No data, no dollars

Despite laws preventing the use of test scores in teacher evaluations, California, New York and Wisconsin are trying to argue that they qualify for Race to the Top funding, reports Ed Week’s Stephen Sawchuck. He summarizes:

New York: “OK, our law says you can’t use test data in teacher-tenure decisions, but teachers have to demonstrate how they’ll use data to get tenure. Besides, the law only refers to tenure, not all those other teacher things.”
California: “OK, just because there’s a state prohibition on the use of this data doesn’t mean local districts can’t choose to include it on their own. Like, six whole districts already do!”
Wisconsin: “OK, we can’t use our NCLB tests for these teacher-related purposes, but we have all kinds of other tests we could use!”

California Superintendent Jack O’Connell visited Long Beach Unified, known as a data-driven district.  The LA Times reports:

Seven years ago, the district developed a sophisticated centralized data system that allows it to track individual student achievement, attendance and discipline over time. The system also lets the district see how students are faring collectively in a particular classroom or school, and how subsets such as English learners or special education students are performing. District officials can then use the information for staffing decisions, such as where to send specialists.

Tom Malkus, principal of Lee Elementary School, said he and other school leaders use the data to spot struggling teachers and offer coaching, professional development and other support.

If that fails, (Superintendent Christopher) Steinhauser said, the district has “courageous conversations” with teachers that can result in their leaving the profession.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to terminate the data firewall. The unions should agree to change the law, editorializes the San Jose Mercury News.

Without linking student data to teachers, lawmakers will shoot in the dark when they try, for example, to make sure that effective teachers are working in low-performing schools.

Swift & Change Able looks at New York state’s data firewall, which reads:  “The teacher shall not be granted or denied tenure based on student performance data.”

Here’s how it would have been written if what NY state officials and the unions are saying was their real intent really was their intent (the simple adding of one word):

“the teacher shall not be granted or denied tenure based solely on student performance data.”

or, more elegantly and affirmatively:

“teacher tenure shall be granted based on student performance data and other relevant factors”

. . . The one upside of this debate: we now know what is meant by “creative problem solving” when union officials and their flacks talk about “21st Century Skills.”

On Flypaper, Mike Petrilli looks at the politics of the decision to require states to use achievement data to evaluate teachers.  It’s not just a poke in the eye for the teachers’ unions, he writes. It’s a poke at California. And it couldn’t have happened without the OK of Rep. George Miller, a liberal California Democrat who chairs the House Education and Labor committee. Petrilli thinks it’s Miller’s revenge on the NEA, which made “a stink about merit pay when Miller’s NCLB reauthorization bill was floated back in 2007.”

About Joanne


  1. plus many charter schools use it very effectively.

    perhaps California can still apply and steer the dollars to charters and districts which comply.

  2. Robert Wright says:

    Imagine a house painter who is evaluated on if he shows up on time, cleans his brushes, takes diversity training and CPR, and demonstrates the ability to work well with others.

    But not on how well he paints houses.

  3. Kevin Smith says:

    The big issue I see with using these results in teacher evaluation is how they judge the results. If one teacher who has demonstrated an apptitude for being able to deal with “problems” is given all the “problems” that has to be sonsidered in teh results. I say this because I have been given classes before where 75-100% of the class was retaking it after having failed, had classes that were 50% learning disabled, and had co-workers who could only teach “honors” classes. In spite of these challenges my average test scores were close to as high as the other classes, but based on those results you’d think I was a slightly worse teacher (our superintendent always says give the worst students to the best teacher and I feel proud everytime he says it..).

  4. I think your principal has your number, Kevin :). One solution is to give every teacher a range. I have the lowest and highest classes — although I’ve built our AP program to a level where I’m almost all AP now (it’s a lot of work). This ignores individual talents, however. Some teachers really specialize in certain types of learners.

  5. Kevin Smith says:

    I’d actually prefer to keep the kinda classes I get now. These kids would NOT do well in another teacher’s class. I didn’t get into this line of work to teach the kids who would do good on their own….

  6. Mark G. says:

    I agree with Kevin Smith, that teachers with certain dispositions should be matched where they are most effective.

