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Posted at 11:40 PM ET, 07/23/2010

The problem with how Rhee fired teachers

By Valerie Strauss

D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee was entirely correct when she said that “every child in a District of Columbia public school has a right to a highly effective teacher” in every classroom.

But if Rhee really thinks that her IMPACT evaluation system of teachers is going to get the system there, then she is fooling herself, and everybody else who agrees with her.

And this is a problem not only for 165 teachers she fired Friday after they received poor appraisals under the system, but for the rest of the teaching corps in D.C. public schools who have yet to go under the IMPACT scalpel.

Rhee, tough as ever, fired a total of 241 teachers; the others were let go because they did not have the proper licensing, as required by the federal No Child Left Behind law, my colleague Bill Turque wrote in a Washington Post story Saturday.

It may well be that all 165 teachers fired because of bad evaluations under IMPACT were bad at their jobs, but IMPACT isn’t designed well enough to tell, according to a number of teachers and other educators.

According to Turque, about 20 percent of the District’s classroom teachers -- all of them reading and math instructors in grades 4 through 8 -- were evaluated on student improvement in scores on the District of Columbia Comprehensive Assessment System, or DC CAS. Those were the only grades and subjects for which there is annual test score data from DC CAS. “Value-added” -- a misnomer that ranks with the best of them -- will constitute 50 percent of their evaluation.

Judging teachers on the test scores of their students is all the rage in school reform these days -- thanks so much, Education Secretary Arne Duncan -- but, frankly, this is unconscionable for several reasons, not the least of which is that DC CAS wasn’t designed to evaluate teachers. That’s a basic violation of testing law. Ask any evaluation expert.

Think back to an important test you bombed because you were tired, sick or just got brain freeze. How would you like your pay linked to the results?

But there’s more to the evaluation system than mere test scores, and this makes almost as much or, rather, little sense.

Under IMPACT, all teachers are supposed to receive five 30-minute classroom observations during the school year, three by a school administrator and two by an outside "master educator" with a background in the instructor’s subject.

They are scored against a "teaching and learning framework" with 22 different measures in nine categories. Among the criteria are classroom presence, time management, clarity in presenting the objectives of a lesson and ensuring that students across all levels of learning ability understand the material.

A number of teachers never got the full five evaluations, apparently because a number of master teachers hired to do the jobs quit, according to sources in the school system.

But even if they all were, let’s look closely at this: In 30 minutes, a teacher is supposed to demonstrate all 22 different teaching elements. What teacher demonstrates 22 teaching elements -- some of which are not particularly related -- in 30 minutes? Suppose a teacher takes 30 minutes to introduce new material and doesn’t have time to show. ... Oh well. Bad evaluation.

In a 2009 story, Turque wrote: “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.' "

And there’s more, which you can see for yourself here.

IMPACT is actually a collection of 20 different evaluation systems for teachers in different capacities and other school personnel. One thing teachers say it does not do is provide enough support for teachers found wanting to improve.

The overall impact of IMPACT is not only unfair but not likely to do the job it is supposed to do: Root out bad teachers. Some great teachers are likely to be tossed out, and others, who know how to play along when the observers come in but don’t do much when they aren’t, could get a pass.

Of course, every school system should fire bad teachers. But they need a sophisticated and fair system to do that, and so far, D.C. doesn’t have one.

-0-

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By Valerie Strauss  | July 23, 2010; 11:40 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. Schools, Standardized Tests, Teacher assessment, Teachers  | Tags:  IMPACT system, dc cas, high-stakes standardized tests, michelle rhee fires teacher, rhee fires teachers, teachers in d.c. fired, value added, value added systems  
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Comments

Newsweek is supporting the firing:

http://www.newsweek.com/blogs/the-gaggle/2010/07/23/d-c-plans-to-lay-off-300-underperforming-teachers.html

Posted by: aby1 | July 24, 2010 12:18 AM | Report abuse

Let me tell you something about standardized tests, the ones Rhee is using to partially fire teachers.

Say you have two children. Child A’s parents are from India. The parents speak Hindi or Urdu at home and amoung relatives. So Child A hears Hindi amoung the family. But when she goes out to the neighborhood and play, she speaks English. She also speaks English at the park district, in the stores and in the library.

Now you have Child B. His parents are from Mexico. The parents speak Spanish at home and amoung relatives. So Child A hears Spanish amoung the family. However, when he goes out to the neighborhood and plays, he speaks Spanish. He also speaks Spanish at the park district, in the stores and in the library. The only time he hears English is from his teacher or on TV, even on the playground he hears Spanish.

Which child is more fluent in English, Child A or Child B? Of course, Child A is. The problem with standardized tests for Child B is that he doesn’t have the English fluency to pass it at grade level, because he can’t speak English at grade level. I know because I have taught many Child B’s.

Another problem with standardized tests is that they are written in white English grammar. For many African American children they only hear white English grammar from their teachers and the TV. The rest of their life they hear Black English grammar. So when they write essays for the standardized tests they write in Black English grammar. For example, they will write "We good" (Black English) instead of "We are good" (white English). Although they are quite fluent in Black English, they are marked down for using it. I know this because I’ve given plenty of standardized tests to African American students and I have seen it happen time after time.

So a test with flaws in it is being used partially to fire teachers. I bet the majority of teachers who were fired (partially because their students got low standardized test scores) were teaching Hispanic and African American students.

Posted by: aby1 | July 24, 2010 12:20 AM | Report abuse

You offer some interesting criticisms of the current system. But I don't think it's fair to offer criticism alone without offering an improved alternative.

What would you propose would be a better system that balances the needs and rights of students, parents, teachers, administrators, the district, and does it for a reasonable budget?

Posted by: tw8350 | July 24, 2010 12:20 AM | Report abuse

Incorrect statements that are clearly the result of sloppy journalism:

none of the teachers fired received less than 5 observations; a full compliment of master educators worked the entire school year (during the year one died--and was replaced, two were added, one left for medical reasons--and was replaced; one quit and was replaced); only 30 some teachers who were let go were Cat. 1 teachers who had 50% of their final IMPACT score determined by test scores. That is less than 1 percent of all DCPS teachers; highly effective teachers do all of the elements of the IMPACT tool during a 30 minutes period...its not that tough!

Why, oh why, Ms. Strauss are you just repeating arguments that Mr. Turque printed in 2009 and were refuted/debated/blabbered about non-stop for almost 9 months? If you are so against this evaluation system take a look at the old system...If you are fired under this system, you were POOR FIVE TIMES during your observation periods. Try READING the evaluation tool, the research that supports it, and then try using it! Our school did just that, as a group, and we were very well versed in what was required. Did we have teachers who did not score well? YES! You know why? Because they were TERRIBLE teachers...not because the evaluation standards were unreasonable. Heck, if we use the logic contained in this column, we would keep the standards for teaching low and let the low performing teachers continue to affect the education of our children until some newspaper reporter deemed it a valid measure. Really, you think that is the best approach? Frankly, if I went to a doctor, lawyer, or accountant and they did a crappy job--5 TIMES--I'd not want them involved in the lives of my family, friends or neighbors.

You, Jay, and Bill need to START doing some original research/interviews. The credibility of the education writers in the Post are just getting worse and worse...What, do you all trade off on who will bash DCPS next?

Enough is enough...I'm sick of reading this stuff...especially when it contains factual errors, innuendo, and hearsay! Come on, I know you must have learned more in journalism school. No?

Posted by: feetupwithagrin | July 24, 2010 12:37 AM | Report abuse

other incorrect statements:

"but for the rest of the teaching corps in D.C. public schools who have yet to go under the IMPACT scalpel."--EVERYONE was evaluated in 2009-2010. AND Public Schools should be capitalized...the correct name of the system is District of Columbia Public Schools.

"The overall impact of IMPACT is not only unfair but not likely to do the job it is supposed to do: Root out bad teachers. "--Clearly the system did do the job...261 bad teachers are no longer employed or allowed to affect the lives of DC children!

Posted by: feetupwithagrin | July 24, 2010 12:41 AM | Report abuse

feetupwithagrin,

What if some good teachers were fired? Can you prove that good teachers were not fired as well as bad ones?

Posted by: aby1 | July 24, 2010 1:29 AM | Report abuse

There are so many things wrong with the IMPACT evaluation system as presented that it is impossible to know where to start. Since, however, English teaching is considered to be important, let's start with SEMANTICS: On the Group 2 breakdown, 10% of their evaluation is dependent upon Non-Value Student Achievement....HELLO!?! Either something is of value or it isn't - regardless of the definitions the evaluation creation group came up with, it is absurd to make it look like a teacher is being evaluated by something of Non-Value...

In the "cool" blue background of the opening statement, superimposed mission statements are repeated as a pattern to make everybody feel good about what the school system is committed to. It all sounds pretty good, until you reach the two following statements: "Achievement is a function of effort, not native ability"
and
"All children, regardless of background or circumstance, can achieve at the highest levels."

Both of these statements are lies, and everyone knows it.

In the first instance, we are not all born equal, much as we wish that were the case; to make a child feel that he or she can achieve something for which there is no native ability (i.e. memorizing long text when one does not have a good memory)by sheer effort, or to hold the teacher responsible if the child is trying as hard as he or she can is unjustified.

In the second instance, much like the first, circumstances and background aside, not all children have the same IQ, innate abilities, etc. and therefore all cannot achieve at the highest levels.

It is one thing to have high standards and to encourage children to reach for their dreams and the stars - it is quite another to deliberately put children in deep waters that they cannot handle without two arms and two legs.

Posted by: PLMichaelsArtist-at-Large | July 24, 2010 1:54 AM | Report abuse

PLMichaelsArtist-at-Large,

Please talk to Newsweek They are supporting the firing.

Posted by: aby1 | July 24, 2010 5:36 AM | Report abuse

IMPACT, like democracy, may well have problems, but until you come up with a better alternative, stop complaining.

IMPACT is miles, I repeat MILES ahead of what has been used before to evaluate public school teachers in the District and across the country. Subjective administrative evaluations have been an embarrassment to the teaching profession. Michelle Rhee has put a positive dent in this past practice. Give her credit once in a while for trying, Valerie, and your column could actually become credible.

Posted by: phoss1 | July 24, 2010 6:27 AM | Report abuse

to aby1: I teach in DCPS in southeast. Believe me, Black kids know exactly what standard American English is and they know how to speak it correctly. Ebonics is acceptable with their friends and family but when they are around me they know that standard American English is the norm. I demand this because they need to know it in order to succeed in life when they interview for college, jobs, etc. When they speak Ebonics to me I stand there and say, "Let's think about what you just said and see if we can say that differently." They know that means they've code switched and need to switch back to SAE. Many of our Black kids are smarter and craftier then people give them credit for.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | July 24, 2010 7:14 AM | Report abuse

What I want to know is how everyone that hate IMPACT or Rhee can justify the achievement levels in DCPS. You cannot tell me that things were working, they just were not. I know we had more than 3-5 teachers that should be let go in my child's school. I don't doubt that is common in many schools. Either the school district works to make the schools better or parents will keep walking.

Posted by: Brooklander | July 24, 2010 7:14 AM | Report abuse

If "aby1" is indicative of the type of person who was just fired, I say "good riddance". You do neither yourself, nor your peers any service by articulating such a perspective.

Posted by: LukasWP | July 24, 2010 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Two8350 says: “But I don't think it's fair to offer criticism alone without offering an improved alternative” I do – it’s easy to know something is bad, but takes a lot of thought and expertise to come up with an effective alternative. For instance, anyone can see that a house is on fire and but few know the best way to get it under control and put it out.

Brooklander says: “What I want to know is how everyone that hates IMPACT or Rhee can justify the achievement levels in DCPS.”

People don’t justify the acheivement levels, they just don’t automatically tie them to poor teaching. Any good teacher will tell you (when Rhee is watching) that the kids come in to their classes with innate abilities and past learning that have a huge effect on their ability to achieve that is not ralted to the teachers.

Please let us know if the worst teachers at your kids’ school were fired and let us know next year how the school does and if you can coorelated it to the change in teachers.

Feetupwithagrin – you seem to have incredibly detailed information about the MEs. You say you’re at a school, but just last September, you commented on Jay Mathews Blog that you’ve been retired for three years: “I just wish I hadn't retired three years ago out of disgust for my ‘colleagues’ who were lazy and could care less.”
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/class-struggle/2009/09/rhees_latest_move_its_all_abou.html

Which is it?

