Teacher Data Reports

Friday, February 24, 2012

Beth Fertig, WNYC's education reporter and contributor to SchoolBook, talks about Friday's court-ordered release of the DOE's Teacher Data Reports and gets teachers' responses to the now-public, and often flawed, data. Note: Data will be released at noon today.

»» On Schoolbook: What Do You Think of the Decision to Release Data?


Beth Fertig

Comments [16]

Angi from NY

My thoughts: If Bloomberg really wanted to improve education, he would focus mostly on improving schools with reading and math scores that are below grade level.

Mr Bloomberg's real goal is to control pension costs by privatizing the school system. He thinks it is fine for tax payer money to go to for-profit companies that run charter schools.

He is trying to get public support for getting rid of long term teachers that are vested in the pension plan, so he is using a test that is sure to show poor results for experienced teachers. (He was quoted as saying he wants to get rid of of half the teachers).

While Bloomberg says he wants transparency in testing, the new testing lacks transparency. In plain english, the ratings show teacher improvement results vs goal improvement. I would be willing to bet that the goal improvement % for charter schools is much less than non-charter schools.

To illustrate, here is an example rating from an article in the NY Times: (In New York Teacher Ratings, Good Test scores Arent Always Good Enough by S.Otterman & R. Gebeloff):

“In one extreme case, the formula assigned an eighth-grade math teacher at the prestigious Anderson School on the Upper West Side the lowest possible rating, a zero, even though her students posted test scores 1.22 standard deviations above the mean — normally good enough to rank in the 89th percentile. Her problem? The formula expected her high-achieving students to be 1.84 standard deviations higher than the average — roughly the 97th percentile.”

The results on the internet that I see do not show results in a plain easy to understand fashion. I want to see the MOST IMPORTANT PARTS

1. What grade level results students are achieving.
2. Planned improvement % for each school and teacher, vs actual
improvement %
3. Is there any pattern of lower improvement % goals for charter schools?

Where is the transparency?

Mar. 02 2012 09:43 AM
Lucy from 11375

I was rated at the 27 percent reading and math teaching fourth grade one year but out of a class of 28 students only 8 were on my roster. The final average was of that one year of teaching and that's it. I have been teaching for twelve years and all testing grades and have been rated highly effective. This year I am published as an incompetent teacher, value added, scientifically measured on the basis of eight students. A career of twelve years, two masters degrees (4.0 gpa) from Ivy League schools), has been reduced to being evaluated and hung on these 8 students.

I am disgusted.

BTW, didn't the DOE fight to have these results published, and now they are so sorry and don't want the teachers denigrated or depressed?

Oh, and why only the 4-8 teachers (Reading and Math) ?????????????

Feb. 25 2012 11:58 AM

There's something very sad about naming names and publicly shaming some teachers. If newspapers had wanted to share the information with the public, they could have just shown the numbers without attaching the numbers to specific names of actual individuals. (Administrators and parents already know who those individuals are.)

At the same time, any teacher who is having a negative impact on student outcomes (i.e., a negative value-add) should be dismissed. There's simply no question about that.

Parents understand negative value-add. Many of us have watched our children come home totally confused about something they knew full well before entering a particular teacher's classroom. Obviously it's a problem when a teacher doesn't know the material well enough and introduces errors and confusion.

I'm also concerned, however, that a teacher who showed a positive value add will feel over-confident or entitled. There are many factors that go into teaching children. A brutal task-master may produce an overall positive value add, but at what expense to the individual?

Feb. 25 2012 09:42 AM
Vicki from Queens

Does WNYC realize that only a small percentage of teachers have these ratings? There are 9 rated teachers in our local school -- namely, the 4th, 5th and 6th grade teachers. No rating for the kindergarten, music, art, gym, test-prep or other teachers. Yes, they do have a test-prep teacher; they call him a librarian, but there are no weekly library visits or book check-outs for the students, he only does test prep.

Feb. 24 2012 11:26 PM

I'm not a teacher but am completely against this program.

A few questions:
Would we rate doctors on the health of their patients? If an obese child didn't improve their health, would that be the doctor's responsibility or the family's or both? How would you determine?

What other public employees have their job performance data published publicly with their name? And is their job performance directly linked to the conditions of the City or to their efforts to mitigate and improve them?

Why are this year's 3rd grade tests 90 minutes when the average 3rd grader has an attention span of 16 minutes? What kind of results are they actually expecting?

Doesn't this kind of program disincentivize teachers to work with challenging populations?

Feb. 24 2012 10:55 AM
Brian from Hoboken

I am not sure about the usefulness of 3 years of data. However, as the reporter summarized Mr Wolcott's position that there were teachers with low rankings for 6 to 8 years in a row! Everyone in the schools
Know who the lousy teachers are but they defend that bottom 10% to the bitter end. It doesn'take sense to me. Why are you defending these incompetents? I see the mayor's plan with a 60/40 evaluation principal rating/test score ratio makes sense. There needs to be accountability and the very best teachers need to be rewarded. I like the bonus structure that he offered. None of this seems the least bit radical to those of us in the private sector.

