Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Measures Of Student Learning Mess Michael Mulgrew Gave Us

As NYC Educator posted this morning, NYC teachers will now have 20% of their evaluation based upon "local" measures of student performance.

For many teachers outside of academic subjects, this means they will be evaluated based on scores of students in subjects other than their own.

For example, art teachers may be evaluated on the scores of their students' ELA or math Regents exams.

Same goes for vocational teachers, physical education teachers, music teachers.

It is possible that even science and social studies teachers will be evaluated on ELA or math exams if schools pick the "default" option provided by the DOE for the local measures component.

How will the city calculate these scores for all these teachers?

They're going to come up with a growth model that they'll reveal in October or November that will align PSAT math scores to math Regents exams and PSAT verbal scores to ELA Regents exams.

Were those tests designed to be used to find "growth" for teachers?  Should teachers who don't teach either math or ELA be evaluated using math or ELA scores?

Sure, why not!

Because it totally makes sense to use math and/or ELA scores for social studies, science, art, music, physical education and vocational teachers to evaluate how well these respective teachers teach social studies, science, art, music, physical education and vocational classes.

Totally makes sense.

As NYC noted in his post, UFT President Mulgrew told the DA last year that this growth model stuff they were creating for the local measures of student learning component was a totally fair and excellent way to evaluate teachers because "In any ought to be able to move kids from point A, wherever they began, to point B, someplace that showed some progress."

How will Mulgrew defend his assertion that growth is the way to go because any good teacher ought to be able to show how their students progressed when most schools are going to be forced to use math and ELA scores for all teachers?

What do ELA and/or math scores have to do with a social studies teacher showing how much progress she/he made with her/his students in social studies?

Why, little to none, of course, certainly none that can be directly attributed to that individual teacher.

And yet, under the APPR system passed by the NY State legislature and signed into law by the governor, under the system that was imposed upon NYC teachers by NYSED Commissioner John King with the approval of UFT President Michael Mulgrew, that's exactly how teachers are going to be evaluated.

There is much more insanity to this system than I can cover in one post, so I'll come back to this over the course of the week and explore more of the mess that is MOSL, the disaster that is APPR.

For today, I just want to remind you that Michael Mulgrew stood on stage with Governor Cuomo, Regents Chancellor Tisch and NYSED Commissioner King in February 2012 to hail this system.

I also want to remind you that Mulgrew was absolutely fine with King being named the "independent arbitrator" who got to impose the local measures component of the APPR system when the UFT and the NYCDOE came to an impasse.

Leo Casey isn't ollecting his double pension at the UFT anymore to come around and shill for this mess, but when critics like Diane Ravitch and Carol Burris were pointing out all the flaws in the APPR system, Casey attacked Ravitch and Burris rather than the system.

That's when you knew that this is the UFT's teacher evaluation system as much as it's Governor Cuomo's or Regent Chancellor Tisch's or NYSED Commissioner King's.

The UFT leadership was in at the development of this system, they hailed it when the impasse over the test score component was "resolved" back in February 2012 and they smiled when NYSED Commissioner King was given the power to impose whatever local measures he wanted to impose as part of the APPR system.

The UFT leadership isn't going to get us out of this mess anymore than Cuomo, Tisch or King are going to.

Teachers are going to have to band together and explain the insanity of this system to parents and to the public over and over and over until we get this system shelved for good.

It starts by educating yourself about the MOSL and APPR systems, then communicating that information to parents and the public.

Let's start with, should science, social studies, art, music, physical education and vocational teachers have their teaching abilities and skills evaluated by using scores their students receive on their ELA and math exams?

Governor Cuomo called this APPR system "scientific" and "objective".

Tell me exactly what is "scientific" and "objective" about evaluating the teaching abilities and skills of science, social studies, art, music, physical education and vocational teachers with scores their students receive on their ELA and math exams?


  1. Also, there is that clause which states that if a,teacher doesn't reach this data, he/she must be Ineffective for the entire year.

    Are they going to stick to that horrible idea, or,is that going away ?

    1. None of this is going away unless we make it go away. Undercutting the system with legitimate and valid critiques over and over and over will help. But we'll need parents on board too.

