The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
Remember when you were driving down that road, lost, you kept on driving down the road hoping you would become “unlost”?
Five years ago the education community began driving down the teacher evaluation road, losing their way, and driving further and further down the road. Finally, deep in the woods, with the wolves howling, they decided to turn around.
How did the education seers get so lost?
The New Teacher Project in 2010 published a report, The Widget Effect, which resonated across the reform-y community.
Effective teachers are the key to student success, yet our school systems treat all teachers as interchangeable parts, not professionals. Excellence goes unrecognized and poor performance goes unaddressed. This indifference to performance disrespects teachers and gambles with students’ lives
* Less than 1 percent of teachers receive unsatisfactory ratings, making it impossible to identify truly exceptional teachers
* Half of the districts studied have not dismissed a single tenured teacher for poor performance in the past five years.
Value-add measures (VAM), growth models, psychometricians, statisticians and the data-wonks believed that teaching could be reduced to a numerical score. Teachers across an entire state regardless of the ability of the students were plugged into a dense algorithm, the teacher eval guys and gals sped along not realizing how lost they had become.
At the May, 2015 Learning Summit on Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) (Watch video of the presentation here) held by the Board of Regents a panel consisting of scholars debated the use of value-added measurement (VAM). The scholars criticized VAM; among a number of criticisms, the most serious, the errors of measurement were too large, the results were neither valid nor reliable.
The Opt Out parents continued skewering the governor and the legislature, the teacher union pounded away, an angry cohort of parents, not tied to a party, the reformers were driving deeper and deeper into the woods.
The governor had a subitism (Love the word: see definition here)
In the world of politics deniability, is important: claiming credit for successes and blaming others for your failures. The governor appointed a task force to craft a path to get back on the road, without admitting any culpability, for the years of barreling down the wrong road.
The task force members had a deadline, to complete their work before the December meeting of the Board of Regents, the last date to adopt a new path before the legislature convenes in January.
The governor, the assembly, the senate, state education and the task force members engaged in increasingly intense negotiations. With a ticking clock the task force released its finding last Thursday afternoon.
On Monday the members of the Board of Regents convened to discuss and vote on elements of the Report…
What did the Report do?
* created a moratorium, oh, sorry, I can’t use that word, a transition to the new, yet to be crafted teacher evaluation plan to impact in the 2019 – 2020 school year. You may have noticed that the transition, or, what the hell, the moratorium, runs through the next gubernatorial election cycle.
* a re-writing, a through editing, another draft, of the Common Core State Standards.
* an admission that the SED Curriculum Modules were being used as scripts; curriculum should be a local responsibility, not imposed from Albany.
* teachers really are smart and highly capable; state ed will create a teacher portal so that teachers can post curriculum and other education tools on the Engage NY site.
* teachers will be actively engaged in test creation, a review of the standards and new test creation.
and, of course, create an interim teacher evaluation schema for the transition years; let’s call it teacher evaluation 5.0
See the power point, entitled, Alternate Scores for Teachers and Principals: Implementing a Transition to Higher Standards: http://www.regents.nysed.gov/common/regents/files/P12APPRSlidedeck.pdf
and view the power point on the results of the teacher evaluation process over the last three years: http://www.regents.nysed.gov/common/regents/files/2014-2015%20STATEWIDE%20EVALUATION%20RESULTS.pdf
Under the law school districts and teacher unions have until March 15 to negotiate new teacher evaluation plans based on the task force changes adopted by the regents.
The hope from the governor and the legislature is that the de-escalation, the moratorium, provides a cooling off period. Without the stress of high stakes testing and a rating sword of Damocles hanging over the heads of teachers and principals we can get back to the job at hand: teaching.
If we’re not using the state grades 3 – 8 test scores how will student growth be measured? Remember student learning objectives (SLOs) and Measures of Student Learning (MOSLs)?
The governor and the legislature believe the anger will abate, other issues will arise, and the pols have learned a lesson: don’t intervene in education, allow the regents to make policy – claim credit for victories and blame the regents for the failures.
A video of an explanation that is as clear as the new teacher evaluation law.
Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.