Posted by: efavorite | July 24, 2010 8:35 AM | Report abuse

I often counsel younger colleagues who get marked down unfairly on observations to ask the observer "What exactly would that look like to you?" and to request that the observer come in and do a demonstration lesson. I encourage them to put that request in writing as well. The question is usually met with stammering and to this day I've never seen an administrator follow through with conducting a demonstration lesson. The next time, the administrator seems to be much more realistic in their expectations for a single observation.

The bottom line is that any evaluation system is only as good as the competence of the evaluator. An evaluator has no business criticizing that which s/he cannot demonstrate. I have no idea what the situation is in DCPS, but in 32 years of public school teaching, I've never been evaluated by anybody who could do my job better than I could.

Posted by: buckbuck11 | July 24, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

two8350 wrote: What would you propose would be a better system that balances the needs and rights of students, parents, teachers, administrators, the district, and does it for a reasonable budget?
__________________________
It's the "reasonable budget" part of your question that is the problem. It takes personnel that are trained to conduct evaluations but it takes more than that. It takes time. As we've seen, test scores go up and down even with the best of teachers. Montgomery County has a comprehensive evaluation system. There are a number of districts who use the same system. They have gotten ineffective teachers out of the classroom--though most of them quit before they were fired. The evaluation system is modeled on the criteria used for National Board Certification. You can read a report about this system as it is used in MCPS and other jurisdictions here:
http://www.gse.harvard.edu/~ngt/par/

Posted by: musiclady | July 24, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

No one wants ineffective teachers in the classroom, but I am one who does not trust Michelle Rhee's evaluation system. The main reasons for this are her poor character traits (as described by the media) her obvious contempt for teachers, and her lack of expertise in the field of education. Also, if she truly wanted a superior teaching force, she'd be luring highly qualified teachers from the suburbs and not inexperienced people from one of her organizations. (Is that even legal?)

All of this is happening because of the recession. Once it is over, the only viable part of the new contract will be the high salaries. With the baby boomers gone and few captive women to take their places, the high salaries will be needed by the district to convince people to teach in DC. Traditionally, few teachers have opted to teach in the big cities or to stay there.

Rhee has performed one service, though. She has proven that it is the job of administration, and not "the unions" to evaluate, hire and fire teachers. The reason weak teachers were kept on for years was due to the fact that places like DC were so desperate for teachers that they gave almost every teacher a "satisfactory" rating because the goal was to keep each classroom staffed. This is a matter of record. As we can see now, all the union can do is to try to help the teacher after the fact.

Rhee herself has failed Impact (I failed her) and has been cited for "deficiences," so I predict she too will be fired shortly. A strong superintendent will strengthen the teaching force by hiring experienced and highly qualified teachers.

The children of DC deserve the best qualified educators and that includes the "chancellor." (What a stupid word, but fitting.)

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | July 24, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Regarding Miss Rhee and Mr. Kamras and their evaluation system, Miss Rhee made unsubstantiated claims about her "success" and accolades from her time in Baltimore as did Mr. Kamras with his math instruction at Sousa Middle School 5 years ago.

(Rhee:
http://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2009/11/19/the-sum-total-of-michelle-rhees-educational-accomplishments/
Kamras:
http://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2009/11/21/what-is-the-value-of-having-a-superstar-teacher/)

Posted by: edlharris | July 24, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

I'm a teacher, and I think that about 90% of this evaluation system is fair.

I could quibble with the semantics in a few places...and I think a couple of categories are redundant....but, in general, I think it does a fairly solid job of identifying the qualities of strong teachers.

Posted by: holzhaacker | July 24, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

This article takes a number of passages from the rubric out of context in an effort to spin the rubric as arbitrary and overly nit-picky.

With each category, the rubric provides multiple real-world examples of what effective teachers might do. Those are EXAMPLES, people...not mandatory actions.

It is highly misleading to imply that a teacher would be marked down for not using "chants, cheers or poems" to motivate students. That is one of a whole list of techniques teachers could potentially use to invest students in learning.

I think this evaluation system has many redeeming qualities.....but this blog wants to zero on in the 5% of it that's questionable.

Posted by: holzhaacker | July 24, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

First, this blog complains that Michelle Rhee wants to use test scores to evaluate teachers.

THEN, we see that test scores only account for 10% of a teacher's evaluation, so instead, it shifts to attack the use of observations.

I really think this blog should get serious and post its own ideas for teacher evaluation....because right now, it seems to argue that ANY form of evaluation is "unfair".

When I taught in GA I was only evaluated 2-3 times per year (and often by the same person)....so, in my view, this system is infinitely more fair. And the rubric is much clearer than most others I've seen.

If you actually READ the rubric, I think most teachers would agree that the qualities of effective teaching described in the rubric are pretty accurate. You might quibble with HOW it's scored or evaluated, but the rubric itself is solid.

Posted by: holzhaacker | July 24, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

holzhaacker,

Where do you get the notion that test scores only count for 10% of a teacher's evaluation? Everything have read says that a teacehrs's own students' test scores are worth 50% and that there's another 5% of the evaluation tied to the entire school's test scores. Did I miss something?

Posted by: stevendphoto | July 24, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Sorry for the typo.
teacehrs's should read teacher's

Posted by: stevendphoto | July 24, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

What if all the effort put into testing and evaluating were applied to helping children?

Posted by: bpeterson1931 | July 24, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Since day 1 Ms. Rhee has offered nothing new to deal with the problems of Title 1 poverty public schools which has been a problem for over 50 years in this country. Her solution from the start was to fire teachers.

Do people really believe that firing teachers with evaluations based upon 50 to 55 percent of test scores would have solved this problem 50 years ago?

In organizations you do not fire large numbers of workers at the bottom level, and teachers are at the bottom level in public schools systems. There are no guarantees that the replacements will do any better.

Accepting a position in a Title 1 poverty public schools is the last choice for qualified teachers given the known problems of Title 1 poverty public schools. Accepting a position in DC Title 1 poverty public schools is now career suicide for any qualified teacher.

Firing teachers with evaluations based upon 50 to 55 percent of test scores would not have solved the problems of Title 1 poverty public schools 50 years ago and it will solve these problems today.

Just keep these ineffective methods of Ms. Rhee out of the middle class and affluent public schools of nations that do a good job. The Title 1 poverty public schools are enough of a problem in this nation without creating an environment where no American would want to seek a career in teaching in public schools.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 24, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

IMPACT, like democracy, may well have problems, but until you come up with a better alternative, stop complaining.
Posted by: phoss1 | July 24, 2010 6:27 AM
............................................................
You offer some interesting criticisms of the current system. But I don't think it's fair to offer criticism alone without offering an improved alternative.
Posted by: tw8350 | July 24, 2010 12:20 AM
............................................................

To all the "do not complain until you can offer a better solution", I offer the better solution instead of "throw all the bums out". I am not in public education but even I can see the differences between public schools that do well and the Title 1 poverty public schools that are disasters.

Ms. Rhee should be removed on the "throw all the bums out" principle since she has failed so far to offer any new method or program to deal with the problems of Title 1 poverty public schools.

How to fix the problem of education in the DC Title 1 poverty public schools.

Test every child when they enter the public school system and place them in classes based upon their current abilities, behavior, and skills so teachers can teach to the level of the class.

There are already tests for testing children prior to entering kindergarten.

Divide primary education in half with schools of K to 2nd grade and schools of 3rd to 5th grade. This allows you to use existing schools and staff. On this basis each grade will have 4 different levels to match the current skills and abilities of children.

Now you are maximizing education for children in each class room. This method also allows you to spend more money for children that need more help since children are in classes based upon their current skills and abilities. Teacher aids can be assigned to lower level classes to assist in raising the skills and capabilities of these children. This allows schools to pin point resources where they are most needed.

Yearly tests would be used to indicate the level children are prepared to go into for the next school year. Knowing the current abilities and skills in their class will allow teachers to use the teaching method best suited to the class. This testing would not be outside expensive testing but the once quaint idea where a teacher was able to determine grades on a report card. Informal class tests would be used. One of the responsibilities of the principal would be to review the appropriateness of tests

Do this for three years and you will dramatically increase the achievement in primary Title 1 public schools.

Notice that this method is not a "keep me around for ten years" to see that my methods work as Ms. Rhee is offering.

Notice that this method would be less expensive than the methods of Ms. Rhee where millions are being spent on dubious tests.
"other benefits would go over word limit"

Posted by: bsallamack | July 24, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

What happened to Dan Goldfarb who shared his IMPACT story in Jay Mathews column last fall?

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/class-struggle/2009/11/dc_expose--one_teachers_evalua.html

(you can see some slipperyness from Jason Kamras here:
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/class-struggle/2010/02/dc_evaluation_chief_responds.html#comments
read the 4th comment.)

Posted by: edlharris | July 24, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if Miss Rhee will move the excellent teachers to the classrooms/schools where the teachers were fired.
That would be the next logical step in the its all about the children mantra.

Posted by: edlharris | July 24, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Time for the Washington Post to tell Americans the real story.

The overwhelming majority of public schools in D.C. are Title 1 poverty public schools.

These are the public schools with high reports of violence and attacks against teachers.

These are the public schools where if the Bracken School Readiness Assessment were given to children entering kindergarten there would be significant number of children totally unprepared to enter school.

These are the public schools where 56 percent of students failed the 2009 national read test for the 4th grade and these students are simply passed onto the next grade.

These are the public schools where from day one in kindergarten there is no policy in place to deal with children that do not belong in normal classes and disruptive behavior spreads like a plague as other children see that any behavior or attitude to a teacher will be accepted and tolerated in a classroom.

These are the public schools where teachers are expected to deal with the problems of large numbers of children that have been totally neglected for years by their parents.

These are the public schools where teachers are expected to overcome all of the inequalities of poverty.

These are the public schools where no qualified teacher would want to teach in the equivalent of a combat zone.

In America there are the Title 1 poverty public schools and the middle class and affluent public schools.

No teacher in a middle class or affluent public school is expected to overcome all of the inequalities of poverty.

No teacher in a middle class or affluent public school is expected to deal with disruptive children. Disruptive students are dealt with quickly and not allowed to poison other students.

No teacher in a middle class or affluent public school is expected to work miracles with students that have failed in previous grades.

No teacher in a middle class or affluent public school is overly concerned with violence or attacks on teachers.

It is time for the Washington Post to give the true story about the the overwhelming majority of public schools in D.C. are Title 1 poverty public schools.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 24, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

The whole debate is probably an exercise in futility, what with the impending collapse of global capitalism and the American Empire, but I got such a kick out of "efavorite" exposing "feetupwithagrin" as a fraud and a liar. Thanks "e"!

Posted by: natturner | July 24, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

If you're going to defend and justify the firing of eudcators, particularly in an environment you don't completely understand, please make sure you can write grammatically correct sentences. Gee-wiz. Think of commas and hyphens as those little pauses you make when you talk naturally.

I know this may come as a surprise to the know-it-alls, but research has indicated that parental involvement is just as important to student success as teacher effectiveness.

http://www.nea.org/tools/17360.htm

http://www2.ed.gov/parents/academic/involve/edpicks.jhtml?src=ln

Posted by: mmurphy6 | July 24, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Whenever any discussion of teacher performance and firing or discipline comes up, I'm always amazed at the fact that the exact same issues are discussed year after year, decade in and decade out, with absolutely zero resolution, but with endlessly increasing sums of money being dumped on the problem.

Maybe that's the problem.

Posted by: Extempraneous | July 24, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

I'm a teacher, and I think that about 90% of this evaluation system is fair.

I could quibble with the semantics in a few places...and I think a couple of categories are redundant....but, in general, I think it does a fairly solid job of identifying the qualities of strong teachers.

Posted by: holzhaacker
............................
It is highly misleading to imply that a teacher would be marked down for not using "chants, cheers or poems" to motivate students. That is one of a whole list of techniques teachers could potentially use to invest students in learning.

I think this evaluation system has many redeeming qualities.....but this blog wants to zero on in the 5% of it that's questionable.

Posted by: holzhaacker
...........................
Put in your application to teach in the Title 1 poverty public schools of D.C.

There are plenty of openings.

Think of all the excitement of working in the nation's capital.

Tell all your fellow teachers as I am sure that they are also willing to give up their teaching positions and apply for a teaching position at the Title 1 poverty public schools of D.C.

