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Rhee open to releasing value-added scores

Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee says she would consider making public data that show how effective individual teachers are at raising their students' test scores -- their so-called "value added."

"It would have to be managed in the right way and...given the right context," Rhee told The Los Angeles Times Monday, a day after it published an analysis of teacher effectiveness in the Los Angeles Unified School District. The newspaper used seven years of reading and math test scores to estimate the impact that individual elementary school teachers had on their students. It said the findings confirmed what school district leaders such as Rhee have long contended -- that highly effective teachers can help their students make major strides in a year's time, despite disadvantages posed by poverty or limited English skills.

Unlike Los Angeles, the District has started to use value-added data, making it 50 percent of the annual IMPACT evaluation for some teachers. Last month, 76 educators were dismissed for poor overall evaluation scores, 26 of them in grades where value added data was used. It is not known whether the value-added piece was decisive in any of the cases.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was more enthusiastic about public disclosure, telling the paper that parents have a right to know how their childrens' teachers perform.

"What's there to hide?" he said. "In education we've been scared to talk about success."

Rhee told The Times that releasing value-added statistics could also confuse parents and create logistical problems for administrators. What she didn't say is that there might also be privacy issues, since the data is part of a personnel evaluation. Despite the potential obstacles, Rhee said disclosure of the scores could empower parents to demand better instruction for their children.

"Even though it would certainly cause potential challenges for the district, it's the right sort of pressure we want to see to reform the system," Rhee said.

Rhee may have a potential ally in Council member David A. Catania (I-At Large), who at a recent council hearing raised the idea of making portions of teachers' IMPACT evaluations available to District parents.

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By Bill Turque  |  August 17, 2010; 5:49 PM ET
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She can BS all she wants, but I emailed her and asked:
Will you move the highly effective teachers and have them replace the ineffective teachers?
(eg, replace the staff of Stanton Elem with HE teachers, after all, don't those kids deserved teachers who are proven, rather than turning the school over to a group whose effectiveness is not proven)

She replied, NO.

Posted by: edlharris | August 17, 2010 7:20 PM | Report abuse

A truly terrible idea. This will chase more good teachers out of DCPS.

Posted by: Nemessis | August 17, 2010 7:26 PM | Report abuse

When are we going to rate Arne Duncan and Michelle Rhee?

Posted by: educationlover54 | August 17, 2010 7:41 PM | Report abuse

I find it hard not to like this idea. It will succeed in shaming teachers in a public forum with no opportunity to defend themselves. I mean sure it will scare some perfectly good people away from what is already a miserable profession with no pay. But the upside is we'll have to start paying a real wage to attract talent.

Posted by: Whys | August 17, 2010 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Why is it when Rhee is pressed for information which could cast her in a bad light, she always says "that's a personnel matter and cannot be disclosed?" This is a personnel matter and should be private. How many readers here want their evaluation posted for all to see?

We think we're reforming education but all the teacher bashing, micromanaging and unneeded stress and anxiety are pushing good teacher out the door and discouraging others from entering the profession.

Studies show charter schools are NOT outperforming traditional public schools, reformers like Rhee and Klein in NYC are NOT improving test scores. The emphasis on test scores is NOT working. Closing schools does NOT work.

What works? Holding students and parents accountable.

"Rhee said disclosure of the scores could empower parents to demand better instruction for their children."
Guess what? We teachers would like to demand of parents that they actually send their children to school ready to learn, teach their kids some respect for teachers and adults, teach them how to behave in a public school, engage their learning and appreciate the value of an education. We could do wonders if kids came to us like that. My parents sent me to school ready to learn and didn't consider 6.5 hours a day in school a baby sitting service nor did they expect my teachers to raise me.

As I sat through another round of IMPACT today in DCPS and listened to the changes, I decided I've had enough. This WILL be my last year in teaching. I will be returning to my former profession. I was one of the 16% who was rated "highly effective" and my students have achieved every year I've taught. However, I'm tired of being treated like a 3rd grader, being disrespected by this chancellor and principals, having everything placed on my shoulders--even things totally beyond my control. Enough is enough. This is what education reform is doing: driving away people who love what they do, are good at it but are tired of wading through the bs.

I hate to leave but I prefer to work somewhere where my input is valued and where I'm not made to feel every day that no matter what I do it's never enough.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | August 17, 2010 8:00 PM | Report abuse

It's a ridiculous propositon. Hiding something is not the issue at all, it's about fairness and equality. Who the heck is scared of talking about success?

Posted by: natureman44 | August 17, 2010 8:05 PM | Report abuse

It's a ridiculous proposition. What is being hidden, and who the heck is scared of talking about success?