    I agree with the concept of merit pay, performance-based pay. However, I do not believe that comparing data from one classroom to the next or one teacher to the next is the way to assess that data. Every year, I have at least one period in the day where the kids are simply entering with “more” to build upon. Thus, reaching some arbitrary or universalized finish line will be less of a challenge than the other periods where my kids need more support because of skills deficits. If, in the end, my second period has higher scores than my third, does that mean I’m a better teacher to my second period class? My third period likely covered more ground and made more progress, but the test results might not show that.

    I believe that performance-based pay or assessment of teacher performance should be based on two factors: student growth during the time a teacher works with them [pre and post assessments and comparison, not just post assessment and comparison to the general population], and a sequence of observations by a non-administrator (ideally a trained assessor from outside the building, a TOSA, for example) where the teacher demonstrates the capacity for reflection upon, analysis of, and refinement of their craft.

  7. Ragnarok says:

    Not to defend the teachers’ unions, but note that unless the appropriate data is delivered to people who can actually understand it, we achieve nothing.

    To be fair, some people do assert that administrators do have the attention span of moths – on their good days.

  8. “I didn’t get into this line of work to teach the kids who would do good on their own….”

    Kevin, I suspect you mean well, but there are very few kids who do good on their own, if by good you mean, learning material at an appropriate pace for their ability level. Bright kids, especially, need a teacher who can stay ahead of them, challenge them, and buy into the idea that even smart kids deserve to learn in school.

    If you don’t believe that smart kids need/deserve access to materials they don’t already know and to good teachers, then, please stay away from them.

  9. Of course the obvious way to ensure that there’s careful attention to how data is interpreted is to put principals and all other administrative personnel on the same footing as teachers, i.e. judge them by the educational results they produce.

  10. Margo/Mom says:

    My district, according to a recent newspaper article, has a typical sort of evaluation system for teachers that ranks everyone above average or something like it. Classroom observations are conducted by building administrators, must be scheduled in advance and as I understand it they are prohibited contractually from using impressions formed from any unscheduled visits (for instance if they hear a riot and enter the room to see if they can offer assistance, one might suppose) in evaluation. There is a state of the art peer review system (aka Toledo plan), which may or may not be effective in either remediating or removing ineffective teachers (not much evidence of removal, no formal reporting of remediation effects).

    In this context I have seen highly effective staffs that were able to collaborate, learn and grow together, developing cohesive curriculum and solving common problems. I have also seen buildings that existed primarily in survival mode. In these buildings it is easy for teachers to develop really bad habits (as well as good ones), and for nobody to notice. The ensuing level of chaos in the building is typically thought to be the result of uncontrollable factors “in the community.” This was the state in one building where my son attended. He had a couple of pretty good teachers–one so overstressed by protecting kids with problems from the system, other kids and other teachers, that his classroom, while an island of safety, was a place of little learning. The test scores were not broken out by classroom but they were broken out by grade level, so, my assumptions are a bit approximate. My son’s final year in the school I fought to have him in the classroom of one teacher who was known for her high levels of proficiency working with a disabled population. At her grade level the students with disabilities surpassed those without. In that one year alone, my son scored proficient or advanced in tests across the board. Not before, not since (the school psychologist came up with the brilliant suggestion that perhaps my son reached a developmental “plateau” in that year).

    Firewall, or no firewall, such standouts are well known, at least anecdotally. Personally, I wouldn’t be opposed to someone handing a bonus to the high scoring teacher–or to looking at some reorganization for the rescuing teacher so that his kids might be both safe and also learn. But there are also many other applications of this kind of data. For instance, do teachers who have participated in the peer review program demonstrate any improved capacity to teach, as indicated by average test scores both before and after intervention? Are some groups of kids really pre-ordained to do less well than others, or do individual teachers really make a difference? Is random assignment the best way to put kids in classes, or are there matching factors that might lead to better learning gains? Do some colleges of education routinely turn out teachers better able to produce measureable learning that others?

    All of these kinds of questions become difficult to answer when legal firewalls are put in place to disconnect student data from teacher data. The advent of statewide systems of unique student identifiers has enabled data gathering at a new level in terms of students (example: what really happens to a student who leaves high school for a GED program? Do they get there, or do they actually drop out?). Unique teacher identifiers provides the possibility to test out some of the assumptions about the interaction of teacher ability and student ability.

