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Testing Kids To Rate Teachers? There’s A Better Way

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/

News

Senator Jack Martins discussed education, business and drug use among other topics in a an exclusive interview with this newspaper and FiOS 1 News. He’s currently seeking re-election in November, being challenged by Democrat Adam Haber. Pointing to what he called “key legislation,” particularly the tax cap legislation passed in 2011 and prescription drug bill he helped shepherd to enactment, Martins feels New York State is on track to continue fiscal responsibility.

 

“In these last four years, we’ve had four balanced budgets, we’ve cut taxes working together, we have paid off debt, streamlined government, kept spending below 2 percent each one of those years,” Martins said.

A contingent of 80 Mineola runners embarked on their first trek to lower Manhattan last year for the Tunnel To Towers 5K Run through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel toward the World Trade Center site. This year, the United Mavericks, a networking group of local business people that support local charities and causes, are gearing up surpass that number.

Mavericks reps say they’re half way to gathering 1,000 people to run in the event’s 13th year on Saturday, Sept. 28.

 

The run honors a fireman Stephen Siller, who was enjoying a day off planning to play golf before he learned the Twin Towers were hit by two airplanes during the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. He was one of the 343 firefighters who died when the towers collapsed.


Sports

Though it had already hosted the series of lacrosse games during the regular season this past spring, Chaminade High School’s new Gold Star Stadium was officially christened on Saturday, Sept. 6, named in honor of the 56 alumni who had perished during combat.

 

“Tradition holds that when one dies in the service a gold star is given to the family,” said Chaminade President Bro. Thomas Cleary. “Our 56 Gold Star Alumni are honored for their selflessness, courage, and integrity.”

Although the expectations for the 2014 Mineola Mustangs boy’s varsity soccer season may be somewhat measured, the team enters the season with the goal of a berth in the Nassau County playoffs. The team is young and inexperienced but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

 

There is considerable talent on the horizon. There are only four starting seniors and five sophomores on the roster. Four year starting senior forward Daniel Pardo returns (19 goals in three seasons) as does senior standout goalkeeper Andrew Pereira.


Calendar

Town Zoning Meeting - September 17

International Night - September 18

Bereavement Support Group - September 19


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
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