Posted by: natureman44 | August 17, 2010 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Urbandweller - you threatened to leave last year -- do you really mean it this time? What kept you here this year and what pushed you over the edge?

Posted by: efavorite | August 17, 2010 8:16 PM | Report abuse


I feel your pain. I feel like leaving the profession also because of harassment from the press and from people like Duncan, Rhee, Bloomberg and others.

I don't understand why these people feel they can beat up teachers, attempt to enslave them to standardized tests and tell the world how horrible they are and expect them to stay.

I think a new civil rights issue should be the treatment of teachers. (I would also like a new civil rights issue to come from minorities over the issue of racism in standardized testing.)

I have also thought of leaving the United States and teaching in a country that has a more sane view of the teaching profession.

Posted by: educationlover54 | August 17, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse


I hope teachers all over this country leave for other better paying professions. And I hope young people thinking of going into teaching go into another career.

Between Duncan's mess in Chicago, Rhee's mess in DC, and heavens know what other messes are being created by teacher hating administrations it's a clear signal for people to stay out of the teaching field.

Perhaps someday Duncan, Rhee, Bloomberg and the others will have to go to the Phillipines to fill enough teaching positions. The Phillipinos are so poor and desperate they are willing to take the incredible abuse these people give out.

Posted by: educationlover54 | August 17, 2010 8:35 PM | Report abuse

I think its time we warn our young people not to go into teaching. We need to encourage those who are in the profession to leave it for a higher paying job.

Basically its time for Americans to stop working as teachers. Between the enslavement to standardized tests, the false evaluations, and the constant bashing by Rhee, Duncan, Obama and others we need to stop teaching our children.

We can bring over teachers from Mexico to teach. They are so poor and desperate they are willing to take the harassment and the abuse. However, after 5 years they will get their citizenship and will leave to get a better job here in the US. At that time we can hire another group of Mexican teachers. They can teach for 5 years, become citizens and also get better jobs. We can have a cycle of bringing new teachers over from Mexico every 5 years.

Or we could chose the Phillipines instead. I am sure their teachers would be happy to be harassed for 5 years until they get their citizenship and can get another job also.

Posted by: educationlover54 | August 17, 2010 8:44 PM | Report abuse

edlover54 - I afraid that's just what reformers are aiming for - a teaching corps that doesn't mind being abused and leaves after a few years.

Posted by: efavorite | August 17, 2010 8:57 PM | Report abuse

efavorite: Yes, I threatened to leave last year but I held out hope as I was selected to sit on several panels to give input into changes to IMPACT. Today, when I saw those changes, I realized that my hopes and my input were in vain.

It appears as though IMPACT has been streamlined and made a bit more fair. But when you read between the lines, most of it has been absorbed in other places.

For example, we argued for more announced observations and even encouraged a more rigorous evaluation of this observations. We said if we knew when they would be stopping by then they should expect close to perfection. Instead, we still have 5 observations but now 4 of them will be unannounced as opposed to 3 last year. This is nothing short of trying to catch teachers unprepared. Most of us are prepared every day so it's no big deal for me.

Also, when will they decide that teachers are effective? I was one of the 16% who scored "highly effective" however I'm back at square one this year. When will DCPS decide that I actually know how to teach?

Make no mistake, the goal of IMPACT is to get rid of older, experienced, more expensive teachers and hire younger, inexperienced, TFA and DCTF types. This is the result of privatization of public schools: cut costs by employing less skilled, less experienced and therefore less expensive workers.

I love teaching and I love my students and they bring a lot of joy to my professional life and I believe I instill the joy and excitement of learning to them. Unfortunately, that's not enough any longer. The constant disrespect, disregard and dismissal of us as adult professionals is demeaning and demoralizing. That kind of working environment pushes the best away.

I'll keep you posted on when and where I land and after departing I may reveal my true identity! :)

Posted by: UrbanDweller | August 17, 2010 9:47 PM | Report abuse

educationlover: Thanks and I agree with you. When I have students express an interest in teaching I try my best to show them other areas where their gifts and talents would be more useful and respected. Fortunately, I rarely have a student who expresses an interest in teaching. The see what goes on in schools--mostly the behavior of their peers and the disrespect toward teachers--and they want no part of it.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | August 17, 2010 9:52 PM | Report abuse

efavorite: Have you noticed axotl has been rather quiet lately? I hope s/he's ok. Also, we don't hear as much as we used to from vscribe. I miss his/her posts!

Posted by: UrbanDweller | August 17, 2010 9:56 PM | Report abuse

Urbandweller - I think being a good teacher is getting to be like being the heavy-weight champion of the world. You have to keep fighting for the title and you're always on the edge of defeat.

