bones of countless millions who at the dawn of victory lay down to rest, and in resting died. -- Adlai Stevenson

            by Ghost of NY on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 02:55:06 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  It is deliberately not included (0+ / 0-)
            Teacher performance needs input from parents
            The purpose of VAM is to measure how much students improve in school, not how happy their parents are - no extra points for being nice to parents, etc., just for helping their kids score higher.
      •  Hey bkamr! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        It's an important question that you raise. I'm with you on those questions... :)

        You might want to re-think those ties. - Erin Brockovich

        by mahakali overdrive on Sun Mar 04, 2012 at 09:44:35 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Bloomberg's system is Republican vapor-ware (5+ / 0-)
  •  We are plunging towards an abyss of ignorance (13+ / 0-)

    When a presidential candidate, even as fringe an element as Santorum, sneers at aspirations for a college education, that tells you that the worst element of American character, the association of education with oppressive elites, has gained a dangerous amount of traction.

    The corporatization of education will be the downfall of a public education system that has been faced with overwhelming challenges.  That so many erstwhile "liberal" or even "progressive" elements have supported this makes it even more tragic, in the Greek sense: by trying honestly to improve  education, they will destroy it.

    And let us never forget: when a nation is losing a battle, it never blames the troops (in this case, the teachers) nor should it.  It should blame the generals, and the politicians.

    -9.00, -5.85
    If only stupidity were painful...

    by Wintermute on Sun Mar 04, 2012 at 07:13:11 PM PST

  •  I agree (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stwriley, ManhattanMan

    with both of these propositions:
    "Doubtless there are some bad—even terrible—teachers in the New York City schools. But the Teacher Data Reports are not the way to uncover who they are..."

    So, having agreed that there are some incompetents, how do we now go about getting rid of them. [Hint—given NY's schools contracts, it's really, really, really difficult. Will Ms. Clawson help campaign for making these teachers both discoverable and fireable?

    •  more parental involvement? (8+ / 0-)

      Less testing metrics, more involved parents? As an involved NYPS parent I understand the can of worms involved and I live in fear of bad teachers (haven't met any yet). Low level non-classroom board of ed employees have told me horror stories of preposterous graft and waste at the board of ed. Seems to me that cleaning up the 100k + a year paper pushers would save some money. I don't believe that someone whose career ambition is to boss teachers and doesn't actually have the skills to teach classes full of kids can be in charge of deciding how to improve the actual education going on.

      If you didn't like the news today, go out and make some of your own.

      by jgnyc on Sun Mar 04, 2012 at 07:32:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  With Mayoral Control Bloomberg has cut parents out (0+ / 0-)

        Sure we can do things around the school to help; but we can't get rid of the stupid tests or the pressure to teach to the test (and it happens in the best schools); nor can we get them to stop co-placements.

        End mayoral control.  

    •  Why should she - or anyone - campaign? (8+ / 0-)

      The supervision of educational employees is the responsibility of the people paid to supervise, evaluate and manage them. Based on my experience teaching, the administration already knows who the poor teachers are and doesn't need extensive testing to identify them or remove them if it chooses to exercise its responsibility and ability to do so.

      It is NOT the responsibility of teachers to identify and remove their failing colleagues - it's the responsibility of administrators.

      NYC's school contracts were not unilaterally imposed by the teachers or their unions. The contracts were negotiated. Once again, negotiating workable contracts is another administration responsibility. If the terms proposed by the union weren't workable, the administrators had the option of going to mediation/arbitration to resolve the differences.

      Most teachers know how to teach - that's their responsibility. If you expect them or any other non-administrators to perform administration tasks, you should be advocating that they're given the additional compensation and resources to do so, and the incompetent administrators should be relieved of their duties and pay.

      It's never too late to have a happy childhood - Tom Robbins

      by badger on Sun Mar 04, 2012 at 07:45:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Wrong argument (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ManhattanMan, Wham Bam

        The premise as given was that there are, in fact, bad teachers. Ms. Clawson, as an interested observer writing on the education industry, would/should be interested in campaigning to weed out incompetents. No one said the least thing about teachers being tasked with such a responsibility, for which they are particularly ill-suited.

        But you are correct that the contracts were not unilaterally imposed on the teachers or unions. They were unilaterally imposed on the taxpayer by the politicians beholden to those teachers and unions for contributions and voting-block support. It's a cozy arrangement.

