Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Burgeoning Counterattacks Against The NYSED/Regents Reform Agenda - When Will The Teachers Unions Get On The Right Side Of The Fight?

In the middle of this Capital NY article about the teachers unions in Rochester and Syracuse appealing the many "developing" and "ineffective" ratings handed out to teachers in those two cities is this:

“The results of this process are a clear indictment of this process,” said Adam Urbanski, president of the Rochester Teachers Association. “If the commissioner and the Regents continue to turn a deaf ear to this unfair and ridiculous approach to teacher evaluation, I think that teachers will refuse to participate in contributing to their own demise. You may have mass insubordination on your hands.”

Urbanski said most of the 900 teachers in Rochester that were rated "developing" or "ineffective" received high scores in the category determined by observations, but few or no points for the state-exam portion.

As has been noted again and again on this blog and elsewhere in the blogosphere, these so-called "objective" and "scientific" teacher evaluation systems based upon test scores are anything but "objective" and scientific".

Bruce Baker at Rutgers has shown again and again how these systems are flawed and damaging, and he has taken particular aim at New York State's evaluation system.

He did so again this week:

Then there are the New York State conditional Growth Percentile Scores.  First, here’s what the state’s own technical report found:
 Despite the model conditioning on prior year test scores, schools and teachers with students who had higher prior year test scores, on average, had higher MGPs. Teachers of classes with higher percentages of economically disadvantaged students had lower MGPs. (p. 1)
And in an astounding ethical lapse, only a few paragraphs later, the authors concluded:
The model selected to estimate growth scores for New York State provides a fair and accurate method for estimating individual teacher and principal effectiveness based on specific regulatory requirements for a “growth model” in the 2011-2012 school year. p. 40
Concerned about what they were seeing, Lower Hudson Valley superintendents commissioned an outside analysis of data on their teachers and schools provided by the state.  Here is a recent Lower Hudson Valley news summary of the findings of that report:
But the study found that New York did not adequately weigh factors like poverty when measuring students’ progress.
“We find it more common for teachers of higher-achieving students to be classified as ‘Effective’ than other teachers,” the study said. “Similarly, teachers with a greater number of students in poverty tend to be classified as ‘Ineffective’ or ‘Developing’ more frequently than other teachers.”
Andrew Rice, a researcher who worked on the study, said New York was dealing with common challenges that arise when trying to measure teacher impact amid political pressures.
“We have seen other states do lower-quality work,” he said.
That’s one heck of an endorsement, eh? We’ve seen others do worse?
Perhaps most offensive is that New York State a) requires that if the teacher receives a bad growth measure rating, the teacher cannot be given a good overall rating and b) the New York State Commissioner has warned local school officials that the state will intervene “if there are unacceptably low correlation results between the student growth sub-component and any other measure of teacher and principal effectiveness.”  
In other words, districts must ensure that all other measures are sufficiently correlated with the state’s own junk measure.

Governor Cuomo, NYSED Commissioner King, Regents Chancellor Tisch and the legislature ensured that if a teacher is rated "ineffective" on the 40% test component of the evaluation, that teacher must be rated "ineffective" overall.

That puts an awful lot of pressure on the districts and the state to get that test component right, but as we can see from the preliminary evaluation results already, the state and the district have made a mess of the test component and thousands of teachers are getting rated "ineffective" or "developing" overall even though the observational components of the evaluation system have rated them "effective" or "highly effective."

Before the state's Common Core test mess, before the Pineapple and the Hare, before John King's Poughkeepsie meltdown, it's possible the public might have gone along with the state and said, "Well, geez, Martha, if that test component done by the state shows those teachers are 'ineffective,' then by golly, they must be!"

But post-Common Core test mess, post-Pineapple and the Hare, post-King's Poughkeepsie meltdown and "special interest" crack, the state education department is not getting that kind of suspension of disbelief from the public.

If parents are not willing to believe John King's cut scores on the Common Core tests for their children, there's a pretty good chance they're not going to believe John King's APPR test component results for teachers either.

Now here's where teachers and the union leadership come in.

Teachers must start to rise up en masse and call for the abolishing of this APPR evaluation system.

The Rochester union head, Urbanski, is pointing the right way forward in this fight - mass insubordination by teachers against an unfair, unjust evaluation system.