Of course you might want to rethink your opinion now that 50 to 55 percent of the evaluation is based upon test results and not 10 percent as you mistakenly thought.

The reality is that the only strong quality of teaching that the the Title 1 poverty public schools of D.C. are expecting is the use of an eraser by a teacher after a test is given.

Just think with the judicious use of an eraser you need not concern yourself with evaluations and you can obtain a bonus.

Get your application in today.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 24, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

You're welcome, Nat -- it's not as much fun as catching Michelle Rhee in a lie, but it may be more effective, in terms of getting "feetup" to tone down the falsehoods.

Ed - good point about moving the teachers around - maybe Turque or Strauss will ask Rhee about that.

Posted by: efavorite | July 24, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Whenever any discussion of teacher performance and firing or discipline comes up, I'm always amazed at the fact that the exact same issues are discussed year after year, decade in and decade out, with absolutely zero resolution, but with endlessly increasing sums of money being dumped on the problem.

Maybe that's the problem.

Posted by: Extempraneous
........................
That is because these discussion really are not discussions of teacher performance and firing or discipline in this nation.

The majority of middle class and affluent public schools handle these problems every year effectively without any need for public discussion.

This is really simply a problem of the Title 1 poverty public schools.

There are no middle class and affluent public school system in the country that showed on a valid test a failure rate of 56 percent in 4th grade reading as was the case with the Title 1 poverty public schools of D.C. in 2009.

Discussions regarding the Title 1 poverty public schools are only relevant for Title 1 poverty public schools and should not be confused with the majority of public schools in this nation that are functioning very well.

These problems have existed for over fifty years and you could fire and replace every teacher in Title 1 poverty public schools and you would still have the same problems and see a failure rate of 56 percent in 4th grade reading.

Yes middle class and affluent public school systems have better teachers than Title 1 poverty public schools. But that is because motivated and teachers with higher degrees in teaching do not want to work in the Title 1 poverty public schools where every year the politicians do not want to deal with the unique problems of these schools but instead simply want to blame teachers.

The yearly same discussions regarding Title 1 poverty public schools indicate that, instead of coming up with new ideas and plans for dealing with the unique problems Title 1 poverty public schools, the politicians and heads of these schools such as Ms. Rhee are fixated on the same ideas that have not worked in the past and will never work.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 24, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

We need teachers more than anything else. The new generation need more education than us, so it is a bad decision to let the teachers go. I thought Obama is re-structuring all his agenda to better America. Is he playing some kind of game with the education system.

Posted by: KungLao | July 24, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

What troubles me is how quickly this evaluation system was rolled out. If Michelle Rhee is really all about using data to drive instruction, then she should put her money where her mouth is and take some time to pilot the program in a limited area, collect data, and make revisions where necessary. I know in MCPS, new tests, curricula, grading systems and evaluation measures are all piloted with a limited group prior to rolling them out to the entire system. That way one can find out the weaknesses and the reliability of whatever system it is and get the bugs out prior to implementation. Before implementation occurs, the teachers in the system are trained so they understand the system.

After reading about the teacher who was told two conflicting things by the two master educators who observed her, one has to wonder how much training was actually done. It seems that there should be some consistency which clearly there isn't. It strikes me as totally unfair to be firing so many teachers the first year this system was used with previous data collected.

What a sham. I'm glad I teach in the suburbs where they actually put some thought into these things.

Posted by: musiclady | July 24, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Comparison Title 1 poverty public school to a middle class or affluent public school.
........................
Title 1 poverty public school

Students in a class are very different in regard to current abilities, behavior, and skills.

The teacher is responsible for using class management for all problem students.

The teacher is responsible for overcoming the inequalities of poverty.

The teacher is responsible for improving the test grades of student that failed in the prior grade.

The teacher is responsible for producing results that are significantly better than the previously yearly results obtained in a similar class.

..........................
Middle class or affluent public school.

Students in a class are very similar in regard to current abilities, behavior, and skills.

The teacher is responsible for reporting all problem students to the principal so that problem students do not disrupt the education of other students.

The teacher is responsible for teaching and their job is not overcoming the inequalities of poverty.

The teacher is not responsible for improving the test grades of student that failed in the prior grade.

The teacher is responsible for producing results that are similar to previously yearly results obtained in a similar class.
.......................................
Just think how national policy would be changed if there was recognitions of the differences of Title 1 poverty public schools to middle class or affluent public school.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 24, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Correction--It stricks me as totally unfair to be firing so many teachers the first year this system was used with NO previous data collected.

Posted by: musiclady | July 24, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Teachers are supposed to be professionals. Those that can take the heat and produce will succeed. The author of this article sounds as if the bar needs to be lowered. Forget it. Ms. Rhee is expecting from teachers what teachers expect from students, performance.

Posted by: bobbo2 | July 24, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

What a sham. I'm glad I teach in the suburbs where they actually put some thought into these things.

Posted by: musiclady
..............
In New Jersey public schools are letting go of teachers because of budget problems while Ms. Rhee and the Federal government are pushing for expensive programs of testing and computer systems for data to drive instruction for all public schools.

These will not work for Title 1 poverty public schools since they do not address the major difference of Title 1 poverty public schools and public schools that are performing well.

A majority of children who enter Title 1 poverty public schools are poorly prepared for public school.

New ideas and programs have to be created to deal with this problem.

The same teachers in an effective public schools if transferred en mass to a Title 1 poverty public schools would make no difference in the performance of the Title 1 poverty public school.

Expensive tests and computer systems will not change 56 percent of students failing 4th grade reading in DC to only 30 percent failing.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 24, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

For the record, as a working teacher in the DCPS System, I am aware of several occasions were "Master Educators" either did not perform the observation or failed to submit the evaluation. There were several teachers who only had four (4) observations. Instructional Coaches are available to offer support to teachers that are in need of improvement. They are trained to be the intervention for IMPACT weary teachers. Teachers often do not heed the instruction of the Instructional Coaches. I have heard several complain that "I know more than he/she does". If the assistance is there and you know the magnitude of the scenario on your career, you should be proactive. This is just another example of teachers sleeping when they should be paying attention.

Posted by: thechangeling | July 24, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Teachers are supposed to be professionals. Those that can take the heat and produce will succeed. The author of this article sounds as if the bar needs to be lowered. Forget it. Ms. Rhee is expecting from teachers what teachers expect from students, performance.

Posted by: bobbo2
.......................
First of all these are the teachers in the lowest performing school system in the United States and a school system of Title 1 poverty public schools.

So stop your foolish idea of teachers "taking the heat".

The majority of public schools do not expect teachers to "take the heat" and do not work on these ridiculous ideas.

The majority of public school systems expect teachers to do a good job. They do not expect teachers to work miracles.

Unlike Ms. Rhee and the politicians it is not the job of teachers to make up for the inequality of poverty in a class room and transform children who start with very poor skills.

A brain surgeon is a professional. No one in his right mind would consider the idea of having a brain surgeon "taking the heat" with concern about being firing, and expect this to produce better results in the operating room.

But who knows perhaps bobbo2 is the type of patient that before going through major surgery wants to have his doctor worried about losing his job and "taking the heat".

And bobbo2 contrary to your ideas teachers do expect from students performance. They hope for intelligence.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 24, 2010 6:45 PM | Report abuse

It's not too late for responsible reform.

Posted by: blasmaic | July 24, 2010 6:51 PM | Report abuse

First of all I have no problems with teachers being evaluated for there performance reviews. The problem I have is that you can not evaluate a teacher for THIRTY minutes. I taught in DC three years ago and let me say it takes 15 to thirty minutes to get the children settled down from any distraction added to a class room being it an announcement over the intercom or a stranger coming into the classroom. So in thirty minutes someone who probably never taught in the inner city and has no idea of the issues the teacher has to go through with the students in the class every day. If this evaluation system is to give a true review of a teachers success or failure it needs to be atleast a half a day process. And how with this being the first time this process has been used do you just fire someone without an improvement plan put in place for the teacher to reach. In no other career field would this be acceptable. I think this Rhee woman is totally out of her mind. First she fires all the old teacher who know how to deal with these students and brings in a group of totally unprepared predominately white teachers with out a clue as to how to help these children. I don't trust this woman.

To me she does not have the students best interest at heart. She more wants to make a name for herself at student and teachers expense.

Posted by: formerdcpsstudent1 | July 24, 2010 6:58 PM | Report abuse

In medicine, we know that once researchers find the cause of an illness, it's just a matter of time before the cure is found. For example, with Type I diabetes scientists know that insulin-producing cells are destroyed by an auto-immune process of the body. Now they are working to find a way to replace these cells and to keep them from being destroyed again. Once they do this, there will be a cure for this disease that attacks the young. Obviously if doctors just kept focusing on different types of diets for diabetics, they wouldn't get far.

In education we know much about the root causes of low achievement, but because everyone fancies himself an expert on schooling, we allow anyone (at this time, it's the very rich) to make decisions on how to solve our problems. Right now, people like Bill Gates and the Walmart heirs are calling the shots, even though they admit to having little expertise in the field. They DO have expertise in business, so they figure what works at the company will work with children. Yeah, right. (Of course, their own children are at posh schools with ten in a class, field experiences, lots of authentic reading and writing -no worksheets and little drill-and lots of hands-on learning. And it goes without saying that the health of their sons and daughters were carefully monitored from conception.).

We could do so much to improve education for our disadvantaged children if only we'd address the root causes of low-achievement. We could:

provide prenatal care to every pregnant women so as to avoid many birth defects;

offer infant and toddler monitoring to watch for developmental milestones;

provide infant and toddler stimulation to children who fail to meet developmental milestones;

offer high-quality preschool to ensure a high level of language development in children under five (this is the key to scholastic achievement).

provide highly effective teachers for our most challenging schools by hiring FULLY QUALIFIED AND SUCCESSFUL TEACHERS (i.e. NOT kids out of college, even if the college is Yale).

We are not really trying to improve education for poor kids (let's all admit that much) but if we were, we'd start with common knowledge about what works.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | July 24, 2010 7:02 PM | Report abuse

For the record, as a working teacher in the DCPS System,

Posted by: thechangeling
.....................................
Perhaps you will provide us with information on whether or not the evaluations is based 50-55 percent on tests results.

It is hard for me to imagine any purpose for in class evaluation if the evaluations is based 50-55 percent on tests results.

It is also hard for me to imagine a evaluation based upon test results in a schools system with national tests showing 56 percent of failing students. None of these students are made to redo the grade and are simply passed onto the next grade. Mathematically it would be a high probability that the student would also fail in the next grade.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 24, 2010 7:02 PM | Report abuse

To clarify for some people... Some teachers called Group I are teachers who have kids taking DC-CAS. Their evaluations are 50% their kids performance on DC-CAS and 5% on their school's performance.

Group II teachers do not teach kids who take DC-CAS (high school teachers, teachers who don't teach math or english, etc...). They are accountable for only the 5% of their schools test results.

The problem of not piloting the IMPACT system was pretty obvious from the beginning. It was explained pretty poorly, with the administrators who were responsible for evaluating us being unclear on many of the rubrics themselves (since they received them a week before we did).

In addition, several groups had their rubrics changed during the course of the year or were never given one. Two specifics...

1) Special Education teachers were supposed to receive 30% of their score for the timeliness and correctness of their IEPs (which is reasonable). However, DCPS decided after the IEPs were due that they didn't have the ability to assess them, and so they just ignored that part of the rubric.

2) Teachers who co-taught with a special education teacher had NO rubric for their assessment. When we contacted Jason Kamras about it, we were told that they were working on that.

IMPACT is better then the old system, and I think in time it will be a good one, but right now it is a flawed and incomplete instrument and should not be the sole measure of a teacher.

Posted by: Wyrm1 | July 24, 2010 7:15 PM | Report abuse

We are not really trying to improve education for poor kids (let's all admit that much) but if we were, we'd start with common knowledge about what works.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher
............................
I agree with you. No Child Left Behind of President Bush did not address the problem of the Title 1 poverty public school and has only created problems for public schools that are not Title 1 poverty public school.

The current President is only continuing this problem for public schools.

There will no change in the problems of Title 1 poverty public schools until the differences in children caused by poverty are recognized.

The politicians have provided no solution to the problems of Title 1 poverty public schools and have only created an environment that is detrimental to public education in this country.

Tens of billions will be spent upon expensive tests and computer systems that contribute nothing to public education.

