Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Mulgrew Brags About UFT Role In Using Test Scores In APPR System

Michael Mulgrew penned an opinion piece for the Daily News today in which he blamed the NYCDOE for not negotiating in good faith over the new teacher evaluation system.

But the part of the piece that I found most interesting was this:

The irony is that while the mayor and his allies blame the United Federation of Teachers for the lack of a deal on this issue, it was the union that led the effort to create a new evaluation protocol.
In 2010, we went to Albany and then to Washington as part of the federal Race to the Top competition to make sure that our conception of such a system was part of New York State’s winning entry. Under the final plan, 20% to 25% of a teacher’s evaluation will depend on the growth in his or her students’ standardized test scores, while the remainder will be based largely on other measures of student achievement and on supervisors’ observations.

That’s not symbolic. It represents a revolution in the way teachers are to be mentored, developed and rated

No, it certainly isn't symbolic that the UFT "led the effort to create a new evaluation protocol" that requires teachers be evaluated using their students' test scores.

This new system is called APPR and requires state test scores to account for 20%-25% of a teachers evaluation, local tests to account for another 15%-20%.

That's real "solution-oriented unionism" in action, as Mulgrew's former boss, Randi Weingarten, might say.

The only problem is, as Sean Feeney has pointed out in the Washington Post, the solution is much worse than the problem.  Here is how the state's vaunted new APPR system works:

With the new school year comes a new responsibility for principals across the state: the need to inform teachers of their “growth score” based on the New York State assessments their students took in the spring. This teacher growth score is one of the parts of the New York State APPR system that was implemented last year in a rushed manner against the very public objection of over one-third of the New York State principals along with thousands of other teachers, administrators, parents and concerned citizens.

 These state-supplied scores were the missing piece in a teacher’s final end-of-year score — potentially determining whether or not a teacher is deemed Ineffective and therefore subject to requiring a Teacher Improvement Plan (TIP) within 10 days of the start of the school year. These scores were not available to schools until the third week of August. So there you have it: high-stakes information that can potentially have a serious impact on a teacher’s career being supplied well past any sort of reasonable timeframe. Welcome to New York’s APPR system!


 Officials at our State Education Department have certainly spent countless hours putting together guides explaining the scores. These documents describe what they call an objective teacher evaluation process that is based on student test scores, takes into account students’ prior performance, and arrives at a score that is able to measure teacher effectiveness. Along the way, the guides are careful to walk the reader through their explanations of Student Growth Percentiles (SGPs) and a teacher’s Mean Growth Percentile (MGP), impressing the reader with discussions and charts of confidence ranges and the need to be transparent about the data. It all seems so thoughtful and convincing! After all, how could such numbers fail to paint an accurate picture of a teacher’s effectiveness?


One of the items missing from this presentation, however, is an explanation of how State officials translated SGPs and MGPs into a number from 1 to 20. In order to find out how the State went from MGPs to a teacher effectiveness score out of 20 points, one needs to refer to the 2010-11 Beta Growth Model for Educator Evaluation Technical Report. Why a separate document for explaining these scores? Most likely because there are few State officials who are fluent in the psychometrics necessary to explain how this part of our APPR system works.

It is incredulous that the state feels that it is perfectly fine to use a statistical model still in a beta phase to arrive at these amorphous teacher effectiveness scores. I make it a point not to use beta software on my computer, for I do not want something untested and filled with bugs to contaminate the programs that are working fine on my machine. It is a shame that the State does not have the same opinion regarding its reform initiatives.

As explained in the technical paper, the SGP model championed by New York State claims to account for students who are English Language Learners (ELL), students with disabilities (SWD) and even economically disadvantaged students as it determines a teachers adjusted mean growth percentage. While the statistical explanation underlying the SGP model is carefully developed, nowhere do the statisticians justify the underlying cause for any change in student score measured. In other words, what is the research basis for attributing any change in score from year to year to the singular variable of a teacher? The reason why this is never explained is because there is virtually no research that justifies attributing the teacher as the sole cause of a change in student score from year to year.

So if it is not solely the teacher who caused the change in score, to what should one attribute a change in student score? Well, that is a question that continues to challenge statisticians and educational researchers. Despite the hopes and declarations of so many of our present-day “reformers,” we simply do not have to tools necessary to quantify the impact a single teacher has on an individual student’s test score over the course of time. Derek Briggs presented a critique of the use of SGPs in this paper.
They're using a beta statistical model on teachers for high stakes decisions on evaluations and employment.  Does Mulgrew feel the need to explain this part of the evaluation system, the one he happily agreed to, in his Daily News piece?

Of course not - he's too busy patting himself on the back for selling teachers down the river and complaining that Bloomberg wants him to sell teachers even further down the river and that he just cannot do.

As the next UFT election approaches, it will serve you well if you remember that not only did Michael Mulgrew and the UFT leadership agree to the APPR system that is still in beta form, but he's bragging that he and the UFT leadership agreed to it.

If we had real union leadership in NYC, Mulgrew would be pointing out to New York Daily News readers what Sean Feeney pointed out to Washington Post readers of Valerie Strauss' blog.

But we do not have real union leadership in NYC.

We have a corrupt, entrenched union leadership looking to remain in power forever and willing to make any accommodations they need to ensure that happens.

And so, we have the APPR system - still in beta form - being used on us.

Nothing like being a guinea pig for reform.

Thanks, Mike - Mulgrew AND Bloomberg.

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