Thursday, May 5, 2016

Lack of Art Classes in Our Schools is Educational Malpractice...

Lack of Art Classes in Our Schools is Educational Malpractice...  More money for standardized tests, test prep, and teacher PD in instructional approaches that convince our kids that school = pain? Seems to be pretty widespread.

The news that's got me steamed today is presented as good news, and (alas) in a way it is. Our schools have been cutting The Arts to free up resources for "other, more important things" (ugh!) and here we have volunteers who come in to the schools to keep Art going there, even though they don't have access to licensed teachers in that area. On the surface it sounds good. But let me tell you, I was a licensed (both B.A. and M.S. in Art Ed) Visual Art teacher in NYC Public Schools for 18 years and there is NOTHING like a fully qualified teacher to make this crucial subject come alive! Before I go on and on... here's the article that just appeared in my in-box and that's set me off, today (grrrrrrr!

Volunteer Group Restores Art Lessons in Schools

Calif.-based group works in 19 states

Until recently, 11-year-old Sinai Medina dreamed of playing pro basketball. Now, he also imagines becoming an artist.

What makes his shift so surprising is that until last year, the dark-haired, serious 5th grader never did art. He never finger-painted, colored in a coloring book, or drew chalk pictures on the sidewalk. He had no arts and crafts at school—no Play-Doh, painting at an easel, or making collages with dried macaroni and glitter.
"Before, we didn't have art and we weren't creative. Now I want to come to school," said Sinai, a 5th grader at Taft Community School here in this community, located about halfway between San Francisco and San Jose.

When Robyn Miller became principal three years ago, Taft didn't have an art program. Her school had been among the thousands of schools serving predominantly low-income African-American and Hispanic populations that were compelled to eliminate the arts as far back as 1982 and saw steady declines ever since because of budget woes, according to a 2011 report from the National Endowment for the Arts... but, even with the end of the Great Recession, the school didn't have the money to hire a credentialed art teacher."

later in the article the following is pointed out...

Not a Replacement

But some art education advocates are ambivalent about organizations like Art in Action.
"We would never want to see an outside arts or culture organization replace an arts teacher," said Doug Israel, the director of research and policy at the Center for Arts Education, which pushes for professional art teachers in every New York City public school. He applauded principals like Miller for seeking affordable and creative arts education for their students, but said outside programs are inadequate substitutes for having a licensed art teacher on staff. Art teachers provide daily instruction and other important enrichment programming, explained Israel. They help with school plays, do fundraising, and coordinate outreach to community arts groups for such activities as museum field trips and special lessons with professional artists.

Ultimately, however, Israel said Art in Action and similar programs are "a benefit for students and better than no arts."

The only excuse I can think of to justify the actions of those Cultural Philistines who cut the Arts in our schools is that they are the products of public schools themselves and so it is small wonder they have this gap in their own education... a blind spot that that are now magnifying and passing on to the next generation.  Want ample evidence that Arts Education is the gateway to Literacy and Math competence? That it makes school a positive experience for so many kids? That it truly is an essential, necessary component of an acceptable education? Look for it! Google for it and you'll be overwhelmed with what you turn up, Philistines!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Big Declines on 12th Grade NAEP Test Bites Schooling in its Arse!

From EdWeek... predictably, this is presented as important news. But the field will instantly go into its standard 'what more should we do to fix this?'

The problem stems not from what we aren't doing, it stems from what we are doing with out students! Interesting, the population of students for whom the biggest decline is noted is that which often gets the lion's share of a school's effort. The Law of Diminishing Returns once again has bitten the institution of Schooling in its arse!

We can not force students to learn what doesn't seem important or relevant to them. WE must learn to light the spark and fuel the fire of their enthusiasm by honoring their interests, passions, and concerns. Once we get students to participate in their own learning, the sky will be the limit!!!

