Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Tear Up The Teaching Scripts - AND The Danielson Rubric

Great piece at Answer Sheet by a teacher sick of having to teach to scripts:

I can’t do projects with my students anymore because I have to teach the curriculum word-for word, and I am only allowed to use standards-based assessments (which I must create myself).   It doesn’t matter how my students learn best.  It doesn’t matter that the Common Core State Standards assume a steady progression of skills that my students have not been formerly taught.  It doesn’t matter that my students arrive at my door with a host of factors that I cannot control…their home situations, their former schooling, their attitudes toward school and learning and themselves, the neighborhood they live in, whether they are English Language Learners or have special needs, or whether they have just broken up with their girlfriend  in the cafeteria.  All those factors also affect student performance, but none of that matters.  What matters is how my students perform on the state test.  (And I must STOP teaching for 6 weeks in the spring to make sure our students pass that test.)

The teacher notes how the teaching scripts have come because standards-BASED education, aligned to high stakes stakes standards-BASED tests that are used to evaluate students, teachers and schools force this kind of scripted, dehumanized system:

Standards-BASED education gets it all wrong. They assume the best teaching and the best learning can be quantified with tests and data.  Yet I’ve never once had a student compliment me on my academic knowledge or my data collection skills.  I’ve never had a student thank me for writing insightful test questions or for staying up late to write a stunning lesson plan.  But students HAVE thanked me for being there, for listening to them, for encouraging them, for believing in them even before they could believe in themselves.  Meeting our student’s academic needs begins with seeing them as human beings with worth and capability and gifting, not as research subjects.

Chicken Soup for the Teacher’s Soul is full of stories of teachers who made a difference in student’s lives through their care, their courage, and their dedication…not their student’s test scores.   Judging the effectiveness of a teacher on only quantifiable data reduces the art of teaching children to a mathematical algorithm can that be performed more effectively by a hologram projected on the Smart board than by an old-fashioned, caring, humanly flawed teacher.

I would add the Danielson rubric to the list of weapons being used to ensure teachers stick to the scripts as envisioned by the Gates Foundation-funded Regents fellows and Pearson test developers.

I am awaiting my second observation this year, the 15 minute "mini" observation.

I am told by teachers in my department who have already undergone this that everybody is getting dinged on something connected to "questioning" and "assessment".

You see, teachers must constantly be assessing students in the classroom through written formative assessments, verbal questioning, interim assessments, exit slips, written class work, written group work, and summative assessments, not to mention the September and June performance assessments tied to teacher evaluations.

All of these "assessments" (one of those edu-speak words I despise) lead to the grand daddy of all "assessments - the state test that is used to rate students, teachers and schools.

But even if a teacher "adds" tons of "value" to her/his students' test scores, you still can get rated "ineffective" if the administrator observing you doesn't like your "questioning" or "assessment" strategies and techniques.

Danielson forces a "One Way To Teach" measurement onto teachers that allows for no freedom or autonomy to teach as a professional educator sees is best for her/his students.

We can try and get rid of the SED scripts (I suspect the crappy quality of these will help in that matter) and we can try and delink the standardized tests from the high stakes for students, teachers and schools.

But as long as the name "CHARLOTTE DANIELSON" is located anywhere on the high stakes observation rubric being used to evaluate teachers, the scripted lessons and the standards-BASED teaching (one way fits all!) will continue.

The powers that be know that - that's why they pushed for not only tying test scores to teacher ratings but also the Danielson rubric to be the classroom observation measurement.

Alas, too bad the UFT pushed for this piece of garbage too.

In short, we need to get rid of the Common Core, the Common Core tests, the APPR teacher evaluation system and the inBloom data project (which only NY is doing now anyway!)

But we ALSO must send the Danielson rubric to the dustbin of history as well.


  1. Tenured teachers should en masse refuse to participate in the Danielson forced march, and teach the way they normally do.

    What's going to happen? Are there really enough parasitic "coaches" at the Networks - themselves vulnerable to cut backs, since they "add" absolutely no "value" whatsoever - to oversee hundreds of teachers who receive ratings of "developing?"

    Keep in mind that the system is set up to give us those ratings anyway, no matter what we do, so why not keep our self-respect and that of our students?

    Maybe it's time for teachers to stand up for themselves and their students. Yes, there is danger in this, especially since our union has sold us out, but this system is brittle and universally hated, even by administrators, and widespread passive resistance can bring it down.

    Unless challenged and resisted, this system is designed to get us out anyway, whether by "ineffective" ratings or sheer demoralization.

    Better to look the sons-of-bitches in the eye and challenge them: like most bullies, they'll fold.

  2. Sorry to disagree Mr. Fiorillo. In Newark, they are handing out partially effective ratings left and right in the "failing" schools. Word is administrators were told to do so. No one is folding any time soon. With two years of partially effective ratings, the mass beheadings will commence.

    1. I may be wrong in my suggestions, but Inthink you've proven my point: if administrators are being told to hand out Ineffective or Developing ratings, then it doesn't matter what teachers do.

      That was my fundamental point: these evaluation systems have been devised to wash people out of the system, and the only thing that can repel that is widespread resistance.

      Better to die on your feet, and all that...

    2. I've noticed developings coming early in the process, then changing to effectives over time. But always at least one development in some component. A dog and pony show. But in some departments and some entire schools, they are indeed simply handing out developings and ineffectives to everybody.

  3. Seattle is no better... Yes we could all just teach how we used to and ignore the rubric. Those of us being rated ineffective (basic) and on are way to probation and booting out should consider filing EEO complaint. Over 40 is a protected class, and I bet it is primarily teachers over 40 and closer to retirement that are being rated low on the rubric. Let's inundate the feds and districts with lawsuits of age discrimination. For the Newark person... read "Schooled" in the New Yorker.... tells all about Newark and the millions raised to reform public schools there.... I wonder how much CD was paid to consult on your new evaluation system?