    The evaluation issue actually strikes me as being two issues. One is why is the level of evaluation of teachers currently so pitiful (and what to do about it) and the second is to what degree should measures of student learning be included in evaluation of teachers. Without actually answering either of these two questions, some have gone ahead with reactionary scenarios based on stereotypical views of administrators (former teachers who couldn’t “cut it” in the classroom), and students (some just cannot learn very well) and schools (too many other problems for kids to learn) and the ever present fear of loss of status, loss of pay or loss of jobs as a result of evaluation.

    It would be so refreshing if some of the professional groups in education were able to take a sound leadership position that acknowledges both the need for teacher evaluation, but also serves to calm some of the hysteria.

  11. Most students cannot “do good” [sic] on their own. They may need varying levels of support and instruction, but they do not emerge fully matured scholars from the forehead of public education without somebody putting in a whole lot of work. In fact, it is, as Jane says, malpractice to assume that of any student — even geniuses need to learn.

    Kevin, I’m sure you are wonderful and talented with a certain type of student, but it is not healthy (for myriad reasons) to believe you are the only teacher your students can thrive with.

  12. Kevin Smith says:

    Jane, try to avoid commenting where you don’t know what you’re talking about. Some kids will read their books without prompting, and not drop out of school no matter who their teacher is. If you think I don’t challenge my students you need to follow me around for a month or two. I suspect based on your knee jerk reaction that caused you to decide I wasn’t a good teacher that you aren’t one yourself….

  13. Kathleen says:

    We definitely need to have student test results linked to teachers; teachers linked to teacher prep programs (and other similar programs, NBPTS, TFA)–and everything linked to the principals, superintendents and school board members.
    I agree with part of Mark G said: that merit pay should be based on 1) gains; and 2) a series of observations that provide information for the teacher to demonstrate self-reflection to improve their craft.

    However, instead of using a series of observations to set the occasion for self-reflection, how about creating an set of results-oriented observational measures that would establish the same quality indicators for all teachers and could be collected several times throughout the year. We did this in a charter school with tons of success.
    As educators, we must have TIMELY information to improve our performance so that we can impact student achievement. If we could have data systems that provide an on-going trend analysis for each teacher on key indicators of performance that are strongly tied to improving student performance,then we (teachers) could make informed decisions. For example, there is a huge body of research about student engagement (e.g., if students are “engaged” in their work, then it is more likely they are to succeed/achieve.) If “engaged” is defined as student responses (e.g., oral, written, or specific non-verbal signals–hand raising), then a group of trained observers (e.g., mentor teachers) could observe in classrooms, count the number/type of student responses in given time period. Sure it would take some training. But imagine the conversations that could occur. Let’s say the data report came back to a teacher indicating that out of 25 in a 20 minute observation of the practice part of a lesson there were four responses in a 20 minute period. As a teacher, what I could do to improve the number of responses/interactions–and thus, increase engagement. Given a focus, I could seek additional training, support, advice, or just myself a good kick in the pants to get out my desk and create a set of questions and interactions for the kids. Now imagine if, as I teacher, I knew that EVERYONE in the school would be observed using the same indicator (in this case, engagement). We could have some powerful discussions about ways to increase engagement across every classroom in the school/ district/ grade level.
    My point is that there are SEVERAL KEY objective measures that could be used in an ONGOING manner that would help remove the “my-principal-has-the-attention-span-of-a-moth” complaints and increase the likelihood that the appropriate data would be collected and well used with the sense of urgency that educators need in order to be successful.

  14. Counting the number of student responses every X minutes strikes me as mindless micro-management. Surely the quality of student responses is at least as important as the quantity. Asking probing questions, insisting that students go beyond the obvious in their responses and support their answers with evidence, giving adequate wait time, these things lead to a higher level of student achievement than the rapid fire spouting of low level questions that can be answered with nothing more than a thumbs up or thumbs down.

    As long as it is done by measuring student gains over the year, judging teachers by how much their students actually learn holds the promise of freeing teachers to act in the ways that we know to be most effective instead of having to meet the demands of some questionable observation check list. I have found these check lists to be a waste of time at best and often counterproductive. My students, at all levels, do very well on value added measures. Why can’t I be judged on what I actually achieve with my students?

