Posts from February 2012
February 27, 2012
- A math teacher argues that the UFT’s Teacher Data Report ad had a bad choice of graphic. (JD2718)
- A parent describes the roller coaster of learning her child’s top-flight teachers scored low. (New Yorker)
- A Michigan teacher looks at New York and sees value-added troubles ahead at home. (1:1 Classroom)
- A critic of value-added metrics hopes the city release is a turning point for the model. (Gary Rubinstein)
- Reflecting on his value-added score, a teacher remembers he is in the classroom to stay. (Jose Vilson)
- Teachers and commentators from around the country weigh in on the city’s data release. (Atlantic)
- Analysis shows that incorporating error margins would change many teachers’ ratings. (Shanker Blog)
- Kevin Carey: Any teacher evaluation that offers useful results will have a margin of error. (Quick and Ed)
- An economist says using the same tests to evaluate teachers and students is unsound. (U of C Mag)
- D.C.’s IMPACT system had little correlation between value-added and principal scores. (Gary Rubinstein)
- A principal boils down his opposition to releasing teacher ratings to a single argument. (Practical Theory)
- On an academic teacher effectiveness talk that was overshadowed by the data dump. (Ed in the Apple)
- Researchers have found that mothers speak less frequently to daughters about math. (Motherlode)
- Some elected officials are opposing the city’s plan to “turn around” Flushing High School. (Capital NY)
- Unpacking the standards that precede new tests that precede new evaluations. (Ed News Colorado)
- Will Johnson: My students like “Of Mice and Men” because they like the hard truth. (GS Community)
- The fourth part in a series in which Arne Duncan and an alien talk school reform. (Mr. Foteah)
- A New York legislator wants the new federal education law to require science testing. (Politics K-12)
- Ed Sec Arne Duncan aced a performance assessment during the NBA’s celebrity game. (Mediabistro)
February 27, 2012
On the first day back at P.S. 167 after February break, Bonnie Freeman said she’d heard about the ratings her 4th grade son’s teachers received last week. She hadn’t checked them out yet, but said when she did, she planned to take them with a grain of salt.
“I’m definitely going to take a look at it, but I heard on the news that it’s unfair,” Freeman said.
Freeman was referring to the wide margin of error that exists for many of the individual teacher rating scores. That caveat, among others, has prompted education department officials to insist to news organizations that readers should understand that the ratings aren’t meant to be taken at their face value.
Freeman’s reservations mirrored similar reactions from parents this morning outside of P.S. 167, a school in Crown Heights where none of the teachers ranked “above average” or higher on their math ratings. All of the parents I spoke to said they either weren’t aware of the ratings or were vaguely aware of them through news reports over the weekend.
None of the parents said they’d looked up P.S. 167′s teacher scores, but all said that they’d be interested in seeing them. (more…)
February 27, 2012
When recess facilitators encouraged city students to jump rope or play tag during recess, girls were more likely to get moving and boys were less likely to get into fights, according to a study released this week.
The study looks at the Recess Enhancement Program, a decade-old program in which coaches enter city schools during their recess periods to organize and facilitate games that encourage physical activity. The program is run by Asphalt Green, a non-profit trying to combat childhood obesity, and currently operates in 34 city schools.
The program was founded in 2001 at six schools and is set to grow to 75 schools by 2013.
The study, conducted by a professor and graduate students from Hunter College, used an observation rubric to compare “enhanced recess” at 20 schools to traditional recess at 12 schools. The researchers found that students in traditional recess programs were four times more likely to verbally attack each other and show other signs of aggression. They also found that overall vigorous activity was nearly 50 percent higher among girls and boys ages 9 to 11 at schools where REP coaches offered games.
Just over one in five children in New York City’s elementary and middle schools is considered obese, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control. New York was the only city to see its childhood obesity rate decline in the last five years.
Farid Reyes, principal of P.S. 103, brought REP into his Bronx elementary school when he became principal in 2010. A combination of unstructured indoor and outdoor recess was offered at the Wakefield school in years past, but the changes after introducing the new program were well worth its $2,000 price tag, he said. (more…)
February 27, 2012
My ninth-graders recently finished reading “Of Mice and Men.” This is my third consecutive year teaching the novel and I imagine I’ll be teaching it for years to come. The students love it. Something about George and Lennie’s plight resonates with them, even though a ranch in 1930s Salinas, Calif., seems a world apart from (more…)
February 27, 2012
UFT President Michael Mulgrew started his week at P.S. 321, a high-performing elementary school in Park Slope whose principal has taken an unusually outspoken stance against the release of thousands of individual teachers’ city ratings.
Elizabeth Phillips, the school’s longtime principal, published a column on the New York City Public School Parents blog this weekend arguing that the Teacher Data Reports were based on inaccurate data and generated results that conflicted with her own assessments’ of teachers.
