Tennessee's testing and teacher evaluation tribulations have already been covered here by Michael Winerip.
Teachers in the state who work in grades or classes that do not have standardized tests must choose another grade or class that does have standardized tests for their evaluation.
Thus "Math specialists can be evaluated by their school’s English scores, music teachers by the school’s writing scores. "
It's kinda like Vegas on the Mississippi - spin the wheel, win a "highly effective" evaluation for the year! Oh, sorry - you hit red, you're "highly ineffective" for the year!
But it's worse than that. Administrators have to observe teachers at least four time a year, and
Have a pre-observation conference with each teacher (which takes 20 minutes), observe the teacher for a period (50 minutes), conduct a post-observation conference (20 minutes), and fill out a rubric with 19 variables and give teachers a score from 1 to 5 (40 minutes).
The result in Tennessee has been disastrous so far and morale is "in the toilet." As one principal in the state put it:
The new state policies put everyone under stress, are divisive and suck the joy out of a building.
Today, in his last column on education, Winerip looks at the FCAT mess in Florida, where the state "toughened the standards" but didn't change the scoring system.
Passing rates plummeted.
Students who scored high enough on Advanced Placement exams still couldn't get a proficient score on the FCAT.
So what did the state do?
Did they live with their "toughened standards" and soaring failure rates.
Nope - they lowered the score needed for a proficiency rate after the fact and scores soared once again.
Now the state's testing system is the laughing stock of the nation - and that's saying something, considering the problems NYSED Commissioner John King and Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch have had with their Pearson/Pineapple tests here in New York.
Pay close attention to this nonsense in both Tennessee and Florida, because the same kind of arrogant, clueless education reformers are running the show here in NY State as in those two southern states.
King, Tisch, the NYSED and the governor claim the new teacher evaluation system and tests based on the new Common Core State Standards in New York will be "state of the art," "scientific," and "objective."
But as we have seen this year with Pearson's tests - many of which had questions with no right answers, or questions with too many right answers, or questions that didn't make sense, or passages that didn't make sense or translations that didn't make sense - there is nothing "state of the art," "scientific," or "objective" about these tests or the evaluation system built around them.
And the geniuses at the NYSED and the Regents still haven't rolled out the VAM (value-added measurement) they plan to use on teachers yet as part of their "accountability mechanism."
In NYC, the ELA VAM had a median margin of error of 52% and a maximum margin of error of 87%.
NY State's VAM doesn't hold much more promise than the one used in NYC.
Also, they haven't quite figured out how to handle teachers who teach subjects without standardized tests.
Maybe they can play Vegas on the Hudson and use something like Tennessee's system!
They also haven't quite figured out what to do with high school teacher evaluations either, where teachers only have students for 4.5 months before the state exams are given.
Can you evaluate a teacher on 4.5 months of teaching using the test at the end of the semester? Or the end of the year? Or can those evaluations be challenged since some other teacher had the kids in the first part of the year?
Who knows? John King certainly doesn't, and neither does Merryl Tisch, but neither one of these officials care about that.
They're too busy defending themselves over the Pearson mess and attacking anybody who criticizes the state exams and their handling of them as opponents to accountability.
But the mess we have seen in Tennessee and the mess we have seen in Florida are coming here next, because the same half-baked systems they put in place there are being put in place in NY State.
King and Tisch can attack the critiques of their "accountability systems" all they want.
When the systems put in place are absurd and harmful, when the people overseeing these systems are incompetent at best, dishonest at worst, the outcome is going to be pretty, pretty bad.
It's a shame Winerip won't be on the education beat to cover the King and Tisch mess to come.
That's probably not an accident that Winerip is off the education beat at such a crucial time when we need his critical eye and voice.