Posts tagged "The Widget Effect"
February 29, 2012
A frequent critique of the city’s release of value-added ratings for thousands of teachers last week has been that the city has never rated other workers in similar ways.
On Tuesday, Mayor Bloomberg explained the discrepancy, according to Capital New York. In short, Bloomberg said, teachers are not widgets, but other city workers are:
This is not like police and fire. You think about it. Police and fire, we assign a cop or a firefighter to a station, to a post, to a firehouse, to a piece of equipment. And all of the firefighers and all of the cops are changed. Not only are they interchangeable, we deliberately move them around, because that helps their careers and they learn more things and they’re better able to perform their jobs.
Education is different, Bloomberg added. His comments channeled the 2009 “Widget Effect” report by The New Teacher Project, which became fuel for reformers to push tougher teacher evaluations.
“The Widget Effect describes the tendency of school districts to assume classroom effectiveness is the same from teacher to teacher,” the study’s executive summary says. “This decades-old fallacy fosters an environment in which teachers cease to be understood as individual professionals, but rather as interchangeable parts.”
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…)
July 9, 2009
The Obama administration official in charge of an educational innovation fund yesterday issued a warning to a New York audience: Unless the state legislature revises a law now on the books about teacher tenure, the state could lose out on the $4.35 billion fund she controls.
Joanne Weiss said the Obama administration aims to reward states that use student achievement as a “predominant” part of teacher evaluations with the extra stimulus funds — and pass over those that don’t. New York state law currently bans using student data as a factor in tenure decisions.
Test scores aren’t everything, Weiss said. “But it seems illogical and indefensible to assume that those aren’t part of the solution at all,” she said, echoing nearly word-for-word Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s remarks last week to the National Education Association.
The pessimism about New York’s policies is a departure from Duncan’s tone during a visit to New York City in February, when he was cheery about the state’s chances in the competition. Duncan also briefly mentioned New York as one of several states whose firewalls around student and teacher data need to come down in a recent speech, and he indicated that New York’s cap on charter schools may also hurt the state’s chances at a slice of the stimulus pie.
Weiss, who worked at the New Schools Venture Fund before heading to Washington, said the “disadvantage” of the tenure law to New York could be counterbalanced by efforts here that the Obama administration admires. She praised a New York City program that is evaluating individual teachers based on their students’ test scores. One strength of the program, Weiss said, is that city teachers generally accept the evaluations as an accurate and fair assessment of their performance. (more…)