Friday, September 06, 2013

Teacher Evaluations - May the Farce be with you!

I have been trying to follow as a member of our school's MOSL (Measures of Student Learning) Committee. It's a merry-go-round of changes. So much so, we recommend what we think will be better from a litigation standpoint (growth model/default) down the road, as many of us think this system is a setup to fire teachers.

Several years ago Randi Weingarten, then President of the UFT, agreed to allow NYC Schools Chancellor Klein to experiment with using teacher test scores (on an experimental and confidential basis) to evaluate teachers. What we got was the debacle of the teacher data reports which, in the end, were not kept confidential. Many of us warned her not to go down that path, even with the promises of confidentiality, because the premise was wrong, wrong, wrong- you cannot evaluate teaching by student test scores. But, she went for it anyway. Many of our members were humiliated in the press, their principals were flummoxed and bewildered that some of their best teachers were rated among the worst teachers. Value Added Modeling (VAM) is the main ingredient in this debacle of test score teacher evaluation. Gary Rubinstein, in his blog, gives a thorough treatment of why VAM is so destructive as an assessment tool, because it is so unstable and unreliable.

Now the UFT hides the fact that after two consecutive years of sour student test results their members will be fired. This happens regardless of what principals, students and parents think about the teachers' performance. It's not mentioned on their quick guide to understanding the teacher evaluation and is probably why we UFT members were never allowed to see it or vote on it, by our own union leadership, before it became law. But, you can also think President Obama for this one, as it's a requirement of Race To The Top upgrade to No Child Left Behind. Why NY State is not taking advantage of Secretary Duncan's one year held harmless on teacher evals based on test scores is beyond me. Where's my union? What do my contributions to my UFT's political action committee, Vote Cope, go for in the state capitol if not to strangle this baby of sham teacher evaluations in its crib? If the UFT and NYSUT don't get a moratorium on this members should start a Vote Cope divestment campaign.

Here's my presentation, adapted from others, to the staff. Read the credits and disclaimer at the end. It's my attempt at a little levity.

Advance the Movie from John Elfrank-Dana on Vimeo.

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