        •  Why are you assuming the pols are beholden (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Van Buren, badger

          to the teachers and unions?  From what I see there's not a lot of love there.

          Would we be so happy to have a military that dwarfs all others combined if it was a line item deduction on our paychecks next to FICA."

          by Back In Blue on Sun Mar 04, 2012 at 09:44:21 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  But you believe that teachers (0+ / 0-)

          are somehow responsible for bad teachers not getting removed, therefore, it seems to me that you think teachers, along with bloggers apparently, have the responsibility for identifying and removing bad teachers.

          I think it's the responsibility of the people who are already tasked and paid to do that.

          Contracts weren't unilaterally imposed on taxpayers either. They have a vote to elect either the politicians who negotiate and ratify the contracts, or the politicians who appoint the negotiators.

          It's never too late to have a happy childhood - Tom Robbins

          by badger on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 04:02:01 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  How do you recommend the latter? (6+ / 0-)

      Given that unionized teachers are actually more likely to be removed from their jobs than non-union teachers, so it's clearly not the contracts that are the main issue. So, separate from all the bullshit attacks on teachers unions making it hard to fire bad teachers, in the real world, what do you recommend?

      •  My radical proposal (0+ / 0-)

        would be to junk the state and city departments of education, the so-called schools of education, and the entire bogus process that is termed "certification." I'd replace it with stiff academic area competency certification along with a rigorous apprenticeship system.

        In the real world, I'd like to replace the present tenure system with, say 5-year contracts and then work out measures of competence for rreappointment that included both success of students on straightforward academic exams and in-class observation and evaluation by teams of inspectors-general tied neither to the unions nor the local school administration. That might be a start.

        •  There are bad teachers, but there numbers are smal (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          elfling, JanL

          The real problem with schools is poverty and corruption.  The difference between the best schools and the worst are rarely anything but money based.  Affluent school districts generally have the best schools and the best students.  Poor school districts have neither.  Of course, that's a generalization and there are small numbers of exceptions.  But having had a child in NYC public schools, Stamford public schools and a very affluent CT towns school systems, I have seen first hand the difference.

          The two city schools each had their problems and each had strengths.  But both had to deal with all the poverty brings to any system.   In my current affluent town, it's not perfect, but it's not that hard to run a great school system when you have the money you need to hire the best teachers, plenty of books, smart boards, athletics programs, music, art, science, you name it we got it.  Oh there's also what we don't have—kids living in poverty.  There's not one kid here on a free school meal program.  Every kid here is capable of doing very well.  There are few problems at home an relative to cities, they're almost non-existent.

          There's all sorts of solutions for symptoms of our problems.  But no one is talking about the biggest problem of all.


          Would we be so happy to have a military that dwarfs all others combined if it was a line item deduction on our paychecks next to FICA."

          by Back In Blue on Sun Mar 04, 2012 at 09:56:17 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  That's an interesting claim (0+ / 0-)
        Given that unionized teachers are actually more likely to be removed from their jobs than non-union teachers,
        Got a cite?
    •  It's not as hard to remove "bad" teachers (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Focusmarker, Linda Wood

      as reports claim.  First, it takes the administrators showing evidence of having tried to help, and not just moving to fire without intervention.  Second, it can't be done in a year for tenured teachers unless something outrageous occurs: an unsatisfactory trend has to be established.  But it can be done easily in the first three or four years, by which time a decent administration should have enough info.  The fact is, few administrators are good enough at their jobs to do the necessary due diligence required to remove tenured teachers who really shouldn't be in the classroom.

      But I can tell you as a teacher in the NYC system, those are very rare.  Remember, a teacher has to have three or four reasonably successful years before getting tenure; more than half don't make it.  Happily, lousy teachers are not likely to want to or be able to stick it out for three or four unsuccessful years in a very difficult job.  The fact is, when a principal is targeting a teacher for termination, it is shocking how often the issues have nothing to do with the classroom and everything to do with school politics.

      All that being said, this whole issue highlights a big problem in New York City: how strange it is to have a Department of Education that views itself as being in conflict with its educators, as adversaries of teachers.  I can assure you, this is exactly the message that's sent, from top to bottom.  In poorly administered schools, it leads to a culture of harassment; in well-administered schools, it makes it much more difficult to just buckle down and do our jobs.

      •  OH: And (0+ / 0-)

        THANK YOU for an excellent diary on the topic, Laura.

