Posts from February 24th, 2012
February 24, 2012
- Teachers respond to their own data reports and to the overall project of publication. (SchoolBook)
- A five-point list of reasons to question the teacher data, starting with bad state tests. (Insideschools)
- A Florida education professor created a rubric for judging news outlets’ TDR reporting. (Sherman Dorn)
- A roundup of news outlets’ TDR publication plans, including the Daily News’ dummy data. (JD2718)
- A journalist wonders whether the New York Times’ ombudsman will weigh in on the issue. (Russo)
- An open letter from a fifth-grade teacher to the news organizations publishing the data. (Edwize)
- Fans of our decision not to publish teachers’ ratings are asking others to help us. (NYC P.S. Parents)
- A teacher lists the things he likes about the state’s new evaluation system. (NYCDOEnuts)
- Upstate college students say they back Gov. Cuomo’s push for tougher teacher evaluations. (YouTube)
- Just a reminder: Teachers have until Feb. 29 to apply for summer travel-to-learn grants. (GothamSchools)
February 24, 2012
When the Department of Education’s embargo of Teacher Data Reports details lifted at noon today, news organizations across the city rushed to make the data available.
The Teacher Data Reports are “value-added” assessments of teachers’ effectiveness that were produced from 2008 to 2010 for reading and math teachers in grades 3 to 8.
This morning, department officials including Chancellor Dennis Walcott and Chief Academic Officer Shael Polakow-Suransky met with reporters to offer caution about how the data reports should be used. They emphasized the reports’ wide margins of error — 35 percentage points for math teachers and 53 percentage points for reading teachers, on average — and that the reports reflect only a small portion of teachers’ work.
“We would never advise anyone — parent, reporter, principal, teacher — to draw a conclusion based on this score alone,” Polakow-Suransky said.
Most of the news organizations that filed Freedom of Information Law requests for the ratings plan to publish them in searchable or streamlined databases, with the teachers’ names attached. GothamSchools does not plan to publish the data with teachers’ names or identifying characteristics included because of concerns about the data’s reliability.
At least two other news organizations that cover education are also not publishing the data: the local affiliate of Fox News, according to a representative of Fox, and the nonprofit school information website Insideschools.
Department officials are asking schools not to release the reports to parents. They issued a guide today advising principals about how to handle parents who demand that their child be removed from the class of a teacher rated ineffective. (more…)
February 24, 2012
For some city teachers and students, the big news this week wasn’t the release of teachers’ ratings but a slew of new policies meant to crack down on graduation rate inflation.
The new policies, which follow an audit that found errors and evidence of possible cheating at dozens of schools, change the way high school exams will be graded and limit the number of failed courses students can make up without repeating the class.
Today, high school students said tougher expectations are a good thing — as long as they are coupled with more support for schools.
The students were holding a rally and panel discussion at New York University Friday afternoon to draw attention to a campaign, spearheaded by City Councilmen Ydanis Rodriguez and Robert Jackson, and several advocacy groups including the Urban Youth Collaborative and the Coalition for Educational Justice.
For years, students affiliated with those groups have been urging the city to fund “success centers” inside schools where teens could get help preparing for college. And in 2009, CEJ began calling attention to a potential “looming crisis” posed by the state’s increasingly tough graduation standards — something a top Department of Education official told GothamSchools this week threatens to roll back graduation rates far more than the policy changes.
The students I spoke to had not heard yet about new policies, which the department announced Thursday, and did not know how their schools might be affected.
But one said some of the city’s new policies could hurt school graduation rates in the short run by making it more difficult for students to make up credits for courses they failed. (more…)
February 24, 2012
In October 2010, when the city first said it would fulfill a Freedom of Information Law request and release individual teachers’ ratings to news organizations, teachers started buzzing about what the scores would mean — and what they wouldn’t.
One of them was Stephen Lazar, a high school teacher, who listed 18 elements of teaching and learning in his classroom that his students’ state tests didn’t take into account. The list appeared in the GothamSchools Community section at the time.
This week, Lazar re-posted the piece on his personal blog, Outside the Cave, and added a note expressing astonishment that news organizations would be going ahead with publishing the scores alongside teachers’ names. (Lazar is part of an informal advisory group for GothamSchools but was not consulted on our decision not to publish individual teachers’ ratings.)
Lazar was discussing his students’ exam scores and not the kind of “value-added” measure contained in the Teacher Data Reports that tries to show students’ growth compared to their expected growth. Also, Lazar’s students took Regents exams, not the grades 3-8 state tests factored into the ratings being released today. Still, his list provides a useful reminder about the limitations of using test scores as a single measure of teacher quality on a day when New Yorkers are likely to be tempted to do just that.
Here’s an excerpt:
- [Test scores] don’t tell you that that I spent six weeks in the middle of the year teaching my students how to do college-level research. I estimate this costs my students an average of 5-10 points on the Regents exam.
- They don’t tell you that when you ask my students who are now in college why they are succeeding when most of their urban public school peers are dropping out, they name that research project as one of their top three reasons nearly every time.
- They don’t tell you which of my students had a home and a healthy meal the night before the test.
- They don’t tell you that 20 percent of our seniors come to me every year for letters of recommendation because they feel they did their best work in my class.
February 24, 2012
- Teacher Data Reports will go public today, to the chagrin of teachers and their union. (NY1, WSJ, Times)
- We don’t plan to publish the reports’ data with teachers’ names attached to them. (GothamSchools)
- The data are set to show the city gave low ratings to 521 teachers and high ones to 696. (Daily News)
- Chancellor Walcott reminds families and the public that the reports are only a snapshot. (Daily News)
- Hoover Institution Fellow Eric Hanushek says the ratings are a front in a school reform war. (Daily News)
- An audit found grading at crediting mistakes at nearly 60 schools. (NY1, Post, SchoolBook, Daily News)
- The audit prompted the city to overhaul Regents grading and credit recovery policies. (GothamSchools)
- An aide at Queens’ P.S. 52 was charged with molesting multiple girls. (Times, Post, Daily News, NY1)
- More than 30 percent of Americans have graduated from college, the highest level ever. (Times)