"Low Performers Show Big Declines on 12th Grade NAEP Test

Much like their 4th and 8th grade peers, high school seniors have lost ground in math over the last two years, according to the most recent scores on a national achievement test.
In reading, 12th grade scores remained flat, continuing a trend since 2009.
Perhaps the most striking detail in the test data, though, is that the lowest achievers showed large score drops in both math and reading. Between 2013 and 2015, students at or below the 10th percentile in reading went down an average of 6 points on the National Assessment of Educational Progress—the largest drop in a two-year period since 1994. The high achievers, on the other handthose at or above the 90th percentile—did significantly better in reading, gaining two points, on average, while staying stagnant..."

Read the full article at its source:

Essential Elements of Passion-Based Learning

Some great thoughts from eSchool News... 

"The 4 essential elements of passion-based learning"

"...Teaching students effectively means getting to know them — and their passions

Think back to when you were still in school. What do you tend to remember most? Do you think back to the unique field trips you went on? The cool science experiments? What about a favorite teacher?
For me, it was projects and Mrs. Gianni. That’s what I remember most about school and the teacher that comes to mind. Mrs. Gianni had blond hair that always looked like it needed to be dyed. She was young and energetic. I also remember the way she made me feel, her high expectations, how she was always smiling, and how I felt like I could be anything in her eyes.

Teachers have always had the ability to make a big impact on their students. The teacher chooses whether it will be a positive or a negative impact. Of course every year we start the year with the best intentions. We love all our kids the same. However, there is always that one student (sometimes more) that we just can’t seem to reach. We try different things, we ask for help, we learn their background, but we still can’t seem to figure out how to get through.

At the beginning of the school year, we spend a lot of time working on teambuilding activities and passing out questionnaires. Rarely do we ever stop and ask ourselves who this really helps. Are we trying to get to know them or are we looking for specific information and not what students actually want to tell us? After all, we’re the ones that write the questionnaires.

Perhaps it’s time for a new approach. Passion or strength-based learning is based on the idea that if you really want to get to know your students, you first need to find out what they are passionate about. Figure out why they behave the way they do and how they learn best. Then show them that you care. Instead of focusing on their deficits, focus on their strengths. Teach through their strengths to address their weaknesses.

Getting started

What is passion/strength based learning?  Passion-based learning is using a student’s passions to help them learn. Strength-based learning is using their strengths to teach to their weaknesses. For instance, if a student is struggling with counting but they love building, a teacher might have them count blocks as they build. Not only will they enjoy the exercise more—and not ask, “Why do I have to do this?”—but they will build up their weakness. These methods help students feel valued and they turn your classroom from a teacher-centered classroom into a student-centered one..."

Read the full article at its source:

Friday, June 27, 2008

When Is School Reform Guaranteed to do More Damage than Good?

Considering the motivation behind reform measures, many of which are insituted by politicians for political purposes, not educational ones, a better questions might be, when isn't it?

Here we have an announcement (below) of what is touted to be an "important and powerful" reform...

OK, say you have Cancer and after months and months of Chemo Therapy (which makes you feel sicker than ever) your tumor has continued to grow, but your doctor announces, "Great news, patient - I've just found a way to provide you with much, much more Chemo!" Would you cheer? Or would you rationally walk out of the office shaking your head?

One more - If after helping you loose scads and scads of money in the stock market your broker calls and tells you that he has wonderful tips on more securities to buy.... "guaranteed to produce results!", would you place an order and then send out for champagne to celebrate? Or would you hang up and commit to doing the hard work needed to find more rational ways to achieve your goals?

Got it? Then how is it that politicians, people who don't know spit about Education, continually snooker a concerned citizenry into thinking that more school - more days for kids to attend - more hours in each of those days - is going to help? Since when is more of something that doesn't work the answer to making it work? Good money after bad... ugh! Worse yet, while this sort of knuckleheaded non-reform wastes money and precious time, needs and gaps continue to grow!

Our problem is in WHAT school is, not in how much of it we provide!!!