  15. Kevin Smith says:

    Lightly Seasoned you might want to take a trip out to my school before YOU make uninformed statements. My students can’t only thrive with me, they just wouldn’t DO SO WELL WITH THE PARTICULAR OTHER TEACHERS AT MY SCHOOL. Dear god I hope you people aren’t actually teachers….the level of “jumping to unfounded conclusions” here is beyond shocking.

  16. Mark G. says:

    Reading Kevin, Lightly Seasoned, Jane… so here’s the situation: you have one class of 35 students, below grade level, stereotypical sweathogs; another class of 35, stereotypical AP, college bound, super motivated with supportive homes and access to opportunities.

    Each class will be assigned one of two teachers. Teacher A is accomplished at working with all levels, has a strong track record with remediation and AP, parents, peers, and students credit this teacher as one of the, if not the best teacher they’ve ever worked with…an all around stellar educator. Teacher F is far less effective, with poor classroom management, ineffective pedagogical approaches and lesson structure, though has experience (not success) with both remediation and AP…but has seniority so cannot be fired.

    So, who gets the “good” teacher?

  17. Kevin: My heavens. The students aren’t even back yet and you’re awfully testy. Jumping to ad hominen just kills the exchange. Attack my ideas, not me — it all has a point that way.

    Mark G: Wait, if you offer merit pay don’t we all become the “good” teacher instantly? The answer depends on the principal’s goals/priorities. If he or she wants high AP scores to impress the community because of an upcoming tax levy, Teacher A goes there; if the school is in AYP trouble and needs a higher proficiency rate to avoid sanctions, Teacher A goes to the sweathogs.

    Or, you’re me (Teacher Y?), and you get both classes, back to back. Whee.

  18. Kevin Smith says:

    Seasoned – since you attacked me your repsonse seems a little odd….
    And MArk, I’m Teacher “A” and I’ve been getting the sweathogs since it became clear to my school that my team of Teacher “B”‘s would get almost zero proficiency out of a group I’d get 75% out of.

  19. Kevin,

    So you can teach the sweat hogs….can you teach the high kids, the ones who need to be challenged, can work fast and efficiently, and can learn rapidly?

    Or do they languish in your class because they aren’t deserving of your attention?

  20. Kevin Smith says:

    Jane are you really this thick? You can’t read my previous posts and Mark G.’s and figure out your reaction was totally off base? Seriously? I’ve taught AP Chemistry and had high scores, I’ve taught Physics and Chemistry. I’ve taught a Tech Science class where we did DNA Fingerprinting and the students have built a redesigned ballistae (which was a student redesign, by the way) using modern materials. There are Honors students that come to me for tutoring after school (because I’m the only science teacher at the school that stays until 5 o’clock). The fact that I feel that the state I work in (hopefully for the sake of NC’s students not where you are) has set the scoring standard so that any truly self motivated student with good study skills could get a “4” on their own SAYS NOTHING about my view of the students. Oh please tell me you aren’t a teacher…anyone as dead set on sticking with their first incorrect assumption based on a casual remark as you obviously are has no business in a classroom with real students…. You probably think every kid who uses bad grammar is a thug and all kids who’ve ever gotten a bad grade are dumb too.

  21. I didn’t attack you, Kevin. (And, to save you the ad hominem… yes, I really for real am a teacher, true dat! I’m reasonably ok at it, but if it pleases you to imagine me laying intellectual waste to large swathes of teenage humanity, I can live with that.)

  22. Kevin,

    I’m not a teacher, I’m a parent. Although my kids are still in elementary school, they have had the misfortune to deal with teachers who think and say that:

    “Some kids will read their books without prompting, and not drop out of school no matter who their teacher is.” and

    “I didn’t get into this line of work to teach the kids who would do good on their own….”

    Our racial/ethnic background and socioeconomic status is none of the schools or anyone else’s business and should not determine their access to competent teachers and curriculum they have not mastered. The ability to learn and achieve should not limit their acesss to competent teachers and curriculum they have not mastered.

    Unfortunately, there seems to be an attitude that bright kids don’t need good teachers. They do.

    LS, thanks for pointing that out earlier.

    And, Mark G., after spending elementary school in a system where they are shunted aside because they are smart, well behaved kids, in high school, the AP kids deserve Teacher A.