Americans have apparently lost all common sense in their refusal to recognize that there is significant difference in children caused by poverty.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 24, 2010 7:37 PM | Report abuse

To clarify for some people... Some teachers called Group I are teachers who have kids taking DC-CAS. Their evaluations are 50% their kids performance on DC-CAS and 5% on their school's performance.
Posted by: Wyrm1 | July 24, 2010 7:15 PM
..................................
Thank you for the information.

Any idea on the number of teachers based on evaluation that were fired and were Group I teachers?

My assumption is that all were Group 1 out of the 170 teachers.

I would assume that the Group 1 do not have in class evaluations since their evaluation is totally based upon test performance.

I also assume that all primary and middle school teacher will be Group 1 teachers since Ms. Rhee intends to have DC-CAS for all grades.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 24, 2010 7:52 PM | Report abuse

School Chief Dismisses 241 Teachers in Washington
New York Times

As part of the Obama administration’s focus on teacher effectiveness, Education Secretary Arne Duncan has pushed states to develop evaluation and pay models that link teacher ratings to their students’ test scores.
......................
This nation is really in the mode of self destruction.

From a nation that created excellent public school systems to a nation where the national policy will be to adopt the policies of the worst public school system in the nation.

In most countries the policy would be to have failing school systems like the Title 1 poverty public school system of D.C. adopt the policies of excellent public school systems, while here in the United States we are silent when the politicians want to do the reverse.

Does any intelligent Americans really doubt that when states adopts these methods there will not be drops in the enrollments at state teachers colleges?

Do any intelligent Americans really believe that Americans will invest almost 100,000 dollars for a career that will become the equivalent of selling insurance with salary and bonuses totally dependent upon the test scores of the students that you happen to have in your class?

A college degree is not even required of a person selling insurance or cars.

There is already a serious shortage of mathematics teachers and science teachers in the public schools.

In a nation that needs better educated and dedicated teachers the Federal government is requesting states to adopt the methods of the worst public school system in the nation.

This nation is really in the mode of self destruction.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 24, 2010 8:56 PM | Report abuse

bsallamack - I just want to say that I appreciate your repeated reminders of what's really happening in American public education.

We don't have the bully pulpit that Rhee and her ilk have, so repeating your message in this setting is what's needed.

Posted by: efavorite | July 24, 2010 10:32 PM | Report abuse

Sadly this teacher-bashing is mostly going on in cities like DC where there is a heavy concentration of poor people (what else is new?). In my city the superintendent is always thanking the teachers and expressing regret that some had to be laid off due to the recession. The district and the teacher's union worked together to agree on a plan to keep as many teachers on the job as possible. It's probably no accident that my district won the Broad Award once and was a runner-up two other times. To my knowledge all of the surrounding districts treat their teachers with respect and gratitude. Teacher-bashing doesn't go over well with middle-income people.

Can you imagine a Michelle Rhee in Scarsdale or Beverly Hills? No. When she leaves DC, she'll go to another very impoverished city. Poor kids almost always get the shaft.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | July 24, 2010 11:08 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: efavorite
...............
Thank you.

This nation has gone seriously off course since 2001.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 24, 2010 11:11 PM | Report abuse

Sadly this teacher-bashing is mostly going on in cities like DC where there is a heavy concentration of poor people (what else is new?).
Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher
..............................
The problem is the mindset that the teacher bashing and break the union sets.

Americans start believing it. Yes the parents do not believe it but there are a great number of Americans who are not parents.

How else explain Race To The Top and national policies on education that are an outgrowth of poor ideas regarding Title 1 poverty public schools?

Without the teachers bashing and union busting these policies would be absurd since the majority of teachers are performing well and their unions do not present a problem.

Tens of billions for tests and computer systems of dubious value. The expense and time of implementing a new core standard for states that have had superior standards for years. The idea of bonus payments to teachers throughout the country when most of these teachers have performed very well in the past without bonus pay. The need to crush unions that are not powerful.

This is the old smear tactic. Show a black criminal and smear all blacks.

Talk about the problem of DC and blame the teachers, and it is every teacher in America that is lazy and will not work without a bonus.

Talk about the rubber rooms and the union of every teacher is evil.

The union of teachers has been blamed in DC and incited union busting hatred. Meanwhile there has been a total failure to recognize that the DC union has always been weak and in many cases can do nothing to protect teachers.

The teacher bashing and union busting has been effective. Simply look at Race To The Top and national educational policy.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 24, 2010 11:58 PM | Report abuse

Thank-you for posting this article. Previous reporting from CNN, MSNBC, and Newsweek have not fair in their reporting. You'd think they would have learned from the Shirley Sherrod incident.

Posted by: nicstew | July 25, 2010 12:11 AM | Report abuse

Bsallamack:

I understand what you are saying but I am more optimistic because of what I see around me. For the majority of American families, the school is an extension of the family. Parents know that the vast majority of teachers are competent and hard-working. They know that half of all teachers drop out during the first five years, making it the most self-selective of all the professions. All these parents and children have neighbors, families and friends. So far as Race to the Top is concerned, I predict the states and districts will say whatever to get the money and then use it to keep their teachers. For example, my district claims it has been using "data" for years to evaluate teachers, but when they describe this data, it is based on careful evaluation of individual children and not on single tests given to an entire class. Lord, evaluating a teacher based on a test given to the whole class is so profoundly stupid!

What I have just stated is not just opinion. In my state (according to a Gallup poll) teachers are the second most trusted professionals, after the clergy and ahead of physicians.

This current nonsense, really an attempt to discredit our schools for financial gain, hasn't hit the suburbs yet, but when it does, I predict real pushback. Let's hope so, for everyone's sake.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | July 25, 2010 1:00 AM | Report abuse

For the record, I taught for 27 years in DCPS. I retired three years ago. I have volunteered ever since at my neighborhood school. How do I know about IMPACT and what my school has done? I read the IMPACT booklet that was distributed at the beginning of the year to all the teachers in our school. I also have very productive conversations with the many many many colleagues that I've met and worked with over the years. In fact, I've had really good conversations with both of the women Master Educators that visited our school. Getting the right information isn't hard, really!

Throwing around red herrings to try and undercut folks that offer cold hard evidence of the errors in publicly printed pieces of "journalism" is VERY weak.

Posted by: feetupwithagrin | July 25, 2010 1:20 AM | Report abuse

Impact might be ok, it doesn't sound that bad on paper to me. MCpS has a similiar evaluation system.

What is odd is the high weight of the student test scores. This essentially means that whoever gets the "smart kids" is going to keep his or her job and get a bonus.

To get rid of someone you dislike you just need to give them a challenging class of kids.

Posted by: celestun100 | July 25, 2010 1:42 AM | Report abuse

The Education Week has an article about research done on principals and their effects on improving student achievement.

According to the study, principals have a big effect on student scores. The article also says that apparently moving principals around a lot has a negative impact on student scores.


The link is at the top of this page under Education Week.

Posted by: celestun100 | July 25, 2010 1:58 AM | Report abuse

So, who wants to teach Grades 4, 5, 6. 7, or 8 in DC this year?

Just be sure to keep your certifications from other states updated because DC only wants you for a year!

Posted by: celestun100 | July 25, 2010 2:04 AM | Report abuse

feetupwithagrin,

I will go out on a limb and say I believe that you taught for 27 years. With that being said, what ward did you teach in? Did you teach in what would be considered a Title 1 poverty school?

Posted by: thebandit | July 25, 2010 5:14 AM | Report abuse

As a teacher, I'm torn over this issue. I get 3 teacher observations per year and very little feedback. This year in Philadelphia, the observations and reviews were based on a pretty good rubric. My principal did the observations and reviews and it was difficult to schedule. However, the feedback from the observations was much more detailed than in the past. Although my reviews were all quite good, they improved as I changed some areas of instruction based on the rubric.

In short: DC is on the right course with these evaluations. They also use master teachers which should be much better for the eval process than using principals.

Could this evaluation process improve? I think so based on some comments I've read. The instructional process should be based on student needs and the teacher should be able to defend using the methods based on student performance. That's just a thought. After all, we are professionals and our practice should be informed by our classroom experience also not just edicts from "on high".

Secondly, I think teachers in the highest poverty schools in the district should receive additional points in the scoring as should those who teach special ed or have a large number of special ed students in their classes.

For example, my elementary in Philadelphia is 90% under the poverty line but scores 65% proficient in math and just over 50% in reading. We have an almost 20% special ed population. We have room to improve clearly. However, we are doing some things very right. I don't believe we made AYP this year but we are making progress. I would be appalled to see our teachers hit for not making more progress given our community setting.

As a note, PA is now including the PASA in AYP calculations (alternative state exam for low-incidence special ed) and I have no idea how that would factor into AYP or progress. I, again, would be horrified for our Autistic Suppport staff (I'm one) to get hit because we have a sizable portion of low-functioning students. As for IEP's in compliance or appropriate goals, I think that's a very fair method of assessment and really should be a basic benchmark. That's just doing your job period.

Posted by: Nikki1231 | July 25, 2010 7:49 AM | Report abuse

After reading this article, I downloaded and read the IMPACT document that would apply to me, as a Spanish teacher ("non-value added"). I am impressed with how the document is written and what it measures. IMO, any teacher deemed ineffective is running a classroom in which both s/he and the students are confused and not learning. As a National Board Certified teacher, I think the instrument is sound; the only problem might be the interpretation of where a teacher fits on each measure. However, I can't see an effective teacher being graded ineffective, unless the evaluator lies through his/her teeth.

This evaluation system uses a rubric, which is what I use to grade my students. Yes, there is a level of subjectivity to it, but there is no evaluation system that's not subjective. People in the business world are graded the same way--here are your goals for last year, here's how well you achieved them.

I remember another critique of this evaluation system (in this column?) where teachers complained about having to post their objectives for the day. Essentially they were saying that the administration couldn't tell them what to do in their rooms. Actually, in both the "real" world, and in education, the boss CAN tell you what to do, whether we agree or not.

Overall, this looks like a very good document, and anyone who scores in the "ineffective" columns shouldn't be in the classroom.

Posted by: pattipeg1 | July 25, 2010 8:32 AM | Report abuse

feetup - It's not nice, to as you say, to be "throwing around red herrings" and what you or anyone offers is not "hard, cold evidence" unless you have evidence to back it up. Saying something in a comments section doesn't make it true.

I learn a lot from the insights, opinion and information that people share here, but when people represent themselves differently at different times, it's hard to take what they say seriously.

Posted by: efavorite | July 25, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Pattipeg - please read this article and tell us what you think.

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/local/D_C_-loses-another-terrific-teacher-1000832-98550609.html

D.C. loses another terrific teacher
HARRY JAFFE, Examiner, 7/16/10

Here's the beginning of it:

"D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee's mantra is:

"It's all about getting and keeping good teachers."

So why, I must ask, would she allow Wilson Senior High to force out Joe Riener, a great teacher who taught students to love literature and prepared many to score well on Advanced Placement tests? Could it be that her vaunted IMPACT evaluation system is flawed, and personal preferences can get in the way of impartial evaluation?"

Posted by: efavorite | July 25, 2010 9:06 AM | Report abuse

As a National Board Certified teacher, I think the instrument is sound; the only problem might be the interpretation of where a teacher fits on each measure. However, I can't see an effective teacher being graded ineffective, unless the evaluator lies through his/her teeth.
---------------------------------------
Agreed. However, administrators do lie through their teeth, regularly. At my school about half of the last set of evaluations were done. Yet there are scores for all of them online.

While I agree that it would be difficult to score as ineffective on the Teaching and Learning Framework evaluation, it isn't that hard to be "marginally effective", especially if you have a difficult to please administrator, or one who lies about what they see. Marginally effective can get you fired in 2 years, and you don't get your step increase (so it's basically a $2-3,000 fine).

I know of at least 5 teachers who have contested their evaluations because there are flat out untruths in them (not differences of opinion, but falsehoods). Add that to the teachers who received ones on classroom management because 1 student in the class once in 30 minutes acted inappropriately, and you will find that even though the document is reasonable in what it measures, it is not doing so because of poor training as to what actually constitutes the various scores and lying administrators. I know teachers who scored over 1 point different between their "master educator" and their administrator, and that should NOT be happening.

Let's not even get into the wisdom of measuring half of a teachers evaluation (grades 4-8) on one test that the students have NO incentive to do well on. There is no consequence for a poor score, and so many students, especially in the higher grades (where they have been tested 4-5 times by this point) are so tired of taking basically the same test that they bubble in their answers at random.