I look forward to keeping up with your teaching adventures this year and when you reveal your identity - maybe I will to.

Posted by: efavorite | August 17, 2010 10:01 PM | Report abuse

axolotl, if sincere about the change from Fenty to Gray, is probably traumatized right now.

Maybe like how I felt when I had to admit that Obama was clueless about education.

I admit, I'm eager to hear from axolotl again.

Posted by: efavorite | August 17, 2010 10:11 PM | Report abuse

I am awfully glad that I was able to retire in June of 2009, after over 30 years of teaching in DCPS.
I used to keep thinking that DCPS had reached its nadir (bottom) and things would have to start getting better.
Not so.
It always seems to get worse, every year. This utter nonsense with VAM and IMPACT takes the cake, as far as I can tell.
I find it hard to recommend to anybody that they should go into teaching in the public schools. No good deed would ever go unpunished.

Posted by: TexasIke59 | August 17, 2010 11:01 PM | Report abuse


You stated that you feel sure the goal in DC is to get rid of older, more expensive teachers and replace them with younger, less expensive ones. This is against federal law. Please file a complaint with the federal government. You can download the form by going to the US Department of Labor.

If you are really planning to retire, you can help other teachers and students by filing complaints each and every time you witness an unlawful act. I hope you do so.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | August 18, 2010 12:18 AM | Report abuse

The VAM (value added model) scores are just that: estimates from one statistical model. Different models fit the data differently. But if some measure of overall model fit from a pair of models is similar, the distribution of errors across data points can be different. The estimates of value added for particular teachers will be different then, depending on the model chosen.

A simple example. A cloud of X-Y points through which two lines, one a mild parabola, and one straight line are fit. Say there is no difference in the fit: the sums of squares or any other chosen loss function of difference between predicted vs real score y given x is similar, even identical. But, plainly the predicted y is different under the two models, and teachers will be judged differently under the two models.

Don't be fooled, as other quants have been: over all classrooms, the variation in student outcomes --and typically only one or two short term outcomes are measured --is hardly do to teachers, most of the variation occuring within classrooms.

One more nasty thing: For many of the VAM efforts, there is no way to differentiate the "effect" of a teacher on classroom performance from the "effect" of particular students or constallations of students. It is just because peer student effects can be so large -- usually seen negatively so -- that schools increase overall happiness and learning by removing selected students from classrooms, and even expelling them from schools. Unless those students are their own kids, economists estimating the VAMs wouldn't know about them.

Posted by: incredulous | August 18, 2010 1:28 AM | Report abuse

I've been rated EE for over 10 years and earned HE this year. I say post everybody's score in The Post, online and anywhere else you choose and let the chips fall where they may. Same for Admin, with ratings by staff.
It's about time parents and others learn that the source of the problem is NOT teachers.
And how about some serious efforts to communicate high expectations for parents?

Posted by: lulu99 | August 18, 2010 6:50 AM | Report abuse

urban dweller...amen to your 8 PM post!!

Posted by: cosnowflake | August 18, 2010 7:23 AM | Report abuse


The purpose of test scores is to put knives in teacher's backs, like the LA Times did.

Unless we expose the deception behind using test scores as a high stake measure more teachers will knives put in their backs.

Posted by: educationlover54 | August 18, 2010 8:13 AM | Report abuse

to cosnowflake: Thanks!

to Linda: I may just do that but the evidence would be hard for me to gather. The union should be working on that. Btw, I really enjoy your posts!

to efav: I think we should take axotl out for a beer!

Posted by: UrbanDweller | August 18, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

to axotl: Where are you? efav and I are worried! Please check in!!!

Posted by: UrbanDweller | August 18, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

"Why is it when Rhee is pressed for information which could cast her in a bad light, she always says "that's a personnel matter and cannot be disclosed?" This is a personnel matter and should be private."

Great observation! This isn't just a Rhee thing, but a problem with many Agency heads under the Fenty administration.

Posted by: thelildiva4u | August 18, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Okay...DCPS releases the scores...and for some odd reason they are off by a decimal point. Or in someone's infinite wisdom they recalculate the scores and they are either higher or lower. Then WTU denounces the scores as fraudulent and inaccurate and the dialogue begins...and the school year commences. Don't look at the score...look at the school.

Posted by: PowerandPride | August 18, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse


I am late to this. A selfish part of me hopes you would stay. Admittedly as a former DCPS employee and husband to a wife that teaches, I am on her almost daily to be aware and prepare to jump ship if this BS comes to the county she teaches. Overall I wish you good luck and I am sure you will be successful in whatever endeavor you pursue. i understand the impulse to make the statement, just take you time to be proactive and find something suitable.