Massachusetts governor proposes major education reforms Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has issued a 40-page, 55-point report proposing dramatic education reforms, including lengthening the school day and year and aiming by 2020 to reduce the dropout rate to less than 10% while ensuring that 90% of students are prepped to enter college with no need for remedial coursework. Some observers questioned the state's ability to pay for the changes -- as well as the legislature's ability to bring about some of the more controversial aspects of Patrick's plan, such as creating a statewide teacher contract. The Boston Globe

Thursday, June 12, 2008


In Spanish "No Guerra" means No War - But War is NEEDED to make the kind of change that must happen if Education is to have any true value and the institution of school make a contribution to it!

I was not just disappointed, but appalled with the following blog post from Pedro Noguera announcing a call for post NCLB education reforms that some of our of best minds and committed activists are making - BUT where's the honest, far reaching thinking and innovation? Where's the passion, the fire in the belly, the WAR that is needed now more than ever to give our kids the education they need and deserve?

It is sad that the politically correct, half-hearted dribble the these folks, people who are better positioned to impact the shape of what is to come in Education than almost any others, are putting forth (see details to follow below) is such a wimpy excuse for what is truly needed. They have the nerve to call this "A Broader, Bolder Approach to Education" but in reality, if it is realized, the students and teachers in our classrooms will experience it as "A BOREDer, BALDER APPROACH to PUBLIC SCHOOLING"

The crux of the announcement is the notion that Accountability measures are not enough to improve education (REALLY?, have they actually helped at all?) AND that what is needed now is to ensure that students show up at school well fed and nourished emotionally sufficient to learn. I'd ask when have we heard this before?, but the truth of the matter is WHEN HAVEN'T WE HEARD THIS? AND By all means, YES give these kids what they need to be healthy and happy, but NO, what is lacking in our vision of how youngsters will become educated is not this - It's far too simplistic and reveals a self-serving unwillingness to examine the worth of what we are actually doing in our schools. In fact, I assert that the truth is just the opposite. When all kids show up at school emotionally and physically well nourished they will be in far better shape to react against the irrelevant, worthless curriculum that is set before them...and they will do what healthy people do when an institution attempts to force feed them vile tasting, swill... engage in all sorts of life affirming evasive maneuvers!

Here are the details of Mr. Noguera's communication to the education starved people of planet Earth :( to be found @

"A Broader, Bolder Approach to Education

A new task force of national policy experts with diverse religious and political affiliations, in public policy fields including education, social welfare, health, housing, and civil rights today launched a campaign calling for a "Broader, Bolder Approach to Education" to break a decades-long cycle of reform efforts that promised much and have achieved far too little.

Co-chaired by Helen Ladd, a Duke University professor of public policy studies, Tom Payzant, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, a former Boston schools superintendent and U.S. assistant secretary of education, and myself, the Task Force's framework points to the many flaws in the approach of the current No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law and charges that the nation's education and youth development policy has erred by relying on school improvement alone to raise achievement levels of disadvantaged children.

According to the Task Force, multitudes of children are growing up in circumstances that hinder their educational achievement. Statistics suggest the rhetoric of leaving no child behind has trumped reality. As the Task Force's ads in today's New York Times and Washington Post note, "Some schools have demonstrated unusual effectiveness. But even they cannot, by themselves, close the entire gap between students from different backgrounds in a substantial, consistent and sustainable manner on the full range of academic and non-academic measures by which we judge student success."

The timing of the release of a "Broader, Bolder Approach" comes after months and months of gridlock in Washington tied to the reauthorization of NCLB. The statement signed by more than 60 leaders provides a fresh way of thinking about education and youth development policy for governors, state legislators, and a President and Congress who are now running for election in November.

The signatories to "Bolder Approach" reads like a Who's Who of diverse national leaders from all political and policy spectrums, who have come to agree that the policy embodied in NCLB has failed. The list includes former officials of the current administration, including Susan B. Neuman, who served as Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education when NCLB was first enacted; John DiIulio, who was President Bush's first director of faith-based programs; and Dr. Richard Carmona, U.S. Surgeon General until last year. It also includes education, health, and human services officials from the Clinton Administration, such as Marshall Smith, who was Undersecretary of Education; Peter Edelman, who was Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services, and Dr. Joycelyn Elders, U.S. Surgeon General. Diane Ravitch, who served as Assistant Secretary of Education in the administration of President George H.W. Bush, also signed on to "Bolder Approach."