From this you are going to assess the quality of teaching? Really?

One last point, where are these new teachers coming from to replace the 200 or so "ineffective" teachers? I'd love to see numbers from DCPS on how the kids of the DC teaching fellows and TFA teachers did on the exam. However, we will only see that breakdown if it is favorable to those new teachers, not if it is not.

Posted by: Wyrm1 | July 25, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

efavorite--I read the article you linked. It points to a number of issues in education today. Just like the teacher in the article who produced results in an unconventional manner, by using standardized test scores alone to determine student progress, we are ignoring a lot of other things that really show whether or not they've mastered various content areas. I've always been conflicted about how to grade a creative work by a student which may not meet the criteria set forth by a county created rubric, but was, in its own right, exceptional. This has been a very frustrating trend in public education lately that I hope passes soon. Creativity is being crushed. This cannot be good for society at large.

Posted by: musiclady | July 25, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Can all the wise people on this forum, and there are many - go over and refute Newsweek article? We need to get the truth out.

http://www.newsweek.com/blogs/the-gaggle/2010/07/23/d-c-plans-to-lay-off-300-underperforming-teachers.html

Posted by: aby1 | July 25, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Valerie,

Unlike other journalists you (and Bill Turque) are not bought and paid for by test score companies or moneyed interests.

You (and Bill Turque) are two of the best education journalists in the country. I always make the time to read you.

Posted by: aby1 | July 25, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

pattipeg1 ,

The IMPACT evaluation instrument may be sound for teachers that teach courses that can not be measured for value-added. What say you about the fact that K-8 English and math teachers have 50-55% of their evaluation determined by high-stakes test scores that the students themselves are unaccountable for? I agree with you that a teacher deemed ineffective solely based on the IMPACT rubric should be removed from the classroom. Seems like you're missing a big piece of the puzzle that has many riled up. Eventually they will contrive a statistical model that will allow them to guestimate a teacher's value-added for all subjects.

Posted by: stevendphoto | July 25, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

aby1,

Good idea about cross pollinating comments. If the AFT had their act together, they would have a full-time blogger doing just that. I posted a couple of comments over there. Thanks for the link.

Posted by: stevendphoto | July 25, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Are the figures above correct? Were 76 teachers fired "because they did not have the proper licensing"? Why were they hired? I know during the baby boomer years, education students could geta "cadet" certificate, allowing them to teach for a certain time while they finished their degree and obtained a full license from the state.

Were these 76 teachers hired under a similar arrangement and let go because they failed to get certified within the specified time, or were they hired without licenses to start with?

Posted by: sideswiththekids | July 25, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

On a related note, for many years anyone "with a warm body" was hired to teach in "inner-city" schools. We know that Teach for America recruits are somewhat better than these other inexperienced teachers. However, research (and common sense) tell us that TFAs are NOT more effective than fully-qualified, experienced teachers. There is a reason why these people are almost never hired by suburban schools, or even by high-performing city schools.

Is Rhee replacing the fired teachers with people who have a proven track record of success? Or is she hiring inexperienced individuals from the organization that she founded? Hopefully Vincent Gray or other leaders will look into this. And yes, race must be addressed. Are black teachers hired during desperate times being dismissed to make way for white grads looking to pad their resumes during a recession? My guess is that unfairly dismissed teachers will get justice in the courts.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | July 25, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

To clarify for some people... Some teachers called Group I are teachers who have kids taking DC-CAS. Their evaluations are 50% their kids performance on DC-CAS and 5% on their school's performance.
Posted by: Wyrm1 | July 24, 2010 7:15 PM
......................................
pattipeg1 ,

The IMPACT evaluation instrument may be sound for teachers that teach courses that can not be measured for value-added. What say you about the fact that K-8 English and math teachers have 50-55% of their evaluation determined by high-stakes test scores that the students themselves are unaccountable for? I agree with you that a teacher deemed ineffective solely based on the IMPACT rubric should be removed from the classroom. Seems like you're missing a big piece of the puzzle that has many riled up. Eventually they will contrive a statistical model that will allow them to guestimate a teacher's value-added for all subjects.

Posted by: stevendphoto
................................
Full agreement with stevendphoto.

Too many teachers are looking at supposedly the details of impact and missing the poison pill.

This is for Title 1 poverty public schools with large numbers of failure reported on national tests.

Teachers need to start to understand that this is not an evaluation of their teaching methods, but a measurement of the ability to learn of the students in their class.

Mathematically any class composed of large numbers of students that have failed tests in the past will probably fail tests in the future.

Any teacher should already be aware that their teaching methods will be effective with certain students while totally ineffective with other students.

Most teachers will adjust their teaching methods to the average of the class. In Title 1 poverty public schools this is not effective since the average diverges so greatly from the composition of the class.

Even in a middle class or affluent public school there is a mathematical probability that students who have failed in the past will fail in the future. The difference between these public schools and Title 1 poverty public schools is that in Title 1 poverty public schools there are so many students that have failed in the past and demonstrated an inability to learn.

The reality is that the teaching methods of even the most superior teacher is totally ineffective in a class composed of students that have shown in the past an inability to learn.

A student that has demonstrated an inability to learn might improve if one teacher is assigned to one student but this is impossible in public schools.

Apparently some teachers have not recognized that with impact they are buying into the insane idea that teachers should be responsible for making every child learn no matter the number of tests in the past that have indicated an inability to learn.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 25, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

efavorite -- I know you have no respect for the WaPo, and I agree with a few of your many criticisms of the education news and editorial writing.

But are you really a fan of the Moonie paper and its corrupt, rightwing slant in news and editorial pages? That is the rag's most prominent attribute.

Posted by: axolotl | July 25, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Sorry LukasWP, Aby1 wasn't fired. And unfortuantely for you I know her personally. You will be disappointed to know she is a good teacher. But if you had power, you would fire anyway.

Posted by: jlp19 | July 25, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

The teachers of Washington D.c. must have the most weakest union in the nation to accept the allowing of teachers to be fired based upon test results.

Any individual that is employed and that is not a member of a union has a right to go to the courts if they feel that they have been unfairly dismissed by their employer.

Apparently teachers in Washington D.C. because of their union no longer have this option since their union has accepted the dismissal of teachers as the results of student tests.

Teachers across the nation should make sure that their unions to not accept such poison pills in contracts.

Tests can only measure the ability of students to learn, and not the quality of a teacher. Some children in the fifth grade score on reading tests with the ability to read on the college level, while others score show no ability to read.

These results of these tests have no direct correlation with the actual qualities or lack of qualities of the teacher.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 25, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

"If "aby1" is indicative of the type of person who was just fired, I say "good riddance". You do neither yourself, nor your peers any service by articulating such a perspective."

I want to have this out with you. I know that I am doing everyone a service by putting my views out there. I am not going to stop. So I am asking you to conduct a discussion about your remark, right here, right now.

If I don't hear back from you, I am going to assume you are avoiding me.

Posted by: aby1 | July 25, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

efavorite -- I know you have no respect for the WaPo, and I agree with a few of your many criticisms of the education news and editorial writing.

But are you really a fan of the Moonie paper and its corrupt, rightwing slant in news and editorial pages? That is the rag's most prominent attribute.

Posted by: axolotl
.....................................
http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/local/D_C_-loses-another-terrific-teacher-1000832-98550609.html

Apparently one should not even look at an article present in a newspaper that has been labeled.

Might it not be better to comment on the article itself since by the the right wing "truths" all newspapers are Main Stream Media and so all articles of the Washington Post and the New York Times should be considered without reading as invalid.

But then this is axolotl who the other day came up with "well what is your method to fix the problem" in regard to the column "Do high standards really help kids?"

This of a course is the canned response if you show that very expensive methods are totally ineffective.

After providing a cost effective method of fixing the problem, axolotl became totally silent and disappeared.

No surprise that axolotl is using the "rightwing" newspaper objection. I imagine that on other days axolotl uses the "leftwing" newspaper objections.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 25, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

aby1, LukasWP and UrbanDweller think that you're being racist.
I disagree with them.

LukasWP alludes to you "articulating such a perspective." But he doesn't really say anything. He wants us to guess what he believes.

UrbanDweller says "Many of our Black kids are smarter and craftier then people give them credit for." Aby1 never disparaged Black students.
UrbanDweller says that "Black kids know exactly what standard American English is and they know how to speak it correctly." UrbanDweller then goes on to say " When they speak Ebonics to me I stand there and say, Let's think about what you just said and see if we can say that differently. They know that means they've code switched and need to switch back to SAE." So there is a fluency problem and that's all aby1 was pointing out.

Aby1 was just pointing out the cultural bias that invalidates standardized tests as a measure of student and consequently teacher performance.

Posted by: stevendphoto | July 25, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Which child is more fluent in English, Child A or Child B? Of course, Child A is. The problem with standardized tests for Child B is that he doesn’t have the English fluency to pass it at grade level, because he can’t speak English at grade level. I know because I have taught many Child B’s.

Another problem with standardized tests is that they are written in white English grammar. For many African American children they only hear white English grammar from their teachers and the TV. The rest of their life they hear Black English grammar. So when they write essays for the standardized tests they write in Black English grammar. For example, they will write "We good" (Black English) instead of "We are good" (white English). Although they are quite fluent in Black English, they are marked down for using it. I know this because I’ve given plenty of standardized tests to African American students and I have seen it happen time after time.

Posted by: aby1 | July 24, 2010 12:20 AM
......................................
I am opposed to using the results of tests to fire teachers.

At the same time the responsibility of a teacher is to continuously correct their students when they are not using correct English and not defend the incorrect grammar on the claims of White English grammar.

Based on this defense teachers should have accepted Italian English grammar when there were large numbers of Italian immigrants in this country because of students being fluent in Italian English grammar.

"It's a good." may be a joke that everyone would laugh at, but no parent would accept a teacher that did not correct this grammar with the defense that this is Italian grammar.

I would seriously question the teaching qualities of a teacher who does not continuously correct the grammar of their students in a class room.

There is no advantages to Black English grammar, Hindu English grammar, Italian English grammar to a prospective employer in this country.

Teachers who do not perform their jobs in correcting grammar are only doing a disservice to their students.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 25, 2010 4:27 PM

Posted by: bsallamack | July 25, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

http://www.openleft.com/diary/19521/#236799

Poverty is the problem.

Posted by: tfteacher | July 25, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Aby1 was just pointing out the cultural bias that invalidates standardized tests as a measure of student and consequently teacher performance.

Posted by: stevendphoto
.............................
I do not accept the idea that the results of test are not acceptable because of a cultural bias.

The act of any testing can be claimed to have a cultural bias. A test for running in a society that prizes the ability to run has a cultural bias.

Based on this, no test would be valid because all tests have a cultural bias.

There are claims that students are smarter than their test results.

Apparently a black child is "smart" because the child can speak. The same claim can be made of a Hindu child or a white child. Apparently the only children on this basis that are not smart are the children that can not speak and thus deaf and dumb children are not smart or any child that has a problem with their speech.

Standardized tests do not measure the quality of teachers to teach but they they do measure the ability of children to learn.

Children in poverty have more difficulty in learning than children that do not live in poverty.

Last year there was scientific research that indicated that there was scientific evidence of the stress of poverty that prevented short term memory in children living in poverty.

Time to accept that poverty is the reason that many children have a difficulty in their ability to learn in public schools.

Time to deal with the problems a child faces in being poor that hinder the ability to learn and not pretend that there is a cultural bias and that there is no difficulty in poor children in being able to learn.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 25, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

...and consequently teacher performance.

Posted by: stevendphoto
................................
I should have added that test results should not be used to evaluate teachers.

Teachers should be evaluated solely on their teaching method as viewed by other teaching professionals. Test results should play no part in the evaluation of a teacher.

Also there should be no bonuses for teachers since there is no way to measure whether a teacher deserves a bonus or does not deserve a bonus.