      •  And what about the victims of such educational (0+ / 0-)


        First, it takes the administrators showing evidence of having tried to help, and not just moving to fire without intervention.  Second, it can't be done in a year for tenured teachers unless something outrageous occurs: an unsatisfactory trend has to be established.
        How about as soon as the dismissal process starts we preferentially put the children of other teachers in that teacher's class.

        Let's make sure that teachers also have an incentive to make the dismissal process fair, accurate, and fast.

        •  You really are fascinated with the idea of (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          punishing teachers, aren't you?

          Never mind the ideals of due process, innocent until proven guilty, correlation does not equal causation (or in this case, accusation does not equal confirmation) -- just go straight for the "Burn the teachers!" approach.

          But hey, as long as it's the best thing for the students!

          •  You got one thing right... (0+ / 0-)
            But hey, as long as it's the best thing for the students!
            The purpose of our educational system is to educate students.

            Everything else is secondary, including fairness to teachers.

            No measurement system is perfect any measurement or evaluation system that gets rid of any teachers at all will unfairly get rid of some good teachers.

            TFL.  Life isn't fair.

            The question isn't how to maximize fairness to teachers.  It is what is the optimum policy to maximize student educational performance.

            That means firing a teacher as soon as it becomes more likely than not that his replacement will be better, even if that means a high percentage of false positives.

            •  Sounds like a new meme for Rush. (0+ / 0-)

              I think you might be on the wrong side of the aisle.

              Democratic principles don't generally include "kill them all and let God sort them out."

            •  I think you've misunderstood (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Linda Wood

              my main point, and I probably didn't state it clearly enough.  OF COURSE bad teachers shouldn't be teaching - nobody is defending that!

              The problem is that there HAS to be a PROCESS to remove a teacher, because it so often - seriously, very very often - has nothing to do with teaching.  More experienced teachers cost m-o-n-e-y, and that's what most "reform" comes down to: saving money.  More experienced teachers are also more likely to have opinions about defending the educational culture of their schools against the pernicious effects of the bean-counters on our schools.

              Teachers work hard for our students, and we most definitely want to be part of a school culture of excellence; nobody wants to work with bad teachers.  They disserve the students and lead to a disorderly school environment.  For heaven's sake, all this should be obvious.

              I'm sorry to have to explain this to a reader of DailyKos, but unionized teachers are the defenders of our classroom-based culture of learning in schools.  Not because of this or that specific point in a contract, but because unionization provides defense of our voices (or so it should).  Defending the right of teachers to speak and be heard without fear of persecution by the institutional managers IS what defends a serious learning environment against encroachment by anti-education forces.  You know who they are: people who collect data before determining what it's for, and then use it slyly or foolishly; people who brook no dissent or debate; people who'd rather save money in the short run than educate in the long run; people who make up results to support flawed policy; people who could never themselves actually manage lesson planning, product output, and classroom management for 150 (or more) kids a day and won't leave us alone to do it.

              Sure, unions protect our rights (sometimes) and our salaries.  But when well-organized, they much more critically defend the voices of those who are most directly invested in successful schools.  I mean, apart from the students themselves, and it's probably teachers who would have the least to fear and most to gain if we ever did see a student organizing movement in the public schools...

              •  What is your evidence for this claim? (0+ / 0-)
                but unionized teachers are the defenders of our classroom-based culture of learning in schools
                Unions represent teachers, not students - that is their job.

                A union is required to defend a bad teacher just as much as a good one - a union can't refuse to try to save a teacher's job just because s/he can't teach.

                So why do you think "nionized teachers are the defenders of our classroom-based culture of learning in schools"?

                •  You are asking for evidence (0+ / 0-)

                  As you point out, unions for teachers represent teachers.  What do you think are the issues that mainly concern teachers on a day-to-day basis?  Before you answer, remember: we are teachers.  It should not be too shocking that the priority is the protection and encouragement of conditions that favor good teaching.  Why do you think that the interests of students run counter to teachers?  They don't.
                  Just because unions are charged with protecting all their members - of course you're right on that - does not mean that weakening unions will result in better teaching.  I think my point was clear:  unionized teachers have voices in their school community that are protected; non-unionized teachers don't.   And if you didn't know, let me inform you that the role of union chapters in schools here in New York City is to advise on all education matters, on the full running of the school, on program, on compliance to meet the needs of special needs students, on improving outcomes, on protecting the arts and ensuring that kids have books, and aligning the budget to the school's needs: all of it; not just defending bad teachers.  And good, well-organized union chapters with responsible school administrations do a great job collaborating on it all to everyone's benefit.
                  Without protection and without a contract spelling out these rights, what protection do you think there would be in the super-politicized education world for this input from actual educators of actual students in actual classrooms?  

