Archives For Teacher evaluation

Teachers Boycott Test

May 1, 2014 — 1 Comment

Teachers and Staff at International High School at

Prospect Heights Refuse To Administer the NYC ELA Performance Assessment Test

New York – On Thursday, May 1, 2014, most of the teachers at International High School at Prospect Heights gathered on the steps of their school to announce that they will not give the NYC English Language Arts Performance Assessment Exam. More than 50% of parents have opted their students out of taking the test, and 30 teachers and staff refused to administer the exam citing professional and ethical concerns. Approximately 95% of the students at IHSPH are English Language Learners. Thirty-five percent of students are classified as Students with Interrupted Formal Education (SIFE), meaning they have missed more than one year of school.

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Michael Fiorillo is a teacher, MORE member and former Chapter Leader at Newcomers High School in Queens

The Corporate Reformer’s Game Plan

  • Proclaim austerity for the public schools, while continuing to expand charters
  •  Create incentives for non-educators to be in positions of power, from Assistant Principal on up
  • Maintain a climate of scapegoating and witch hunting for “bad teachers,” who are posited as the cause of poverty and student failure, doing everything possible to keep debate from addressing systemic inequities
  • Neutralize and eventually eliminate teacher unions (the first part largely accomplished in the case of the AFT). As part of that process, eliminate tenure, seniority and defined benefit pensions
  • Create and maintain a climate of constant disruption and destabilization, with cascading mandates that are impossible to keep up or comply with

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Randi-VAM

by Jia Lee for MORE

UFT Chapter Leader of The Earth school

Recently, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, surprised many a disillusioned public school teacher with her new mantra: “Vam is a Sham”. This is a major shift from her previous agreement and collaboration with Race to the Top policy enforcers. She admits that she has always been leery of value-added “but we rolled up our sleeves, acted in good faith and tried to make it work.” Now, she’s disillusioned. Welcome to the world we have been living in since this all started. We now wait for a public statement by UFT leaders.

Whatever the reason, educators, parents and students welcome this realization and acknowledgement that the use of faulty metrics to measure the value of students, teachers and schools has dangerous consequences. One of the very reasons why the grassroots union caucus, Movement of Rank and File Educators, formed last year is due to the acknowledgement by educators in the ranks who already read the warning signs.

With this welcomed change of heart and, now, staunch campaign against the use of value added measures, we are aware that this could affect contract negotiations in local districts, and the union also plans to lobby the Education Department. We are also rightfully cautious, yet hopeful, that we will not be faced with the patterns of our past. With an entire generation of new teachers, many of whom were not a part of the previous contract negotiations, will we be facing concessions to our working conditions? Will we be told to continue waiting for the curriculum or improved standardized state tests that align undemocratically set Common Core Standards?

We are certain that the grassroots efforts of groups such as MORE, as well as with the movement of parents in New York City who have risen against the over reliance on test scores, have contributed to Randi’s public change of heart. We will be here to provide our experiences and support in efforts to ensure that our teaching conditions positively impact our students’ learning conditions. MORE has generated alliances with parents and students who have felt the consequences of a leadership that had, for far too long, ignored the truth about high stakes testing and the faulty metrics of value added measures.

Last year, MORE published as part of its election platform;

“Testing has narrowed the curriculum our students are being offered. Quality teaching and education is developmentally appropriate and responsive to diverse student needs and abilities. A systemic obsession with quantitative data has increased teachers’ paperwork and stripped them of their professional discretion”.

Our leadership took longer to come to this realization:

Here’s a brief glimpse of AFT leadership attitudes and alliances past and present.

In November of 2009, Randi issued this statement of support in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s press release, “Foundation Commits $335 Million to Promote Effective Teaching and Raise Student Achievement” : “This process has been a thoughtful, deliberative, collaborative way to understand—and then design and implement—systems that improve teaching and learning. These districts, working with their unions and parents, were willing to think out of the box, and were awarded millions of dollars to create transparent, fair, and sustainable teacher effectiveness models.”

The National Education Association president, Dennis Van Roekel, also issued a statement, “Collaboration and multilevel integration are important when it comes to transforming the teaching profession…These grants will go far in providing resources to help raise student achievement and improve teacher effectiveness. Our local NEA affiliates are working daily to help improve the practice of teaching.”

