Battelle Blasts Papers decision

From our mailbag, Battelle for Kids condemns the Plain Dealer and NPR's decision to publish teacher's value-added scores, calling it "the poster child for name, blame, and shame and the antithesis of our approach to using value-added data"

To: All SOAR districts
From: Jim Mahoney and Bobby Moore
Date: June 17, 2013

Yesterday, a three-part series on value-added was launched by The Cleveland Plain Dealer and State Impact Ohio. It includes both articles and radio segments specific to value-added analysis as a measure of teacher effectiveness. Highlighted in the articles is a link to a database of teacher ratings, hosted by The Plain Dealer and the State Impact Ohio partnership.

Currently, Ohio laws governing the release of teacher records would apply to teacher value-added results. Thus, teacher level value-added information is subject to public records requests through ODE. Through The Plain Dealer and State Impact Ohio database, the general public can now access a teacher's overall composite rating derived from two years of his/her results in grades 4-8 math and reading. These data reflect information for less than 1/3 of the math and reading, grades 4-8 teachers in Ohio.

Battelle for Kids was not aware these ratings would be published in this way, at this time.

While Battelle for Kids does support the use of value-added information for school improvement and as one of several components of a multi-measures evaluation system, value-added should NOT be used in isolation to draw conclusions about a teacher's effectiveness.

Multiple data points over time from multiple perspectives are crucial because teaching and learning and the evaluation of teaching and learning are complex.

Therefore, we are NOT supportive of these ratings being publically available and discourage promoting the use of this public database.

Talking points and articles, to support your local conversations, are available on the Ohio Student Progress Portal.


Obviously, this is the poster child for name, blame, and shame and the antithesis of our approach to using value-added data.

Please call if you have any questions.

Thank you for all you do for Ohio's students!

-Jim and Bobby

Lawsuit filed over unfair teacher evaluations

The Washington Post is reporting on a lawsuit being filed by Florida teachers, that cold shake the foundations of a lot of teacher evaluation systems both in Florida, but across the country, including here in Ohio

A group of teachers and their unions filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against Florida officials that challenges the state’s educator evaluation system, under which many teachers are evaluated on the standardized test scores of students they do not teach.

The seven teachers who filed the lawsuit include Kim Cook, who, as this post explains, was evaluated at Irby Elementary, a K-2 school where she works and was named Teacher of the Year last December. But 40 percent of that evaluation was based on test scores of students at Alachua Elementary, a school into which Irby feeds, whom she never taught.

Kim Cook's story is very unneverving

Here’s the crazy story of Kim Cook, a teacher at Irby Elementary, a K-2 school which feeds into Alachua Elementary, for grades 3-5, just down the road in Alachua, Fla. She was recently chosen by the teachers at her school as their Teacher of the Year.

Her plight stems back to last spring when the Florida Legislature passed Senate Bill 736, which mandates that 40 percent of a teacher’s evaluation must be based on student scores on the state’s standardized tests, a method known as the value-added model, or VAM. It is essentially a formula that supposedly tells how much “value” a teacher has added to a student’s test score. Assessment experts say it is a terrible way to evaluate teachers but it has still been adopted by many states with the support of the Obama administration.

Since Cook’s school only goes through second grade, her school district is using the FCAT scores from the third graders at Alachua Elementary School to determine the VAM score for every teacher at her school.

Alachua Elementary School did not do well in 2011-12 evaluations that just came out; it received a D. Under the VAM model, the state awarded that school — and Cook’s school, by default — 10 points out of 100 for their D.

In this school district, there are three components to teacher evaluations:
1. A lesson study worth 20 percent. In the lesson study, small groups of teachers work together to create an exemplary lesson, observe one of the teachers implement it, critique the teacher’s performance and discuss improvement.
2. Principal appraisal worth 40 percent of overall score.
3. VAM data (scores from the standardized Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test scores for elementary schools) worth 40 percent of the overall score.

Cook received full points on her lesson study: 100 x .20 (20%) = 20 points
Cook received an 88/100 from her former principal: 88/100 x .40 (40%) = 35.2 points
On VAM data — points awarded by the state for the FCAT scores at Alachua Elementary School: 10/100 x .40 (40%) = 4 points
Total points that she received: 59.2 (Unsatisfactory)

Here's a video of Kim speaking on this issue

We imaging this to be the first, not the last legal action against many of the provisions corporate education reformers are trying to cram into teacher evaluations.