      •  I think the main idea I would like to see (0+ / 0-)

        considered is that I think a principal should have to agree before taking in any new-to-that-school teacher - ie, they shouldn't just be assigned over the objection of the local administration.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 11:05:09 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  What's so friggin hard? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      1. Document in what ways they are incompetent
      2. Document how you-the principal-tried to remediate their failings.
      3. Document that they did not improve.

      If Administrators really want to get rid of a teacher, they can. They just have to prove their case.

      Santorum's OK. On a Saturday night. But on a Tuesday? Yecch.

      by Van Buren on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 02:31:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's really said the way they're attacking us (15+ / 0-)

    I teach in a similar HS in NYC - with students who do not speak English and are arriving from various countries at different points during the year. Some live in shelters, some live with one-parent or grandparents. Some didn't go to school for years at a time.
    I teach math, and some of my students never learned about decimals or fractions in their countries, yet somehow they're supposed to pass the 9th grade math test at the end of the year.

    Teachers aren't opposed to accountability, but show me a reliable test that accounts for all of these variables before releasing my "value-added" data to the pubic.

    We aren't in it for the money or because it is a cushy job. We do it to make a difference in our students' lives.

    "I'm a hopeless're just hopeless." -Bouncing Souls

    by AndrewOG on Sun Mar 04, 2012 at 07:19:04 PM PST

  •  As a NYPS parent (7+ / 0-)

    I'm really hoping this plays into the "Mike can't run again (or can he?)" election coming up. All of these top down metrics have been always been about attacking the union. There's going to be graft and waste at the Department of Ed. That doesn't extend to the front line teachers that actually teach our kids. Parents will take care of and action against a not-even-bad simply inadequate teacher. I just watched it happen. And, yes, I know it's hard to move a bad teacher and it's hard to get a kid out of a bad school. That's no excuse for phoney metrics and book cooking demagogues like Rhee.

    And they give the Post away in the school office daily. Because they can't sell them in NYC. I've started reading it sometimes because it's free. Sports section is okay if a little thin. The rest of it is a skeleton.

    If you didn't like the news today, go out and make some of your own.

    by jgnyc on Sun Mar 04, 2012 at 07:26:59 PM PST

    •  I was going to post about the Post (8+ / 0-)

      I teach in a Staten Island high school and I despise the fact that there are a 100 NY Posts waiting for any takers every morning.

      We used to get copies of the NY Times for free but that stopped as it was probably costing the Times too much.  Murdoch will spend himself broke to brainwash the masses.

      The crap I read in that rag makes me want to vomit.  (Fuck you santorum... JFK would've punched your lights out.). It isnt just the lies they print, the slanderous anti-Obama cartoons, but also the insane priorities they have where bullshit entertainment gossip is more important than real news.

      One can only hope that the Murdoch way one day dies with him.

      •  from my limited discussions with fellow parents (4+ / 0-)

        they don't even notice the Post's politics. Except the more involved dkos types who are generically livid like you (and I). No one seems to talk anything but baseball and everyone's voting Obama. We need a candidate for Mayor running as the anti-Bloomberg on this. Politics is &*(&ing local, damn it! Mike's done some things I like (shocking but credit where it's due) but his attacks on the teachers are disgraceful. And entirely expected.

        re: JFK. I actually laughed out loud. Santorum has managed to lose some of the Catholic vote even down ticket. Way to screw your brand Rick. I know frothing at the mouth Irish Catholic Bush voters with pictures of Bobby right next to the Pope. Politics, race, gays, whatever. Don't mess with JFK.

        If you didn't like the news today, go out and make some of your own.

        by jgnyc on Sun Mar 04, 2012 at 07:57:08 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Parents? Really? (0+ / 0-)
      "Parents will take care of {an} action against a not-even-bad simply inadequate teacher."
      I am an NYC parent and we have no power whatsoever.

      Except the power to leave NYC for Westchester. And that is only for the richer families.

      They rest of us parents just have to sit and suck it up.