Although some supporters of NCLB call it a "civil rights law," the signatories include civil rights advocates such as Julian Bond, Chairman of the NAACP; Hugh Price, former President of the National Urban League; John Jackson, President of the Schott Foundation and former Chief Policy Officer at the NAACP; Julianne Malveaux, President of the Bennett College for Women; the noted sociologist William Julius Wilson; Ernie Cortes, director of the Southwest Industrial Areas Foundation; and Karen Lashman, Vice-President for Policy of the Children's Defense Fund.

The list includes well-known conservatives, such as Nobel economist James Heckman and Glenn Loury, a Brown University economist. Also included are progressives such as Linda Darling-Hammond, an education advisor to Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama; Debbie Meier, founder of the Central Park East schools, and authors John Goodlad and Ted Sizer.
Other notable signatories include Robert Schwartz, the founding president of Achieve, the education reform organization of the nation's governors and leading corporate executives; Milton Goldberg, the executive director of the commission that produced the report, A Nation At Risk in 1983; Richard Kazis, Vice-President of Jobs for the Future, the high school reform organization; and Bella Rosenberg, formerly the assistant to the late Albert Shanker of the AFT. Although many of the signers are known for their concern about the education of urban youth, the Task Force also includes Rachel Tompkins, one of the nation's leading experts in the problems of rural education.

The statement's diverse group of religious leaders include the Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches; Richard Mouw, president of the Fuller Theological Seminary, the nation's leading evangelical seminary in Pasadena, California; and Joseph O'Keefe, S.J., Dean of the School of Education at Boston College.

Prominent academic scholars of child development and the economics of education, including James Comer, David Grissmer, Christopher Jencks, Sharon Lynn Kagan, and Jane Waldfogel, are also members of the group, as are urban schools superintendents Rudy Crew (Miami-Dade), Arne Duncan (Chicago), and Beverly Hall (Atlanta).

I stated in our release that, "After six years, it has become clear that No Child Left Behind has not succeeded in improving the quality of education available to America's neediest children. This Task Force is united around the need for a more comprehensive approach to federal policy that specifically responds to the needs of children and schools in low-income areas. Our 'Bold Approach' identifies critical community support systems that can effectively work to narrow the disheartening achievement gap that exists in America.""Schools can't do it alone," said Co-Chair Helen Ladd. "Accountability is a pillar of our education system, but schools need the support of the community - both before children arrive at school and during their school years - for all children to achieve high standards."

"'A Bold Approach' calls for a broader partnership and a sturdier bridge across schools, public health, and social services," said Co-Chair Tom Payzant. "When we ensure our children are provided their most basic needs, then we can work toward the highest of standards applied to all of our students."

"A Broader, Bolder Approach" applies equally to federal, state and local policy and acknowledges the centrality of formal schooling, but also focuses on the importance of high quality early childhood and preschool programs, after-school and summer programs, and programs that develop parents' capacity to support their children's education. Specifically, "A Broader, Bolder Approach to Education" calls for:
1. Continued school improvement efforts. To close achievement gaps, we need to reduce class sizes in early grades for disadvantaged children; attract high-quality teachers in hard-to-staff schools; improve teacher and school leadership training; make college preparatory curriculum accessible to all; and pay special attention to recent immigrants.
2. Developmentally appropriate and high-quality early childhood, pre-school and kindergarten care and education. These programs must not only help low-income children academically, but provide support in developing appropriate social, economic and behavioral skills.
3. Routine pediatric, dental, hearing and vision care for all infants, toddlers and schoolchildren. In particular, full-service school clinics can fill the health gaps created by the absence of primary care physicians in low-income areas, and by poor parents' inability to miss work for children's routine health services.
4. Improving the quality of students' out-of-school time. Low-income students learn rapidly in school, but often lose ground after school and during summers. Policymakers should increase investments in areas such as longer school days, after-school and summer programs, and school-to-work programs with demonstrated track records.
"We are pleased to support the 'Broader, Bolder Approach to Education' campaign..."

