|The new budget reads like an Escher piece|
it would be dishonest and selfish of me to insist that my colleagues who taught Phys-ed and Music, Special Education and Art, Kindergarten and First Grade, be held to tests on their PR just as I am. This system is unfair for all parties involved but it is egregious for teachers who do not even teach a course that ends in an exam.
I also said that I'd be in favor of a new system that let the types of teachers mentioned above off the hook from tests. I still would be.
The new budget may do precisely this. It may leave folks who don't teach to a state test off the hook from state tests. Only one problem: The law also leaves that question open for (seemingly) SED to decide.
I'll just spend the rest of this post explaining what I mean.
The text from the test portion of the evaluation description (contained in Subpart E of the Senate's version of the budget) is pasted below
(1) FOR THE FIRST SUBCOMPONENT,
(A) FOR A TEACHER WHOSE COURSE ENDS IN A STATE-CREATED OR ADMINISTERED TEST FOR WHICH THERE IS A STATE-PROVIDED GROWTH MODEL, SUCH TEACHER SHALL HAVE A STATE-PROVIDED GROWTH SCORE BASED ON SUCH MODEL; AND
(B) FOR A TEACHER WHOSE COURSE DOES NOT END IN A STATE-CREATED OR ADMINISTERED TEST SUCH TEACHER SHALL HAVE A STUDENT LEARNING OBJECTIVE (SLO) CONSISTENT WITH A GOAL-SETTING PROCESS DETER-MINED OR DEVELOPED BY THE COMMISSIONER, THAT RESULTS IN A STUDENT GROWTH SCORE; PROVIDED THAT, FOR ANY TEACHER WHOSE COURSE ENDS IN A STATE-CREATED OR ADMINISTERED ASSESSMENT FOR WHICH THERE IS NO STATE-PROVIDEDGROWTH MODEL, SUCH ASSESSMENT MUST BE USED AS THE UNDERLYING ASSESSMENT FOR SUCH SLO;
What you just read establishes three categories of teachers. There are teacher who:
1. Teach to a state test for which there is a VAM 'growth model' formula
2. Teach to a state test for which is there no VAM 'growth model' formula
3. Teach to no state test at all.
The first category are teachers for who teach grades 3-8, ELA or Math.
"FOR A TEACHER WHOSE COURSE ENDS IN A STATE-CREATED OR ADMINISTERED TEST FOR WHICH THERE IS A STATE-PROVIDED GROWTH MODEL".The test for grades 3-8, ELA or Math are the only ones to which the 'state-provided growth model' applies (here's your growth model, by the way. Try not to cry).
Teachers whose courses do not end in a test are mentioned second
"A TEACHER WHOSE COURSE DOES NOT END IN A STATE-CREATED OR ADMINISTERED TEST". SUCH TEACHER SHALL HAVE A STUDENT LEARNING OBJECTIVE (SLO) ... THAT RESULTS IN A STUDENT GROWTH SCORE;
For these folks, SED will provide student learning objectives. No more growth scores as has been the case in New York City, and many districts, for several years. More on this further down.
The third category of teacher is for folks like me. Her'es how it reads.
TEACHER(s) WHOSE COURSE ENDS IN A STATE-CREATED OR ADMINISTERED ASSESSMENT FOR WHICH THERE IS NO STATE-PROVIDED GROWTH MODEL (emphasis added)
These are folks who teach a course which does end in a test, but not the grades 3-8, ELA or Math test. These are teachers whose tests have no VAM 'growth model' at all. Those folks will also work off of student learning objectives provided by the state, but those learning objectives must work off of the state test.
There is a difference between SLOs and growth scores that needs to be discussed. An SLO is set by the state, whereas a the math behind a 'growth score' process can be more easily controlled by the district. This is the classic struggle of state control vs. local control.
Almost no one has trusted SED to provide learning objectives for their students. Districts have felt much more comfortable deciding for themselves whether students have 'grown' enough with a particular teacher. As a result, virtually everyone embraced the 'growth score' approach.
Here in New York City, for instance, a teachers' "individual" growth score has mainly been the average result of how everyone in your building, teaching to the same test, performed. Averaging all of the scores in gave teachers whose test score may have been lower a bit of cover. This is how many districts across the state wanted it. That process is no more. Moving forward, SED will provide SLOs for anyone who doesn't teach to the grades 3-8, ELA and Math exam. That includes teachers who teach to a 'non VAM' test and teachers who teach to no test at all.
SO here's the rub: The law is only insisting that teachers who teach directly to a test be held accountable to how students performed on a test. It makes absolutely no mention of teachers who teach to no test at all.
And for those folks -for teachers who teach to no test at all- NYSED will decide, by June 30, 2015, how to meet the SLOs (student learning objectives). SED could decide to use a test the way they do now, or they could decide to use no test at all.
So who teaches a course that does not end with a state test? Whose fate hangs in the balance of SED's June 30 decision?
- Kindergarten teachers
- First Grade teachers
- Second Grade teachers
- Elementary level science or social studies teachers
- middle school science, teachers
- middle school social studies teachers
- middle school language teachers
- Many ninth grade teachers of all subjects
- Many twelve grade teachers of all subjects
- K-12 Art teachers
- K-12 Music teachers
- K-12 ESL teachers
- K-12 Speech Teachers
- K-12 Phy-Ed teachers
These are folks who -ridiculously- currently have their jobs evaluated by how a student performs on a test that has nothing to do with their job. If there is a possibility that these teachers could be left off the hook starting next year, I'm all in favor of it. I guess we'll all see what SED decides by June 30.