Our national teacher union leaders taking funds to collaborate with problematic policies that have no reliable evidence for raising student achievement and improving teacher effectiveness, back in 2009, is what started the most vocal of educators, researchers, policy analysts and even psychometricians grumbling. By August 27, 2010, the Economic Policy Institute published an open letter, Problems with Using Student Test Scores to Evaluate Teachers.

Just a little less than a year ago, Randi collaborated with Vicki Philips of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to author this article Six Steps to Effective Teacher Development and Evaluation (March 25, 2013) (Note that the article states: “Sponsored content by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and American Federation of Teachers.”) Under the subsection: “Include evidence of teaching and student learning from multiple sources”, they write:

“The Gates Foundation’s MET project (much but not all of which the AFT agrees with) has found that combining a range of measures—not placing inordinate weight on standardized test scores—yields the greatest reliability and predictive power of a teacher’s gains with other students. And the AFT and its affiliates are exploring ways to accurately determine what measures best serve as a proxy for our work.” Still showing outward public collaboration with the Gates Foundation, funder of ill-conceived high stakes testing and teacher evaluation policies, continued to prompt parents to opt their children out of standardized tests and by this time, the punitive practices imbued by these policies have sent invaluable educators leaving the profession or fighting for MORE.

Then, on January 10, 2014, Randi posted in the Huffington Post “Teaching and Learning Over Testing” alone and not associated with the Gates Foundation. She states that the AFT has long known that VAM is unreliable and that they have always questioned the use of test scores to evaluate teachers. The UFT’s own high stakes testing task force in 2007 came to the same conclusion. This is contrary to the earlier co sponsored written articles, but what matters is the shift that has happened.

While MORE stands in solidarity with our union president’s newly discovered position, we can not forget that she has helped negotiate contracts which include the flawed use of test scores to determine a “teacher’s  effectiveness” in districts around the country. This was against the wishes of her own rank and file and the advice of educational experts. She can not undo the damage that has already been done by her support of test based measures. In addition, Randi continues to relentlessly advocate for Common Core, while the standards are unproven, not field tested, were not created by with the input of public school teachers and parents, and have caused even more reliance on high stakes testing.

Will Michael Mulgrew admit to the truth and take back what he said just a year ago at a delegate assembly?- That the growth model (VAM) they were creating for the local measures of student learning component was a fair and excellent way to evaluate teachers because “In any class…you ought to be able to move kids from point A, wherever they began, to point B, someplace that showed some progress.”

At the November UFT Delegate Assembly, a MORE delegate made the argument that the current teacher evaluation system “Advance” is unviable, and UFT President Michael Mulgrew scowled. If Randi can have a change of heart… say it with us, Michael Mulgrew, “VAM IS A SHAM”.

by Megan Moskop

Teacher/UFT Delegate

M.S. 324 Patria Mirabal, Washington Heights

On Wednesday, November 20th, the MORE caucus brought our Resolution for an End to the New Evaluation System (Advance) to the UFT’s Delegate Assembly. I came to the meeting prepared to present our resolution and ask that it be placed on the agenda for our December meeting. Below are the words I prepared to motivate our resolution if called upon. Stay tuned for my personal account of what happened at the meeting. 

In our last Delegate Assembly, President Mulgrew asserted that “We are losing teachers at a faster rate than ever before. The evaluation system is exacerbating the problem.”  For this reason, and many others, we know that Advance is detrimental to our profession. Our fellow teachers wouldn’t quit at such alarming rates if we as the governing body of their Union show them we’re fighting for them, by really fighting this evaluation system.

As a union of educational leaders, as elected delegates to the largest AFT local, we can’t just make concessions and tweaks to a broken system that fuels what we’ve termed (in the agenda’s resolution 1) “a destructive testing mania.”  Resolutions 1, 2, and 3, already on today’s agenda [to ban standardized testing in grades K-2, to create more options for local measures within advance, and to protect lesson planning freedom] are a step in the right direction, but they are not enough.

We must completely denounce the bureaucratic mess that is “Advance.” It undermines our professional judgement, jeopardizes our academic freedom, rejects our expertise, and eliminates our classroom autonomy.  Furthermore, it pushes our schools to spend precious time on paperwork, and takes focus away from our essential responsibility to educate the next generation of citizens.

Our leadership has been calling for new curriculum and more support.  Since we are good educators, we deeply value good curriculum and good professional support.  Right now, however, those things are not what we need. We don’t need new systems that are hastily shoved into our hands.   What we need is a good system within which to work and grow.  We deserve a system that enhances our work instead of undermining it.

