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PGE and SERVE comments

Page history last edited by joan@mathascent.org 11 years, 12 months ago

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kmk33 said...

I just listened to today's conversation and one thing stood out pretty distinctly: the district line is that using standardized tests is synonymous with the evaluation of educators based on student progress. These are not one and the same.

Educators are supportive of using student growth as part of our evaluations. We are against using tests that are not aligned with the district's curriculum, that are not designed for such a purpose, and that can not be interpreted equitably.

There are other measurements that demonstrate student learning and mastery of the curriculum. Some of these measurements are included in the SERVE proposal and in the evaluation system that has been collaborated on for months between district and union members.

For example, the educator and the administrator determine learning goals for students based on the students' learning needs and the grade level/content area curriculum. The educator assesses the students throughout the year and uses student work and in-class assessments to evaluate student mastery of the subject matter. This information is recorded as part of the educator's evaluation along with reflections on what supported the students' growth or what might be attempted in the future for additional success.

I'm wary of the usurpation of "evaluation" and want to keep the distinction part of the "conversation." Authentic evaluation is valuable for the student, the family, and the educational team employed by SPS.

8/10/10 6:37 PM

kmk33 said...

@ Rosie,

This year I have been an SEA rep for my building. I wanted this position because I was under the impression that SEA reps too often have an axe to grind and that as a fairly content educator, I felt there were many of us who were under-represented. What I have seen at meetings this year surprised me and impressed me.

While there is the occasional "pay me more" comment, they are rare and often out-voiced by educators who are advocating for an improved public education system. The debates are often inclusive of the latest research on what makes for a great classroom and a great education system. The members are up-to-date on civil rights issues as they pertain to student learning and have those issues at the fore front of their arguments.

Earlier this year the Superintendent asked SEA members to approve easing off on graduation requirements. Many educators were appalled. Later I learned that her own evaluation criteria includes a financial bonus for improving graduation rates. I continue to be saddened that the leader of our schools is more interested in less stringent requirements than actually doing the difficult things that would help more students find success.

I'm proud to be an SEA member and that's because it's an organization that is truly advocating for public education, for students, and of course - for educators - including the recent move to increase evaluation criteria for educators.

 

8/10/10 6:56 PM

 

Anonymous said...

I'm a teacher in SPS and my students do remarkably well. Part of the reason my students do well is that we spend a reasonable amount of time creating a responsible classroom environment (e.g. collaboration, empathy, self-control, etc). These issues can be so easily left out when the focus is on "test scores." The research shows time and time again, the more students feel known and have a voice, the more likely they are to graduate!

If the district truly wants to improve the achievement gap there are some well tested/proved steps they can take. Spend money making sure kids have good places to go during the summer- food, books, play time, and positive experiences. This will decrease the summer dip that many students experience.

Assess specific needs. All students are not alike, all schools are not alike. For example, classes that have a majority of ELL students have very different needs than upper middle class students. The students and teachers have different requirements. The ELL classes or first time enrolled in a school kids should have smaller class size. Research does show that this does improve student success! I have a collegue who taught 29 fifth graders in a SPS school- 15 were new to school (immigrants who experienced their first time in a classroom), there were 5 languages spoken. Her needs were quite different from mine! (I can tell you, I had the easier job.)

Support collaboration among teachers. Research shows this improves morale among the students, teachers, community, and administrators. The current "SERVE" program completely negates these efforts.

I could go on. I'm so outraged. The emphasis of MGJ's mandate is not on the students. (By the way, the SEA was making great headway with a positive teacher accountability measure in the negotiations before MGJ played her card.) Until we make it about the students we won't be meeting our true mandate of educating every child. It is time to voice your concern.

School communities take the "no bully" policy very seriously. Let's not let ourselves be bullied into something that is proven to fail. Please help be the voice that is so needed and show our children that we do care. We won't be bullied into accepting a corporate model that benefits few and quiets the voices of the masses.

Signed,
Cory (not my name because I am afraid of district retribution)  8/11/10 12:52 AM

Anonymous said...

Hi,

I am a teacher too, and I have to respond to Cory in saying in SPS there is a culture of fear that is really prevalent. I know many SPS teachers read this blog, and have a lot to say about the issues. We are generally not conspiracy theorists or crazies. The fact that we censor ourselves so tightly has me deeply concerned.

We as teachers are often blamed for societies miss comings. I guess I can deal with this, but I have to say that I work for a school that does not perform as well on tests as other schools, this is due to many factors most of which are out of my control. You know what I can control though?

I can control how much I work and how hard I fight for my students. I often find myself putting 60 or 70 hours a week in during the autumn months, and what always blows my mind is that when I leave at night, my car is rarely the only one in the parking lot. When I look at my colleagues, I see a group of people who are innovative, dedicated, and most of all kind.

I am sure that there are bad teachers out there, but I don't know very many of them.

I think that SERVE is a ridiculous program. I think it tries to put people into boxes when we don't actually have the boxes to put them into. (hmm.. MAPS test anyone?)

I guess if anything I would like to say that the district needs to start cleaning their side of the street.

Because at the end of the day? While my faults are certainly long in number, my side of the street is as clean as a master's degree, a whole lot of humility and elbow grease is going to get.

I don't know about anyone else, but I for one am prepared to strike.

Signed,
Winston  8/11/10 8:03 AM

 

BloggerJoan NE said...Charlie,... You wrote "Two problems there. One, the reformists have no idea what incents teachers. Two, the less needy students then lose teacher effectiveness, don't they?"

It seems to me that (and maybe this is what you meant) a key problem with Ed Reform is that

 

when they say  "teacher"  they really mean  "test prep instructor,"

such as are the product of alternative certification pathways, Teach For America and New Teacher for New Schools being examples of programs that offer alternative certification pathways.  Ed Reform would have all of our careerest professional teachers replaced with union-busting test prep instructors

 

When Ed Reformists use the term  "teacher effectiveness"  they really mean 

 "ability to help students get passing scores or show strong gains on high stakes standardized assessments."

What we know is that score inflation accompanies use of standardized tests for high stakes purposes. This means that if a district uses HST, the year-over-year growth in passage rates is not attributable to genuine growth in student achievement. Rather it is attributable to teachers getting more familiar with the test, and getting better at focussing on helping the "bubble kids" to get passing scores. The bubble kids are those that need extra help to get passing scores.

Ed Reform incentivizes the classroom adults to act as test prep instructors, and to neglect high achieving kids and the lowest achieving kids. The high achieving kids will pass anyway; the lowest achieving kids are at risk of failing even with remediation, so to work with these kids is not as productive when the goal is to get more kids to pass the test. Focussing on bubble kids is also the most rationale strategy when the district is judgin teachers on strong score growth in the aggregate.

This perverse incentive scheme is one of the ways that Ed Reform strategy can be seen to use artificial (perverted) means to "close the achievement gap."

It turns out that it is not diffuclt to teach non-educators to be test prep instructors. That is why the alternative cert pathway programs are only a few weeks or months long.

The kids that go through these certification crash course programs are willing to work in non-union jobs where pay, retention and promotion are tied to their students' test scores.

These TFA kids are well meaning, I have no doubt. They are being used unwittingly to harm children and to become replacements for the professional teachers that are unwilling to adjust their practice toward test prep instruction.

8/14/10 4:29 PM

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