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Thursday, May 7, 2015

Who to believe among "experts" on teacher evaluation at Albany Summit on teacher evaluation?

Today, from Albany NYSED is livestreaming what they call a "Learning Summit on Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR), the teacher and principal evaluation system.   The ostensible purpose of the meeting is to get input from experts, educators and parents about how to go about crafting their new teacher evaluation system that they are supposed to come up with by June 30, but that is severely restricted by the damaging rubric imposed by the Governor.

On the agenda from 1-2 PM, is a panel of  "National experts in the field on education, economics and psychometrics."  The invitees include:

  • Thomas Kane, an economist from Harvard University who strongly supports test-based teacher evaluation and led the Gates Foundation’s Measures of Effective Teaching study;
  • Catherine Brown, VP of the Center for American Progress, which has published papers endorsing the use of value-added and has received more than $5 million from the Gates Foundation for its education work.  Brown is also married to Robert Gordon, formerly of NYC DOE, OMB and the US Dept of Education, who pushed test-based teacher evaluation in NYC and throughout the country.
  • Sandi Jacobs, a vice president at the National Council on Teacher Quality which also strongly supports test-based teacher evaluation and has gotten more than $12 million from the Gates Foundation;
  • Leslie Guggenheim of TNTP, an advocacy organization whose 2009 paper “The Widget Effect” promoted test-based teacher evaluation and has gotten more than $33 million from the Gates Foundation.
On the other side with a more skeptical view include academics who are not on the Gates payroll: Aaron Pallas of Teachers College, Jesse Rothstein of UC Berkeley, and  Stephen Caldas of Manhattanville College.

So here we have three representatives from inside-the-Beltway advocacy groups that collectively received more than $50 million to make the case for test-based teacher evaluation and one professor who led the $45 million MET project for Gates, vs three independent academic scholars.

Also  speaking at 4 PM is a parent panel selected by the NYS PTA, including a representative from NY State Allies for Public Education, a coalition of more than 50 parent and advocacy groups statewide (full disclosure: including Class Size Matters.)  NYSAPE has helped lead the anti-testing movement that garnered at least 200,000 students opting out this spring.  Also on that panel, strangely enough, is Matt Barnum, the policy director of Educators for Excellence, which has received  $4 million from the Gates Foundation.

Who to believe?  You be the judge.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The article has identified two trains of thought on teacher evaluation:
1. There is the test-based group and
2. The more skeptical group.

From this article and my own searches, I added some additional information on the areas of study of the members of these two groups:
1. Group 1 –
a. Thomas Kane, economist and Professor of Education
b. Catherine Brown, ?
c. Sandi Jacobs, MA in sociology of education and a BA in history
d. Leslie Guggenheim, ?
2. Group 2 –
a. Aaron Pallas, Professor of Sociology and Education
b. Jesse Rothstein, economist, and currently Associate Professor of Public Policy and Economics
c. Stephen Caldas, Ph.D. School of Education, M.Ed., B.S. Social Studies Education, B.A. History

I did this additional research to get an idea of the educational background of these people. As we see, they are heavy on education and economics. Thus, we would expect that they would approach the problem from and an economic and an education perspective. And, of course, within each of these disciplines there are varying schools of thought. What is lacking is a science discipline that would add a different perspective to these different views.

Teacher evaluations that use the test scores are typically based on the overall performances and the improvements of the students. One of the problems with evaluating teachers by using the performance of the students is that not all students have equal academic potential. It is well known that there are group differences in intelligence. For example, blacks and whites have IQs of 85 and 100, respectively. Additionally, intelligence has a substantial genetic component. It is, therefore, unreasonable to expect that blacks and whites would have the same academic performance.

Final Comment:
If schools and teachers are going to be evaluated on the performance of the students, the evaluation should be based on the expected performance. And, as we know, different groups have different abilities.