Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Addicted to Data

Politicians are always looking for simple solutions and quick fixes.

I believe the influence of Race to the Top and No Child Left Behind is being driven by the Hawthorne effect.

The idea is that if people know their performance is being measured, they’ll show a brief uptick in performance and productivity: “Whatever is measured will improve.”

The trouble is that once the process of measuring performance is concluded, there is a corresponding slump in performance and productivity.

Even worse, if the measures are unreliable, this can generate frustration and rebellion and even gaming the system.

I’d like to share a quick example.

Education Week reported yesterday that there were errors in the rankings of American High Schools in US News and World Report.

These rankings were based upon federal NCLB data. The same faulty data sets compiled to sanction schools and districts.

However, Thomas High School ranked #687 in the US, 87th in New York.

So despite the ranking’s questionable reliability, it is being celebrated.

Interestingly, Newsweek also ran a ratings system of its own, here.

As listed on the web site, Thomas and Schroeder High Schools are both nationally-ranked.

However, an important reason both schools are rated more highly in Newsweek is because only districts who returned a survey form are listed in the Newsweek rankings.

There was a significantly smaller sampling of high schools included in the Newsweek rankings.

I don’t deny the amazing work that Webster students, faculty, and staff are doing. But chasing after the latest ranking reinforces the importance of educational data, whether or not is it valid and reliable data.

Before celebrating your school’s ranking, dig into the methodology behind the statistics.

Appreciate your local schools, but appreciate them for the real things going on, not the artificial data points produced by media outlets and political institutions looking to sell more magazines and skim away tax dollars.

Categories: Politics, Testing

Peter DeWitt is seeing red

Check out this brilliant analysis of the testing situation in New York here.

Idiot’s Guide to NYS Evaluation

60% local measures

spend more time making yourself look like a great teacher; this will take away time from actually teaching

20% growth

  1. don’t teach grades 4-8 math or ELA
  2. pound the crud out of your classes in September with an impossibly difficult pretest
  3. create as easy a post-test as you can get away with, so almost all of your students demonstrate improvement
  4. your SLOs will demonstrate almost miraculous growth, like when Education Commissioners retire

20% achievement

  1. reuse your easy post-test if almost every student can pass it, or
  2. create a separate, even easier rubric-based project that every student can pass
  3. it’ll be everyone’s personal “safe harbor”

By following the lead of our State Education Department, over 98% of non-grades 3-8 math and ELA teachers will continue to earn passing marks on annual evaluations.

Governor Cuomo’s new technology bureaucracy will love tracking all of this objective, entirely rational and realistic learning data.

Unfortunately, New York’s performance on the NAEP will not improve.


Commissioner King Speaks

April 30, 2012 Leave a comment

Finally, he’s gone on record explaining his position on why even chronically-absent students should be counted on Buffalo teachers’ evaluations. You can find the article here.

I genuinely like Dr. King. He is sincere and in this for the kinds.

But he’s being bossed around by Governor Cuomo.

This is why the commissioner broke his silence today. It’s a coordinated effort from the governor’s office to ram through his vision of union-free education.

Categories: Politics Tags: ,

Cuomo’s Education Commission

April 30, 2012 Leave a comment

The commission, announced earlier today, is described here.

This announcement is timed right after Pineapplegate, and gives the governor the opportunity to implement an end run around his loss in the teacher evaluation lawsuit to NYSUT.

First, he withheld funding. Now, he’s implementing an aggressive strategy to undermine public education funding in New York.

The commission is going to find that education dollars are wasted.

The commission is going to find that ineffective teaches are protected.

The commission will recommend remedies that make Wisconsin’s and New Jersey’s attacks on teacher unions look meek and mild.

This is the next step in union busting.

Categories: Politics Tags: , ,
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