Given the fundamental problems that New York City’s ‘proficiency growth’ evaluations of teachers have, it’s absolutely unclear why Massachusetts, which leads the nation according to the gold-standard NAEP, would want to adopt them (we’ll return to this point later). Yet the contagion of stupidity that is educational ‘reform’ knows no bounds:
The proposed regulations would reward teachers and administrators whose students show more than a year’s worth of growth in proficiency under the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System and on other exams, while educators whose students underperform would be placed on one-year “improvement plans.” Under the proposal, teachers could face termination if they do not demonstrate progress.
The goal is to fix a long-broken evaluation system that too often fails to provide constructive feedback to educators on how they need to improve and on what they are doing right, Mitchell Chester, the state’s commissioner of elementary and secondary education, said in an interview.
Evaluating teachers and principals has become a focal point for the state as it tries to reduce high school dropout rates and turn around dozens of failing schools. If done correctly, state officials, business leaders, and educators believe, the job reviews could help advance the academic fortunes of a whole classroom of students or even an entire school.
“Currently, the evaluation system in the Commonwealth is inconsistent and underdeveloped,” Chester said. “Unless we have a robust evaluation system, we don’t have a strong understanding of who is excelling and who is lagging.”
One hopes educational commissioner Mitchell Chester wasn’t ever an English teacher, since he has a very peculiar misunderstanding of the word evaulation. Notice how Chester elides from student evaluation–how students are doing–to personnel management. Evaluating is good! I like the MCAS and the NAEP. But one of the reasons these tests work and haven’t been hurt by fraud or test-prepping is that they are used to evaluate students, not teachers.
Worse, Chester seems to be losing the sight of the larger picture. As I mentioned at the outset, Massachusetts has the highest achievement in the country across the board. In terms of international competitiveness, once you remove those schools with high concentrations of poverty, the U.S. either leads or is very near the top. The problem in Massachusetts is in those schools that suffer from high concentrations of poverty (and research in other states has shown that poor kids in non-poor schools do perform better than those in poor schools). Why economic segregation requires fundamentally overhauling the incentives for teachers–who seem to be performing extremely well with the current incentives–escapes me. Might want to do something about the dense concentrations of poor students (just saying).
Educational reform rivals creationism in its stupidity.