Read the full post at its source:

Monday, January 21, 2008

Hurtling Toward A SMART NEW WORLD

No More 'HAVE NOTS" When it Comes to Education... With 'Democratized Learning' all "CAN DOs" Will Be Educated

The eSchool New's Jan 4, 2008 online edition ran a story titled "Top 10 ed-tech stories still resonate in 2008 (Part II)." According to this piece the #3 story of the year bears the title "Web fuels 'democratization of knowledge' (Yeah, baby!)...;_hbguid=b88698a6-3d62-4e5f-a4a2-0922383fb794

This is deep (paradigm) shift!

The piece states: "Educators might look back on 2007 as a tipping point for a movement that has been building for years, thanks to the power of the internet: the democratization of learning..."

It cites free courses available through MIT's Open CourseWare Project and iTunes U as examples of some of the many institutions that allow outsiders to get the content of teaching of their courses. Also cited as prime examples of this shift is "...the online community known as Curriki offers a place online where educators from anywhere in the world can post curricula and lesson plans for review and use by fellow classroom teachers." and "Another new resource, the OER (Open Educational Resources) Commons, makes more than 8,000 classroom materials available to teachers and learners worldwide, at no cost--from primary-source documents to complete course guides on a variety of topics." The article provides links to other sources on this revolutionary trend in Education, as well.

Another article of note illuminating this theme is
"Internet Access Is Only Prerequisite For More and More College Classes"
From Washington Post:
Berkeley's on YouTube. American University's hoping to get on iTunes. George Mason professors have created an online research tool, a virtual filing cabinet for scholars. And with a few clicks on Yale's Web site, anyone can watch one of the school's most popular philosophy professors sitting cross-legged on his desk, talking about death.
Studying on YouTube won't get you a college degree, but many universities are using technology to offer online classes and open up archives. Sure, some schools have been charging for distance-learning classes for a long time, but this is different: These classes are free. At a time when many top schools are expensive and difficult to get into, some say it's a return to the broader mission of higher education: to offer knowledge to everyone..."

Access to school can no longer be equated with access to learning! We have moved beyond even the revolutionary state of having a plethora of learning content freely available online. We have now entered into a realm in which the teaching of that content is in a state of open and opening access, as well. With the proliferation of Internet capable devices like the One Laptop Per Child Project's XO device, we begin to complete a holistic picture in which learning is there for the asking...for the very first time in the history of our species! The final piece that remains is the creation of CONTEXT. We have seen for some time that while individuals may be exposed to an instructional program, they do not necessarily engage with it (the alarmingly high percentage of time off task witnessed in American schools is a good example).

As we move into this new era, we will witness some remarkable changes in the state of education. For one, in the developing world (among other places) a new species of learner, the Auto Didact will emerge as the dominant type of learner and consequently, of individual who achieves success because of it. For another the existing concept of the Lifelong Learner will have to be expanded to conceive learning as a key part of the business of living...from cradle to grave. And in relation to that, Learning will have to become THE most important element of the curriculum.

Finally, with the overwhelming majority of the logistical needs for learning in place, instructional programs will have to become hyper-flixible as the only acceptable reason we will be left with for their failure to first, engage, and second, effectively educate, will have to be seen as their own inadequate design - considering that lack of resources will have been ruled out!

A brave and SMART NEW WORLD is coming and the path for it must be cleared with a high degree of honesty.

Feeding the Kids the Menu - Not the Meal:(

A starving man manages to crawl through the wildrness in which he's been lost for a week, reaching a restaurant. He quickly sits down at a booth and a waitress brings him the menu. On the cover is a color photo of a thick, juicy cheese burger. Delirious with hunger the man pours ketchup on the menu and wolfs it down in a few big gulps. He hasn't eaten the meal, he's eaten the menu - He's fatally mistaken a symbol for the thing for which it stands!