Education News for 04-03-2012

Statewide Education News

  • High school courses with weighted grades still spark debate (News-Herald)
  • Fast-paced and intelligent discussion centered on the classic novel “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” in Nicole Costigan’s advanced placement English class. Costigan’s class at Kenston High School is one of about 20 at the Geauga County school which offers weighted grades, a system in which higher points are assigned to more challenging courses than those offered in the regular curriculum. For example, a weighted “A” in an advanced placement class might carry five points, whereas a non-weighted “A” in a less difficult class is assigned a standard four points. Read More…

  • Leaders challenge report on cheating SFlb (Vindicator)
  • BOARDMAN - Boardman schools Superintendent Frank Lazzeri became irritated when he read an Atlanta Journal Constitution investigation that listed his school district among those suspected of cheating on standardized tests. “I thought it had to be a mistake,” he said. No one from the newspaper contacted anyone in the district administration, he said. The investigation last month flagged Boardman, Youngstown and Warren schools for possible cheating. Read More…

  • Group tackles autism awareness, education (News-Journal)
  • ONTARIO - Members of a Crestline group launched more than 100 glowing balloons Monday night from the parking lot at the Richland Mall to draw attention to the month of April as Autism Awareness Month. The group gives autistic children a voice through the gift of Apple iPads. The computer devices help the children with communication and language skills, according the Cookies for iPads group. In March the group gave away eight iPads and other gifts, said member Reba Hunt, who has sold many home-baked cookies for the project. Read More…

  • Local Issues
    • Vote expected soon by council on mayor's plan to transform Cleveland schools (WEWS 5 ABC)
    • CLEVELAND - Mayor Frank Jackson’s plan to transform the Cleveland Metropolitan School system is a step closer to having city council support. At Monday’s meeting, council had planned to vote on a resolution supporting the plan, but that has been pushed back. “I’ll vote for it,” said Ward 9 councilman Kevin Conwell, when speaking about the resolution. He said he feels any bill taken to the floor has little chance of passing in Columbus. Read More…

    • PV cuts approved for 5 teachers, 1 secretary in emotional meeting (Chillicothe Gazette)
    • BAINBRIDGE - At the end of an emotional one-hour meeting Monday, the Paint Valley Board of Education suspended the contracts of six employees in a move that's expected to save the district $423,000. The board emerged from executive session and passed, by a 4-1 vote, a resolution suspending the contracts of five teachers and the superintendent's secretary. Board member Judy Williamson cast the dissenting vote but declined to explain why. Read More…

    • Mayor predicts progress in teacher talks (WKYC 3 NBC)
    • CLEVELAND - Tuesday may be a pivotal day in Mayor Frank Jackson's crusade to pass and enact a plan to reform the academics of Cleveland schools, make changes in teacher contracts, and pass a desperately-needed levy. At City Hall, the school reform plan is being called, "a defining moment" for the city. On Tuesday, the mayor, school superintendent and teachers' union leaders will wrestle with the two biggest remaining issues blocking union buy-in into the plan. Read More…

  • Editorial
    • Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson isn't blinking on schools (Plain Dealer)
    • For more than two hours last Thursday, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and Cleveland schools CEO Eric Gordon tried to explain their plan to speed the transformation of public education in the city. They answered questions from the curious and the skeptical: teachers, parents, homeowners and a pair of students from John Adams High School who said they were on their 11th biology teacher of the year. Read More…

    • Locally and nationally, graduation rates need a big push (Plain Dealer)
    • A 90 percent high school graduation rate by 2020 for every state in the union may seem impossible. The national rate in 2009 was just 75.5 percent. But it can be done. Wisconsin reached that goal in 2010, and Vermont is close, according to the recent report "Building a Grad Nation," which studied U.S. high school graduation rates between 2002 and 2009. Ohio needs just 15,000 more students to graduate in 2020 to join the exclusive 90 percent club, the report's authors say. Read More…

  • Cleveland Plan Press Conference

    In a downtrodden press conference that broke little new news, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, Representative Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland), House Finance and Appropriations Chairman Ron Amstutz (R-Wooster), Senate Minority Whip Nina Turner (D-Cleveland) and Senate Education Chairwoman Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) spoke about the "Cleveland Plan".

    The plan still has no sponsors, nor co-sponsors. The sticking points for the Democrats continues to be the anti-union SB5 like provisions, and the secretive, non democratic nature of the so-called "transformation alliance". For the Republicans the shadow cast by a plan that has many elements of SB5, and some of the charter school accountability measures that are opposed by some of the largest campaign contributors are sticking points.