Cross the border like my wife and several others. The surrounding jurisdictions covet good teachers with DCPS experience. they know you are battle tested in more ways than one.

This is more BS and attention seeking BS from Rhee and more evidence she has no management level acumen at all! An employee's evaluation is part of their personnel file which is normally confidential. I believe it is legally confidential. however, if they want to go for the teacher's assessments, let's go full blown and release the student's grades, assessments and scores!!!

Posted by: oknow1 | August 18, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse


Thank you. I enjoy your posts also and I ache for what you are going through as a teacher. I'd love to see you get revenge; oops, I mean "justice."

Many teachers are afraid to file complaints for the reason you have cited. However, I discovered that it causes Big Trouble for the school district because they must reply to these complaints. Also, you might get a phone call from a government official asking for more input. The federal government seems to take these complaints more seriously than the state. They will do some of the necessary investigation. All you have to have is a good faith complaint, such as the one you've already expressed. Now you'll have Randi Weingarten to assist you! Can you ask for more?

Also, read about the federal Whistleblower Law (I can't think of its real name). As you know, many school districts try to cheat the government out of money but few teachers report this. If you discover and report a source of fraud, you will be awarded a large percentage of the recovered money. A teacher in New York got millions when she revealed a scam to charge the government for "speech therapy" that was never delivered. Just google "Whistleblower laws" and there will be the names of attorneys only too happy to assist you.

Don't get mad; get even. What a great approach! I watched for every little legal misstep by administration and reported every one. (Did the principal lie about having monthly fire drills? Call the fire department and report it. Was the assault of a student by another covered up by administration? Call the police department and report it. Make certain the parents know about it too.)

You may not realize it, but you have just as much power as the "chancellor" if you report wrongdoing to outside agencies. Any teacher about to retire can do a lot to help the other teachers as well as the children. Good luck!

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | August 18, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

to Linda: Hmm, food for thought!

to oknow: Thanks for your kind words. I know all too well about "the other side." I grew up in NoVa and came through Fairfax Co. Public Schools. At my age, however, it's more financially advantageous to stick with DCPS or return to my former profession.

I will miss my students terribly but sometimes in life--not often--you have to put your own well-being first. Oh, and I would never jump ship without a life raft waiting for me, i.e., I would never leave a job without a job to go to! I have a mortgage and I enjoy eating so I need a job to continue to do both of those things!

I hope Sept. 14 begins a new chapter in this city and DCPS. None of us wants to go back to the old ways but I want a mayor who runs a transparent government and a chancellor who respects her teachers, supports them and uses them to effect change and reform rather than beating up on them. I'm convinced this lady has a serious personality disorder.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | August 18, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

If a teacher can't raise test scores, get another job. I agree that 50% of a teacher's IMPACT raiting being DC CAS is way out of line. So fix IMPACT.
I'm for transparency.
If a teacher is not effective, give them support, mentoring and PD that works. Time with a counselor wouldn't hurt. It's a rough world in here.
My fist class was at Shaw, remedial math for rising 8th graders. Way out of my area of Certification. Pre-test they ranked in the 12th-15th percentile. Post test six weeks later they were in the 32nd-38th percentile. Still failing miserably by my standard. I found it embarrassing to get recognized for increasing test scores more than anyone in the school's summer session.
It can be done.
In this case the strategy involved team building, learning games based on data targeting skills that could be taught in the given time and $5 McDonald's gift cards for each team member that made the most progress every Friday. Oh, and I had to buy the one text book, as DCPS was not going to furnish any materials.
$80 for the text book from Univ of Chicago and $25 a week to McDonald's.
Crude but effective.

Posted by: lulu99 | August 18, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to see the document that evaluates Rhee's performance. Now in the blind eyes of Fenty, she's more than perfect. After all, she went over his head and created that RIF against the budget that he signed. My point is that she has a contract. That contract also had a termination clause. Under contract shouldn't there be a document to assess her performance? WE should be screaming for that! At least we should be able to see the instrument used to evaluate her performance. I'm sure he can't produce one and his answer would be similar to how he justifies giving the peacaholics more money with no invoices to substantiate it. But it's just a thought. IMPACT determined everybody's future in DCPS to include para-professionals and the custodians. Why can't we know how Rhee has been evaluated, if it happened and if not, why not? Seems like valid questions to me in light of plunging test scores and questionable attendance rates, graduation rates, dropout rates, parental/community involvement, etc.