The reports are years-old “value-added” assessments of teacher effectiveness for about 18,000 city teachers who taught math and reading in grades 4-8 between 2007 and 2010. They were released Friday after a long legal fight, and many local news organizations chose to publish them. GothamSchools did not because of concerns about the data.
Dick Riley, a union spokesman, said P.S. 321 had been chosen for Mulgrew’s appearance because it was a successful school that was accessible for reporters. That Phillips had taken a strong stance against publication was “serendipitous,” he said.
Standing outside the school as teachers and families started to trickle in, Mulgrew said the reports’ release was potentially a watershed moment for city teachers.
“We’re going to do everything in our power to prevent the mayor doing any more damage to the city’s schools,” he told reporters. The comment echoed one he made to the New York Times, which reported today that the release could wind up being a political win for the union by galvanizing support at a time when Mayor Bloomberg and others have taken aim at the union and its members.
Today, Mulgrew told GothamSchools, “More and more teachers are becoming more motivated to really start pushing against this mayor.” (more…)
February 27, 2012
Teacher Data Reports news:
- Controversial Teacher Data Reports were released. (GothamSchools, DNAInfo, HuffPo, Post, NY1, WSJ)
- The ratings show that teachers with both high and low scores work in schools across the city. (Times)
- The city says it found no relationship between schools’ demographics and their teachers’ ratings. (NY1)
- Some feared a focus on low-scoring teachers, but high-scoring ones are getting attention, too. (Times)
- On average, schools with top scores on city progress reports had higher-rated teachers. (Daily News)
- Long-reported swings in year-to-year scores has some skeptical of their value to the public. (WSJ)
- News outlets that published the ratings varied greatly in their approach to error and reliability. (NY1)
- The UFT is turning the release, which it opposed, into an opportunity to galvanize members. (Times)
- The city’s rating release followed a similar, equally controversial release in Los Angeles. (L.A. Times)
- Just one of the 15 highest-rated teachers is a man, reflecting the dearth of men in city classrooms. (Post)
- The court decision letting the release take place set a precedent that applies statewide. (Journal News)
- The ratings’ release could make for some uncomfortable conversations as school resumes today. (WSJ)
- A Queens teacher who inspired a bully on “The Simpsons” got low scores in reading and math. (Post)
- The value-added methodology gave several teachers cumulative scores of zero. (Post, Daily News)
- Two Bronx schools, both with high-needs students, have teachers with very different scores. (Post)
- Parents who ask that their children be moved out of low-rated teachers’ classes won’t have luck. (Post)
And Teacher Data Reports reviews:
- Some parents at a Queens school where a teacher got a very low score say they want changes. (Post)
- Chancellor Walcott said this weekend that he thought the ratings were causing healthy dialogue. (Post)
- A handful of local politicians, including the Staten Island borough president, praised the release. (Post)
- Other Staten Islanders, including teachers and parents, gave mixed reviews to the release. (S.I. Advance)
- Many teachers oppose the ratings’ release; some find some value. (Daily News 1, 2)
- Some parents say they appreciate the information the ratings’ release provides. (Post 1, 2)
- The Post says the release of the ratings was a victory for kids and transparency of government data.
- The Daily News says even though the ratings aren’t perfect, they should have been released.
- A Manhattan Institute scholar says the ratings can be useful if consumed cautiously. (Daily News)
In other news:
- With diversity declining at Stuyvesant, being a black student can be a lonely experience. (Times)
- Some churches held services in city schools after a late court decision kept the doors open. (WSJ)
- City students who overcame great odds to succeed received scholarships from the New York Times.
- New Jersey’s schools chief wants to remove free lunch eligibility as a definer of poverty. (Star-Ledger)
- Michael Winerip: Arne Duncan’s ties to Michelle Rhee could cloud a federal investigation of her. (Times)
- Long obscured, donors to Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst campaign are now being made public. (HuffPo)
- The Daily News praises the city’s efforts to crack down on graduation rate inflation.
News from midwinter break:
- An audit prompted the city to overhaul Regents grading and credit recovery policies. (GothamSchools)
- Our explanation for why we would not publish the teacher ratings with names attached. (GothamSchools)
- An average of five students a day were arrested in city schools last fall, new data show. (GothamSchools)
- A city charter school’s closure has spurred talk about how to help struggling charters. (GothamSchools)
- Despite a new mandate, some schools are still turning away special needs students. (Insideschools)
- Some state districts had their federal funding restored over evaluations, but not NYC. (GothamSchools)
- The city actually called off a state hearing to make the case for a funding restoration. (GothamSchools)
- After the state’s evaluations deal, more city principals signed a petition in opposition. (GothamSchools)
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.