  2. You mentioned the default arrangement...... its important to note.that the default also aligns growth scores with ONLY the lowest third performing of your students

    1. Good point. This was all brought to us because the unions didn't want to come back to their members and say 40% of the evaluation system is based on test scores. So they added these two components and they're both measuring different things if they're using the same test scores.

  3. Anon....they are only using test scores from the lowest third of each class...?

    1. If the local measures use scores from Regents tests or state exams, they have to crunch the numbers differently than how the state measures do using those same exams.

    2. Yes. At the MOSL meeting I attended they told us that the default local only looks at the bottom third of students based on prior years performance. For example if u teach ela and math your class scores on state test are the state measure. The local would eliminate all students except the bottom third. If u teach music then it would be bottom third school wide. I am an elementary school teacher so I'm not sure about which exact assessments us in high school but the default is def only bottom third of students. In other words.... we will be rated on our students who struggle the most. From my experience if you were bottom third in sixth grade u were in fourth in third and so on.... ps...typing on a phone excuse errors

  4. I was on my schools MOSL committee and I already see misconceptions in some of the posts. The default option was to measure teachers based on the average of all regents scores. We decided for math to use the average of all math regents, which at least cuts down on the competition between all math teachers since they will all get the same score for the MOSL 20 %. As far as using bottom third, if your school decides to evaluate you as a math teacher on your students regents scores they can double the 20 % up by using a different population for those same test results such as bottom third.Or they can use the aveage of all math regents like we are doing.

    The whole thing is total crap if you asked me. I am just amazed that a group of educated professionals could only take a bad evaluation system and make it just as bad in a different way.Shame on everyone involed.

    1. Thanks for the clarifications. In my school, they decided to go w/ the default using the average of Regents scores, but for ELA teachers, we were told that it will be performance assessments using the bottom third for teachers teaching classes that do not end in a Regents. For teachers teaching classes that end in a Regents, the Regents scores will be used.

      It's a mess and you can see how misconceptions are going to arise - because none of this crap makes any sense to anybody other than John King and Merryl Tisch.

    2. Just to clarify from the post above...... your saying that you can select to use a target population such as bottom third which is true. The issue is that if the doe does not recieve your schools email by close of busoness september 9 the local reverts to omly using students in bottom third. At our meeting one principal stood up and asked if there would be way to rename the local measures to the loco measures.

    3. The September 9 deadline is particularly galling considering they had little of this set last June when the committees first met and are still pulling this together even now as we speak. That the calculation methods for growth will not be released until October or November concerns me as well.

  5. Are they definitely assigning test scores to music, art, gym, etc., teachers?

    1. test scores for all teachers

    2. Yes, test score for all teachers. And there are no "performance tasks" for non-academic subjects like art, music, p.e., and vocational classes, so these teachers will be evaluated using scores from subjects outside their licenses.

  6. I sit on the MOSL committee of my specialized arts school. I was surprised, too, at the first meeting at the limited choices for local and state measures. ELA, math, science, and social studies have subject specific measures available. Since all our students have a social studies course every year, we arts and physical education teachers chose to use social studies for our measures, the lower third for one measure and the aggregate population for the other. How does this make sense? Well, in real life, unlike in high school subject classes, knowledge does not break down into discreet unrelated areas. We never teach our subjects without referring to a context. Our arts students all eventually take a "History of..." course in their major. Reinforcing in our own classes what our colleagues in social studies do in theirs helps our students and also helps us. Our students as a whole tend to score well in social studies, so all of us have one less thing to worry about in our evaluations. With the CCSS, the new evaluation system, and two new online programs for grading rolled out so far this semester, we are glad not to have to invent our own local measures. Honestly, I don't see how there could be a uniform state test in any of the arts. Only one unit of arts instruction is required statewide for a high school diploma, and furthermore, the arts are not standardized in the same way that other courses are. It may be possible to have a CCSS curriculum in World History, but what would that look like in a chorus, band, or orchestra? The 40% based on social studies is by no means ideal but, at least as we are using it, it does no harm to us teachers, it makes no more work for us, and it may engender more collegiality since our success is linked to supporting one another.

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