Sunday, April 1, 2012

It's April!!!

Well folks, it seems I took the entire month of March off from Ranting, Reflecting and Reasoning.

Actually I got sidetracked by following the story of Pascale Mauclair.  (In addition to my other plethora of excuses such as teaching 6 preps per day, being sick for four days, plus having to prepare for a conference presentation.)

If you don't know Ms. Mauclair's story, she was declared New York City's "WORST" teacher based on a teacher evaluation system that utilizes the so-called "Value Added Measures".  Her photo accompanied a front page story on The New York Post.

The REAL story of Ms. Mauclair was revealed a few days later. Included in the REAL story were a number of notable facts.

"Mauclair is an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher, and over the last five years she has had small, self-contained classes of recently arrived immigrants who do not speak English. Her students arrive at different times of the school year, depending upon that date of their family’s migration; consequently, it is not unusual for her students to take the 6th grade exams when they have only been in her class for a matter of a few months.

If a journalist with integrity had examined the TDR data, a number of red flags which suggested something was seriously amiss with the scores for Mauclair  would have presented themselves."
"Value Added Measures" are being pushed by so-called education "reformers" as the gold standard of teacher evaluation.  Almost every state that has followed the "reform" playbook has "Value Added Measures" as main component of teacher evaluation.   However, the elephant in the room being ignored is the fact that "Value Added Measures" as a teacher evaluation instrument are highly unreliable.

For some reason, politicians and "reformers" are ignoring the facts of "Value Added Measures" as described here by the journalist Julie Mack and cognitive scientist Dan Willingham.

Last week, teachers at my school had the opportunity to meet with the local state representative. Among the many questions regarding "reforms" that the representative had voted for were inquiries about the new statewide teacher evaluation requirements.

His response?  "If you're a good teacher, then you shouldn't have anything to worry about".

Unfortunately, I didn't get the chance to inform him of Pascale Mauclair's story.... A good teacher who should not have had anything to worry about.