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DoE: “We’ll rate teachers with test scores;” UFT to respond

January 23, 2008 am31 2:26 am

First, a few links. UFT Statement is reproduced beneath the fold. The NY Times article. Leo Casey. Fred Klonsky. Eduwonkette.

Second, we knew or we should have known that the DoE was up to something. Here’s a post predicting that they were going to do this from a few months ago. I was (maybe too quietly) warning our leaders and other teachers last Spring. That being said, the DoE did this on the sly. Our fault was not assuming bad faith from them.

Third, the angry people are angry. No surprise. They blame people. No surprise. And I don’t blame them for being frustrated. But where is the useful response, beyond venting?

Tonight’s Executive Board will likely pass a more detailed resolution. The response should be hard, uncompromising. Some details to look for:

  1. Will we link the misuse of data here to the Progress Report fiasco. Can we keep the DoE on the defensive in public?
  2. Will we identify this as a “core” issue? “Core” seems to be the word du jour that means “so serious we would do anything to stop this from going forward.”
  3. Will we attempt to stop the DoE from collecting this data? Or will we stop at objecting to how they use it?
  4. In particular, will we attempt to stop this data from being used in making schoolwide bonus (schoolwide merit pay) decisions?
  5. And my favorite, will we challenge the DoE on its new practice of linking teachers’ into a central computer to track all this stuff? This is ARIS, at its core.

In one line, will we challenge the direction the DoE is moving in with data, or will we limit ourselves to the details of this particular proposal? I clearly advocate the former.

Leo likes shared decision making, and I question it. Not the issue here. Because this data is only being used by them, against us. With the schoolwide bonuses, this data empowers principals to walk into the committee of 4, drop reports in front of everyone, and say “Divide the $” The existence of the questionable data is enough to taint the process. In elementary schools, your kids for one year can be tied to you forever. A principal can show you that X% of your third graders 6 years ago were held back before high school (though not so many teachers stay that long). The fact that that data exists will poison the evaluation process.

So, do we engage this as an isolated problem, or do we see recognize that the DoE is abusing data as part of a broad attack on teachers and our contract, and respond accordingly?

Randi’s statement is below the fold.

The UFT’s first response (a bit weak, but I assume there is more to come):

 “These standardized tests were never designed to be used to evaluate teachers individually. As we’ve said before, school and teacher accountability must be based on multiple indicators that make sense to teachers, resonate with parents and are fair, accurate and transparent. Secretly collecting test score data and basing teacher evaluations on them run counter to any of these principles.

“The data being collected by the DOE in this secretive pilot cannot isolate and identify the effect or influence of any individual teacher, and no statistical Band-Aid can change that. Even the experts agree on that. Neither the law nor collective bargaining agreements ever anticipated data being used this way, and we intend to use both to stop such a misguided use. Imagine principals dictating to teachers who their students are, how many they must teach and what curriculum to use and then evaluating them on standardized test scores!

“Most important, this is a terrible thing to do to kids. It risks turning our school system into Test Prep, Inc., with educators doing nothing else but preparing students for standardized math and English tests and denying kids the balanced and well-rounded education they need. In addition, it undermines the commitment to collaboration and working together on a school level that was codified in the School-Wide Bonus program. In sum, there are so many educational and technical flaws in this concept that I find it shocking that the school system is even considering it. The United Federation of Teachers will fight this on all grounds – educational, legal and moral.”

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