Feb. 24 2012 10:37 AM
KK from brooklyn

For the first time in years, I will consider not renewing my membership to WNYC because of its role in knowingly calling for the publishing of flawed data derived from tests that were NEVER intended to rate teachers. For context: I am not a teacher, but a parent.

Also, asking teachers to correct info by filling in a form on SchoolBook, of all places, is laughable. Not only does SB require a Facebook login (one reason I, and others I know, will never comment there) but it publishes this form during a week of school vacation--when many teachers are out of school.

As for the parents below who said they wanted this data...Really? You need a published report based on bubbling in multiple choice sheets to tell whether your child's teacher is any good? Perhaps you need to check in with your child, or teacher, more often...

Feb. 24 2012 10:36 AM
Patricia from millburn

Rate Lawyers and Doctors? If they work for the public service sectors, than yes. Teachers are paid by our tax money so they should be evaluated or responsible for their salary like everyone else in private sector workers!!!!

Feb. 24 2012 10:36 AM
CL from NYC

This might be a compelling segment if the host and guest bothered to focus on the problem. What is the data that is collected? How is it collected? How is it analyzed and used? As it is, this discussion is merely another generalized batch of unsupported opinions. It adds not one whit to the public discussion of the critical problem of public education.

Feb. 24 2012 10:28 AM
Maren from Bloomfield, NJ

The major problem with teacher evaluations is the fact that we use scientific data to determine the teacher’s effectiveness. This is based on the misconception that teaching is a science. This is a perception based on ignorance. Teaching is an ART. The teacher’s command of his or her subject matter take’s a back seat to that teacher’s ability to capture the attention of the students and communicate that knowledge. This is the job of and ARTIST, depending on creativity, adaptability and imagination. This ability is frustratingly unquantifiable. Test scores may measure what a child knows and how well they fill in bubbles, but they can never tell you if a child has been taught to THINK.
BTW: I'm a drama teacher-8th and 9th grade.

Feb. 24 2012 10:28 AM
GJ from NYC

When are we going to hear Alfie Kohn on WNYC?

Feb. 24 2012 10:27 AM
amanda from manhattan

I am a parent and I look forward to seeing this information. I want data even if it is not perfect. I am not an idiot--I know there are errors and I know that people don't agree on the algorithm. Eventually, we will be able to see the highest and lowest performing teachers, and that will be useful. Get this out there and let me as a parent determine what I think of this.

Feb. 24 2012 10:23 AM

If teachers don't read and understand the reports like your call in guest said he " Didn't read..."

Your problem is quite bigger than you thought!

Feb. 24 2012 10:23 AM
Dave Goldberg from Washington Heights

First of all, I do disagree with the union's attempt to prevent the data from being released. Let the public see how this data so poorly correlates to the performance they have seen from actual teachers they know. Nothing will prove how faulty this rating system is.

Second of all, this is such a monumental waste of time, instruction and money! Why is the U.S. insisting on this standardized testing approach to improving schools when the countries who are kicking our butts in terms of providing quality education are not?

It seems to me to be politics and money. The politicians love to show how they are getting results (often contrary to the data), and testing companies and "education consultants" are sucking up a lot of public money as a result.

Feb. 24 2012 10:21 AM
Mama Bear from Brooklyn

I'm not a teacher, but I am against publishing data that couldn't possibly factor in all of the variables teachers face daily. Even Walcott is telling us the data are just snapshots of the teachers' effectiveness. Then don't publish them. I have two children. One in kindergarten and one in third grade. I've seen the mock tests from McGraw Hill. What a joke. Let's evaluate the tests before we base the teachers' livelihoods on them. And just two high-stakes tests? I hope my third-grader doesn't have a cold on those two days. (And the tests are a day (or two) after spring break? Should I put math and English questions in the plastic Easter eggs instead of jelly beans?)

I also hope Ms. Fertig mentions that charter school teachers won't be listed. Why not?

Feb. 24 2012 09:57 AM
Mr. Timm from Sunnyside, NY

Please don’t use my full name.

I am a New York City Teaching Fellow who has been teaching elementary in Bushwick since 2005. For the three years ending in 2009, my rating was based on the test results of 72 fifth-grade students. I was rated, in English Language Arts, ahead of 56% of teachers overall and in one category – students performing in the middle scoring range – I was rated ahead of 75% of other teachers.

At the end of the 2010 year, I was rated based on the test results of 17 fourth-grade students (out of 24 students in my class). The previous fifth-grade results were not factored in to the rating. I was rated ahead of 1% of other teachers. In other words, in one year I went from being a high-rated teacher to being the worst-rated teacher in the system.

My question: Which teacher am I?

Mr. Timm

Feb. 24 2012 09:49 AM

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