1. Information, esp. of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.
2. The dissemination of such information as a political strategy.
That aptly describes the latest document published by the Ohio Department of Education, titled "Myths vs. Facts about the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System". The document lists 10 alleged myths about the teacher evaluation system being created. We thought we'd take a closer look at some of these alleged "myths".
1. Myth: The state is telling us what to do in local evaluations.
ODE, under a bulleted list discussing local board flexibility in creating evaluations, state "The percentages within the given range for student growth measures for the teachers in that district;" This is no longer true for teacher who have Value-add scores. These teachers (over 30% of Ohio's teaching corps) will have 50% of their evaluation based on student test scores. On this, local boards have zero flexibility, it's a state mandate. We judge aspects of this myth to actually be true
2. Myth: This is just a way to fire teachers.
ODE goes to great length to discuss how these evaluations will be great for teachers in identifying areas of improvement (though no money has been allocated for professional development). Utterly lacking is any discussion of the provision within HB153 prohibits giving preference based on seniority in determining the order of layoffs or in rehiring teachers when positions become available again, except when choosing between teachers with comparable evaluations. It is no secret that corporate education reformers such as Michelle Rhee desperately want to use evaluations for the basis of firing what they purportedly measure to be "ineffective" teachers. After all, this is exactly the process used in Washington DC where she came from. It's far too soon to call this a myth, it's more like a corporate educators goal.
3. Myth: One test in the spring will determine my fate.
It's nice that ODE stresses the importance of using multiple measures, but once again they fail to acknowledge that HB555 removed those multiple measures for 30% of Ohio's teachers. For those teachers their fate will be determined by tests. This myth is therefore true.
5. Myth: The state has not done enough work on this system – there are too many unanswered questions.
How can it be a myth when even this documents fails to state that "we're ready". SLO's have yet to be developed, Common Core is almost upon us but no one knows what the tests will be, the legislature keeps changing the rules of the game and no where near enough evaluator training has taken place to evaluate all of Ohio's teachers. Ohio isn't ready for this and that's a fact, not a myth.
6. Myth: “Value-Added” is a mysterious formula and is too volatile to be trusted.
This is perhaps one of the most egregious points of all. Study after study after study has demonstrated that Value add is volatile, unreliable and inappropriate for measuring teacher effectiveness. Their explanation conflates the use of value-add as a diagnostic tool and its use in evaluating teachers. Those are 2 very different use cases indeed.
As for it being mysterious, the formula used in Ohio is secret and proprietary - it doesn't get more mysterious than that! This claim by ODE is simply untrue and ridiculous, they ought to be embarrassed for publishing it. This myth is totally true and real and backed up by all the available scientific evidence.
7. Myth: The current process for evaluating teachers is fine just as it is.
Their explanation: "Last year, 99.7 percent of teachers around the country earned a “satisfactory” evaluation, yet many students didn’t make a year’s worth of progress in reading and are not reading at grade level." Right out of the corporate education reformers message book. Blame the teacher. Still think this isn't going to end up being about firing teachers? This myth is a straw-man, no one argues the current system is ideal, but the proposed OTES is dangerously constructed.
8. Myth: Most principals (or other evaluators) don’t have time to do this type of evaluation, so many will just report that teachers are proficient.
ODE states "Fact: Most principals are true professionals who want the teachers in their buildings to do well." But wait a minute, in Myth #7 these very same principals were handing out "satisfactory" grades like candy to 99.7% of teachers. Which is it? Are they professionals who can fairly evaluate teachers, or aren't they? We wrote about the massive administrative task faced by school administrators almost 2 years ago. Nothing has happened to alleviate those burdens, other than a $2 billion budget cut. This myth is 100% true.
9. Myth: This new evaluation system is like building the plane while we’re flying it.
ODE states: "Fact: Just as the Wright brothers built a plane, tried it by flying it, landed it, and then refined the plane they built, the new evaluation system was built, tried and revised. "
We'll just point out that 110 years have passed since the Wright Brothers first flew and the world has developed better design and project management tools since then.
10. Myth: It will be easy to implement the new teacher evaluation system.
Has anyone, anywhere said this? Or did the ODE brainstorming session run out of bad ideas at 9, and this is all they could come up with? Talk about ending with a straw-man, which frankly, given the rest of the document is probably the most appropriate ending.
ODE ought to withdraw this piece of propaganda from public view.