  23. Everybody has different personalities. Those personalities should determine what teachers should teach what classes. All of this social engineering of data-driven “reformers” forgets the human factor. If you can’t trust teachers to apply for the jobs that they want or to refine their crafts to best serve the types of students who they teach, then we are supposed to trust those decisions to policy wonks with no classroom experience?

    MARGO/mom, I hope you are not making your statement about the Toledo Plan based on TLTP’s “Widget Effect.” My understanding was that their reports on Toledo where a typo and they would correct the numbers. Toledo has been removing nearly 8% of the new teachers every year since the early 80s. It acknowledges a greater challenge with ineffective veterans, Negotiationg better agreements on that problem is made more difficult when those “reports” (like their previous report on the NYC Teacher Reserve) poison the well with inaccurate and incomplete and misleading information.

    Yes, everyone knows who the top teacherrs are. Mostly they are teachers who unreservedly love the students. And they get paid a bonus that is incomparable. If people want to supplement the real bonuses with additional money, that’s fine.

    Kevin makes a lot of sense to me. I wonder if he’s being caught between the two poles of political corectness. He seems to be being boxed in by the believers that the culture of poverty doesn’t exist and people who recoil from that silly belief. But I’m curious if he’d agree with this.

    We have a conveyor belt educational system that does good enough for students who can read for comprehension and who know how to be a student. We have almost no success with kids who fall off the conveyor belt. NCLB has focused on the wrong problem, improving the conveyor belt, assuming that the kids who have fallen off would soar up and rejoin their more fortunate peers. Kevin, however, seems to understand the two different worlds and he’s chosen the one where he wants to take his stand.

    I’d have enjoyed teaching advanced IB and AP students, but then I bet I would have moved back to higher ed after a couple of years. There are a lot of reasons why I’ve fallen in love with inner city education. I can’t deny that the adrenalin rush of the challenge is one reason. Also, when I moved in elite academic circles, there were plenty of people who could do what I could do. But when a veteran teacher who has a knack for the inner city leaves, its awfully hard to replace them. We need to stop fighting each other and recruit new talent to replace the Baby Boomers who are now irreplacable and who will soon be retiring.

    And Kathleen, link test score to individual teachers for purposes of evaluation, and do it wrong, and effective teachers will abandon the inner city. I can’t imagine a self-respecting professional allowing themselves to be held responsible for factors that are completely beyond their control. Do something like that to surgeons, for instance, they wouldn’t necessarily leave the medical profession but they wouldn’t subject themselves to that indignity.

  24. Kevin Smith says:

    Why is it that ahlf the peole here seem to think you can’t care about under achiever and over achievers? Hmmmm? Seasoned implied I had a mental
    problem for thinking my co-workers wouldn’t handle my remedial students well, Jane thinks me quoting my own co-workers means I’m a bad teacher and refuses to back off that assumption even when I point out how much enrichment I do with my students. John, I’d say you’re right about the two poles of the politically correct here. If I teach remedial classes I must be a bad teacher, because everyone knows those horrible schools only assign their worst teachers to the needy kids. If I don’t complain about teaching remedial classes I must not care about the AG kids….aren’t we just the delightful crowd here?

  25. Margo/Mom says:

    John–I am not certain of the original source of the numbers of teachers who were let go at the end of their time with PAR. I read it in a newspaper report–and sometimes journalists are not so totally up on education issues as one might hope. However, I think that the larger point is that the number of teachers let go is not the best of all possible indicators for a program whose primary intent is to provide evaluation and remediation. I am not real big on trying to improve the ranks (of anything) through weeding out the bad apples as the only/most appropriate tool. This is poor management.

    Improvement of the ranks really requires an appropriate system of evaluation, goal setting, planning, improvement. Certainly PAR has that potential. But, it is not designed for whole school, whole district efforts. Nor have I seen any evaluative evidence that it results in improvement (although I believe that it most likely does) for those who participate.

