"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Oligarchs Pay For Evaluation of Oligarchs' Teacher Evaluation System

When Arne Duncan came out publicly in support of Kaya Henderson as Chancellor of DC Schools, it was a clear sign that the same failed approach that led to Wonderwoman's departure would remain in place as long as Henderson was ostensibly in charge.  From Rhee's sordid history in DC, we know that she was a cartoon super-heroine, with scripts provided by the Broadies and Waltons. 

That arrangement continues, with DCPS announcing that an "independent" evaluation of the pay per score evaluation system called IMPACT will be undertaken by Harvard's most famous tenured panderer to the Oligarchs, Roland Fryer. Ha ha, ha ha ha. Excuse me. 

Will Mayor Gray continue to allow this charade?

From Bill Turque at WaPo:
By Bill Turque
The Harvard think tank that experimented with paying D.C. middle schoolers for good grades and behavior will also study the IMPACT teacher evaluation system.

DCPS confirmed late Wednesday that the Education Innovation Laboratory at Harvard University, aka EdLabs, is the mutual selection of the District and the Washington Teachers' Union to conduct an independent evaluation of the evaluation. EdLabs is headed by Roland G. Fryer Jr., the economics professor who has been studying the effects of cash awards on students in D.C., Chicago, Dallas and New York.

An independent look at IMPACT is provided for in a side letter to the collective bargaining agreement signed last year by DCPS and the union, which has major objections to the system.

I might be missing something, but on the surface at least, Fryer seems like a peculiar choice. He's clearly a rising star--one of the youngest Harvard profs to win tenure--but much of his published work involves the achievement gap and race-based economic and social issues. His papers include "An Empirical Analysis of Acting White" and "The Causes and Consequences of Distinctively Black Names."

The other issue is EdLabs "partners," or financial backers. They include at least two of the private foundations providing some of the tens of millions for the performance pay bonuses that are a central element of IMPACT. They include the Eli and Edy Broad Foundation, and the John and Laura Arnold Family Fund. They might like IMPACT just the way it is.

Fryer's voicemail at Harvard is full and not taking messages, and I'm scheduled to speak with WTU president Nathan Saunders later today. Whatever DCPS's reasons for wanting Fryer, it is keeping them to itself for the moment.

"We won't be saying anything more about Fryer at this time," said spokeswoman Safiya Simmons. That includes any details about exactly how deep Fryer will be diving or how long he'll take. It matters because the issue is heating up politically, given Mayor Vincent C. Gray's recent comments questioning IMPACT's fairness to teacher in high-poverty schools.

The cash-for-grades initiative, called Capital Gains, ran for two school years (2008-09 and 2009-10) and involved about 3,000 middle schoolers, who earned up to $100 a month. Fryer's assessment of the first year found that the money led to higher reading test scores for Hispanics, boys and students with behavior problems. But the overall effect, however, was less significant and Fryer acknowledged that the relatively small sample made it difficult to draw strong conclusions.

Former Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, who brought Fryer to D.C., said she liked the program but that budget issues made it difficult to continue. Cap Gains is not running in the current school year, although DCPS has never formally announced that it has been discontinued.

1 comment:

  1. Paying kids for grades seems so wrong just on its face. Surely Fryer has no self-motivation, and doesn't want anyone else to either.