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erodriguez

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Member since: Tue Feb 2, 2010, 09:10 PM
Number of posts: 608

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The ugly impact of Race to the Top

As a direct result of Race to the Top, New York has agreed to implement a grand experiment on the public education system. This experiment will culminate in a testing regime that will cause good teachers to be fired, and waste hundreds of hours on testing and test prep for public school students.

If you are a parent with children who go or will go to public school, read this article. If you are an educator or are thinking about becoming one, read this article. If you are a student and have some spare time, read this article.

You may not be a New Yorker, but this type of education is coming your way. Arm yourselves.

The new evaluation system pretends to be balanced, but it is not. Teachers will be ranked on a scale of 1-100. Teachers will be rated as “ineffective, developing, effective, or highly effective.” Forty percent of their grade will be based on the rise or fall of student test scores; the other sixty percent will be based on other measures, such as classroom observations by principals, independent evaluators, and peers, plus feedback from students and parents.

But one sentence in the agreement shows what matters most: “Teachers rated ineffective on student performance based on objective assessments must be rated ineffective overall.” What this means is that a teacher who does not raise test scores will be found ineffective overall, no matter how well he or she does with the remaining sixty percent. In other words, the 40 percent allocated to student performance actually counts for 100 percent. Two years of ineffective ratings and the teacher is fired.

The state is making a bet that threatening to fire and publicly humiliate teachers it deems are underperforming will be sufficient to produce higher test scores. Since most teachers in New York do not teach tested subjects (reading and mathematics in grades 3-8), the state will require districts to create measures for everything that is taught (called, in state bureaucratese, “student learning objectives”) for all the others. So, in the new system, there will be assessments in every subject, including the arts and physical education. No one knows what those assessments will look like. Everything will be measured, not to help students, but to evaluate their teachers.

President Obama said in his State of the Union address that teachers should “stop teaching to the test,” but his own Race to the Top program is the source of New York’s hurried and wrong-headed teacher evaluation plan. According to Race to the Top, states are required to evaluate teachers based in part on their students’ test scores in order to compete for federal funding. When New York won $700 million from the Obama program, it pledged to do this. What the President has now urged (“stop teaching to the test”) is directly contradicted by what his own policies make necessary (teach to the test or be rated ineffective and get fired).


http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2012/feb/21/no-student-left-untested/
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