    BTW–while surgery isn’t a specialty that is typically carried out in neighborhoods, I have a fair amount of experience working in inner-city health care. There are in fact docs who sign on for many of the same reasons that teacher in the inner city do. And they are faced with far higher levels of bureaucratic involvement of many kinds (tied to funding streams), including focus on outcomes, than docs who practice in the ‘burbs. And they do it anyway. The field also, however, tends to attract a fair share of docs who are just looking for an easy position–measured hours, a population who cannot always stand up for themselves, folks who are desparate for a warm body who can sign MD after their name. And there’s always someone collecting the same Medicaid dollars down the street for writing easy scrips.

    Medicine isn’t so far different, but the grass, you know, is always greener.

  26. John, somehow I don’t think Kevin teaches in an inner city low SES school if his kids get 4 and 5’s on the AP Chem and Phys exams without much effort on the teacher’s part. I agree that it is much harder to replace you than me, and that this problem needs to be addressed very quickly. The economy tanking probably bought some time in terms of retirements.

    Kevin, I am beginning to think you just like hyperbole as your mode of discourse. Perhaps you are the very best teacher in your whole building. Who am I to say? I’m sure you’re a much better teacher than I am, as well.

  27. Mark G. says:

    John: your conveyor belt analogy is great, makes perfect sense out of a complex situation.

  28. Margo/mom,

    Agreed. The single most cost effective step, according to a lot of researchers including Kane I beleve, is to remove the bottom 5%. Toledo seems to do that for new teachers. After that, the process has to grow organically. And that requires trust. And that means that you can’t mandate untested statisical models that would destroy the careers of an unknown number of effective teachers.

    My understanding that the same conflict between data-DRIVEN accountability and data-INFORMED accountability is occuring in health care, including in the Obama administration. Yes, Community Helath Centers have to balance their goals of serving the community while protecting their program but my understanding is that some are backing off from serving the population that should be their #1 concern. My understanding is that these health centers are being held accountable for the factor which they can least control – the time when pregnant women first seek treatment. If that continues, I’m told, the Centers have no choice but to invest their efforts in situations where they don’t encounter as many young mothers with addiction.

    But the big point stands. If you hold one type of doctor accountable for outputs, without competently and accurately adjusting for preexisting conditions, they will change fields. That’s human nature.

    But Lightly Seasoned, I like to read between the lines, but nothing in Kevin’s post prompted me to judge him. I reread the exchange and I have no idea why the hostility was showered on him.

    In blogging I do some trash talking, and its tough when you can’t see peoples’ faces to know if I’ve gone too far. Sometimes I go to far.

    On this is a subject, data-driven evalautions, where I get fired up. But I like the old Oklahoma progressive saying, “Hammer the System, not the Individual.” Rightly or wrongly, I spout some venom against refomers who want to take away the fundamental due process and contractual rights of teachers and move us around as chess pieces. But even then, the real problem isn’t the arrogance of individuals but the Arrogance of Power.

    And that gets me back to the first point. I’d feel differently about Klein, Rhee, her TNTP, the Ed Trust, and other “reformers” if they’d just apologize when caught making a bone-headed mistake. That’s another reason why I’m uncomfortable with the rising influence of educational think tanks who don’t have the same traditions as academia in regard to ethics and the rules of evidence. Sure there are academics who’ve been caught doing malpractice and survived. But when I was in grad school they were cautionary tales and ethics was pounded into us. Traditional educational values were pounded into us. I don’t feel comfortable with the politicized “research” that was stimulated by NCLB.

    And I agree with ther late Bill Strauss. Baby Boomers must recognize that market-driven reforms are coming to education and we can’t stop them. We must, however, be the protectors of educational values.

  29. Kevin Smith says:

    Seasoned – where in all my posts do you see me saying my students got 4 and 5 scores on AP exams with very little effort? The classes I remediate are the basic graduation requirement courses and the 4’s I refer to are on the state EOC’s in Physical Science and Biology (the required course). The AP classes I’ve taught are Chemistry and Physics. And I’ve pretty much decided anyone with as much problem admitting their wrong as you appear to have has the unhealthy problems you accused me of in your first response.

  30. Kevin Smith says:

    And Seaoned, here is a quote of one of my fellow science teachers (the only teachers in the school to whom I’d be compared) “If they don’t pay enought attention to get it in class, why should I have to go over it again after school?” This was when I was attempting to convince him to offer tutoring after school like I do. The other Physical Science and Biology teacher agreed with him…. Am Inthe best teacher in the world? No. Am I better than that? H3LL YES!

