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Mon Feb 27, 2012, 10:26 PM

Bad Teachers or Bad Ratings?

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/closeread/2012/02/teacher-ratings.html



How useful are the city’s newly released teacher-evaluation scores? Let’s say you’re a hypothetical parent—maybe me. You go to the Times’ summation of the ratings for your child’s school, and find that they look pretty bad. In English, none of the teachers managed to score above average; only a small minority of the math teachers did. A teacher your child loves and seems to be learning a lot from was in the high single digits, percentile-wise. This is surprising, if not alarming, because your child’s school, as evidenced by a brutal middle-school admissions process, is one of the more highly regarded in Manhattan, a reputation that is backed up by other statistics. Its scores on the state English and math tests are well above average; so are its admissions to specialized high schools. On the city’s other arcane customized statistical product, the school report card, it has received an A five years in a row. The city just gave your child’s principal a twenty-five-thousand-dollar performance bonus. If you believe in statistics, you are presented with a terrific school with terrible teachers—except that the importance of teachers is what underlies this whole exercise and, as far as your amateur eye can tell, has been a key part of its success. You also learn that there are similar contradictory numbers at other good—or is that “good”—schools, including the elementary school your child just graduated from, toward which you feel unmitigated gratitude. You might be a parent who really does believe that tests are meaningful, and knows for a fact that teachers are. And then you’re just confused.

Look a little further and you’ll find a Times article—maybe it’s about your child’s own school, and a teacher in an upper grade there who, once you read about what she does for her students, many of whom have gone on to great high schools, you feel your own child would be lucky to have. She’s the subject of an article, though, because she’s probably going to be denied tenure and is thinking of leaving teaching: she has been statistically designated as being in the lowest seven per cent of teachers, according to the ratings. Why? The Times throws up its hands, referring to a formula that turns on what students are expected to do, involving thirty-two variables “plugged into a statistical model that looks like one of those equations that in ‘Good Will Hunting’ only Matt Damon was capable of solving.”

That formula, it turns out, is especially bad at dealing with both terrific and terrible:

The city acknowledged that the model was “too sensitive” among teachers whose students did either very well or very poorly. That lesson was shared with schools and the state “as it creates a new model for teacher evaluations,” said Matthew Mittenthal, an Education Department spokesman.



11 replies, 1381 views

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Response to Starry Messenger (Original post)

Tue Feb 28, 2012, 02:09 AM

1. The model is designed to produce sheeple. Of course it can't handle outliers. It isn't supposed to.

 

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Response to Starry Messenger (Original post)

Tue Feb 28, 2012, 08:21 AM

2. The teacher ranked last

has already had parents request their children be removed from her class. The requests started coming in the day the rankings were released.

There's also a Facebook group for the teacher.

This is really very insane. That poor teacher.

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Reply #2)

Tue Feb 28, 2012, 08:43 AM

3. I can't even imagine being that teacher right now.

What a crushing and humiliating ordeal. Her life will never be the same, for the sake of billionaire-funded pseudo-science.

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Reply #2)

Tue Feb 28, 2012, 09:26 PM

4. Her name is Pascale Mauclair. Here is her story...

...

http://www.edwize.org/the-true-story-of-pascale-mauclair

Excerpt:

Certainly, the Post gets its share of the blame. It engaged in the calculated effort to destroy the good name of a teacher whose sole crime was her vocation to make a difference in the lives of children. It set out to brutally strip her of her personal dignity, and paraded in public an egregiously false ‘naked’ portrait of her life’s work.

But the Post and the rest of the New York newspaper corps which participated in this sordid episode of publishing the TDRs had willing partners in the highest offices of this city, and they need to be called out by name.

There is Joel Klein, who as Chancellor gave his personal word and the institutional word of the NYC DoE to Pascale Mauclair and every other NYC public school teacher that the TDRs would not be used for evaluative purposes and would not be published, but would only be available to their supervisors and themselves, as a tool to inform instruction. It was the same Chancellor Klein who, once he saw political advantage to be gained from publishing the TDRs, broke his word and actively solicited the news media to file FOIL requests. And he did so with the full knowledge of just how profoundly inaccurate and invalid the TDR data was, with average margins of error in the 35% range for Math and 53% range for ELA.

And there is Michael Bloomberg, who as Mayor betrayed the explicit pledge to NYC public school teachers that the NYC DoE and the City would oppose any FOIL request to obtain and publish the TDRs, but ordered DoE and City lawyers to not oppose the FOIL requests in court.

New York City public school teachers bear witness to what you have done to Pascale Mauclair and to us.

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Response to YvonneCa (Reply #4)

Wed Feb 29, 2012, 08:15 AM

5. I put it up in GD

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Reply #5)

Wed Feb 29, 2012, 02:11 PM

6. That's usually the case anymore with education...

...articles. I'm glad you posted it there, though, anyway.

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Reply #5)

Wed Feb 29, 2012, 02:24 PM

7. Because there is no way to spin that to make the reform agenda look good. nt

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Response to Starry Messenger (Reply #7)

Wed Feb 29, 2012, 03:22 PM

8. Is it your perception that even most Democrats support these "reforms"?

That surprises me.

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Response to FBaggins (Reply #8)

Wed Feb 29, 2012, 03:32 PM

9. I'm not sure how you would get that from what I said.

I think it's only a loud minority of Dems that support these reforms, (with some institutional back-up from a conservative wing of the Dem party). They tend to maintain a meaningful silence in the face of stories like the one YvonneCA posted. I guess it was my wordy way of saying *crickets*, lol.

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Response to Starry Messenger (Reply #9)

Wed Feb 29, 2012, 03:43 PM

10. It seemed like you were saying that it wasn't getting noticed in GD...

...because it didn't support the agenda. I read that as implying that most in GD would therefore fall into that category.

Sorry if I flubbed it.

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Response to FBaggins (Reply #10)

Wed Feb 29, 2012, 04:01 PM

11. FWIW, I think many in GD...

...just find education articles, ed reform or other, uninteresting. Maybe we need to 'spice it up.'

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