For-profit interests, who, unlike us, did play a role in creating Advance, often paint teachers as a problem to be fixed. We are not a problem, and as long as we go along with this broken, demoralizing system, we implicitly agree that teachers, not poverty, not inequality of resources, not failing systems, not inept bureaucracies, that teachers are the problem to be fixed in our education system.

We must stand together in opposition to this system of evaluation, which reinforces the corporate-fueled notion that our teaching, and our children are standardized products to be quantified and measured.

Unlike corporate education deformers, this delegate assembly was never given input into the creation of Advance, so now, before it is too late, we must give our input by rejecting it vehemently along with the dozens of chapters and over 1,000 individuals who have signed this petition.

On behalf of our colleagues and our communities, it is our job to fully reject “Advance” and push for the creation of a collaboratively created evaluation system that demonstrates respect for our skill and our judgement as educators.

It is not enough for us to whine about waiting for curriculum and to ask for minor adjustments to a system that is fundamentally flawed because it rests on the assumption that bad teaching is the problem in the American education system.

Therefore, I call on the delegate assembly to  (reading from resolution) resolve that the UFT should mobilize teachers, parents and students towards a repeal of the Education Law 3012c and the new evaluation scheme.

One exciting and quick way to support MORE’s work is by asking your school’s UFT chapter to vote on endorsing our petition for a moratorium on the new “Advance” teacher evaluation system.

We’re all fed up with “Advance,” and all the teachers I’ve talked to wish the UFT was doing more to oppose this system and stand up for a better one.  My chapter was so excited to hear about this way of pushing the UFT to act that they suggested voting to endorsing this petition right after I showed it to them in our union meeting.

I wanted to make sure everyone had time to read up and consider their options before a vote though, so I sent them an informational e-mail, and we scheduled a secret-ballot vote for the next week.  Teachers cast simple paper ballots, they were counted by an impartial committee, and then my chapter leader and I composed a letter like the one below.

Voila!

It only took about 30 minutes, and my chapter is excited about their involvement in our fight to build a stronger union and a better evaluation system.

You can also take a vote to endorse at your next chapter meeting.

We will present the petitions and chapter endorsements at the November 20th delegate assembly, when we raise a resolution calling for a full repeal of this flawed evaluation scheme that was imposed on us.

Let us know your chapter endorsed our petition by emailing us at more@morecaucusnyc.org

Moratorium endorsement model

Date
(school name)
UFT Chapter
On (date) we, the UFT chapter of (insert school name here), voted to formally endorse MORE caucus’s Petition for a Moratorium on the “Advance” Teacher Evaluation System.
 The chapter endorses this proposal and encourages our leadership to act quickly in the face of actions that jeopardize our profession and our students’ quality of learning.
Fraternally,
(name)
Chapter Leader 
(name)
Chapter Delegate
 

submitted by Megan Moskop- Teacher/ UFT Delegate at M.S. 324- Patria Mirabal

[MORE's statement on the UFT leadership's change of position on testing is followed by James Eterno's full report on the Delegate Assembly]

Yesterday the Unity and New Action caucuses put forth a resolution that was passed at the Delegate Assembly calling for a moratorium on high stakes decisions for the state tests this year. While we applaud the effort to stop teachers from having their evaluations tied to flawed exams as well as a curriculum and evaluation system that has been poorly implemented and largely unsupported, we have serious reservations about the resolution as it stands.

The resolution accepts Common Core Standards and the structure of the teacher evaluation system, including the use of Danielson. These current policies are harmful to our students and our teachers.

Further, the resolution offers no plan in terms of member-driven input and action to fight the destructive policies we face nor regarding the effort to stop these policies’ high stakes impact.

MORE stands firmly in calling for a moratorium on the current teacher evaluation system until an alternative that is rooted in research and what teachers, parents, and students know results in effective teaching and learning is thoroughly negotiated, vetted, and voted on by our members. Positive alternatives exist.  We need our union to stand firm in demanding a system that benefits students and supports teachers.
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By Mike Schirtzer

Teacher/UFT Delegate

Leon M. Goldstein High School- Brooklyn

2013 MORE Vice Presidential Candidate for UFT

 

On October 9th at 4:00 p.m., activists from all over the city will gather at UFT headquarters (52 Broadway NYC) to protest the emphasis on high stakes testing that is harming our children, educators, and public schools. This action will be led by the grassroots organizations of Movement of Rank & File Educators (MORE), the Social Justice Caucus of the UFT, and Change the Stakes, a group of parents who refuse to allow their children to be measured by standardized test scores.

