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NYC's Secret Intelligence

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New York City’s Education Department has been working behind closed doors with 280 principals on a program that would put teachers under greater scrutiny than ever before, according to The New York Times. To date, the pilot program has been examining student test results to evaluate 2,500 teachers, some of whom had no idea they were being monitored. The data from the evaluations would be used to determine benchmarks for pay increases and tenure status for all of New York City's 77,000 public school educators.

The teachers are outraged that the education department would collect this sort of information without their knowledge, and plan to take the city to court if the program is put in place, “There is no way that any of this current data could actually, fairly, honestly or with any integrity be used to isolate the contributions of an individual teacher,” said Randi Weingarten, president of United Federation of Teachers, the city’s teacher’s union.

Since it’s only a pilot program, it’s still too early to say whether the statistical analysis will be used for tenure decisions, if it is used at all. Officials expect to make a decision on the program by “early summer.”

2 Comments

Good day to all of you. I will begin work toward my Masters of Science in Teaching degree beginning Monday and have some concerns as a future teacher. Concerns which are similar to many of my peers. I see a trend toward determining a teacher's abilities based on test scores and holding them accountable based on these standards only. For me, many lessons presented in the classroom did not become learned until later in my life. I did not understand until those moments of enlightenment, (making connections to my life), just how much my teacher(s) had taught me. I know there has to be accountability, but focusing only on test grades may force some teachers to teach to the test only. I would rather see an interview process where students and parents may comment on a teachers abilities and how the teacher had helped to nurture education. Many students are poor test takers. I was not a good at taking tests because many were set up in a way which required memorization of facts only. This put undue pressure on me, caused boredom and I lost enthusiasm.

Anyone who wants to know more about this "secretive" pilot project should read the entries on the Edwize Blog (http://www.edwize.org/)

The general tone is that "The DoE’s “value added” project is a fundamentally flawed exercise which can not possibly deliver what it promises. It is being pursued, with the full knowledge of its flaws, because technocratic ideology trumps sound educational practice at Tweed. Moving forward with such a flawed project is extraordinarily irresponsible because “value added” — the idea that one should measure how much academic progress students have made, rather than just their absolute academic standing — holds promise as an useful tool in the repertoire of schools and educators. But the way in which it is being recklessly pursued by Tweed will cast discredit on the entire enterprise."

What Tweed is doing is trying to use tests that were never designed for this purpose and that, by their very nature, measure more of what the student brought to school than what s/he learned there to create a measure of student learning. Mr. Harkulin's comments are right on pint in this regard.

Moreover, the tests that are being used are administered mid-year and will measure what was done by at least two teachers (the one the student had in the spring and the one the student had in the fall) and across two grades. Their metric doesn't take account of whether students had additional help in summer school or after school tutoring programs or pull out assistance during the school year (which would have involved any number of additional teachers)nor does it measure what experiences and additional supports the parents are providing.

This is not science, it is not even good statistics, it is merely an attempt to put forward a flawed idea and then to blame the teachers (and their Union) when the metric doesn't show any meaningful results.

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  • Marc Korashan: Anyone who wants to know more about this "secretive" pilot read more
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