Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Cuomo Matrix Mess

The new teacher evaluation plan in New York is so complicated, it seems nobody can get their head around the details:

Part of the issue was the complicated grid or "matrix" in which test results play a role in an educator's final evaluation. Tisch at one point told Regents members to draw a box and rectangle as an aid to help visualize the various options.

"My head is spinning,'' Regent Kathleen Cashin later said.

Great - when the "matrix" makes the head of one of the members of the Board of Regents spin, you know it will go swimmingly for the rest of us.

The Times-Union has an editorial today that points out what a mess this rushed implementation is going to be:

Brace yourselves, New Yorkers. The state seems to be on its way to another botched rollout of a so-called education reform.

It's happening in the rush to implement a teacher evaluation system under a law passed just over two months ago. It gave the Board of Regents only until June 30 to come up with a whole new system for evaluating teachers. This was Gov. Andrew Cuomo's answer to the last evaluation system, which called for what many parents said was too much testing and which resulted, in Mr. Cuomo's view, in too many teachers being rated effective.

Under the timetable set by Mr. Cuomo and reluctantly embraced by lawmakers, school districts will have until Nov. 15 to negotiate local evaluation systems under the Regents' model and have them approved by the State Education Department. Districts that miss the deadline risk losing this year's state aid increases.

We've seen this kind of rush before. The results weren't pretty.

We saw it with Common Core, which is inextricably linked to the phrase "botched rollout" for how New York imposed the new standards before curriculum materials were ready and tested students on material that many hadn't been taught.

We saw it with the last teacher evaluation system, introduced around the same time as Common Core. With it came more tests, sparking outrage from parents and teachers about wasting class time on questionable measurements of teacher effectiveness. Upward of 200,000 students boycotted the latest standardized tests, with their parents' blessing.

Now we are seeing what threatens to be a repeat of this upheaval.

Even supporters of teacher evaluations say the idea of judging teachers based on a single high-stakes test, as the law now requires, is flawed. They argue that to gauge student progress, multiple tests are needed over time. But parents and teachers say there's too much testing. Tests are useful, many educators say, only if teachers get data in time to address weaknesses. But that isn't the plan here.

There ought to be time to weigh these concerns. Instead, schools seem poised to plunge headlong into an initiative that sounds like it's simply not thoroughly vetted. And how can we expect children to thrive and learn in such an atmosphere of adult discord?

The TU editorial board calls for a slowdown, that the latest iteration of New York's teacher evaluation system needs to be better thought-out before it gets rolled out or it'll be just another "botched" implementation - like the Common Core, like the last evaluation rollout.

Quite frankly, I hope Cuomo keeps the pressure on the regents and SED to get this evaluation system in place in as many districts as possible this coming November.

Because Cuomo owns this matrix mess, this is his arbitrary deadline, his imposed timeline.

When this thing falls in on itself - and make no mistake, the regents' inability to get their heads around the matrix means it will fall in on itself sooner rather than later - Cuomo will own the mess.

The members of the Board of Regents made that clear yesterday, the heavy hearts in the Assembly who voted for Cuomo's education reform budget that mandated this garbage have made that clear and parents and teachers who have been fighting Cuomo on his "reforms" have made that clear.

This is Cuomo's matrix mess, his deadline, his timeline, his mandates.

There will be nobody to blame for the fallout but himself.

1 comment:

  1. The matrix is actually one of the more easily understandable parts. Think of it as two systems; one for observation and one for testing. Each is complicated but manageable and each leads to a number which aligns with a HEDI score. After each is tallied and a HEDI is developed, the matrix just is used figure out what the final score is. That's the only function of the matrix.
    The more complicated stuff comes in understanding each side (observation and testing) and how each side pertains to the different groups of teachers under the system (I put a chart up on doenuts showing what this system will probably be for 80% of city teachers but it's different for other teachers and for teachers in other districts).
    Beyond the matrix, and beneath the process of compiling results for each side, lies the real diabolics of the system: An opaque growth model taking into account such socio-economic factors as it sees fit (and not sharing those factors with anyone); the prospect of a second major standardized test for city students; independent, and soon (if they can pull it off), peer evaluators who know NONE of the context of what they will be observing; the prospect of skyping in observations; stakeholders and a public who cannot understand the system; and a union who, obsessed with too much principal power, wants this all and calls it a win under the 'multiple measures' banner. That's the evil of it all.
    I assure you, this matrix regent Cashin discussed is the absolute positive least of our worries.