But the Syracuse union head says he's trying to work with the district to fix the problems with the system and hope things get better next time around.

And the UFT and NYSUT are calling for a delay to the high stakes attached to the tests, not the complete abolishing of this unfair, unjust system.

But there is no fixing a fatally flawed system that has been rigged to find thousands of "ineffective" teachers every year, just as there is no fixing the Common Core testing regime that was rigged to find a 30% drop in scores.

The point is, the SED and Regents reform agenda was always to have both of these happen simultaneously to try and Shock Doctrine the rest of their reforms through.

Look, Tisch and King say, the scores fell 30%, our new "objective" and "scientific" evaluation system finds 40% of teachers in some cities "ineffective " or "developing".  We need radical change to this public education system and WE NEED IT NOW!

That was the plan. 

They have executed the plan according to the blueprint.

They got the cut scores for the tests to fall 30%-40%, they rigged the evaluation systems to find lots of "ineffective" or "bad" teachers around the state.

This should be their moment of triumph.

Instead they are under a fierce counterattack from parents and teachers, even from politicians and editorial news boards, over their reform agenda.

That they felt the need to announce a dozen parent forums over the Common Core after Boy Wonder John King canceled the PTA-sponsored forums last week shows you just how serious the education reform establishment is taking these counterattacks in NY State.

They know if they cannot counter the opposition and criticism over the Common Core standards, the Common Core curricula, the Common Core tests, the teacher evaluation tied to those tests and the inBloom data base right NOW, their agenda is in serious, serious trouble.

The UFT and NYSUT have not gone far enough in battling the SED and Regents reform agenda.

Calling for a three year moratorium on the high stakes attached to the tests does not begin to alleviate the problems with the state's teacher evaluation system or the SED Common Core reform agenda.

Now is the time to call for the end to all of these radical, damaging reforms - from the Common Core standards to the curricula to the tests to the teacher evaluation system based upon those tests to the inBloom data project collecting all the data.

In the end, the system is collapsing in on itself anyway because it was half-baked to begin with.

You can see that in how students are reacting to the lessons, how parents are talking about the Common Core curricula, how teachers are talking about the evaluation system.

The UFT and NYSUT leadership need to get on the right side of this fight and stop trying to play to the middle.

It is time for the union leadership to drop their support of the Common Core, to join with parents and teachers and put an end to this awful, awful education reform movement.


  1. As a stooge for the corporatization of public education Commisioner King is deserving of constant ridicule. His faux reform is worthy of recognition in the " Hall of Laughingstock Fame". Mr. King is an extraordinary charlatan. This system of evaluation which he developed with the blessing an encouragement of Mr. Mulgrew should be renamed Boundless Fraud.

    1. And both KIng and Mulgrew should be held accountable for perpetrating this fraud, along with Tisch, Cuomo, Iannuzzi Weingarten and Van Roekel. Obama and Duncan, Gates and Broad, Bloomberg and Klein, Murdoch and Zuckerman, the list goes on and on...

  2. When they send the vast majority of "ineffective" teachers out to pasture, the doors will be open for TFA teachers. They will close the schools of education. Teachers will be serfs paid a minimum wage with no benefits.

    1. But if the union still exists in some nominal way, the leadership will still rake in the monthly dues. That's the problem with so much of this - they have no incentive to defend senior teachers so long as younger bodies come in and pay the dues. It's not until they charterize and de-unionize a good part of the system that the UFT and NYSUT will be hurt enough to care. And by then, as you note, it will be too late.

  3. Boycott the Network team institutes. Why is anyone still listening to them. In the mountains of NY, it will take 10 years to catch up. By then, Cuomo and King will be footnotes, if that.

    1. Carol Burris covered some of the Network Team Institute stuff today at Valerie Strauss' blog:

  4. Not holding my breath for Ianuzzi and NYSUT. They sold out teachers long ago.

  5. TeachmyclassMrMayor(andyoutooMrMulgrew)October 20, 2013 at 9:02 PM

    Union leadership? Another one of those great oxymorons, like jumbo shrimp. RBE, I i know you had to be thinking that way when you typed that. Mulgrew/Ianuzzi/Weingarten, all just as guilty, if not more so than NYSED, BloomKleinCott and the rest.

    1. I agree - more guilty, really, since you expect the ed deformers to go for this stuff, but the union leadership ostensibly should be watching out for the membership.