The story above serves well as a metaphor for the relationship the New York City Public School Sytem has adopted to standardized test scores. As today's announcement in the New York Times shows, the administration seems to believe that the scores ARE the learning, not mere indicators that learning may have occured, the purpose they were intended to serve originally. Compounding the damage this unfounded assumption will have on the institution of Education, these managers are leaping beyond using the test scores to assess student learning, to use it to measure teacher effectiveness.

What would we think of a doctor who continually insists to a patient who is wildly complaining about symptoms, that his blood pressure, pulse, and heart rate all all fine... continually inists the numbers are healthy even as that patient loses conciousness and dies. Education is not so simple that the numbers generated by expediently administered mass testing should be taken for more than indicators, hints that things are on or off track. Diagnostics can not be held as results. This would be true even if they were accurate, and they are not!

The pity of it is that through the use of digital technologies, students can be engaged in the creation of real learning products that result from their involvement with authentic learning activities. Not only are these far more accurate indicators of achievement, but they offer the possibility of measuring the knowledge and skills that are needed in the 21st Century. Generally, standardized tests do not! Wonderfully, such products (as evidence of learning) blur the line between learning and assessment, returning the experience of learning to the realm of benign reality.

Some highlights from the article:
"New York Measuring Teachers by Test Scores
Published: January 21, 2008

New York City has embarked on an ambitious experiment, yet to be announced, in which some 2,500 teachers are being measured on how much their students improve on annual standardized tests.
The move is so contentious that principals in some of the 140 schools participating have not told their teachers that they are being scrutinized based on student performance and improvement.
While officials say it is too early to determine how they will use the data, which is already being collected, they say it could eventually be used to help make decisions on teacher tenure or as a significant element in performance evaluations and bonuses. And they hold out the possibility that the ratings for individual teachers could be made public.
“If the only thing we do is make this data available to every person in the city — every teacher, every parent, every principal, and say do with it what you will — that will have been a powerful step forward,” said Chris Cerf, the deputy schools chancellor who is overseeing the project.
“If you know as a parent what’s the deal, I think that whole aspect will change behavior.”
The effort comes as educators nationwide are struggling to figure out how to find, train and measure good teachers. Many education experts say that until teacher quality improves in urban schools, student performance is likely to stagnate and the achievement gap between white and minority students will never be closed. Other school systems, including those in Dallas and Houston as well as in the whole state of Tennessee, are also using student performance and improvement as factors in evaluating teachers.
The United Federation of Teachers, the city’s teachers’ union, has known about the experiment for months, but has not been told which schools are involved, because the Education Department has promised those principals confidentiality.
Randi Weingarten, the union president, said she had grave reservations about the project, and would fight if the city tried to use the information for tenure or formal evaluations or even publicized it. She and the city disagree over whether such moves would be allowed under the contract.

“There is no way that any of this current data could actually, fairly, honestly or with any integrity be used to isolate the contributions of an individual teacher,” Ms. Weingarten said. “If one permitted this, it would be one of the worst decisions of my professional life.”
New York invited principals from hundreds of elementary and middle schools with sufficient annual testing data to participate in the program, which will produce an elaborate stream of data on 2,500 teachers.
In 140 schools — a tenth of the roughly 1,400 in the system —
teachers are being measured on how many students in their classes meet basic progress goals, how much student performance grows each year, and how that improvement compares with the performance of similar students with other teachers.
In another 140 schools, principals are being asked to make subjective evaluations of roughly the same number of teachers so officials can see if the two systems produce widely disparate results. New York City schools employ roughly 77,000 teachers. In all 280 schools, the principals agreed to participate in the program.
Deputy Chancellor Cerf said that how students performed on tests would not be the only factor considered in any system to rate teachers. All decisions will include personal circumstances and experiences, he said, but the point will be to put a focus on whether or not students are improving.

