20%: The Difference Between Sucking and Really Sucking

What a difference 20% makes.

So many things being said about our new teacher evaluations here in NYC.

Let us start with what we know:

I. 60% will be based on teacher performance.

A. 31% on principal observations wherein the principal must use a “research-based” rubric like Danielson. Particular rubric to be negotiated in collective bargaining and approved by the State Education Department (SED).

B. 29% will be based on other, non-principal-related evidence of teacher performance. Whatever this will be must be worked out in collective bargaining. Some suggestions that have been floated are peer observations and artifacts of student work.

II. 40% will be based on student learning.

A. 20% will use state-wide standardized exams for every subject and every grade. The teacher will be assigned a grade based upon a value added model.

B. 20% will be based on a local assessment to be worked out in collective bargaining.

A teacher found ineffective on the 40% part will be found ineffective overall.

This has led teachers to wonder what in the world that other 20% will be.

People like me, Arthur Goldstein, Peter Lamphere and others believe it will be a city-wide exam.

Yet, Leo Casey has stated here on this blog that it will not be an exam. Last night on Mind of a Bronx Teacher (which you can still listen to here.), Leo Casey stated unequivocally that it will not be an exam and will not be value-added.

Instead, he was confident that alternative forms of assessment will be used on the local level. Furthermore, he made the claim that, whatever these assessments turn out to be, teachers will be grading it themselves. No outside agency will put a number on it.

Obviously, those of us who fear a citywide exam and Leo Casey who is adamant about having no citywide exam cannot both be correct. Something has to give here.

Everything seems to hinge on this last 20%.

If people on my side are correct, our children will be given over to King Test. The most important part of our evaluations will hinge upon very arbitrary numbers that have proven time and again to be unreliable.

If Leo Casey is correct, it is a whole different ballgame.

Imagine that other 20% being an assessment that we administer and grade ourselves. These assessments would make up an important portion of our evaluations. It could mean the difference between keeping our livelihoods or “selling pencils” as Arthur Goldstein says.

If that is the case, what teacher would ever fail their students? It would institutionalize cheating across the city.

Think about it. The publication of the Teacher Data Reports this past weekend exposed how unreliable and wild value added data is. We know for a fact that this unreliable value-added crap will make up 20% of our evaluations.

If we have so much control over that other 20%, teachers are going to do their darndest to make sure students do not fail it. This includes everything up to and including blatant cheating. After all, if we have no control over the outcome of one 20% chunk (value added), then we will compensate by taking as much control as possible over the other 20% (local assessment).

So we have two visions of what the future of education in NYC will look like. One is all testing all the time. The other is a lot of testing along with incentives to cheat.

I am still inclined to believe that it will be all testing. The only reason we have to believe otherwise is the words of Leo Casey and the UFT. After the 2005 contract debacle (among many other things), rank-and-file teachers have reason to lack faith in what their union leadership tells them.

One thing is for certain: no matter what ends up happening, it is going to suck.

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6 responses to “20%: The Difference Between Sucking and Really Sucking

  1. Reading how this is going to work, it’s going to be a huge thing, consuming more time and attention even than the paperwork deluge of the last few years. The politicians love to say that the schools should be run for the kids, not the adults. How about putting this kind of effort into helping struggling kids?

  2. So if teachers could get fired when the students don’t perform, will the Chancellor, the Mayor and other politicians that come up with those glorious ideas be fired if teachers don’t do well on the assessments and tests? Same treatment for everybody….

  3. Whether it “sucks” or not, it is the big mystery isn’t? I too heard Leo state that the UFT has drawn “a line in the sand” in regard to the other 20 percent NOT being any type of bubble test. What strikes me is the small but real possibility that the Union and City may not budge one bit on their respective stances thus not coming to any type of agreement by Cuomo’s deadline of 2013 thus triggering the 4 percent funding loss. Who knows? Certainly not me.

  4. All, I can say is that there are a lot of “leaders ” in your “District” who need to get off their butts and see what is really going on. Test scores tell 10% of the story. There is so much beyond that ….

    • Thank you. The sad thing is that we are in the largest school district in the country and this new deal will assuredly reverberate around the country. I know California has had its issues, but you guys are looking good compared to us who have to deal with Race to the Top.

  5. Pingback: THE UFT’S MISSED OPPORTUNITY | Assailed Teacher

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