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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

"Effective Teacher" as Defined By the Obama Dept of Ed

The proposal for allocating Race to the Top Funds is worth reading for its insights into how educational policy in the Obama administration is evolving. There is much discussion of "effective teachers and principals" and the use of "effectiveness information" for granting tenure and dismissing teachers is suggested. But what do these words mean? Fortunately, there is a list of definitions at the end of the document (use the pdf -- it's the easiest to read)

First, the "effective teacher":
Effective teacher means a teacher
whose students achieve acceptable rates
(e.g., at least one grade level in an
academic year) of student growth (as
defined in this notice). States may
supplement this definition as they see
fit so long as teacher effectiveness is
judged, in significant measure, by
student growth (as defined in this
What then, is "student growth". Also in the definitions section:
Student growth means the change in
achievement data for an individual
student between two points in time.
Growth may be measured by a variety of
approaches, but any approach used
must be statistically rigorous and based
on student achievement (as defined in
this notice) data, and may also include
other measures of student learning in
order to increase the construct validity
and generalizability of the information.
Of course, "student achievement". That's what we're all after. But not surprisingly it's nothing more than our old friends, the ELA and Math tests.
Student achievement means, at a
(a) For tested grades and subjects: A
student’s score on the State’s assessment
under section 1111(b)(3) of the ESEA;
(b) For non-tested grades and subjects:

Is that all there is?

Comments are being taken on the Race to the Top Fund proposal through August 29th. Cliick here for the comment form.


Mr. Talk said...

I have a very big problem with assessing teacher effectiveness in this way. I teach many children who are FAR below grade level in reading, and it is simply too much to ask to bring them all up an entire year.

A child who has a 4th grade reading level in 8th grade, for example, is already 4 years behind. To make a year's worth of progress would mean they would have to progress twice as far under me as their previous seven teachers or I get the ax.

On the other hand, if I reach such a student and help foster a love of reading in that child, I am not an effective teacher. Those efforts don't count because the DOE can't measure them.

Ms. George said...

In addition, documents and arguments like these continue to disregard student responsibility for his/her own education, parental responsibility, and fail to discuss how teachers in subject areas other than those with high stakes/ testing will be deemed 'effective'.

NYC Educator said...

Like Mr. Talk, I think instilling a love of reading is very valuable. Too bad the powers that be don't agree.

Anonymous said...

What about the teacher who teaches a class full of Bloods, Crips, MS-13, and Gangster Disciples and manages to keep order among the various gang members. Walks the streets worried about being jumped, attacked and robbed in the savage streets surrounding some schools.What of the teacher who gets the student who cuts every class to come to only his class...can't measure his learning yet but next I'm going to buy him a notebook and pens and pencils. How do you measure the teacher who noticed the cigarette burns on a student and called ACS to make a report and have the child removed from the home. Most would call these people heroes...make a movie about them.
In today's perverted system the person who called ACS would probably get in trouble an wind up in the Rubber Room with a "U" rating for insubordination or some other trumped up charges. The teacher working with the gang kids will probably be assaulted and the principal will turn on him or her for calling the police to report the assault. The teacher who got the kid to stop cutting will probably get a "U" rating because some other teachers, jealous of his ability to reach the troubled kids and their respect for him, will start to slander him to the principal.
THIS IS JUST THE REALITY OF WHAT WE DEAL WITH. Washington wake up, the teachers are the difference makers...not the policy makers and politicians.

ropiks said...

What is being measured? If we are training our students to answer multiple choice tests, is that what we want them to learn? "Statistically rigorous" is fine, but if the initial data are meaningless, then manipulation of the data is doubly specious.

In adult ESL, the test is highly subjective.