I am very familiar with computer systems and it would take at least ten years of extensive data to develop a system that would handle all the variables of the composition of a class and predict in advance the test results that should be expected by an average performing teacher. Such a system would require continuous extensive data to continuously modify formulas used by the system. Costs would probably be 10 billion dollars a year and the system could not be used for 10 years. Systems such as these work on the basis of the theory of large numbers where variations disappears with the large amount of data.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 25, 2010 6:18 PM | Report abuse

Let's clarify a few things:

1) If you teach Math or English in grades 4-8 (Group 1) , test scores make up 50% of your evaluation. (Your "individual value added" rating)

2) If you do not teach in those grades/subjects, test scores make up 20%.

http://dcps.dc.gov/DCPS/In+the+Classroom/Ensuring+Teacher+Success/IMPACT+(Performance+Assessment)/IMPACT+Guidebooks/IMPACT+Guidebooks

Posted by: holzhaacker | July 25, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Look folks, the situation is clear:

Lots of kids in DCPS live in poverty. We can't wish it away with a magic wand.

We have two options: Either we agree to teach them or we don't.

If we agree to teach them, let's get down to the business of learning how to teach with the hand we're dealt instead of whining and moaning about how we can't all teach wealthy/advanced students from the burbs.

No teacher ever as a "perfect" group of kids. So let's stop making excuses and just figure out how to do it better.

Posted by: holzhaacker | July 25, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

If we agree to teach them, let's get down to the business of learning how to teach with the hand we're dealt instead of whining and moaning about how we can't all teach wealthy/advanced students from the burbs.

No teacher ever has a "perfect" group of kids. So let's stop making excuses and just figure out how to do it better.

Posted by: holzhaacker
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
The poor ideas regarding Title 1 poverty public schools are now national policies regarding public education. Let us not destroy the public schools that work and that are not Title 1 poverty public schools.

Public schools in New Jersey are laying off teachers because of budget problems while the Federal government is calling for states to embrace expensive standardized testing and computer systems that the Federal government will not pay for every year.

Personally I have no private interests that are affected by D.C. firing unfairly every teacher.

I feel sorry for teachers who at one point decided to enter the Title 1 poverty public schools, just as I feel sorry for any individual who is unjustly fired.

But let us not pretend that adopting as national policy a policy based upon the problems of Title 1 poverty public schools is going to improve public education.

The teachers in D.C. who are in classes where their positions are dependent upon 55 percent of test results should at the beginning do an informal test of their students based upon the previous year if they can not obtain the test results of their students.

Mathematically if they failed this test they will fail a test at the end of they school year.

If this is the case do not beat yourself over the head and instead accept that the end of the year you will be fired and make your plans accordingly.

Qualified teachers should not consider working in Title 1 poverty public schools. A year working outside of public education would be better than being fired after working in a Title 1 poverty public schools.

Teachers in Title 1 poverty public schools should try to get out as soon as possible since the handwriting in on the wall.

And contrary to holzhaacker there are plenty of public schools in this nation that are not Title 1 poverty public schools and that expect a teacher to teach and not produce miracles.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 25, 2010 7:10 PM | Report abuse

" When they speak Ebonics to me I stand there and say, Let's think about what you just said and see if we can say that differently. They know that means they've code switched and need to switch back to SAE."

------------------------------------------
I remember the early discussions about Ebonics, and that is all the early defendents of Ebonics ever intended--that a teacher simply tell students they were needed to speak standard English in class instead of telling them they were ignorant for speaking Ebonics. At the same time, there was agitation for schools to stop punishing Spanish-speaking students for using Spanish even outside of class. And the laws about religion in school are very clear that the schools are free to teach the Bible as literature or about religious traditions of any group as long as there is no denigration of anyone's religion or attempt to force students to believe in any religion.

But for some reason, the school in this country tend to adopt an "all or nothing" approach. If Ebonics or any other language is all right between students at recess or on their way home from school, teachers believe, then we aren't supposed to demand any other language from them at all.

Posted by: sideswiththekids | July 25, 2010 7:29 PM | Report abuse

I forgot to mention the other D.C. teachers besides the ones that will be fired next year.

If your class composition is good this year and your performance is based on 55 percent of test results make plans to get out. You may have a class composition next year that will mean you will be fired.

If your performance is not based on 55 percent of test results make plans to get out since more tests are being added and next year you may find yourself in a situation where you will be fired.

I think it should be obvious to every teacher in the D.C. Title 1 poverty public school system by now that it is wasted effort to pretend that their job will be protected by doing a good job.

Older teachers should have full medical testing by doctors for themselves and their family and make sure they have necessary medical procedures while they still have medical insurance.

Applications for Federal government position outside of the teaching field should be made.

In private business, employees have very little notice regarding the probability of losing their job. Management never sends a clear signal far in advance. Management in a private business would never announce a performance measurement that obviously meant firing since employees would make plans to leave as soon as possible.

Teachers should use their time best to deal with the probability of losing their job.

It is always difficult to deal with being forced out of a position where an individual has invested time and effort. At the same time it is better to face reality.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 25, 2010 7:44 PM | Report abuse

When they speak Ebonics to me I stand there and say, "Let's think about what you just said and see if we can say that differently." They know that means they've code switched and need to switch back to SAE.

Posted by: UrbanDweller
................................
I would prefer that if a teacher finds a student who can speak correct English and does not, that the teacher gives the student the task of writing down the phrase in correct English a hundred times.

The student is either trying to be the class clown or still does not know that he or she is expected to speak correct English in a class room.

I believe that teachers should be not concerned in regard to the speech dialects or even languages used by their students outside of their classroom.

Teachers are not like off duty police officers.

Outside the class room a student saying "That's a good." is no business of the teacher or a student speaking in the Sicilian dialect of Italy.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 25, 2010 8:53 PM | Report abuse

We have two options: Either we agree to teach them or we don't.

If we agree to teach them, let's get down to the business of learning how to teach with the hand we're dealt instead of whining and moaning about how we can't all teach wealthy/advanced students from the burbs.

Posted by: holzhaacker
................................
A third alternative from the son of Sicilian father.

Contact your principal over the summer and promise him or her 50 percent in cash of your bonus next year by giving you all the good students.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 25, 2010 9:14 PM | Report abuse

This is so disturbing and leaves so many unanswered questions.

Those teachers who were dismissed because of licensure issues...what about those who were recruited by TFA? Correct me if I'm wrong, but they aren't certified teachers, are they?

What were the past evaluations of these teachers? Even if they changed the eval system, there should be a paper trail of bad eval's....or is everyone starting at square #1 again? Not a good way to run an organization.

They say they have many, many applicants...where are they coming from? Who are they? Do they still want to come under these circumstances? The teaching profession is hurting...in Va, there are more teaching vacancies than state education graduates. Who would spend the money to relocate if their is no job security?

How is the DCPS going to pay $20,000 to $30,000 bonus'? There will have to be quota...only so many can qualify for each level of bonus pay-out. They might recruit the 4,000 best teachers in America...but there is no way they could reward 4,000 bonus'.

I don't teach in D.C., but, I'm beginning to wonder who checked her credential's...and who were her professors at Harvard/Yale or wherever? They have to be shaking their collective heads....and it doesn't say much for their caliber of students and the ethics courses they teach.

Posted by: ilcn | July 25, 2010 9:56 PM | Report abuse


Impact itself doesn't appear draconian at all, especially not if the teachers know what is expected of them and if the principals aren't "out to get" them. Which happens more than it should.

What is trickier is basing 50% on your students' test scores. While it seems to be common sense that good teachers get the kids to score well, that it isn't always the case.

Sometimes students are way behind before they get to your class. Then, it is hard to get them up to grade level. In a perfect world, you could do it, but high poverty schools are usually not a perfect setting.

Also, a lot of a teacher's success depends on the amount of support he/she gets from administration, counselors, special ed. teachers, even (or maybe especially) custodians. What these people do are mostly outside the teacher's control.

It is the fact that so many factors outside the teacher's control are being thought of as the teacher's responsibility, mainly the test scores.

Many teachers leave poverty area schools because it is hard to get the kids to score well and because those schools have more problems. This sort of punitive action doesn't look like it will help to get new teachers in.

Or, will it? Maybe Rhee is right. These people were awful and it is best to have them out. However, most teachers know that kids' test scores depend on so many other factors that they are skeptical that so many teachers were bad.

I have read many posts by people who accuse the teachers of all wanting easy jobs and not wanting to be held accountable. Those are nonsensical arguments because the teachers are the ones who help the students, so people should listen to what they have to say.

Posted by: celestun100 | July 25, 2010 10:02 PM | Report abuse

One more thing...I don't know what DCPS teacher contract says, but generally speaking, evaluations are not grieveable. Arbitary and capricious termination is....but...you have to prove it.

(Correct me if I'm wrong) but when they gave up tenure, it was only a matter of time before wholesale termination would occur....whether it is justified or not.

Posted by: ilcn | July 25, 2010 10:09 PM | Report abuse

@holzhakker

There is a difference between making excuses and pointing out the truth.

I do feel that most kids can be taught given the right circumstances.

The right circumstances for me as a teacher have less to do with a student's economic level, and more to do with a positive atmosphere within the school where I'm working.

These cries for "accountability" and punitive measures are very negative sounding to me. Where is the appreciation for the teacher who gets to know his or her students and motivates them to try harder (when everyone else has given up, even the student himself)?

There is also a question here about how testing is being used. It appears now that the reason Rhee wants more testing is not to find out how the kids are doing, but rather as a measure to choose which teachers to fire. This ups the negative atmosphere in my opinion and I think it is counterproductive.

Posted by: celestun100 | July 25, 2010 10:15 PM | Report abuse

But are you really a fan of the Moonie paper and its corrupt, rightwing slant in news and editorial pages? That is the rag's most prominent attribute.

Posted by: axolotl | July 25, 2010 2:56 PM

Name calling, axolotl?
The Examiner is not a Moonie paper, that is the Washington (Moon) Times.
It is right-wing, but no more than the Post is "left-wing".
It's just the Examiner is not as sophisticated as the Post in carrying it off.
And if we are to name call, let's not forget to label the Post as anti-union (or anti-worker).
The only complimentary thing I've read about unions in the Post over the past 35 years was about Solidarity.

(Back in 1982, the Press Clips column printing a juxtaposition of the NYT and the WP stories and editorials on the American unions and Solidarity.
Quite humourous.)

What exactly in the Examiner column was rightwing?
Please provide details.

Posted by: edlharris | July 25, 2010 11:15 PM | Report abuse

The right circumstances for me as a teacher have less to do with a student's economic level, and more to do with a positive atmosphere within the school where I'm working.
Posted by: celestun100
...............................
celestun100 is probably a very good teacher.

At the same time there appears to be a disconnect with teachers and education.

An adult or child can learn when there is a willingness to learn on the part of the student.

Without the willingness to learn even the best teacher in the world will be almost useless.

At one point teachers have to recognize that a good or effective teacher does not guarantee that students will learn.

A key factor in the willingness to learn is also the environment of class rooms.

Are students that start off with a willingness to learn in an environment that reinforces this willingness to learn or in an environment that diminishes this willingness.

From the comments of teachers that work in Title 1 poverty public school and the fact that the Secretary of Education speaks of the need of class management in Title 1 poverty public school it is easy to infer that these schools do not provide an environment that reinforces this willingness to learn and that the environment of these schools only diminishes any initial willingness to learn.

The disruptive and unwilling to learn are apparently accepted and tolerated in the class room.

I am always amazed at educators that fail to recognize that the younger children are is when children will learn.

Place them in a school environment where chaos rules and it should be no surprise that this is the lesson children learn about school.

Continuously accept and tolerate the disruptive and unwilling to learn and it should be no surprise that this is lesson children learn.

In middle class and affluent public schools there is no such concept of class room management since principals of these school systems deal with the problems and would consider any teacher remiss in not informing them of a student that creates chaos in a class room.

The truth about Ms. Rhee is a that she is a fraud. She has offered no program or idea to deal with the specific problems of Title 1 poverty public school.

Currently the only thing that any qualified teachers can do in regard to Title 1 poverty public school is to get out of them as soon as possible if they are employed by one, or never accept a position in one.

Contrary to Ms. Rhee, teachers can not in a class room on their own address the problems of Title 1 poverty public school. It was the job of Ms. Rhee from day one to come up with ideas and programs to deal with the problems. So far Ms. Rhee has shown she only has the one idea of firing teachers. This will not work since it does not address the specific problems of Title 1 poverty public school.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 26, 2010 12:43 AM | Report abuse

The right circumstances for me as a teacher have less to do with a student's economic level, and more to do with a positive atmosphere within the school where I'm working.
Posted by: celestun100
...........................
The economic level of one student is not important.

What is important is the economic level of the school in our society.

It is not fiction that mothers in poverty areas have less access to pre natal care.

