Every Child Deserves a Great Education

Archive for the ‘Data’

The Gates Foundation Education Reform Hype Machine and Bizarre Inequality Theory 0

Posted on October 10, 2014 by dmayer

Copyright, TruthOut.org. Reprinted with permission

Special thanks for the scholarship and insight from: Diane Ravitch (Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools); Anthony Cody (The Educator and The Oligarch: A Teacher Challenges the Gates Foundation, forthcoming); Paul Thomas (Social Context Reform: A Pedagogy of Equity and Opportunity); Mercedes Schneider (A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who in the Implosion of American Public Education); Joanne Barkan (See her must read investigative series in Dissent Magazine).

This comic accompanies a two-year long Truthout supported series illustrating the education reform debate from an alternative perspective, both ideologically and visually. For previous graphic essays on education by Adam Bessie, see also

“This School is Not a Pipe” (with Josh Neufeld); “The Disaster Capitalism Curriculum: The High Price of Education Reform” (with Dan Archer: “Part I: Washington D.C.”; “Part II: New Orleans”; “Part III: Finland”) and “Automated Teaching Machine: A Graphic Introduction to the End of Human Teachers” (with Arthur King).

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

An Evening with Andy Hargreaves at PSU 0

Posted on February 05, 2013 by dmayer

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Professor Andy Hargreaves was welcomed by Portland State University President, Wim Wiewel, who talked in vague terms of Governor Kitzhaber’s pipeline to streamline Oregon education from cradle to career. He emphasized the ambiguity of the plan saying, “Where are all the boxes?” We don’t know yet. And, “Who or what will live in those boxes? We don’t know.” Hargreaves was introduced as someone to help figure this out.

What had been billed as a lecture turned out to be a 30 minute book talk followed by a short Q & A and book signing. Here are some key points from Hargreaves’ newest book, Professional Capital, co-authored with Michael Fullan, as noted in his presentation.

In his opening remarks, Hargreaves focused our attention on transforming teaching in every school. His formula: PC = f(HC,SC,DC).

“Teachers, along with parents, are the most important people in our lives. It’s the teacher, stupid.” he said.

He elaborated on the system we now have in place that knows only two strategies: to either reward or remove teachers. Then he said something that experienced teachers have known all along. He said in all the mountains of data collected on teacher quality and tying kids’ tests scores to teacher evaluations, reliable numbers correspond to principals’ judgements. Let me say that again with emphasis: He said principals are the best evaluators of teacher performance. Just as research shows that the grades a teacher assigns to a student are the best indicator of how that student will do in college (Krashen), the judgements, or evaluations, principals assign to a teachers are only reinforced by data. (One might ask why we are wasting extraordinary amounts of money on a system that tells us what we already know.)

Although I agree with much of what Hargreaves says, I am not comfortable with the language and presentation of his ideas. For example, his method of defining every idea in terms of “capital.” I have a strong aversion to using the word “capital” to describe human worth since I first came across this website: Strategic Management of Human Capital some years ago. The site elaborates in no uncertain terms the value and manipulation of human life in monetary (capital) terms. Knowing that as a teacher, I am thought of as human capital forces me, on some level, to think of my students in those terms, when for decades that thought had never entered my mind. Maybe this is a compromise educators must accede to these days in order to gain a foothold in today’s profit-driven, business-dominated education environment. I think the price is too dear.

In the words of Hargreaves:

Capital relates to one’s own or group worth –particularly concerning assets that can be leveraged to accomplish desired goals.

Business capital assumes that good teaching:

  • is technically simple
  • a quick study
  • can be mastered readily
  • should be driven by hard performance data
  • is about enthusiasm, effort, talent, and results
  • is replaceable by online instruction.

He then likened  so-called “teachers” produced in droves by organizations like Teach for America, The New Teacher Project/Center, and Teaching Fellows programs as delivering curriculum “karaoke style” — to applause from the educators in the audience.

Professional capital as it pertains to teaching:

  • is technically sophisticated and difficult
  • requires high levels of education and training over a long time
  • is perfected through continuous improvement
  • is a collective accomplishment
  • maximizes,mediates, and moderates online instruction

“Technology and teachers work well together.  One should not replace the other,” he said.

Hargreaves defines three other types of capital as a subset of professional capital: human capital, social capital, and decisional capital.

Human capital involves qualifications, knowledge, preparation, skills, and emotional intelligence.

Social capital involves trust, collaboration, collective responsibility, mutual assistance, professional networks, and a healthy amount of push, pull, and nudge to reach goals.

