Tuesday, September 2, 2014

What Matters About Teacher Growth Scores

Reading the venerable NYC Educator's blog about today's release of teachers' "Growth" scores sent me on a rant in his comments section. Rather than do the right thing and put together a thoughtful blog about it, I decided to copy and paste the comment.

I don't think the growth scores themselves matter at all. Having said that, there are a few things that do matter. Some matter a great deal. Others, perhaps a bit less. But the general gist is this: Data that PREVENTS me from seeing how well my teaching helped a certain student is worthless data. Data that PREVENTS me from seeing which category of students I had the least amount of success on these test with, is worthless data. And data that cannot be verified -that does not treat the recipient of the data like an adult and offer the actual numbers is worthless data.

I accept my crummy Effective (87). Not that it matters, because it doesn't.

What matters is that I am not able to see how each of my students performed against the rest of the students of the state:

What matters is that I was not able to see their growth scores. I was not able to see how each one performed against other similar students across the state:

What matter is that I was not able to see how well (or unwell) my instructional strategies worked with, say, my ELL students, or with my Latin students who speak english as a first language but come from homes below the poverty line or with students who have test modifications, or with the ones who do not.

What matters is that I was not able to see which category each of my students was placed in by NYSED in order to verify that NYSED placed them in the correct categories.

I was not able to see what MY MGP (my Mean Growth Percentile; the average of all of the percentiles in which all of my students fell), nor am I able to see the MGP of all, like me, "US History Teachers" throughout the state

What matter is that I am not able to see the MGP for teachers in my district (all over NYC). Was my 15/20 and 15/20 the very highest score for all Chemistry teachers across the city? Was I "The Best" Chemistry teacher in NYC? What if I wanted to know (I don't)? But did my instructional practices lead me to be the worst in NYC? Sure, it's effective when measured against the performance of students all across NYS, but teachers from the city are THE BEST teaching corps in the state. It matters that I cannot measure against only that.

What matters even more is that it tells me nothing about how well my students are doing against other students in NYC (or how well my strategies helped my students succeed as opposed to the strategies used by  other teachers in NYC).

You see, without validating this information that I have been given, I am excluded from finding ways to improve (or even change) my instructional practices with the students who didn't find success. I'm also excluded from finding teachers whose best practices are, well. best-er than mine.  And do you know what that means? It means that NYSED has prevented me from finding further success at my job via improvement. They're not permitted to do that and it is causing damage to my property  which, in this instance, I identify as my ability to succeed and improve at my job). Because of this,  I'm thinking a lawsuit to recover damages lost (taken) by NYSED.

These things, to varying degrees, DO matter.

Update: They do promise some of these things by way of a 'detailed workbook;; sometime next week, or maybe the one after. But I have suspicions about their idea of detail.

I may just head over to the blogs and paste this in the comments section as well. Don't think ill of me if I do (Ok, I really don't care what you think of me. I was just trying to be nice).

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Your DOE-nut Of the Week! 'Data Fell in Love With A Hustler'

Happy last-saturday-of-summer-vacation fine people!!!! If you find yourself a bit depressed about being back at work next week while on your way in, just remember one thing: Your job is the best and most important in the world!! 

And if that doesn't help, just take another swig of coffee...

As you know, each week (or maybe once a decade) I give a shout-out to what I think is the craziest, zaniest thing to occur to the education world in NYC and beyond.

Sure, It's education and the whole chaotic, rage infested discussion is pretty crazy. But only a few of these insanely silly stories can rise to the level of actually being 'nuts.

-Still fewer rise the remarkable level of #DOE-nut

-But only a tiny amount actually earn the coveted title of DOE-nut Of the Week. For the sake of all that is noble and sane in this world, that award winning DOE-nut is must get a shout-out, don't you think?

For this week's DOE-nut Of the Week, I'd like to play a little game. You see, the actual award goes to the New York State Education Department (as you may have heard, they released the teacher rating data on Thursday -from previous year!!! The actual data (which does not include NYC, as it didn't have APPR in 2012-2013) can be found here), but I'm not sending any prizes up to Albany. No no no. The actual prize (which is a gift card to Dunkin' Donuts via email) will go to the first five people who can examine the image below and tell me, in detail, what is so crazy, zany and insanely silly about state complied final teacher ratings.

If you need a hint, I'm very sorry, but you're not gonna get it. I, however, will say this: When the notion of using data to make decisions (and Big Data is used all over our society to make all sorts of decisions) and that data is operated by oodles and oodles of politicians who each have their own agenda, then you are bound to get some data that gets used and confused. That's what you're looking at below. It's data! But it's profoundly confusing data -data that no longer serves a purpose worth serving any students. Check it out and see if you can guess.

The first person to drop a comment with the correct answer will indeed get a $5 gift card to D&D on me. 

Happy guessing.