 

The rally is being called “Win Back Wednesday” because it’s time for public education to be reclaimed from the profit-driven “reformers” and returned to the real stakeholders; parents, students, and teachers. Our children’s education should never be thought of as “common”, “standardized”, or “data-driven”. Recent educational policies that have swept our city and nation have put an emphasis on high-stakes testing that narrows curriculum, turns teachers into test-prep machines, and takes the fun out of learning. Common Core standards, Danielson rubrics, and value added measures are untested, unproven schemes that have been developed with little to no input from public school teachers or parents. It’s time for us to take back our schools from those who seek to exploit our children. Public education should never be a for-profit endeavor- it should be  the foundation of a community where children feel secure and receive an education that provides an opportunity for them to develop critical thinking skills and express creativity.

 

We are joining together to let the public know that our teachers, students, and public schools are “MORE than a SCORE”. The new evaluation system called “Advance”  is rating teachers based on test scores for courses they don’t even teach. There is no conclusive evidence that rating teachers based on test scores will make them better instructors or have a positive effect on our children’s education. The worst part of the new evaluation scheme is that 40% of a teacher’s rating will be based on test score growth, algorithms that have never been proven to accurately determine if a teacher is “effective”. 40% or not, New York State Education Commissioner John King has declared that any teacher who is rated ineffective on the test based measures will be rated ineffective overall. Our education leaders have somehow decided that 40% equals 100%.

 

Common Core standards and the new teacher evaluation system have led to a proliferation of testing that is having a terrible effect on our youngest students. Children enter school with a natural curiosity to learn about the world we live in, but constant preparation for, and execution of standardized testing takes has taken that from them. Students need to have a chance to develop skills, and we must engage them in their innate love of learning.

 

When many veteran teachers entered the public school system the emphasis was on helping students to foster their “multiple intelligences” and talents. Learning was designed to be differentiated based on student’s individualized needs. Now our school system has fallen under the dark cloud of standardized testing and “one size fits all” standards which wrongly assumes that all children learn the same way. This is a tragic turn in public education, driven by nefarious preference for profits over what’s best for our children. While corporations and consultants makes millions of dollars, our students are conditioned to take tests, not to provide solutions to real world problems. This is not what education is about, nor can our democracy thrive or survive if this trend continues.

 

We have chosen the UFT headquarters for the rally because we believe they can be the sole voice of real reform. As nation’s largest, most powerful union local, the UFT can lead the charge for legitimate educational innovation ensuring that the real stakeholders- parents, students, and teachers – have a voice in how to best educate our children. We will be there to urge  the UFT leadership to join us in calling for a moratorium of the new hastily implemented evaluation system. Instead of a champion for the Common Core standards and “Advance”, rank and file teachers and public school parents want an advocate for children that says loudly and unambiguously what we all know to be true: the testing regime has run amok.

 

We need our union  leadership to call for real reform, smaller class size, renewed focus on the arts, music, civics, physical education and funding for afterschool programs. While millions of dollars are being wasted on implementing these new “reform” policies, our children lack the services they deserve and our educators enter their fifth year without a contract. The UFT leadership must use its power to say “enough is enough”! We are calling on them to join us in telling the public, politicians, and those that say they care about education that our children, teachers, and public schools are more than a test score!

Details and Facebook Link Here

Lisa North

Teacher/Delegate

PS 3 Brooklyn

As s member of the  2007 UFT Task Force on Testing, I find it unconscionable that our current UFT leadership has agreed to an evaluation system that uses test scores to evaluate teachers when their own 2007 Task Force  on testing states clearly,”Do not use student test scores to evaluate teachers. The use of data from student test scores on standardized tests to evaluate teachers may appear simple, be intuitively appealing, but it is wrong.”

 

It was our UFT leadership that made the agreement with Albany to use test scores to evaluate teachers and in fact to this day they say that it is good to use test data in our evaluations.  Yet, in their own Task Force on Testing they stated that  there is NO research that shows that  a single test should be used to evaluate teachers or students.  Read this section taken from the report:

 

“Professional organizations such as the National Academy of Sciences, the American Psychological Association, the National Council on Measurement in Education, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the National Council of Teachers of English and the National Parent Teacher Association, have all come out against high stakes testing. The American Education Research Association has stated that tests are always fallible and should never be used as high stakes instruments.

