Thursday, August 28, 2014

We're barrelling ahead with using test scores to evaluate teachers in Massachusetts

Hey, remember that moment of sanity we all had last week when Secretary Duncan talked about how we were overtesting and that we should wait a year on evaluating teachers based on student test scores?
Yeah, well, that lasted less that a day or two, as Commissioner Chester's weekly update last Friday said that Massachusetts will be barrelling ahead with the "if it matches MCAS, it counts; if it doesn't, we count earlier MCAS" mix n' match we talked about last month:
Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Assistant Secretary Deb Delisle issued guidelines that support the approach DESE has taken. According to the guidelines, states may delay using assessment results in educator evaluations while transitioning to new assessments so long as: 1) states calculate student growth data based on the new assessments, and 2) each teacher of a tested grade and subject, as well as each principal, receives their growth data based on 2014-15 state assessments. 
The Commonwealth's July guidance is designed to parallel the "hold harmless" policy for school and district ratings that the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education adopted in fall 2013. Under the two-year timeline that the Board adopted, districts are choosing whether to administer PARCC or MCAS in 2014-15. Those that administer PARCC will have their accountability level held harmless; that is, their accountability level can rise but not fall because of PARCC results. In fall 2015, based on two years' experience with PARCC, the Board will decide whether to sunset MCAS and adopt PARCC as the new state testing program.
 No, Commissioner, this does not support the approach DESE has taken. The fed proposed WAITING A YEAR, not "holding harmless" schools and districts while moving ahead with questionable calculations for teachers.This is not reasonable, this is not prudent...this isn't good math. It makes no sense.
When, of all people, we have Secretary Duncan saying, "Hey, maybe we've got a lot going on and we should hold off on part," maybe we should consider it?

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