  •  VAM is quackery disguised as science (13+ / 0-)

    No algorithm can possibly include the variables in educating students. Tweak the algorithm and good teachers suddenly become poor teachers. Change the cut scores and decrease in the percentage passing becomes an increase. It's all smoke and mirrors meant to promote privatization.

    A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

    by slatsg on Sun Mar 04, 2012 at 07:33:45 PM PST

  •  teacher evaluations (8+ / 0-)

    In Los Angeles, the LA Times also decided to publish the scores of teachers based on unproven and unreliable data sets.  As a result, a very popular teacher ended up committing suicide after being labeled a "less effective" teacher.  The school community loved him, and most of his students were second language learners.  People don't see that much of this is an organized attack on teachers and a continuing campaign to privatize public education.

  •  It was SO irresponsible (6+ / 0-)

    of the New York Times to post this information (the Post is hopeless) -- even as the NYT was writing several articles noting how bad the methodology was, it still insisted that, somehow, the data was valuable.

    Yeah, right.

  •  Cathy O'Neil at (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bkamr, Stwriley, elfling, Mostel26, Abelia

    has been doing a great job at tearing apart the "value added" analysis c***. She has a great blog that has been added to my reading list. How one improves education while promoting a war on those in the classroom everyday is beyond me. Probably the same way you fix education without addressing poverty. T&R.

    Her value added analysis:

  •  The fix is in.... (4+ / 0-)

    Yea...go figure..the same guys who tanked the U.S. Economy got off scott free while the people who transform human lives through hard work, knowledge of content and pedagogy, a multitude of leadership skills, talents and determination in a variety of difficult circumstances get demonized....

    Mad as hell yet?

    Educational experience based on behaviorism is mind control.

    by semioticjim on Sun Mar 04, 2012 at 07:44:20 PM PST

  •  One really big flaw (4+ / 0-)

    One really big flaw in how standardized tests, that is multiple choice tests, are used is that they only tell us how many and which questions the student answered correctly and which ones he answered incorrectly.  But if we don't know why the student chose the incorrect answer, we cannot tell what was missing.  Most of the reasons that explain a student's incorrect answers have nothing to do with the teacher.

  •  retired teacher (8+ / 0-)

    I'm a retired NYC elementary school teacher and quickly looked up the "scores" and was amazed to find the high score for the worst teacher I encountered in 37 years--often as her chapter leader.  The worse the teacher, the greater the likelihood that cheating will take place.  Good teachers have pride, don't cheat, and score lower.  So not only is the "algorithm" inaccurate, so are the numbers fed into it.  

    If you want to improve schools, fix the environment of the students--eliminate racism and drugs to start--then realize that compensatory education is necessary--and expensive.

    Apres Bush, le deluge.

    by melvynny on Sun Mar 04, 2012 at 07:53:39 PM PST

    •  If teachers are cheating then we should catch them (0+ / 0-)

      and we should not just fire them - this is criminal fraud and the perpetrators should go to jail.

      It is very hard to cheat without leaving statistical fingerprints all over the tests.  This kind of analysis should be standard for all high stakes tests.

      •  We don't need the stinking tests to educate... (0+ / 0-)

        Wham Bam....I have heard this kind of crap before...
        Standardized testing deviates the educational process...

        Eliminate Standardized tests
        Improve student learning conditions
        Decrease Student/Teacher ratios

        There is your education reform agenda....

        I think you and Joe McCarthy have a lot in common...

        Educational experience based on behaviorism is mind control.

        by semioticjim on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 04:32:39 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes.... it's McCarthyite to catch teachers who (0+ / 0-)

          cheat on tests and prosecute them.

          Your kind of thinking is why even the Democratic Party has mostly abandoned teachers on this.

          Go down screaming....  but go down.

          •  The problem is, high stakes testing encourages (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            cheating, and doesn't even fulfill the purported function for which they exist.

            Design a bogus test, make a teacher's job dependent on doing the test, then jail anyone who is driven to try to save their job that the bogus test threatens.

            High Democratic Ideals, indeed.

            •  No, you fire and prosecute them for cheating (0+ / 0-)

              If they try to save their jobs by doing a better job teaching their students then that's fine.

              The amazing thing is that we've got teachers' union supporters here who actually have so far lost it that they are willing to stand up in public and defend teachers who help their students cheat on tests.

              You're going down because you have totally lost all touch with reality.