“This isn’t about how hard we try,” Mr. Cerf said. “This is about however you got here, are your students learning?”
Ms. Weingarten said the system was not needed. “Any real educator can know within five minutes of walking into a classroom if a teacher is effective,” she said. “These tests were never intended and have never been validated for the use of evaluating teachers.”

The experiment is in line with the city’s increasing use of standardized test scores to measure whether students are improving, and to judge school quality. A new bonus program for teachers and principals, as well as the letter grading system for schools unveiled last fall, are all linked to improvement in scores. Nationally, too, school systems are increasingly relying on these measures to judge schools.
Virtually all education experts agree that finding high-quality teachers is critical to improving student learning, particularly in high-poverty urban areas, where good teachers are usually more difficult to find. Recent research has found that the best teachers can help struggling students catch up to more advanced students within three years.

But experts are grappling with how to determine what makes a good teacher. Neither graduate programs in education schools nor previous academic records are reliable predictors, they say. The federal No Child Left Behind law requires that districts place a “highly qualified” teacher in every classroom, which typically means one who has completed a certification program, but this, too, is not necessarily a good indicator of quality.
“It seems hard to know who is going to be effective in the classroom until they are actually in the classroom,” said Thomas J. Kane, a professor of education and economics at Harvard, who is conducting several research projects on teacher quality in New York City, and who is involved in the new effort.
Mr. Kane said there was little evidence that teachers with the “right paper qualifications” were any more effective than those without them. “But most school districts spend very little time trying to assess how good teachers are in their first couple of years, when it is most important,” he said.
Nationwide, more than 95 percent of teachers receive tenure within their first three years of teaching, according to some studies. And once teachers receive tenure, it is extremely difficult to have them removed from classrooms.

In some sense, New York’s effort to judge teachers partly on their students’ improvement is a logical extension of the grading system for schools that was unveiled last fall, although officials adamantly say they have no plans to assign letter grades to individual teachers.
“I don’t think anyone here would embrace the formulaic use of even the most sophisticated instrument — you get tenure if this, you don’t get tenure if that,” Mr. Cerf said.
He added that the new effort was just one of several ways in which the city was exploring how to evaluate and improve teacher quality. In recent months, city officials have begun training new lawyers to help principals navigate the considerable red tape required to remove inadequate teachers.

They have increased recruiting efforts to attract talented teachers to hard-to-staff schools. And they are allowing schools to earn merit bonus pools to distribute to teachers based on test scores.
“This should simply be one more way to think about things,” said Frank A. Cimino, the principal of P.S. 193 in Brooklyn, who said he was participating in the experiment. “It is going to tell you some things you don’t know, but it will miss the other things that go on in a classroom.”
William Sanders, a researcher in North Carolina who was one of the first to begin evaluating teachers and schools based on student test score improvements, said that while such a system could be used to make broad judgments, it was difficult to use it with precision enough to find differences among teachers who are simply average.
Can you distinguish the top teachers? Yes,” Mr. Sanders said. “Can you distinguish the bottom teachers? The answer is yes, too. But it would be risky to make decisions using information at the classroom level for teachers who are just in the middle. You might miss a lot that way.”
The city’s pilot program uses a statistical analysis to measure students’ previous-year test scores, their numbers of absences and whether they receive special education services or free lunch, as well as class size, among other factors.
Based on all those factors, that
analysis then sets a “predicted gain” for a teacher’s class, which is measured against students’ actual gains to determine how much a teacher has contributed to students’ growth.
The two-page report for each teacher examines information both from one year and over three years. The information also compares the teacher with all other teachers in the city, and with teachers who have similar classrooms and experience levels. The second part of the report measures how well a teacher does with students with different skill levels, showing, for example, whether the teacher seems to work well with struggling students.
Mr. Cerf said officials expected to decide by the “early summer” whether they would use the analysis to evaluate individual teachers for tenure or other decisions, and if so, how they would do so. Such a decision would undoubtedly open up a legal battle with the teacher’s union.

Read the article at its source: