Posts tagged "teacher quality"
February 23, 2012
Tomorrow’s planned release of 12,000 New York City teacher ratings raises questions for the courts, parents, principals, bureaucrats, teachers — and one other party: news organizations. The journalists who requested the release of the data in the first place now must decide what to do with it all.
At GothamSchools, we joined other reporters in requesting to see the Teacher Data Reports back in 2010. But you will not see the database here, tomorrow or ever, as long as it is attached to individual teachers’ names.
The fact is that we feel a strong responsibility to report on the quality of the work the 80,000 New York City public school teachers do every day. This is a core part of our job and our mission.
But before we publish any piece of information, we always have to ask a question. Does the information we have do a fair job of describing the subject we want to write about? If it doesn’t, is there any additional information — context, anecdotes, quantitative data — that we can provide to paint a fuller picture?
In the case of the Teacher Data Reports, “value-added” assessments of teachers’ effectiveness that were produced in 2009 and 2010 for reading and math teachers in grades 3 to 8, the answer to both those questions was no.
We determined that the data were flawed, that the public might easily be misled by the ratings, and that no amount of context could justify attaching teachers’ names to the statistics. When the city released the reports, we decided, we would write about them, and maybe even release Excel files with names wiped out. But we would not enable our readers to generate lists of the city’s “best” and “worst” teachers or to search for individual teachers at all.
It’s true that the ratings the city is releasing might turn out to be powerful measures of a teacher’s success at helping students learn. The problem lies in that word: might. (more…)
December 13, 2011
Even though he received 6,000 applications to fill 60 teacher positions last years, charter school operator Seth Andrew said he still has trouble hiring the right people for the job.
Andrew, who runs four Democracy Prep Charter Schools in Harlem said even the promise of a $65,000 starting salary – 50 percent above that of a city teacher’s – did not attract the kind of teaching talent he wants for his schools.
The reason, he said this morning, was that state laws — he called them “barriers” — require most prospective teachers to earn an education degree before they can to teach in a classroom. He said those degrees did not assure that a teacher would be effective, echoing an argument frequently made by advocates of non-traditional teacher training programs.
“It doesn’t matter how you enter the classroom,” Andrew said.
Andrew was one of four panelists at a breakfast sponsored by the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank, that was held to celebrate the release of “Teachers Matter,” a new book authored by senior fellow Marcus Winters. Ex-Schools Chancellor Joel Klein delivered a keynote address lauding the role school choice plays in school reform. (more…)
December 2, 2011
The city Department of Education is one of five large urban districts that have opened up their email Rolodexes to The New Teacher Project for a study about teacher recruitment and retention. The nonprofit group, which runs the city’s Teaching Fellows programs and studies teacher job markets around the country, sent the voluntary, 30-minute survey to about 68,000 of the city’s 80,000 teachers and one large charter school network.
The 50-question survey — which one teacher sent us in a series of screenshots, above — asks teachers what would make them want to work in, or remain in, a high-needs school.
The survey is a first step in TNTP’s efforts to produce a followup to “The Widget Effect,” according Dan Weisberg, a TNTP vice president who used to be the DOE’s chief labor negotiator. The influential 2009 report urged school districts to revamp teacher evaluations based on survey responses of 15,000 teachers from 12 districts across five states (New York City was not among them).
Now, dozens of states, including New York, are in the process of overhauling teacher evaluations. Weisberg said this year’s survey is the next step toward figuring out how to place the most effective teachers in classrooms with the neediest students. (more…)
March 11, 2011
The city gave a glimpse today into the results of its new sped-up process for terminating teachers, the one that the Bloomberg administration said would put an end to the teacher holding pens known as rubber rooms.
The rubber rooms are technically gone; now, most teachers charged of incompetence or misconduct await verdicts in real schools and do administrative work. But the city failed to meet its goal of erasing the “backlog” of teachers who had been removed from their classrooms by the beginning of this calendar year. Roughly 11 percent of the teachers who made up the backlog — 83 out of 744 — are still waiting for their cases to wrap up.
Of those who have completed the process, nearly two-thirds of the teachers charged with misconduct or incompetence have returned to their classes, according to data released today by the Department of Education. Some were cleared of charges; others were fined or assigned additional training or counseling.
Roughly a quarter of those who began the termination proceedings are no longer in schools. Some were fired, and others either were forced to retire or resign.