Decisional capital involves judgement, case experience, practice, challenge and stretching, and reflection.

Notably absent from this discussion is the idea of how cultural capital including race, ethnicity, socio-economic, and other conditions, factors into education.

Hargreaves mentioned Finland as an example of a country that reveres teachers as professionals. In 1992, Finland had an unemployment rate of 19%. Proactively, officials decided to invest in education by investing in teachers. Every teacher in Finland must earn a master’s degree before entering the classroom. Teachers are highly qualified in the true sense of that concept: knowledgeable, prepared, skilled, and emotionally intelligent. They earn the trust of their respective communities, and together with members of the community collaborate, take collective responsibility, mutually assist each other, create professional networks, and help each other to reach goals. Based on case experience, practice, challenges, and reflection they are able to make judgements on how to meet goals. Now fifteen years later, Finland’s education system is hailed as the finest in the world.

Fifteen years ago, the Finns did not articulate their education goals in terms of capital. They did not think of their children or teachers in terms of human capital. Using the definition of humans identified as capital, how difficult will it be for us to give children in our state or country the education they need and deserve? Do the same attributes that worked so well for the Finns take on a new and different meaning when we define ourselves as capital?

He gave a statistic that I find unbelievable. He said that in this country the average time spent in the classroom by new teachers is one year before leaving. (GASP from audience.) I have not been able to confirm that statistic.

Near the end of his talk, Hargreaves announced that he would be working on the governor’s vision of cradle to career. He said that he would be working with Education Northwest, Inc., which had just been awarded a $1.8 million grant for continued support of their work. He is part of the pipeline created by the OEIB that promises to do more with less. From Education Northwest:

As Secretary of Education Arne Duncan pointed out, NWRCC (Education Northwest) and the nation’s network of comprehensive centers “will help low-performing schools and districts close the achievement gap. They provide valuable support of the Administration’s P–12 initiatives to ensure that every child is able to receive a high-quality education.”

Hargreaves mentioned vaguely these as some of the goals for Oregon:

  • a smaller number of schools in districts to promote social capital
  • tighter faculty groups, and a smaller number of groups to promote decisional capital
  • higher standards for accreditation

On testing:

  • test prudently, not profitably
  • do not test every student in every grade every year
  • do test less people less often and give better tests

“We are not at a stage to give up testing altogether as Finland has done,” he said.

He left us with this quote from Nelson Mandela:

There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children and their teachers.

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Value-added teacher evaluation — all you ever wanted to know 0

Posted on March 01, 2012 by dmayer

This week the New York Times published teacher rankings of 18,000 New York city teachers.



The ratings, known as teacher data reports, covered three school years ending in 2010, and are intended to show how much value individual teachers add by measuring how much their students’ test scores exceeded or fell short of expectations based on demographics and prior performance. Such “value-added assessments” are increasingly being used in teacher-evaluation systems, but they are an imprecise science. For example, the margin of error is so wide that the average confidence interval around each rating spanned 35 percentiles in math and 53 in English, the city said. Some teachers were judged on as few as 10 students.

Evaluators deserve a failing grade on their “value-added” system, but it seems only teachers must be held accountable for the work they do. How do these geniuses rank teachers, and remember this is a ranking system, not a scoring system? In ranking teachers, someone has to be at the bottom and top, everyone else falls in between. Ranking does not give teachers an A, B, C, D, or failing grade based on desired criteria. The late Gerald Bracey explained the difference in Some Common Errors in Interpreting Test Scores. Of course, the article only discusses the evaluation of students, schools, districts, and states. At the time this article was written, Bracey could not have conceived of government officials ranking teachers with a rating system as draconian as value added evaluations.

Accumulated here are articles explaining the ridiculous value-added system that has for some inexplicable reason gained legitimacy. Also, included are responses from teachers and parents.

NYC Teacher Evaluations Released

Ratings are out for some 12,700 fourth to eighth grade New York City public schoolteachers. Called teacher data reports, they were released to the public for the first time ever Friday afternoon. Data is old, from 2007-2010, and about 30% of teachers listed no longer work for NYC schools.

The teacher and the consultant

“Value-added measures” to judge a teacher’s worth — what’s that all about? If we would only listen to teachers.

Merit Pay, Teacher Pay, and Value Added Measures

Value added measures sound fair, but they are not. In this video Prof. Daniel Willingham describes six problems (some conceptual, some statistical) with evaluating teachers by comparing student achievement in the fall and in the spring.

Measuring student growth

Pearson wants to control the world’s curriculum and testing. (Gag factor — ipecac)

Using Teacher Evaluation to Improve School Performance

Within the first moments of the presentation, the presenter says, “We have no idea what good teaching looks like. We’re not educators, we’re economists.” Then he goes on and on for nearly an hour to explain how to evaluate a good teacher. Jonah Rockoff, the Sidney Taurel Associate Professor of Business at Columbia Business School, and Douglas Staiger, the John French Professor in Economics at Dartmouth College, discuss research used to identify the effectiveness of teachers in achieving student outcomes by using a value-added approach, and the use of these measures for teacher evaluation and screening, in their presentations at the Social Enterprise Program’s first annual Nonprofit Leadership Forum, Measuring and Creating Excellence in Schools.

Evaluating teacher evaluation… Critique of ‘Value-Added’ assessments (VAMs) shows that they are based on ‘beliefs’ rather than evidence

Illinois is rushing headlong into VAM (value-added-modeling) for teacher assessment, behind the cheerleading of many of the Astro-Turf “School Reform” groups ranging from Stand for Children to Advance Illinois. Under the PERA, Chicago teachers will begin being evaluated using so-called “value added” methods during the 2012 – 2013 school year. But as virtually all the credible research shows, VAM simply doesn’t work!

NYC to Release Teachers’ ‘Value-Added’ Ratings: Why It’s Not Fair

Normally, I respect The Nation for it’s forward thinking, but it has taken a giant step backward in quoting Bill Gates and Wendy Kopp for their opinions on teacher evaluation. “For what it’s worth, I agree with Gates and Kopp: value-added is a promising tool, but must be further refined and deployed with extreme caution.” Neither Gates nor Kopp has any education expertise. Period. What they do have is a huge stake in disclosing the rankings. What if many Teach for America recruits are in the bottom percentiles? What if teachers at the charter schools, generously funded by Bill Gates, are in the lower percentiles? Of course, they don’t want don’t want rankings published.

In Teacher Ratings, Good Test Scores Are Sometimes Not Good Enough

The New York City Education Department on Friday released the ratings of some 18,000 teachers in elementary and middle schools based on how much they helped their students succeed on standardized tests. The ratings have high margins of error, are now nearly two years out of date and are based on tests that the state has acknowledged became too predictable and easy to pass over time.

You can’t principal-proof a school: Why top down evaluation systems are doomed to fail

As everyone in the education world already knows, the New York Times won a lawsuit that forced the New York City Department of Education to publish the teacher-level value-added data it has been collecting as part of its accountability system. The result? The public unveiling of the work product of an expensive system that is confusing, unreliable—and apparently—error-riddled.” Don’t be fooled by the introduction, the Fordham Institute has a schizophrenic moment as it tries to rationalize value added teacher evaluation.

Shame is not the solution

The height of hypocrisy. Bill Gates, and Bill Gates’s billions alone, is responsible for the farcical evaluation system now being used to publicly persecute teachers. I suppose he figures that by poo-pooing the publication of the scores, he will gain favor in the eyes of the public and perhaps even in the eyes of educators. Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it, too.

City Teacher Data Reports Are Released

The reports are now available on SchoolBook, posted on the individual pages for the elementary and middle schools whose teachers’ ratings were released. You can search for a school by using the search module on the left.

Evaluating Value-Added Models for Teacher Accountability

Evidence that the idea has been around for a while, this 191 page document by the oh-so-conservative Rand Corporation published in 2003 espouses analyzes of early models.

NYC Teacher Evaluation Data Show Charter Schools Perform No Better Than Public

The blue markers represent NYC’s traditional public schools, while the red and yellow markers represent charter schools, with the chart plotting the average change in English Language Arts (ELA) scores (0 being the 50th percentile) from the end-of-year 4th grade tests (x-axis) to the end of 5th grade, the first year of middle school. Read Gary Rubinstein’s TeachForUs.org blog post for a more thorough explanation.

Teach for Us is a blog sponsored by Teach for America. Since Teach for America teachers are prevalent in charter schools, these evaluation results must be a huge disappointment to them. Teach for America has been effective at withholding data about the effectiveness of TFA recruits. These VAM are more evidence that TFA recruits are not the exemplary teachers they are proclaimed to be, and should be a catalyst for school districts hiring TFA recruits to demand evidence that they are worth the investment.

Also posted at Daily Kos with comments.