              •  The point, which you will totally ignore, is that (0+ / 0-)

                the tests themselves do not fulfill their purported function, therefore their only genuine purpose is to damage the concept of teaching.

                And you defend that idea.

                •  You have been defending cheating teachers (0+ / 0-)

                  It's that simple.

                  At this point you're out of the conversation with anyone who thinks that the purpose of schools is to educate children rather than to provide jobs for teachers.

                  We're not interested in talking with you.

                  And neither are many elected Democratic politicians.

                  Your attitude has marginalized you and therefore we're going to rebuild America's educational system by walking over you, not by working with you.

                  See you later, Mr. Pavement.

    •  Eliminate Racism and Drugs? (0+ / 0-)

      That isn't a very realistic approach. Those are much bigger problems. The War on drugs is a huge draw on our tax dollars and it has only made things worse by creating a blackmarket that causes more pain and suffering and fills our jails with minorities to reflect our racism.

      Unfortunately some people choose to be racist, so unless you are advocating lobotomies or some other wacky form of mind control- I don't see that happening on a larger scale any time soon.

      Why don't we start with Time Poverty and a Living Wage.

      Teachers are often forced to be the surrogate parents to their students, because mommy and daddy work all the time at crap jobs that pay chump change.

      That means that Parents often have to have more than one job just to make ends meet. And that means less time to supervise and nurture their own children.

      Just giving these people a living wage, that would accomplish two big things for most of them. Allow them to work normal hours, which in turn would allow them to have more time and energy to spend on raising their children.

      They would also have more time and energy to spend on being a participant in our democratic process.

      And much much more.

      No minimum wage, unless it is a living wage.

      Other things that communities could do. Mentor parents in money management.

      Poor people do not spend their money like the wealthy do. And they often do not understand how they are screwing themselves out of their own money by not saving, or by failing to read the fine print regarding loans and contracts.

      Financial Literacy would also go a long way.

  •  Lawsuits? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Has anyone thought that publicizing what may be inaccurate information like this could end up in the courts?

    There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

    by upstate NY on Sun Mar 04, 2012 at 08:39:41 PM PST

  •  Teacher ratings (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Back In Blue, JanL, Focusmarker, Mostel26

    If I had a dollar for every cell phone I have taken from students who were texting or gaming I would be rich.  Pray tell how does this rating allow for student or parent behavior?

    •  It doesn't at all. Parents and students have no (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      skin in the game.  My students ask me, when I administer these tests on which MY JOB may depend, whether it counts for their grade and ethical idiot that I am, I tell them the truth - no, it does not count for your grade.  The consequences for the student and parent of failure are nil, nada, nothing at all.

      •  That is not true (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Linda Wood

        If your performance is below standards, then this will have a direct effect on those children in their near future.

        However, that being said, these tests remind me of what we do with children when we track them.

        That practice isn't very wise either. So I cannot imagine that it would work any better with teachers.

        Perhaps we should reconsider tracking both teachers and students, and come up with a better way to evaluate their performance.

      •  Well, that's a mistake (0+ / 0-)

        Performance on these tests should determine if students advance to the next grade or graduate.

    •  It's value added, so that's included (0+ / 0-)
      If I had a dollar for every cell phone I have taken from students who were texting or gaming I would be rich.  Pray tell how does this rating allow for student or parent behavior?
      Unless student and parent behavior for children suddenly changes in one teacher's classes but not in other teachers' classes (and how would that happen?) their behavior is encapsulated in starting scores.
  •  as a NYC public school parent (5+ / 0-)

    I support all of you teachers. My now 9th grader's 5th grade teacher is a master teacher and got a low rating. The price you pay for having your students read the NYT science section instead of practicing filling in the bubbles and for willingly taking on some of the most challenging students.

    •  Reading the NYT science section may have been (0+ / 0-)

      interesting for your daughter, but I wonder how many students in her class needed a more structured lesson.

      I'm certainly not surprised that such a teacher got a low rating.

  •  BTW, the Washington Post article that is (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JanL, Mostel26, Ohkwai, Linda Wood

    the second link in the diary is excellent.

    It's an overview of papers written about VAM.

