The Weighting Game. – M. Di Carlo

Di Carlo, Matthew. “The Weighting Game.”  The Shanker Blog. May 9, 2012. Retrieved from: http://shankerblog.org/?p=5764

The author uses Florida as an example of why using weights could be misleading when judging school districts and applies the same weighting logic to teacher evaluation and value-added such as ours in Ohio.

Now, back to the original point: All of these issues also apply to teacher evaluations. You can say that value-added scores count for only 40 or 50 percent, but the effective weight might be totally different, depending both on how you incorporate those scores into the final evaluation score, as well as on how much variation there is in the other components. If, for example, a district can choose their own measures for 20 percent of a total evaluation score, and that district chooses a measure or measures that don’t vary much, then the effective weight of the other components will actually be higher than it is “on paper.” And the effective weight is the one that really matters.

All the public attention to weights, specifically those assigned to value-added, seem to ignore the fact that, in most systems, those weights will almost certainly be different – perhaps rather different – in practice. Moreover, the relative role – the effective weight – of value-added (and any other component) will vary not only between districts (which will have different systems), but also, quite possibly, between years (if the components vary differently each year). This has important implications for both the validity of these systems as well as the incentives they represent.

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The worst eighth grade math teacher in NYC. – A. Pallas

Pallas, Aaron.  “The worst eighth grade math teacher in New York City.”  A Sociological Eye on Education.  May 15, 2012.  Retrieved from:  http://eyeoned.org/content/the-worst-eighth-grade-math-teacher-in-new-york-city_326/

Professor Aaron Pallas writes about the “worst” math teacher in NYC according to Value Added scores.  Carolyn Abbott was a victim of her own success and was working with a severely flawed system.

How could this happen? Anderson is an unusual school, as the students are often several years ahead of their nominal grade level. The material covered on the state eighth-grade math exam is taught in the fifth or sixth grade at Anderson. “I don’t teach the curriculum they’re being tested on,” Abbott explained. “It feels like I’m being graded on somebody else’s work.”

“They’re not accepting answers that are mathematically correct,” Abbott notes, “and accepting answers that aren’t mathematically correct.” And the multiple-choice questions?  “Multiple-choice questions don’t test thinking,” she declares. Knowing how to answer them is “just an art.”

An unintended consequence of value-added teacher evaluation. – V. Strauss.

Strauss, Valerie.  ”An unintended consequence of value-added teacher evaluation.”  Washington Post.  April 29, 2012.  Retrieved from:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/an-unintended-consequence-of-value-added-teacher-evaluation/2012/04/29/gIQA1R5mpT_blog.html

An email from a trigonometry teacher in NY brings up the fact that higher level students may want to challenge themselves however if a lower score on a more difficult test makes the teacher look bad they may decide they are better off not challenging the students.

So, the teachers now have an incentive to prevent students from challenging themselves and trying higher level math. After all, if they challenge themselves but don’t do well on the exam, it hurts the teacher more than the student.

The higher the stakes of the test the more the testing becomes a deterrent to learning.

A People-(Em)Powered Evaluation System – S. Stevens Shupe

Stevens Shupe, Sabrina.  “A People-(Em)Powered Evaluation System.” Huffington Post.  March 27, 2012.  Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sabrina-stevens-shupe/a-peopleempowered-evaluat_b_1376186.html?

An ex-teacher writes about the problems with standardized testing, especially as it relates to teacher evaluations and offers some other ideas for evaluations.

Standardized testing — especially the high-stakes variety — has earned a serious and growing backlash, and for good reason. The weight of the research evidence shows that it has not improved education, and that it undermines the kind of academic behaviors that support critical and divergent thinking. High-stakes testing has distorted the teaching and learning process, resulting in time taken away from actual instruction, cheating scandals, and more. Testing is also expensive, representing yet another way in which scarce education funds have been diverted away from student learning toward powerful private interests. And while they’reinelegant at best in performing their intended function — measuring student knowledge — they’re now being inappropriately used to close schools, evaluate (and shame) individual teachers, and more.

Downgraded by evaluation reforms – E. Randall

Randall, Elizabeth.  “Downgraded by evaluation reforms.” Education Week Teacher.  March 28, 2012.  Retrieved from: http://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2012/03/28/fp_randall.html?tkn=VSMDWTC1fIZbvFGHCdXVm%2Fl5LhIziCG20J4H&intc=es

A Florida High School teacher and former corporate trainer and manager recounts how a flawed evaluation system has rated her as just “effective”.

When I applied for a job at the high school where I now work, I thought teaching adolescents would be a meaningful way to close out my career. My first year back, I felt as though I’d been clobbered over the head every single day; I was so tired rising before dawn, managing three lesson preparations, and floating through the halls with a cart and no classroom of my own.

‘Creative…Motivating’ and fired. – B. Turque

Turque, Bill.  “Creative…motivating and fired”.  Washington Post.  March 6, 2012.  Retrieved from: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/creative–motivating-and-fired/2012/02/04/gIQAwzZpvR_story.html

A teacher in Washington D.C. who has been commended for her classroom accomplishments is fired because of her students Value-Added scores.

“It is a pleasure to visit a classroom in which the elements of sound teaching, motivated students and a positive learning environment are so effectively combined,” Assistant Principal Kennard Branch wrote in her May 2011 evaluation.

Yet even researchers and educators who support value-added caution that it can, in essence, be overvalued. Test results are too vulnerable to conditions outside a teacher’s control, some experts say, to count so heavily in a high-stakes evaluation. Poverty, learning disabilities and random testing day incidents such as illness, crime or a family emergency can skew scores.

Teacher Evaluations Get Reconstructed – C. Williams

Williams, Courtney. “Teacher Evaluations Get Reconstructed.”  District Administration. February 20, 2012.  Retrieved from: http://www.districtadministration.com/article/teacher-evaluations-get-reconstructed

This is a short article about our own school district’s evaluation system.  Teachers and administrators worked together to create an evaluation system that put professional development and the student first.

The district was able to make a smooth transition to the new teacher evaluation tool thanks to a strong rapport with the union. DCS was already working on the new teacher evaluation system when Ohio received Race to the Top funds in August of 2010.