Monday, February 2, 2015

Let's Rank Everybody | Alan Singer

Let's Rank Everybody | Alan Singer:

Let's Rank Everybody

Because of the miracle of data collection and computer algorithms (don't ask me what an algorithm is but your computer knows) we can now track everyone's performance and take appropriate action to get rid of incompetence. Politicians like Andrew Cuomo and Arne Duncan are very excited about doing this for teachers and Schools of Education. Below is my recommendations for ranking other professions and people as well.
Of course the data collected and processing might not make any sense. I recently met with an eighth grade social studies teacher in a New York City suburb who explained that in his district, social studies teachers receive 20% of their professional rating based on student performance on 6th, 7th, and 8th grade high-stakes standardized reading and writing tests. Of course he does not teach reading and writing and does not even know the sixth and seventh graders yet, but their tests scores count for his evaluation. He was a bit concerned because New York State Governor Andrew Cuomohas declared the teacher rating system too easy and wants these test scores counted for 40% of teacher performance.
After we finished laughing about how the physical education teachers in his school are being evaluated the same way as he is, we talked about how Barack Obama and Arne Duncan propose to use student scores on high-stakes standardized tests to evaluate the effectiveness of teacher education programs. Since this teacher was my student in a social studies teacher education program fifteen years ago and he is being evaluated based on the performance of students who he has not yet met, I will be evaluated on the performance of students who were not even born and many whose parents were not even in the country when he was in my class. While this may be hard to follow, it must be fair if the algorithm says so.
At the 2014 American Educational Research AssociationLinda Darling-Hammond, who as a lead member of a group called SCALE was influential in developing and promoting a lot of the new assessments, declared, "New York is a prototype of how not to implement teacher performance assessment." I only wish she recognized these problems before lending her name and professional credibility to the test makers.
Meanwhile, back in New York State, Governor Andrew Cuomo wants the State Education Department to deregister and suspend the operation of teacher education programs if for three consecutive years fewer than fifty percent of its students pass every required certification examination. But just to make it even less fair, the exams are created by Pearson rather than State Education, Pearson administers and evaluates performance on the exams, and because Pearson is a private company that "owns" the tests through its Evaluation Systems and Pearson Assessment sub-divisions, the tests and grading policies are not subject to outside review or oversight.
In addition, Cuomo proposes to bar candidates from teacher education programs who have below a 3.0 or B average in college. This would eliminate from teaching students who took longer to adapt to college, could not decide on a major, switched majors, or who chose a more difficult subject area such as math or chemistry.
There is concern that this requirement would impact negatively on Black and Latino teacher education candidates who attended poorly performing inner-city schools that left them initially unprepared for college. It necessitated significant remediation before they could adequately perform in college classes. As a result, although they performed well at the end of college, their overall grand average would fall below the Cuomo cut-off.
Instead of open discussion of these proposals and whether it makes sense to evaluate students, teachers, schools, school districts, and Schools of Education based on student performance on high-stakes standardized reading, writing, and math tests, Let's Rank Everybody | Alan Singer: