Monday, January 21, 2008

DOE to Teachers: We’re Watching You

January 21, 2007 (GBN News): A report in the NY Times reveals that the NY City Department of Education is quietly gathering data to rate individual teachers based on their students’ performance on standardized tests. This is sure to generate controversy in the educational community, and concerns are already being raised that such data will be used to make decisions on teacher pay and tenure. However, GBN News has learned that the DOE initiative to evaluate teachers is going far beyond just test scores.

According to sources at the DOE, the Department is using a technique called “microtargeting” to amass detailed information on NYC teachers. The technique is one that Mayor Bloomberg is using nationwide to accumulate data on potential voters in advance of a possible run for President. Such information ranges from individual demographics, to people’s political preferences, to whether they purchase foods containing trans fats. The DOE sources suggest that the Department is developing a profiling system that would rate teachers, not just on their effectiveness, but on their potential to accommodate to the school reforms that the Mayor and Chancellor Joel Klein have instituted.

One high level DOE official, who spoke to GBN News on condition of anonymity, said that this initiative is just a logical extension of the Mayor’s reliance on - some would say obsession with - data. “He’s made billions using methods like this,” the source said. “Of course he’d want to apply it to education, which he considers just as ‘cutthroat’ as the business world or politics. The Mayor and Chancellor see teachers as the biggest impediment to their reforms. Naturally, they’d want to weed out the biggest potential critics as well as those who are merely ineffective.”

The source said that the DOE will be using the data to look into a number of variables which will assist them in evaluating teachers. “Do they complain in public on education blogs? Are they active in the UFT? Are they of good moral fiber? Do they eat enough fiber? No piece of data is too trivial for the Mayor and Chancellor. And by the way, wait till you see what they’re coming up with about the kids and the parents. Talk about defenders of the status quo.”

Just how teachers, politicians and parents will respond to this new initiative has yet to be seen. Still, this DOE official contends that the plan should go a long way towards discrediting the charge that the DOE is only interested in test scores.

Ed. Note: Being GBN News, the above story is parody. But ask yourself, as you read it: Can't you envision the DOE actually doing something like this? After all, the Times article is astonishingly and chillingly real.

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