    Some of Jackson's continued rhetoric, for example "those concerned about the Cleveland plan & Senate Bill 5 shouldn't be", are signs that the Mayor still views his plan as a sacred cow, and not a starting place. That's a pity and might doom an enterprise to rescue Cleveland schools from academic and financial crisis that everyone recognizes and wants to deal positively with.

    Value-Added Evaluation Hurts Teaching

    Here’s the hype: New York City’s “worst teacher” was recently singled out and so labeled by the New York Post after the city’s education department released value-added test-score ratings to the media for thousands of city teachers, identifying each by name.

    The tabloid treatment didn’t stop there. Reporters chased down teacher Pascale Mauclair, the subject of the “worst teacher” slam, bombarding her with questions about her lack of skill and commitment. They even went to her father’s home and told him his daughter was among the worst teachers in the city.

    Now the facts: Mauclair is an experienced and much-admired English-as-a-second-language teacher. She works with new immigrant students who do not yet speak English at one of the city’s strongest elementary schools. Her school, PS 11, received an A from the city’s rating system and is led by one of the city’s most respected principals, Anna Efkarpides, who declares Mauclair an excellent teacher. She adds: “I would put my own children in her class.”

    Most troubling is that the city released the scores while warning that huge margins of error surround the ratings: more than 30 percentile points in math and more than 50 percentile points in English language arts. Soon these scores will be used in a newly negotiated evaluation system that, as it is designed, will identify most teachers in New York state as less than effective.

    Is this what we want to achieve with teacher-evaluation reform?

    Everyone agrees that teacher evaluation in the United States needs an overhaul. Although successful systems exist, most districts are not using approaches that help teachers improve or remove those who cannot improve in a timely way. Clearly, we need a change.

    [readon2 url="http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/03/05/24darlinghammond_ep.h31.html?tkn=XSLF8dtEku7dtKu1xSZfeIqk1QmVLXJ5Fp0i&cmp=clp-edweek"]Continue reading...[/readon2]

    Bloomberg's brain dead brainwave

    Billionaire Mayor of New York, and wannabe corporate education reformer Mike Bloomberg has suggested a radically absurd idea

    he said, “you would cut the number of teachers in half but you would double the compensation of them, and you would weed out all the bad ones and just have good teachers.

    “Double the class size with a better teacher is a good deal for students.”

    Bloomberg's opinion is based upon a misguided and factually wrong premise, one he continues to hold to

    Karen Matthews, a reporter with The Associated Press, asked, via Twitter, whether the mayor saw one teacher and 62 children as a good model. The mayor’s press secretary, Stu Loeser, shot back: “Are you asking as a journalist, advocate, or mom?”

    No doubts haunt the mayor. In 2008 he insisted that class-size research was “unambiguous.”

    “I don’t even understand why the subject comes up anymore,” he said, adding that all that mattered was teacher quality.

    Let's examine class sizes and see if they matter. Michael C. Morrison, Ph.D. has analyzed 9,000 school districts to determine the impact on class sizes and graduation. His findings are unambiguous.

    District probabilities for above average graduation performance are inversely related to district pupil-teacher ratios. As class size increases district probability for above average graduation performance decrease, controlling for district per capita income (a proxy for district socio-economic status) and district total revenue per student (a district proxy for programs and services).

    Here's the graph of results

    This isn't the only study of course, it's a subject that has been well and extensively researched. The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) found

    “We find that assignment to a small class increases the probability of attending college by 2.7 percentage points, with effects more than twice as large among blacks. Among those with the lowest ex ante probability of attending college, the effect is 11 percentage points. Smaller classes increase the likelihood of earning a college degree by 1.6 percentage points and shift students towards high-earning fields such as STEM (science, technology, engineering and medicine), business and economics.”

    Michael Morrison has detailed further studies on the subject, here.

    As for Mayor Bloomberg, he doesn't practice what he is preaching

    There’s a final oddity. Among the so-called meritocratic elite, low teacher-to-child ratios are beloved. The mayor’s daughters went to Spence, where classes hover from 10 to 15. Trinity, Dalton, Riverdale, Horace Mann: All charge $35,000 or more per year, and classes rarely exceed 12 in the lower grades.

    Imagine if they packed those billionaire's kids into classrooms of 63!