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Is it ignorance, arrogance, or a combination of the two that has led us to this point in education? Having those in charge promulgate an evaluation system that is based on a “gothca” mentality, not based on sound research and which no other country in the world does, is unconscionable.
The state education officials and the politicians do not care about what the research says. They do not care what the leaders in the field say, and they certainly do not care what the practitioners bring to the conversation. They care about sound bites and placing the blame for everything from the economic downturn to the problems in society on teachers and administrators. In addition, parents and students will suffer from increased standardized tests and other assessments necessary to come up with the appropriate “SLO’s.”
Despite the plethora of evidence that does not support the use of student test scores to evaluate teachers they have put the ill-fated system in place. Disregarding the fact that innocent teachers and principals will be labeled ineffective based on data that is unreliable and unstable, that is in place as well. Finally, an educational system that is destined to be made up of test after test is also here to stay.
It makes absolutely no sense to put a system in place that is doomed to fail from the start. This is not about complaining about doing ones job: it is about the feasibility of implementing a system that is void of common sense. Let’s look at one specific example related to the actual process of evaluating teachers…
In my building, I have approximately 100 teachers. Since we do the clinical model for observations there is a pre-conference, the observation, and a post conference. Each segment takes a period. So let’s do the math…100 teachers x 3 class periods =300 periods to make the process work!!! Add in the “unannounced” observation-with no post observation conference-and the total becomes 400! When you take into account testing days, assembly programs and the like, you probably have 165 days of actual days you can get into classrooms to observe. It is not too difficult to see the madness of this plan.
You then have to take into account the time it takes to review the rubric, underline the sentences for each component of the relevant domains, prepare for the post-conference, and write up the evaluation. At some point late in the spring, administrators in a building [if there are more than one] will need to meet to review every teacher in the building to come up with the “points” they will receive out of 60. This will be followed by rating the teacher on a form taking into account the formal and informal observations that were done during the year.
Now let’s not forget that administrators will be working with teachers on SLO’s, the integration of the Common Core, and having “data-driven” meetings. In addition, you have the simple fact that with the tax cap in place, there have been administrative cuts which will mean there are less people to do all these tasks!
Let’s also not forget that there is a building to run! We also have to meet with parents, attend district meetings for which we are pulled out of the building, and of course there is an “occasional” discipline issue that must be handled! This is no understanding by those in charge on the realities of running a school building on a daily basis.
The real tragedy that will come about as a result of the APPR regulations is that kids will suffer. There will be more teaching to the test, less time to focus on areas of interest, less sports and music programs available and more stress placed on their shoulders.
Who benefits from this insane system? Testing companies, charter schools, consultants, and I am sure the people who produce copy papers have planned a vacation in the Bahamas!
One final piece…with the NCLB regulations in place, within a few years every school in NYS will be “under review” due to the ridiculous notion that 100% of the students will be proficient in ELA and math by the year 2015. As I said at the beginning of the piece, no other country in the world judges their schools like this.
We all know that we need to be accountable and that students must be prepared for an uncertain future. Unfortunately, the regulations that have just been approved take us far away from that idea.