Written by sUperintendent Michael Nagler Thursday, 19 June 2014 00:00
Standardized exams didn’t become the high-intensity debate that it is now until New York State exam achievement was tied to teacher evaluation through the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) law.
Unfortunately, no discussion currently underway addresses the genesis of the problem.
The purpose of teacher evaluations is to improve teacher performance. However, a review of APPR reveals that the system was not designed to achieve that purpose. Consider the following:
• The same system was imposed upon all teachers across the state without any differentiation. No consideration was given to how a teacher or district was performing.
• The tests used to assess teacher performance are similar to using a patient’s blood work to determine the efficacy of a doctor. There are too many variables to establish a direct correlation.
• Even in the face of universal agreement that the common core standards have been poorly implemented, there were those who insist that teacher evaluation continue in unmodified fashion simply because it is time to do so.
• The implementation of lower scores on the tests used to evaluate teacher performance makes obvious the alternative motives at work.
Each special interest group—including private corporations that see financial opportunity in creating and scoring tests—has attempted to explain this disconnect. Perhaps by painting public education as a failure, certain groups or elected officials will find it easier to privatize. The failure to address the obvious flaws lends credibility to this argument.
No one who has been paying attention to the drama surrounding the teacher evaluation debate over the last few years believes that the system that has been designed will provide meaningful performance reviews.
The convoluted system currently in place essentially tests children to assess adults. The traditional 3-8 state exams (as required by federal law) represent scores for approximately 20 percent of the state’s teachers. In order to evaluate the remaining 80 percent of teachers, many districts implemented additional exams. Districts had to submit and obtain approval on Student Learning Objectives that demonstrated how each teacher would be assessed for 20 percent local and 20 percent state exams (areas for which a state exam didn’t exist the district created one). The over-testing of children was inevitable; more importantly it was unnecessary.
A more productive process would gather data over a period of time. To determine whether a teacher retains certification, reviewers should consider live teaching observations, student achievement and teacher certification exams over a five-year period. The current requirement of 175 development hours is loosely constructed and offers little teacher assessment.
The law should group teachers into two categories: 1) classroom teachers whose students take a state exam and 2) all others. Sixty percent of the evaluation for both groups should be based on classroom observation and performance. For test-year teachers, the remaining 40 percent should be 20 percent student achievement and 20 percent content exam, developed by an outside vendor. All inputs should be averaged over five years to determine recertification, and teachers who fail should get a year to address deficiencies. In category two, no student achievement data need be considered. That 20 percent should be replaced with an additional certification exam for the teacher.
This proposal can be tweaked and adjusted but the critical piece is simple: stop testing children to rate adults. This scenario eases parental concerns about high stake testing and allows teachers a five-year window to demonstrate that they are effective. Isn’t this a win-win for everyone involved?
For the full version of this column, visit “Nagler’s Notions” at http://blog.mineola.k12.ny.us/
Saturday, 22 November 2014 00:00
Winthrop University Hospital employee Jeffrey Brenner, a hyperbaric technician with the Life Support Technologies group in Mineola, recently received the American Heart Association’s prestigious Louis J. Acampora Heart Saver Award at a dinner at the Crest Hollow Country Club. The award is named for a Long Island teenager who succumbed to a sporting injury that is understood to have been preventable if a cardiac medical device had been immediately on-scene and applied.
“I hope that I have made a real difference in my town and the world around me to help prevent death and improve the quality of people’s lives” said Brenner.
Friday, 21 November 2014 00:00
The Wheatley School recently hosted an Item Writing Workshop for more than 100 language teachers representing districts across New York State. The workshop was sponsored by the Foreign Language Association of Chairpersons and Supervisors (FLACS), the professional organization that has assumed responsibility for the creation and administration of the FLACS
Checkpoint A and B Exams (formerly the NYS Second Language Proficiency and Regents Exams).
Thursday, 20 November 2014 00:00
After consecutive seasons of finishing runner-up in the men’s golf Player of the Year for the Skyline Conference, Christian Bleck of St. Joseph’s took home first place in a rather unlikely turn of events.
After a herniated disc caused the Chaminade High School alum to miss every event after the first week of the season until the conference tournament, Bleck returned—without even having the luxury of practicing a full 18 holes—and competed with the best players the conference has to offer.
Thursday, 06 November 2014 00:00
The Mineola Mustang boys cross-country team won the division 4A championship recently at Bethpage State Park. This is the first championship for the program since 1974, ending a 40-year championship drought.
Mineola defeated Seaford, who also entered the undefeated in division competition, 38-20. Overcoming rain and high winds throughout the race, many Mustangs ran personal records for the 5K in route to the victory.