‘Creative … motivating’ and fired

Sarah Wysocki struggled in her first year of teaching fifth-grade at a Washington D.C. middle school, but she earned excellent evaluations in her second year. Then she was fired for low value-added scores, reports the Washington Post.

A majority of her students took the fourth-grade test at a feeder school suspected of cheating. Some who’d tested as “advanced” could barely read when they started fifth grade, she said.  When their scores slipped, her value-added score took the hit. With a low score from her first year of teaching, Wysocki was out.

In classroom observations in her second year, Wysocki’s teaching won praise.

“It is a pleasure to visit a classroom in which the elements of sound teaching, motivated students and a positive learning environment are so effectively combined,” Assistant Principal Kennard Branch wrote in her May 2011 evaluation.

Branch asked her to share her ideas with her colleagues. He also praised her ability to engage parents.

After Wysocki was fired, Principal Andre Samuels wrote a glowing recommendation describing her as  “enthusiastic, creative, visionary, flexible, motivating and encouraging.” She was hired immediately by a Fairfax,  Virginia elementary school, where she’s again teaching fifth grade.

Most teachers with low value-added scores also score poorly on classroom observations, says an architect of D.C.’s system for teacher evaluation. But there doesn’t seem to be a way to apply common sense when the system goes wrong.

After years of very low performance, D.C. needs to stress reading and math scores in teacher evaluations, Rick Hess writes.

In response to MetLife’s survey, which found teachers’ satisfaction has declined, he wonders who is unhappy. “If a teacher is lousy or doing lousy work, they should have lousy morale. Hopefully it’ll encourage them to leave sooner.”

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