Teams of lawyers, MBAs, and economists have been working since this past summer, apparently, to iron out the kinks of this new system, which is based on tying teacher pay to test scores and a new evaluation regimen that will reward teachers for making their classrooms look like the KIPP brainwashing camps that have become so popular with the "no excuses" reformers--the President included.
We know that total KIPPster compliance is constantly refreshed through repeated chanting, and KIPPsters dare not take their eyes off the teacher or fail to nod their assent to everything the teacher says. From Bill Turque's article yesterday, explaining the new evaluation techniques that will quantify every aspect of the teacher-student interaction, while looking for KIPP techniques:
IMPACT documents suggest that no nuance will be left unexamined in the 30-minute classroom visits. Observers are expected to check every five minutes for the fraction of students paying attention. Teachers are supposed to show that they can tailor instruction to at least three "learning styles" (auditory, visual or tactile, for example). They can lower their scores by "using sarcasm that visibly hurts or decreases the comfort of one or more students." Among the ways instructors can demonstrate that they are instilling student belief in success is through "affirmation chants, poems and cheers."One has to wonder if the new Rhee system gives bonus points for effective instilling of learned helplessness, Dr. Martin Seligman's discovery upon which the total compliance model of KIPP is grounded.
Here are some other reactions to the new scheme, among them Randi Weingarten, who pretends that she did not give her consent to this scheme from the beginning:
DCPS has an ideology that everything is dependent on individual teachers and it doesn't matter whether they've gotten help they need," Weingarten said.
Other teaching experts said IMPACT might be top-heavy with well-intentioned criteria, forcing teachers to jump through pedagogical hoops rather than focus on their students."What I would worry about is trying to quantify it in too fine a way," said Jon Saphier, author of "The Skillful Teacher" a popular educator text, who was consulted by Kamras on the framework and likes it overall.
Even experts who support a value-added approach warn of pitfalls. One is that the smaller the student sample, the more statistically unreliable the result. Kamras said classrooms with fewer than 10 students will not be subject to growth monitoring.
Classroom observations have started, and officials said the feedback from teachers has been positive. But instructor interviews yield a more mixed picture. Some fear that master educators have been given marching orders to be tougher on veteran teachers.
"I foresee a lot of teachers, even decent ones, getting low evaluations through this system," definitely at first, said a teacher at West Elementary in Northwest Washington, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals by administrators.