It is not fiction that parents with less money have less access to private child care centers that offer services other than simply minding children.

It is not fiction that in a poverty area two parents working have less time to devote to their young children.

All of these factors contribute to children of poverty areas when viewed en mass that are less ready and prepared for public schools than children of middle class and affluent areas.

Couple all these facts of poverty areas together with the diverse abilities to overcome or not overcome adversity and it is not surprising that one finds very diverse levels in a group of children entering school in a poverty area, while one would find peas in a pod in a group of children entering school in a middle class or affluent area.

Instead of a teacher finding an effective average level for teaching in the class room of a middle class or affluent public school, a teacher in a poverty school must deal with teaching 4 or more diverse groups in a class room.

Note that I have not included crime, violence, neglect, and parents with very poor education, etc.

The mass of children born and living in poverty area have disadvantages that other children not born and living in this environment, and this definitely will have an effect on the mass of children that enter public schools in poverty areas.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 26, 2010 1:36 AM | Report abuse

It is very difficult to be a teacher under such stress as described by the author when a teacher is being evaluated. In my career I'm sure I had more evaluation then the normal teacher because I chose to teach in many different situations. One has to actually bare their soul to teach effectively and leave it all out there daily. With the general public demanding a teacher to give their all but then have an administrator constantly badgering your efforts may be just too much. I really think we will have fewer and fewer teachers that will sacrifice so much exposure for such a small reward. I wouldn't think of teaching under such conditions as what Rhee is asking. Really, good luck in getting future teachers to stay for long periods of time. There aren't enough rewards in your package.

Posted by: dmyers412 | July 26, 2010 2:37 AM | Report abuse

I read the first part of IMPACT (for "high value") after almost losing it in the that ultra creepy blue background intro with the shrink-wrapped phony slogan overload ("You can be the wild child of Aveyron, but you'll be singing Shakespeare in no time!") ... but I slogged on thru to the pie chart and percentages for teacher evaluation (with the "helpful" examples of Teacher A and Teacher B). I could go no further. When I decompress from Brave New World, I may try to check out the evaluator's 22 "must do" points in 9 categories for a 30 minute lesson.

I never did like Bill Gates. Glad I only buy Macs.


Posted by: NYCee | July 26, 2010 4:31 AM | Report abuse

Seems very un-union-like of the DC union for buying into that horrible merit pay deal and loss of tenure, loss of so much more... Now they're scrambling to reverse the damage?

It seems to me that New York's UFT has also given ground for higher salaries. But what price sanity? Now they too are tying test scores to teacher evaluations. God help them if they go IMPACT. It makes my skin crawl.

I fear that many young teachers going into the system lack a healthy appreciation of unions - so the unions are being weakened. They know not what they bargain away. They dont seem to understand that "demand" can be a good word and fighting for dignity, sanity, and the joy of real teaching are good fights.

I wouldnt teach in Ms Rhee's dreadful (data) world.

Not for all the tea in ... South Korea.

And her IMPACT/firings model is being closely looked at across the nation?!

This does not bode well for the future of education in America - these phony Gates/Obama/Duncan/Rhee "reforms"

Good luck, DC teachers! Take acting lessons before September.

Fired teachers, go into therapy - not as patients, as therapists. I am sure there will be an uptick in need from those you leave behind.

Hoodwinked parents - hope your landing isnt too hard.

Kids... your future does not look bright.

President Obama - you bear responsibility for this sham - I expect we'll get a nice sales job in your big upcoming education speech.

You know not what you do... and that is the problem.


Posted by: NYCee | July 26, 2010 5:44 AM | Report abuse

@bsallamack

I agree with you that poverty matters. I was saying that about the positive atmosphere because I noticed the difference between the principal at Sousa being praised while treating teachers badly and these teachers under incredible stress being fired.

My point is the teachers have enough to put up with, they don't need this level of stress on top of all the other demands of teaching in high poverty schools.

@NYCee
I agree with you. They need acting lessons to survive there. Also, it is true that people don't get why we needed unions in the first place.

Posted by: celestun100 | July 26, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

What's truely sad is that a lot of time has already been wasted on NCLB in the name of "reform." Now, how many more years will wasted, and students undereducated in the name of RttT?

Will we look back in 10 years faced with another crazy "reform" and still not have addressed the real problems? My guess is...YES.

These psuedo reforms are doing more harm to public schools than positive reformation. Rhee is using her strong armed tactics (I mean, just look at the picture of her standing there with those kids) as what she hopes will be a resume builder (no one certainly thinks she is it for the long haul)...and Bill and Melinda Gates et.al. are using their financial power to promote a social experiment.

The question of day....How long will it take other school division's to adopt her "fire them all") employee practices?

Posted by: ilcn | July 26, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse


There is no better journalist than Valerie Strauss! I appreciate your work Valerie, very much. I know when I read your articles I am ingesting facts and truth! When I'm trying to decipher the rhetoric or skewed statistics, I just turn to you and your articles. Thank you!

Posted by: rsolnet | July 26, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

I'm surprised no one has suggested the best approach to Ms. Rhee's reforms.

Robots!!

bsallamack,
As much as I appreciate your passion, I have to let you know your idea for reforming Title 1 schools won't work. Children are not factory products that you put on a conveyer belt in which you select the haves and the have nots. Also, kids may be low in one learning behavior and high in another. Ability grouping is not the answer.
Also, if you want your child to write 100 times the correct way to say or write something more power to you. But don't tell teachers to do this. It doesn't work as it degrades the child and can discourage them from writing.

Itcn,
Can you imagine when these reform mongers realize that firing teachers won't work? They'll find a new one to blame, which will be our kids. Can you imagine what that will look like. The highly qualified over there and the ones that are not so much get lost.

Last thought. . . just let us teach.

Posted by: tutucker | July 26, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

bsallamack,
As much as I appreciate your passion, I have to let you know your idea for reforming Title 1 schools won't work. Children are not factory products that you put on a conveyer belt in which you select the haves and the have nots. Also, kids may be low in one learning behavior and high in another. Ability grouping is not the answer.
Also, if you want your child to write 100 times the correct way to say or write something more power to you. But don't tell teachers to do this. It doesn't work as it degrades the child and can discourage them from writing.
Posted by: tutucker
............................
Remember this is for the Title 1 poverty public schools where children when entering schools are not peas in a pod.

"Children are factory products" is the current thought of public education. They are all the same and there are no differences in a class room. We assign them into classes by using the alphabetical order of their name.

Test them in kindergarten and place them in 1 of four levels. This is a test for readiness to enter school. Testing will probably indicate the real problem children that should be dealt with early and not when they bring a shotgun to school.

These levels are not fixed and should change over time. There is a possible problem with a teacher if there is absolutely no change in the levels of the class.

It is easy to say no but so far there are no methods for dealing with the very different current skills and behavior of children in a class room in a poverty school.

Currently all students are the same and can be thrown haphazardly into classes and let the teachers deal with the problem.

Interesting that when you say "all children are equal" the response is to agree with this in America.
But if you say "all children are the same" you will probably get disagreement.

The writing of 100 times is not to discourage writing skills but to discourage acting like a clown in a class and/or demonstrate the expectation that students should speak correct English in a class.

Of course if the student actually could not speak correct English there would be the need for correction and also recommendation to speech resources if they existed.

In reality my passion is simply based upon seeing individuals doing really stupid things and coming up with stupid ideas with the gullibility of Americans to accept the ludicrous.

Fire all the workers with no assurance that the replacements will be any better and the high probability that they will be worse.

Spend money on expensive systems that will not work.

Believe that a competent teacher always means students learning.

Believing all children are the same.

Believing that teachers can handle all inequality of social classes in the class room and that all construction workers can build bridges with just shovels.

Belief that all standardized tests are the same and that the question 1/2 + 2/4 on one test is the same as 2/7 + 3/8 on another test.

The list goes on.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 26, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

bsallamack -

I worked in boarding schools, alternative centers, inner city schools and suburban schools in my career.

Every school had discipline issues - look where the school shootings occur and tell me about those safe, privileged suburban schools again

Every teacher has to use classroom management skills - those helicopter parents in a high performing school are every bit as challenging as the disengaged or over stretched parents in the inner city - and the helicopters have clout and $....

Every school has kids who have been passed through and are behind the curve and no way to remediate without teachers going above and beyond

Your "title 1 poverty school" is a bit confusing - not sure what % of kids receiving aid makes your cut - there are some great schools running with 80% + receiving free/reduced lunch.

Basically - the key is a commitment and backbone of the administrative staff and teachers in every school to provide a great education come hell or high water that makes the difference. The best school i worked in was an alternative center where the focus was on every student succeeding, period. It worked, because the mission was clear, the measurement of success was defined and the school community was committed to making it work.

Don't blame the environment for the problems - don't define the kids and the schools by their socioeconomoic characteristics. look at HOW the schools operated and WHY they were allowed to operate that way

DCPS is a mess because DC government was mess - give credit where credit is due - by attempting to define what success looks like in all schools, at least the current group is making an effort instead of just saying we can't do it.

Posted by: helm_elp | July 26, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

After looking--quickly, I admit--at the rubric describing expectations for teacher observations under the IMPACT system, I could see many problems with it. The main one is that no teacher can fully teach the type of lesson desired in 30 minutes. Most of the teachers I know average 45-60 minutes for any full lesson, and it isn't unusual for a lesson to carry over to the next day. My second objection is the assumption that good teachers follow one prescribed format for every lesson. They don't and shouldn't. A good lesson may be students listening quietly as the teacher reads a story, and then reacting to it (not analyzing it or answering questions about ) by writing their own stories , drawing a picture about it, or asking questions that the story provoked.

Posted by: joney | July 26, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: celestun100

Teachers throughout the country need to learn the lesson of the teachers in D.C.

Avoid the Title 1 poverty public schools like the plague since Ms. Rhee and the Federal government are leading the charge to change teaching into a do or die job.

Ideas of positive atmosphere are irrelevant when teachers will be fired for things that are totally outside of their control.

No private company would have workers if they adopted the methods of Ms. Rhee. The only reason Ms. Rhee is not faced with replacing all the teachers in September is because it is not that easy to pick up and leave in teaching.

The unions of teachers throughout the country should not sign any contracts where teachers can be fired based upon test results. Teachers have no control over the students placed in their classes and mathematically students that fail one grade will probably fail the next grade.

Time for teachers in this country to face reality and that no matter how well they do their jobs, they are not miracle workers.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 26, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

School reform and instructional leadership go together. IMPACT and the concept of an evaluation system that includes five observations far exceeds requirements from many states and school districts. (As a school principal of 24 years I would have been proud to say I observed each teacher in the evaluation sequence for five periods.)

At the same time teachers need opportunities to improve yet resources to coach administrators and teachers are lacking concerning the pedagogy of teaching. Consider the article and resource recently shared by the Milken Family Foundation periodical, Connections.
http://www.mff.org/connections/connections.taf?cid=55 This resource seeks to support the evaluators, instructional coaches and teachers. Video clips, rubrics, research articles summarizing best practice instruction and reflection questions provide choice and prescriptions to assist all educators effort to improve their teaching. The resource focuses on instructional pedagogy, the ability to teach.

We need to find common ground where evaluation and expectations hold educators and the evaluators accountable. We also need to provide resources to grow the evaluators ability to know and identify what good instruction looks like and can/should be while giving the teacher resources that they can access 24/7/365 to help as they experience challenges and opportunities with students and classes. The Educator's Virtual Mentor may be a piece to fill the gap and support each group as they work together to prepare students for the 21st Century and a life of contributing to society. http://www.impactmovie.com/l4tf/

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is investing millions to research what good teaching is and how it impacts students and then to post video of teachers teaching using the instructional strategies. The Educator's Virtual Mentor has been under development and providing this type of resource for six years. EVM presents 52 strategies supported by 1250 video clips of authentic teaching featuring real teachers in real time teaching real content to real students. Each clip links to the research articles, rubrics and uniques reflection questions for each video clip. This total package allows teacher to work with their evaluator, mentor, instruction coach and learning team. Administrators can also work with such a group developing their proficiencies for identification of instruction and coaching the teachers to reinforce and improve instruction.

EVM is a tool I would have readily embraced when I was evaluation and coaching the instructional staff. With EVM I would have had the tool to coach the second grade teacher I fired. She was a great person. But without the resources I didn't have the system to coach her to become the quality educator her students deserved in the time allotted. Sounds like D.C. public schools. EVM can be the missing piece. Now if school leaders can see the potential and embrace the opportunity.