The new numbers come at a time of heightened tension between the city and its teachers union over how to identify bad teachers and remove them from classrooms. (more…)
September 17, 2010
The value-added reports meant to measure city teachers’ effectiveness have wide margins of error and give judgments that fluctuate — sometimes wildly — from one year to the next, a new analysis finds.
Schools Chancellor Joel Klein has instructed principals to use the Teacher Data Reports as one way to decide which teachers should receive tenure. Teachers who teach English or math to students in grades three through eight receive the reports.
The NYU economist Sean Corcoran found that 31 percent of English teachers who ranked in the bottom quintile of teachers in 2007 had jumped to one of the top two quintile by 2008. About 23 percent of math teachers made the same jump.
There was an overall correlation between how a teacher scored from one year to the next, and for some teachers, the measurement was more stable. Of the math teachers who ranked in the top quintile in 2007, 40 percent retained that crown in 2008. (more…)
July 29, 2010
Principals gave unsatisfactory ratings to 1,813 teachers, 17 percent more than in 2009, according to data the city released today. They also denied tenure to 234 teachers this year, 80 percent more than last year. And principals nearly doubled the number of teachers given an extra year before their final tenure decision is made.
In total, 11 percent of the 6,386 teachers up for tenure this year were denied or delayed, compared to 6.6 percent last year. It’s an even more dramatic jump from 2006, when tenure was denied or delayed less than 1 percent of the time.
By far, the leading cause principals cited for giving a U-rating was quality of instruction and student care. Attendance problems were the second-leading cause of low ratings, followed closely by the nebulous “personal and professional qualities.”
Still, the vast majority of teachers were rated satisfactory and received tenure after three years in the classroom. (more…)
July 7, 2010
Last spring I took a position as English department chair at a New York City independent school, giving me a chance to work in the city after many years in suburban schools. The head of my new school told me that he and the board planned to launch a performance-based compensation system and asked (more…)
April 23, 2010
Mayor Bloomberg and UFT President Michael Mulgrew got a lot of applause when they vowed to shut down the city’s infamous “rubber rooms” by December. But that might be an impossible goal.
The trouble hinges on the fact that the city has not ended the practice of granting a trial to all teachers accused of incompetence or misconduct. It has simply decided to speed up those trials, which take place in a lower Manhattan office building across from Tweed Courthouse, presided over by paid attorneys called arbitrators who act as judge and jury.
To speed up the trials, the city has promised to nearly double the number of arbitrators starting in September, and also to increase the number of days they work on teacher cases each month to seven from five. By doing this, the city and the union claim, all of the nearly 650 teachers still waiting for a verdict will get one by December.
But a GothamSchools analysis shows that, to meet this goal, the city will have to force arbitrators to cram multiple hearings into each working day — a rate that is now unprecedented. (more…)
March 15, 2010
Despite a growing popular consensus that teacher quality is the most significant factor in academic achievement, as a parent and taxpayer the costs and practicality of this focus concern me. Chancellor Joel Klein focuses keenly on better teacher quality. I agree a strong teacher is crucial, especially for low-income students. But the value of our efforts (more…)
June 1, 2009
A new report is urging school districts across the country to beef up their methods of evaluating teachers, which the report describes as so slipshod as to be “largely meaningless.” The report, by a nonprofit group that has clashed with teachers unions in the past, describes the poor evaluations as “just one symptom of a larger, more fundamental crisis—the inability of our schools to assess instructional performance accurately or to act on this information in meaningful ways.”
The report goes on:
This inability not only keeps schools from dismissing consistently poor performers, but also prevents them from recognizing excellence among top-performers or supporting growth among the broad plurality of hardworking teachers who operate in the middle of the performance spectrum. Instead, school districts default to treating all teachers as essentially the same, both in terms of effectiveness and need for development.
The report, conducted by The New Teacher Project, a nonprofit founded by the lightning-rod D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, calls on districts to develop more robust teacher evaluation systems that reward successful teachers and easily identify less successful teachers.
The report comes amid a growing push to improve teaching quality across the country. President Obama has said that teachers who are not helping students learn should be removed from classrooms, and even the national American Federation of Teachers union is working internally to build a new method of evaluating teacher quality.
The report bases its findings on surveys of thousands of teachers and administrators across four states and 12 school districts, plus a scouring of the districts’ evaluation records. New York City was not one of the districts studied. (more…)