The current publication of test scores in New York sets a new low for how political whores in Albany and the corporate whores of the media (hello, NYTimes) can join forces to do their ugly work. A clip from the Times:
The ratings, known as teacher data reports, covered three school years ending in 2010, and are intended to show how much value individual teachers add by measuring how much their students’ test scores exceeded or fell short of expectations based on demographics and prior performance. Such “value-added assessments” are increasingly being used in teacher-evaluation systems, but they are an imprecise science. For example, the margin of error is so wide that the average confidence interval around each rating spanned 35 percentiles in math and 53 in English, the city said. Some teachers were judged on as few as 10 students.Education officials cautioned against drawing conclusions from numbers that are meant to be part of a broader equation.“The purpose of these reports is not to look at any individual score in isolation, ever,” Shael Polakow-Suransky, the No. 2 official in the city’s Education Department, said Friday. “No principal would ever make a decision on this score alone, and we would never invite anyone — parents, reporters, principals, teachers — to draw a conclusion based on this score alone.”
Teachers will be rated as “ineffective, developing, effective, or highly effective.” Forty percent of their grade will be based on the rise or fall of student test scores; the other sixty percent will be based on other measures, such as classroom observations by principals, independent evaluators, and peers, plus feedback from students and parents.
But one sentence in the agreement shows what matters most: “Teachers rated ineffective on student performance based on objective assessments must be rated ineffective overall.” What this means is that a teacher who does not raise test scores will be found ineffective overall, no matter how well he or she does with the remaining sixty percent. In other words, the 40 percent allocated to student performance actually counts for 100 percent. Two years of ineffective ratings and the teacher is fired.
The ratings, which began as a pilot program four years ago to improve instruction in 140 city schools, have become the most controversial set of statistics released by the Bloomberg administration. They came out after a long legal battle and amid anguish and protest among educators; on Twitter posts, some compared their release to a modern-day witch hunt.“I believe the teachers will be right in feeling assaulted and compromised here,” Merryl H. Tisch, the chancellor of the State Board of Regents, said in an interview. “And I just think, from every perspective, it sets the wrong tone moving forward.”. . . .