    In addition to checking robustness and stability of a mathematical model, one needs to check validity. Are those teachers identified as superior (or inferior) by value-added models actually superior (or inferior)? This is perhaps the shakiest part of VAM. There has been surprisingly little effort to compare valued-added rankings to other measures of teacher quality, and to the extent that informal comparisons are made (as in the LA Times article), they sometimes don’t agree with common sense.
    Why must we use value-added even with its imperfections? Aside from making the unsupported claim (in the very last sentence) that “it predicts more about what students will learn ... than any other source of information,” the only apparent reason for its superiority is that value-added is based on data. Here is mathematical intimidation in its purest form—in this case, in the hands of economists, sociologists, and education policy experts.

    Of course we should hold teachers accountable, but this does not mean we have to pretend that mathematical models can do something they cannot. Of course we should rid our schools of incompetent teachers, but value-added models are an exceedingly blunt tool for this purpose. In any case, we ought to expect more from our teachers than what value-added attempts to measure.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Sun Mar 04, 2012 at 10:50:33 PM PST

  •  One of the main issues-Nationalism (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Linda Wood

    We are all adults here (for arguments sake) and one of the largest issues facing our country is Republicans AND Democrats using education as a political tool and referring to anything in this country as #1 .
    Education should not be political. The Department of Education should be independent and continuous . Someone should be qualified, voted for BY TEACHERS like a trade organization president. I will be the first to say teachers should be paid more, respected more and have the ability to implement their ideas. BUT, as long as they can change the DOE every election cycle means you have a minimal amount of time to implement any innovations. In the same breath I say pay them more I also pray my taxes don't go up because my tax payment to my escrow account eclipses my mortgage payment .
    Our insistence that we are #1 is so, childish. We are #1 at what anymore ? Military spending . After that, we drop off the map. We are #1 in oil PRODUCTION and Refining (same thing?)
    Basically, we are the worlds trash pit ready to fight.
    WE HAVE TO ADMIT A FEW THINGS in order to change education
    1-We are not, in fact , #1
    2-A child being smart does not mean said child is an elitist
    3-Liberal is not an indoctrination - it is realizing the facts
    4-We have to look to the best -Singapore and Finland- and mimic their models.
    5-We have failed our country and its promise and must admit we need drastic changes to actually be #5

    you can't remain neutral on a moving train

    by rmfcjr on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 04:26:27 AM PST

  •  yes, what's happening to teachers in NYC (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    is beyond regrettable and won't do anything to improve education, but Laura, it's misleading to label it a right-wing initiative. They support it too, of course, but now it is largely driven by the Obama administration and its Race to the Top law.  Sorry, but it's true.  It's one of the things that's making it hard for me, a teacher, to imagine voting for Obama in November.

  •  The issue here in addition to what is covered (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Linda Wood, Wham Bam

    in this diary is:

    Parents probably don't want to wait that long. Teachers are looking at a career, but parents are looking at their child's much shorter--academic sessions.

    A teacher can improve their performance, but for children, once their academic career has fallen, they are teetering on the edge of a lifetime of failure and lost opportunities.

    If a teacher fails as a teacher, they still have a college degree to fall back on in the workforce. It may not be under ideal circumstances, but it is still that magic piece of paper.

    For a child who has failed, especially one that comes from a poor or blue collar family, college may never become an option.

    Perhaps this entire issue needs to be addressed from a different perspective or angle.

    •  This is what kills me in dealing with budget cuts (0+ / 0-)

      and huge financial deferments from the state.

      These kids have only one kindergarten year. They have only one junior year. They have only one 6th grade year.

      Having the money restored in 3 years doesn't make these kids whole.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 11:20:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Former chancellor Joel Klein (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Linda Wood, rexxnyc

    Was the biggest proponent of getting these deeply flawed "evaluations" released. Now he heads up Rupert Murdoch's education division. You know, the one that wants to take over public education, and turn it in to a for-profit business. More than a coincidence? I think not. To his credit, the current chancellor, Dennis Walcott, has not been quite as sanguine about the release of these ratings. My understanding is that the Klein hire at News Corp. was engineered over a friendly game of golf between Bloomberg and Murdoch. And also the failed tenure of Cathie Black.

  •  wut? (3+ / 0-)

    Profoundly humbled by DKos generosity of spirit and selflessness of nature. Forever grateful beyond measure.

    by wretchedhive on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 08:20:44 AM PST

  •  Serial spammer. (0+ / 0-)

    Even its profile is spam.

    "If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.." - John F. Kennedy: Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961. We are the 99%.

    by IndieGuy on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 08:52:19 AM PST

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