Posts tagged "teacher data reports"
May 31, 2012
With just weeks left in the legislative session, bills to shield teachers’ ratings from public scrutiny are still on the table in Albany. But no consensus has yet formed about exactly what that shield would look like — if one is constructed at all.
Albany lawmakers are hung up on one key issue that distinguishes at least three proposed versions of the legislation: Should parents be allowed access to teacher ratings?
Republican Senator Greg Ball and Democratic Assemblywoman Sandra Galef, both of Westchester, have proposed bills that say they should not.
“I just feel very strongly that this is a part of a teacher’s personal and confidential record and that the grades should be handled appropriately,” said Galef, whose bill has so far collected 24 co-sponsors.
Twenty lawmakers, including Education Committee Chair Cathy Nolan, a Democrat, have signed onto a third bill in the Assembly that would give parents limited access to evaluations. The bill would require parents to make a special request for the evaluations. (more…)
March 14, 2012
The most credible critics of the city’s Teacher Data Reports are those with the highest scores.
That’s the outlook of a small band of 99th-percentilers who are signing on to a statement that argues that measuring teacher effectiveness according to students’ test scores “will, in the long run, result in less classroom creativity and more shallow, test-focused instruction.”
The statement was penned by Maribeth Whitehouse, an eight-year middle school teacher in the South Bronx. She reached out by email to other teachers who, like her, had pulled a top rating on the city’s value-added algorithm when Teacher Data Reports were released last month. So far, about a dozen teachers who scored 99s have added their names, and Whitehouse said she expects others to join them. They join a deafening chorus of critics of the TDRs who include 80 percent of New Yorkers, according to poll results released today.
In the Community section today, Whitehouse explains her decision to strike out against the metric that said she was “far above average.” She writes:
I came to teaching more than eight years ago by way of the law — having graduated from Fordham Law School in 1992. So I knew full well how intricate, malleable and unreliable evidence could be. When the New York City Teacher Data Reports came out and were touted as measuring my “value” as a teacher, I was deeply annoyed. Invalid, inaccurate and irrelevant, these data were no more useful in proving or disproving teacher value than the temperature on a single day could prove or disprove global warming. It’s not that I don’t think I’m a good teacher, I do. I simply measure it in ways that cannot be captured on a test. My reaction came as a surprise to some of my family, friends and co-workers because I was ranked in the 99th percentile.
March 14, 2012
New York City voters by and large do not trust the teacher ratings released late last month. But most wouldn’t mind if future assessments of teachers’ quality were also made public, according to a poll whose results were released this morning.
The poll, conducted by Quinnipiac University last week, asked 964 New Yorkers about teacher evaluations both in theory and in practice. It found that just 20 percent of voters said they trusted the city’s “recently released teacher evaluations” known as Teacher Data Reports, and nearly half said the results were flawed. (The ratings, which had massive margins of error, were not actually used to evaluate teachers.) But 58 percent said they approved in theory of releasing the results of teacher evaluations to the public.
The poll’s findings suggest voters simply haven’t made up their minds about the role that teacher evaluations should play even as battles over new evaluations have dominated the headlines in recent months.
Just a third of poll respondents said they thought teachers who score low on evaluations should be fired, a use that advocates of new evaluations have championed. But 54 percent said they thought top-rated teachers should be rewarded with additional pay, something Mayor Bloomberg has suggested and the UFT has opposed. And 84 percent said they thought performance should trump seniority if the city needed to lay off teachers, a policy position that Bloomberg made his priority last spring, to no avail. (more…)
March 8, 2012
The best antidote to teacher-bashing, according to City Councilman Fernando Cabrera, is being a teacher.
At a press conference today to criticize the release of teachers’ ratings and the tone Mayor Bloomberg has set recently when talking about city teachers, Cabrera suggested that Bloomberg take over a classroom for a week.
“I guarantee he’ll get his attitude well changed,” said Cabrera, who said his son is studying to become a special education teacher but fears that the city’s administration “doesn’t believe in teachers.”
Cabrera was unusual in suggesting that anything could be done to alter the mayor’s attitude. Steven Levin, the Brooklyn councilman who organized the event, said council members would support and honor teachers but suggested that the real change would come later — perhaps after Bloomberg leaves office in 2013.
“Hold on. Hold on, because we’ve got your back,” Levin said. “We’ll see this through — but you’ve just got to hold on.” (more…)
March 7, 2012
A bill that the City Council passed to make government more accountable will be a useful weapon for those who advocate releasing teachers’ ratings to the public.
That’s what Mayor Bloomberg said today as he signed the bill into law at City Hall. The law, sponsored by 21 council members and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, requires the city to make incrementally more data available each year until 2018, when all city data will have to be posted to a single online warehouse and made available to researchers and members of the public. (more…)
March 2, 2012
Last week, Chancellor Dennis Walcott spent Friday morning cautioning reporters not to take the city’s Teacher Data Reports too seriously. The city was releasing the information only because news organizations had won a legal battle for it, he said.
This morning, after a week in which Mayor Bloomberg defended the release, Walcott revised his message.
“It’s all about accountability,” he said, appearing on a panel in Washington, D.C., with Bloomberg and the mayors and schools chiefs of Chicago and Los Angeles.
“It’s all about accountability,” Walcott added. “And as the mayor indicated, parents have a right to have this information. What I’ve been trying to do is making sure that the entire New York City community understands that this is a limited piece of information and they have to view the teachers in their full context.”
Bloomberg jumped in to rebut philanthropist Bill Gates’ argument, made in a New York Times column just before the release, that no other industries release the results of employee evaluations.
“Incidentally Gates does give information at Microsoft to the people that need it, namely the managers to the people being evaluated,” Bloomberg said. “In our case it’s the principals and the parents who need that information. So we’re not doing anything differently from what Microsoft does.” (more…)
February 28, 2012
The Department of Education released a final installment of Teacher Data Reports today, for teachers in charter schools and schools for the most severely disabled students.
Last week, the city released the underlying data from about 53,000 reports for about 18,000 teachers who received them during the project’s three-year lifespan. Teachers received the reports between 2008 and 2010 if they taught reading or math in grades 4 through 8.
When the department first announced that it would be releasing the data in response to several news organizations’ Freedom of Information Law requests, it indicated that ratings for teachers in charter schools would not be made public. It reversed that decision late last week and today released “value-added” data for 217 charter school teachers.
Participation in the data reports program was optional for charter schools and some schools entered and exited the program in each year that it operated, with eight schools participating in 2007-2008 and 18 participating in 2009-2010. At the time, the city had about 100 charter schools.
The department also released reports for 50 teachers in District 75 schools, which enroll the city’s most severely disabled students. The number is small because few District 75 students take regular state math and reading exams. Also, District 75 classes are typically very small, and privacy laws led the city to release data for teachers who had more than 10 students take state tests. District 75 also teachers received reports only in 2008 and 2010; the program was optional in the district’s schools in 2009.
Department officials cautioned last week that the reports had high margins of error — 35 percentage points for math teachers and 53 percentage points for reading teachers, on average — and urged caution when interpreting them. (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 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
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.