Monday, April 18, 2011

And the folly continues...UPDATED twice

I see from this weekend's Globe that the next round of the Race to the Top folly is moving forward in Massachusetts: evaluating teachers based on student test scores.
You'll find the Commissioner's memo regarding this here; the proposed regulations (on which the Board of Education votes next Wednesday) here.
I'm pretty impressed at the chuzpah of the Commissioner in citing Linda Darling-Hammond as a footnoted source for his remarks about teacher evaluation, as hers has been one of the strongest voices in decrying this system as failed (you can find that full paper here; it's even more damning than the executive summary). You can find like research here (from FairTest) and here, a good review of why this doesn't work here and here,  and walk-through of how this plays out on the ground here.
I hope, in response to the article, that this gets fought by more than the teachers' unions. Our children deserve better than to have their teachers evaluated by a facile, discredited evaluation method.

UPDATE: I should point out that "opening these regulations for public comment" gets voted on by the Board next Wednesday (and, as a School Committee compatriot pointed out, what timing! Most teachers and parents won't see these until that Monday!), with comments due by mid-June and a vote on the regs at the end of June. No harm in commenting early, though!
UPDATED (as of 7pm): it appears that both Commissioner Chester and MTA President Paul Toner feel their perspectives were not well served by the Globe article. The MTA website has more information from Toner and this clarification from Chester:

“Both the headline and initial paragraphs of today's Globe story do not provide an accurate summary of my recommendations as they relate to the use of student performance measures. I have proposed that student learning be central to the evaluation and development of the Commonwealth’s educators. My recommendations require that for every grade and subject, at least two measures of student learning gains be employed. At the grades and subjects where MCAS growth measures are available, they must be one of the measures – but cannot be the sole measure. Further, I have not specified the manner by which the multiple measures of student learning are to be combined. Each district will develop and document the manner by which they will utilize the multiple student learning measures to determine whether students are making at least a year’s, less than a year’s, or more than a year’s gain.”
 That's not a huge relief, but it's better than it was.

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