As for Axolotol: Give him a break, although he/she has been nasty at times But to admit that Rhee's delivery to first year teachers was asinine and to say he/she is going for Gray now to us? If it's for real, that bold and actually commendable. I had to put myself in the same place if for some ungodly reason Gray lost(not going to happen of course, whew!)I would be grossed out. Give Axolotl some time.

Lord, I hope I won't be sorry for saying that!! :)

Posted by: candycane1 | August 18, 2010 7:28 PM | Report abuse


I wish they would use assessment that would measure a student's learning year by year. In special education, I often see academic testing done by school psychologists. How I wish we could give up these stupid tests that only measure whether a student meets grade level instead of showing academic progress. For example, with 7th graders I would often see kids at the beginning of the year reading at a 4.2 grade level, yet at the by the end of the 7th grade - they were reading at a 5.2 grade level. There was progress. But with the tests we have now these children would show up as not meeting ayp.

"Time with a counselor wouldn't hurt. It's a rough world in here. "

You are the first person I ever heard say that, but I've thought it often enough to myself. I once read of a school in a low income neighborhood less than safe area in England where they had a counselor just for the teachers.

Posted by: educationlover54 | August 18, 2010 7:57 PM | Report abuse

As for Axolotol: Give him a break, although he/she has been nasty at times. To admit that Rhee's delivery to first year teachers was asinine and to say he/she is going for Gray now to us? If it's for real, that's bold and actually commendable. I had to put myself in the same place if for some ungodly reason Gray loses.(not going to happen of course, whew!) I would be grossed out. Give Axolotl some time. It's one thing to say it but you have to come to terms with it too. That cannot be easy.

Lord, I hope I won't be sorry for saying that!! :)

Ooh! I had too many errors. I just had to correct that. Sorry

Posted by: candycane1 | August 18, 2010 8:21 PM | Report abuse

Axolotl disagreed with many of us but s/he was almost always respectful and polite. I hope all is well.

Educationlover: When I visited English schools in the late 1980s I was shocked to see two teachers assigned to one class in a rough neighborhood. One teacher taught while the other kept a sharp eye on the behavior problems. I was under the impression that one teacher was special education, but perhaps she was a paraprofessional. Just this measure alone would help inner-city students and teachers so much.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | August 18, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse


You're right, the current state of the art re testing is medievel. Just another serious flaw in the academic/political/money making machine that is contemporary "education". Think "military industrial complex" described by Eisenhower and connect the dots. They are scarily similar.
I had a kid for two years that I advocated for and wrote letters about weekly, then monthly. You know, one gets tired.... NOT ONE Admin would come see her. Two years later, she's assessed with an IQ of FORTY.
And she was not the exception, but the rule re special needs students in regular classrooms.
The parent was Queen of De Nile.
Now do I deserve for her scores to make or break my career? Uh, no.
I've had classes where 12 of 20 needed serious interventions and got nothing.
But that is how parents and DCPS have handled the neediest students.....
Fortunately, Fenty/Rhee have pumped a lot of resources into correctly that injustice that has existed for decades. Early Stages. Not mature, but a good initiative.
I think they ought to fire more teachers. The problem is, there is no fair system in place to figure out WHO they should be. And no fair system to support the new meat entering the system.
I was at a training last week, crowded with new hires. OMG! Sheep that drank the Kool Aid. I pray they get the support they need to fulfill their potential or move on gracefully.
In the mean time how many of this city's most precious resource will melt into our prisons, cemeteries or some other bottomless pit?

Posted by: lulu99 | August 18, 2010 9:29 PM | Report abuse

If Axolotl has seen the light about Rhee, I don't think it's asking too much of him to also see the light about the value of basic honesty.

He lied on his profile - changing it from male to female and from ohio to "ward 9."

He lied about seeing me at the ward 3 straw poll, saying teachers pointed me out (impossible because teachers don't know my handle).

Still, I think he'll make a great campaigner for Gray, because unlike the typical Fenty supporter, he actually is aware of what's going on in the schools.

Posted by: efavorite | August 18, 2010 9:37 PM | Report abuse

I hope Rhee is also open to releasing the SAT scores and the Advanced placement scores, so we can assess the value added on the high school level.

Posted by: efavorite | August 18, 2010 10:36 PM | Report abuse

Urban Dweller: You might get a chance to exhale if Gray pulls this thing out. I understand your frustration but you constantly say you love to teach. Most effective teachers "love" to teach. I'm hoping you can hold on and of course you know you have us when you need to vent. Keeping my fingers crossed that you will stay. Good luck my friend.

Posted by: candycane1 | August 18, 2010 11:02 PM | Report abuse

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