  31. Kevin Smith says:

    Oh and one other thing seasoned, my rural consolidated high school is 75% free and reduced lunch. Good thing you’re not a baseball player cause your batting average here is real bad….

  32. Some idiot have been writing about the TNTP or the New Teacher whatever, when he meant the New Teacher Leader Project. When I get the wrong acronym in my head its like getting Musak up there.

    This last exchange is another legacy of NCLB making conflict worse. Balfanz’ recent study of middle schools in Philly reinforced the common sense conclusion that there are high schools where students enter with 7th and 8th grade skills, and that have shown success. Schools where tens of students need after school tutoring have shown success.

    But that doesn’t mean that those results are replicable in NEIGHBORHOOD high schools where student frequently enter with 5th and 6th grade reading skills and hundreds of students need remediation. Those schools have virtually no track record of success.

    But we teachers allow the bait and switch. We allow them to say that hardcore NEIGHBORHOOD schools could have the same successes as charters and lower poverty schools. Rather than challenge the lack of evidence and the lack of logic behind the “reformers” indictment of us, teachers often become our worst enemies by attacking each other.

  33. Kevin, you said, “I’ve taught AP Chemistry and had high scores,” and a high score in AP is a 4 or 5. I didn’t make the leap from you talking about AP in one sentence to your state exam (with which I am not familiar, but seems to follow the same scoring rubric) in the next sentence. Mea culpa supra.

    John, perhaps you are correct. Perhaps it is simply his tone that I am reacting to. I’ve worked with teachers who thought they were better than the rest — caused a lot of unproductive turmoil. Again, perhaps extrapolating my own biases on poor Kevin, here.

    I shall throw in my bat and ball now, as I shouldn’t be procrastinating on my lesson plans in any case.

    Please forgive me, Kevin. You have shown me what a lousy human being I truly am.

  34. Kevin Smith says:

    You were doing so well until that last smart Alec remark….apparently when you insult someone you think getting upset about it is a flaw in THEIR character….

  35. Ragnarok says:

    Kevin Smith said:

    “Jane, try to avoid commenting where you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

    and “Lightly Seasoned you might want to take a trip out to my school before YOU make uninformed statements.”

    and “Jane are you really this thick?”

    Not to mention this gem: “My students can’t only thrive with me, they just wouldn’t DO SO WELL WITH THE PARTICULAR OTHER TEACHERS AT MY SCHOOL.”

    I read the posts quite carefully, and I saw no reason for you to be rude. It would have been extremely easy for someone to pick apart you grammar, your logic and your spelling, but no-one did.

    Perhaps you could return the favour by settling down a bit?

  36. Ragnarok says:

    Should have been “your grammar”.

  37. Kevin Smith says:

    No reason to be rude? How about one person implying I had a mental illness and another saying I’m a bad teacher who ignors high achieving students, all essentially because I said I prefer to teach the remedial kids because I think their better off with me? Maybe you don’t think that was rude off them, I do.

  38. Ragnarok says:

    john thompson said:

    “The single most cost effective step, according to a lot of researchers including Kane I beleve, is to remove the bottom 5%.”

    Sounds wonderful, but the devil is in determining who belongs in that 5%. This isn’t an idle query; I’ve seen the results of the “rank and yank” at companies.

    Often it’s the cruft who draw up the lists. And the results aren’t pretty.

  39. Kevin Smith says:

    My school has lost more than 5% this year, not sure about the “bottom” part. One that was out and out fired was definitely bottom 5, two forced retirements (making everyone with thirty years retire saves money)were a big loss, especially the head of the math department.

  40. Rag: we probably lose 5%/year to natural attrition. Not a bad thing.

    FWIW, the weakest teachers in my building are boys basketball and football coaches, and you know they ain’t going nowhere.

  41. Kevin Smith says:

    Always wonder at other schools about that. One of the best biology teachers I ever met was a head football coach. Out just retired head football coach (legendary, no losing seasons in 30 years) was the strongest advocate of academic eligibilty rules I’ve ever met. He was also our drivers ed teacher (and trust me that takes serious guts). So what do they have coaches doing at all these other schools?

  42. Robert Wright says:

    Fortunately, the rudeness we see above is uncommon for this site.