Posted by: Woody9 | July 26, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: helm_elp
.......................
I do not know what public schools you are familiar with.

Here in New Jersey in the middle class and affluent public schools teachers do not have to spend any time in getting order in a classroom. The problem students are placed in the level two public school where their problems are dealt with. Parents with children that are absent without reason are subject to the courts. Parents are held responsible for their children.

"Every teacher has to use classroom management skills."

Keep up with the news. Last year the Secretary of Education told the teaching schools that class management skills where required for teachers of Title 1 poverty public schools. Apparently he does not believe that these skills are not required for every school and every teacher.

Title 1 poverty public schools are the public schools of D.C. are are designated as so in national tests of public schools.

"...at least the current group is making an effort instead of just saying we can't do it."

You should review the facts. If so you would have discovered that the previous head of the D.C. system was making improvement without stressing the firing of teachers. On national tests there are no significant gains to indicate that the ideas of Ms. Rhee are effective.

"no way to remediate without teachers going above and beyond."

I love this idea. No way to succeed in business unless the workers go above and beyond. Every company head knows produce or die is usually ineffective. Also a company head will know that problems are not solved by dumping the problems on the workers. These poor ideas are only suitable when you have a cheap labor supply and positions require little intelligence.

I work in the computer business and will go above and beyond. I am paid on an hourly basis and in the past have worked 80 hours a week when necessary and earned in one week what I normally earn in two weeks.

"80% + receiving free/reduced lunch."

You really need to do research. On national tests those students receiving free lunch are the lowest performers. In one of my more cynical moments I have even written that we do not have an achievement gap but a free lunch gap, and that we should simply get rid of free lunches and consider the public education problem solved.

"Every school had discipline issues - look where the school shootings occur and tell me about those safe, privileged suburban schools again."

Do you really not know that violence and gangs are associated with the neighborhoods of Title 1 poverty public schools?

helm_elp I note that you have not mentioned how billions spent on standardized testing and computer system is going to be effective in your work as a teacher. You also mention how effective it will be to adopt a new standards when many states already have had in place high standard.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 26, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

School reform and instructional leadership go together. IMPACT

We need to find common ground where evaluation and expectations hold educators and the evaluators accountable.

Posted by: Woody9
............................
It would be nice if Woody9 took some time to read the posts and understand that teachers are being fired based upon test results.

All this in class evaluation is simply window dressing.

................................
"The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is investing millions..."

I remember Bill Gates. He was the head of Microsoft when Americans led the world in the Computer Sciences and there were plenty of Americans in the Computer Sciences without jobs because of the dot.com crash.

Mr Gates and other heads of companies decided this was time to ship all of the entry level jobs of Computer Science to cheap labor overseas.

Then when enrollments of Americans dropped in colleges and universities he complained that there were not enough Americans in a field where there were no entry level jobs.

Now there is a growing shortage of experienced Americans with knowledge of the Computer Sciences and the enrollments are still down.

For important and difficult computer systems government is dependent upon 60 year old individuals that kept up with changes in the field.

Pretty hard to get five years of experience in a field with no entry positions.

Perhaps Mr. Gates should have his foundation research how to convince Americans to enroll in the Computer Sciences when there are no entry level jobs.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 26, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

From Valerie's piece:
"In 30 minutes, a teacher is supposed to demonstrate all 22 different teaching elements."

I searched through some of the IMPACT links & downloads, but could not find direct reference to this statement, or an exact list of the "22 elements". Does it exist? Anyone know where to find it?
Thanks.

Posted by: Incidentally | July 26, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

I also took the plunge into the rubric. First I had to endure that freaky blue wall of phony slogans I had encountered earlier, when I read the "value added" bit. Now able to attempt another IMPACT journey, to the almighty rubric, I fake-smiled thru the BLUE WALL once again...

WARNING!!! ENTERING:BLUE WALL... Our schools must be caring and supportive environments

• Our decisions at all levels must be guided by robust data.

• All children, regardless of background or circumstance, can achieve at the highest levels.

• It is critical to engage our students’ families and communities as valued partners.

• Achievement is a function of effort, not innate ability.

• We have the power and responsibility to close the achievement gap.

EXIT... (Here, teachers, you can choose - laugh or cry)

Rubric √...

The rubric is ridiculous in that it is considered necessary for the teacher to address all of its demands (elements) in any1 lesson, never mind a 30 minute one. Additionally, this is not just for show time, where the teacher is told s/he will be observed in advance ie, let me show that I am able to do all this when you come to observe (even if, wink/wink, it isnt feasible or necessary, let alone sound teaching practice to aim for all of this all of the time...).

According to the rules, the teacher will be told in advance only 2 out of the 5 times they are observed.


So in walks Observer X. Teacher A, instead of taking all "appropriate" steps on the IMPACT gameboard, w/no obj posted, is only executing some of the elements in an impromptu lesson that grew from this skilled and creative person's observations and judgment based on tchg experience, expertise and an accute understanding of what this class needs - Then what? Teacher A becomes Teacher F and gets Rhee axe?

Let me just say that whatever went on in DC prior to this horrendous "solution" - this is NOT the answer, this is NOT the cure! (It doesnt even include all the players in the mix... It's a one-person show - teacher as magician extraordinare... or just lucky)

Barry's (Barack's) ed plan is NOT the cure to Berry's (Marion's.. et al) ed mess, ie, drain the life out of teachers with lock step programming and extremely punitive outcomes hanging over their heads. Data schmata! This program willfully ignores the many factors that go into teaching and learning, both effectively and ineffectively.

Not in a million years would I willingly teach under this sword of Rhee - knowing the kids know how much control they have over my very livelihood (they will know!) according to how well or badly they perform when observer X is in the room. I mean, the rubric extracts points if a kid is sleeping! If the kids dont all achieve the obj by the end of the lesson, you lose. There's more but I have no more space or time for this... bad joke.

Obama & Duncan, Fenty, Rhee... add Broad, Gates, TFA Rhee acolytes, media Rhee acolytes... et al... are all wrong!

Spelling Bee: Last word: S-C-A-M

Posted by: NYCee | July 26, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

To: Incidentally | July 26, 2010 4:30 PM |

===========================

Click on Valerie's link and then click "Impact Guidebook." Then click on "General Ed Teachers with Value Added" The 22 elements are there, but only count the ones labeled as TEACH, as those are the only applicable ones... or were.

Enjoy the blue wall that excuses everyone but teachers for every student not arriving at excellence.

Yes we can!

Posted by: NYCee | July 26, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

One of the issues I have with IMPACT is that it doesn't matter what progress your students make. If their progress margin is below the so-called average progress margin of "students similar to yours," then you're marked down. Another problem is that some principals are incapable of controlling the halls of their school, but expect teachers to have perfect control over the students in a school where the atmosphere is dictated by students. My boss came to teach one of my classes because he felt that I wasn't doing a good enough job. Well, after five minutes, he realized he had lost their attention--some had their head down, others were talking disruptively, etc. The fist thing I heard from the boss when we sat down to discuss his peformance was that the whole thing was "a humbling experience." Yet, this administrator chose that class to evaluate me and distributed "one" across the board. How fair is that?

Posted by: klangtrans | July 26, 2010 8:27 PM | Report abuse

WARNING!!! ENTERING:BLUE WALL... Our schools must be caring and supportive environments
Except to teachers who are lazy and ungrateful for the leadership of Ms. Rhee.

Our decisions at all levels must be guided by robust data.
Teachers should not go to toilet without checking the data.

All children, regardless of background or circumstance, can achieve at the highest levels.
Parents should not be concerned about beating their children. This will not affect the performance of their children in school.

It is critical to engage our students’ families and communities as valued partners.
Their votes are important.

Achievement is a function of effort, not innate ability.
Ms. Rhee has taught the blind to see, and the deaf to hear.

We have the power and responsibility to close the achievement gap.
The "We" is the royal we for Ms. Rhee since she has all the power and do not forget it.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 26, 2010 9:58 PM | Report abuse

klangtran:

I am so sorry. May the sun manage to shine upon you (and your class this year, if you still have one)... Best, and I mean BEST, of luck!

And yes, good point about comparing the kids across classes using the almighty data: goes to my horror at their "data" worship... the data cannot adequately cross-analyze these organic "things"... children, teachers, group dynamics. And the grader of the rubric is a subjective organic thing (see: person), as well.

Ah, so many unwieldy "things" ... what to do, what to do... when your job is on the line and youre being stalked by these data freaks?

Cheat? Act? BS?

I hope you teachers (minus Rhee pets/fans) maintain the energy to fight this thing like hell. Dont worry about what the contract says they can and cant impose. Contracts are made to be changed when need be. Make it your mission to change it. This is terribly misguided and, frankly, abusive to teachers... and it should not stand!

Again, I am just so sorry that teachers are being kicked around like this.

Good luck.

Posted by: NYCee | July 27, 2010 12:34 AM | Report abuse

bsallamack:

Oh! At first I thought you were scolding me re my BLUE WALL comment, but alas, you make merry!

As for toilet paper usage "data" - yes, it must seem like that, to those under this particular gun.

Teachers' nightmares will be fertile.

(Wonder what the union meetings have been like... )

Posted by: NYCee | July 27, 2010 12:53 AM | Report abuse

bsallamack:


(Wonder what the union meetings have been like... )

Posted by: NYCee
....................
Yes I was grateful for your posting of the blue wall.

Years ago my father was a member of one of the most corrupt labor unions in the nation.

After the stupidity of the union of teachers in Washington D.C. to accept firings based on test scores I realize that a corrupt union is better than a stupid union.

One is always surprised at the lessons one learns in life.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 27, 2010 1:05 AM | Report abuse

As for Obama:

I have to wonder why Obama is so enamored of Duncan. (Duncan being so enamored of all this edu-data-NCLB-teacher firing-charterizing/privatizing rw bs.)

Is it because he finds his comfort zone when leaning rightward or is it just because he wanted a worthy basketball pal around the WH, for shootin hoops? Perhaps both of the above?

Teachers - who are voters - ought to devise a nice rubric for him, re his education plan. .

Posted by: NYCee | July 27, 2010 1:06 AM | Report abuse

"Chancellor Michelle Rhee was entirely correct when she said that “every child in a District of Columbia public school has a right to a highly effective teacher” in every classroom." AND....

....Every teacher deserves a class of students who are willing to learn and come to school prepared to learn. For those who are not prepared or willing to contribute, teachers deserve and need a supportive administration....otherwise learning is a one-way street with one person doing all the giving.

I read most of the IMPACT evaluation system instituted in DC schools. IMO, it was specifically written for teacher failure since there is no way the DCPS can pay $20,000 to $30,000 bonus' except to a few....and Rhee knows that.

As just one example from the eval: Apparently a teacher will be marked down if they say anything that even one student could misconstrue as sarcastic and hurtful. Okay...that is a good thing. But what plan or strategy does the school or school division have set up for the students that is disrespectful of the teacher?

There was no reference in the IMPACT litany for teacher support or steps to address discipline for those students who habitually disrupt instruction.

I am not a DC teacher and have no quantifiable data, but common sense, based on what I've read and my own experience, indicates the lack of administrative support for disruptive students is one of the major contributor's of low student achievement and teacher burn-out and turnover.

I hope the DCPS has some sort of student expectations, and is not just relying on teachers the carry the entire burden of learning. Many of us take student responsibility as a given because most of us concerned about the state of education in America were at least, somewhat responsible students ourselves.

The evaluation is flawed and should have never been implemented.

And there needs to be more written about the real school day and real discipline in schools....not the spin the school division provides. For the media and education critics to only focus on what teacher's can do better serves only to perpetuate a myth that will only serve to further destroy public education in this country.

Posted by: ilcn | July 27, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

I also hope that the teacher's union FOIA's all emails, memo's, and other correspondance concerning how the evaluations were to be implemented. Also...what training did the Principal's have prior to the observations and the total implementation of the eval's?

We had a Superintendent who, about 12 years ago, revamped our evaluation (it still stinks and was/is not subject specific)and wanted to tie it to pay-for-performance. But when we started to question the amount of bonus money available and out of whose pocket's it would come, and questioned the quota's that would have to be imposed....they backed off.

Posted by: ilcn | July 27, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

I'm afraid DCPS will be paying for lawsuits long after Rhee is gone.

Posted by: rlj1 | July 28, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

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