There is no “silver bullet” for evaluating teachers, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Tuesday, but the state should adopt a “bona fide” system that allows for comparisons of teachers across the state.
“You don’t need a lot of tests, but you do need one that is beyond your district,” Cuomo said. “I think a lot of people don’t want the cross-district comparisons. I think a lot of people don’t want any of these evaluations. Why? Because left to my own devices, I don’t want to be evaluated, period.”
“The test is really the only easy answer because it is objective numerical data and it was the same test with the same demographic,” Cuomo told a group of reporters and editors from The Buffalo News on Tuesday. “How you appeal to students, your disposition in the classroom, your rapport in the classroom, the energy you bring in the classroom – all relevant, but hard to judge and hard to evaluate and hard to come up with a statewide system that doesn’t lead to collusion.”
So in short, since "how you appeal to students, your disposition in the classroom, your rapport in the classroom, the energy you bring in the classroom" are all "too hard to judge and hard to evaluate and hard to come up with a statewide system," we'll just use tests.
Which is a horrific idea.
We've been over this before, but let's go over it again:
The tests are not "objective."
They are written by humans who make subjective choices about what goes on them (and what doesn't.)
The grading criteria is subjective, again created by humans who make choices about how things should be scored, how much weight each part should get, and what the overall raw score should be to fit the "passing" criteria.
They are graded by humans, often under difficult circumstances that make the grading of the tests suspect at best.
In NYC, Regents exam administration and grading were delayed by a snowstorm - meaning Regents exams were graded in about four days, with teachers working day and night to finish the grading in time for the next semester.
Is this an "objective" measure of teaching and learning?
And I haven't even gotten into the sham that is the "growth model" the state will use to determine how much "value" teachers added to their students' test scores.
I'm sure Cuomo really does believe test scores and growth models across districts are a way to "objectively" evaluate children, teachers and schools.
In that, he is like many an education reformer who has blind faith in "data" and the supposed "science" that is used to analyze it.
The unions are running garbage ads about getting the governor to spend more money on education when they ought to be running ads exposing the subjectivity of the testing, the test choices made by the test developers, the subjectivity of the rubric and grading criteria made by NYSED and the Regents, the subjectivity of the teachers grading the exams.
Then they ought to run another ad exposing the junk science that goes into the state's growth model formula to rate teachers - a formula that SED hasn't been able to explain, though they been called to do so in Sheri Lederman's case against the state for rating her "ineffective" even though all her students passed their state exams well above the state average.
The "scientism" behind using test scores to rate teachers is not hard to explain to the public but unfortunately our union leaders are so beholden to testing that they don't seem to want to do it.
And so, Andrew Cuomo gets to make statements about the "objectivity" of test scores without a sufficient pushback from the unions to say "Objective measures of teacher performance? Hardly and here's why..."
We can only hope the Sheri Lederman lawsuit, which SED asked for a delay on because they didn't have their forumla ready for court, can show the public just why Andrew Cuomo's dream of using this "objective system of evaluation" is junk science.