Yet wrongheaded proposals from (former) Chancellor Klein, elected officials, corporate heads and other non-educators who do not understand the limitations of the test data continue to call for the misuse of student test scores in order to make important decisions about children as early as kindergarten. They are also proposing misusing these test results as an evaluative tool for teachers, as a factor in determining teacher salaries and as a basis for granting tenure.”

 

Only a few years after their own report, it was the UFT leadership, not Joel Klein and corporate leaders, that signed on to something that they know is not a valid way to evaluate teachers.  It is time for the UFT leadership  to join with community and education groups that are already fighting back against the the use of test scores to evaluate teachers, students, and schools.  Students are harmed when the curriculum is narrowed to subjects that are tested.

Please read the full report from UFT task force here

http://www.uft.org/files/attachments/uft-report-2007-04-high-stakes-testing.pdf

 

If you believe teachers are “MORE than a SCORE’ and the new evaluation system needs to be halted immediately, join us for our day of action on 10/9 Win Back Wednesday! There will be a rally at UFT headquarters at 4:00pm on 10/9 at 52 Broadway NYC. Let’s remind our leadership of the findings of their report

http://morecaucusnyc.org/2013/09/26/day-of-action-toolkit/

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NYC’s Teacher Evaluation System is Not Taking Us in the Right Direction

“What do we really know about high stakes testing? “There are several misconceptions that have led to the misguided policies that are having disastrous effects on public schools. Taken from a document that cites the work of researchers who are determined to help us come to a common understanding, these misconceptions have been categorized into 5 areas. APPR is the new evaluation system that relies on test data to rate “teacher’s effectiveness”. We’ll start with Misconception #3: Testing is the best way to ensure that teachers are teaching well.

From: New York State Principals: New York State’s High Schools, Middle Schools and Elementary Schools

“An Open Letter of Concern Regarding New York State’s APPR Legislation for the Evaluation of Teachers and Principals”

a) Value-added models (VAM) of teacher effectiveness do not produce stable ratings of teachers. For example, different statistical models (all based on reasonable assumptions) yield different effectiveness scores.

b) There is no evidence that evaluation systems that incorporate student test scores produce gains in student achievement. In order to determine if there is a relationship, researchers recommend small-scale pilot testing of such systems. Researchers have found that how a teacher is rated changes from class to class, from year to year, and even from test to test. Student test scores have not been found to be a strong predictor of the quality of teaching as measured by other instruments or approaches

c) The Regents examinations and Grades 3-8 Assessments are designed to evaluate student learning, not teacher effectiveness, nor student learning growth. Using them to measure the latter is akin to using a meter stick to weigh a person: you might be able to develop a formula that links height and weight, but there will be plenty of error in your calculations.”

In reality, there are negative consequences to a teacher evaluation system based on test scores:

Students will be adversely affected by New York State’s APPR

“When a teacher’s livelihood is directly impacted by his or her students’ scores on an end-of-year examination, test scores take front and center. The nurturing relationship between teacher and student changes for the worse.

a) With a focus on the end of year testing, there inevitably will be a narrowing of the curriculum as teachers focus more on test preparation and skill and drill teaching. Enrichment activities in the arts, music, civics and other non-tested areas will diminish.

b) Schools will have an incentive to place struggling students in lower-level classes without standardized assessments. School systems may hesitate placing students in Regents classes beyond the basic five needed for graduation so that their performance on Advanced Regents examinations will not negatively impact evaluations. If schools use Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) scores, as suggested by Commissioner King, schools might be more reluctant to challenge students upward for fear that poor test performance might result in teachers being unfairly penalized.

c) Teachers will subtly but surely be incentivized to avoid students with health issues, students with disabilities, English Language Learners or students suffering from emotional issues. Research has shown that no model yet developed can adequately account for all of these ongoing factors.

d) The dynamic between students and teacher will change. Instead of “teacher and student versus the exam,” it will be “teacher versus students’ performance” on the exam.

e) Collaboration among teachers will be replaced by competition. With a “value added” system, a 5th grade teacher has little incentive to make sure that her incoming students score well on the 4th grade exams, for incoming students with high scores would make her job more challenging. When competition replaces collaboration, every student loses.”

 

New York Principals: APPR Position Paper , prepared by Sean Feeney and Carol Burris, signed by 1539 NYS principals.