Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sparks at UFT DA Over New Evaluations -- Danielson in the News -- the Truth Behind the Efficacy of High-Stakes Tests

Sparks flew last month at the United Federation of Teachers Delegate Assembly over the issue of teacher evaluations. Bryant High School (Queens) Chapter Leader Sam Lazarus called for voting against a resolution endorsing the use of Charlotte Danielson's Framework for Learning, arguing that the application of Danielson at his school has meant that nearly two-thirds of the teachers evaluated under the new system were rated sub-standard, setting them up for termination under 3020-a proceedings. And from the pattern of which teachers have been stuffed into the Absent Teacher Reserve ("ATR") --older, experienced, and expensive teachers, we can imagine which teachers will tend to be found ineffective. (So, Voila!, with accommodating to Governor Mario Cuomo's call for tougher teacher evaluation systems, the older-teacher elimination goals behind Mayor Michael Bloomberg's objective of ending Last In First Out --or LIFO-- would be accomplished.) For more on the DA see Ed Notes and ICEUFT Blog.

2011 seems to be a good year for Danielson: a great number of news reports dated in 2011 on implementation or purchasing of her (and Teachscape's, a collaborating entity) systems.
An interesting pattern is that the names of school systems that are recently publicized as using Teachscape are urban school systems that are facing budgetary crises, actual or threatened teacher layoffs, yet millions of dollars are available to spend on the deploying (the industry's word) Teachscape video evaluation system.
Danielson's evaluation methods have moved beyond her pilot approach introduced in 1996 to walkthroughs for use in a new edition of the "Teachscape" video analysis system.

A report appearing to be a press release indicates that Teachscape software (Teachscape Reflect 360-Degree Video Analysis System) using Charlotte Danielson's Framework for Learning is already being used in New York City schools:
"NYC Schools Deploy New Teacher Observation Tools"

Overwhelmingly the NJ locations where the Danielson system is being introduced are urban districts.

*And like many new developments, there is a money trail: links to familiar foundation and institution names, from Teachscape's own PR press release: Teachscape's partners include Kogeto, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Stanford University, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and Charlotte Danielson to help shape its vision, its products, and its strategies. --

(And for a take from a different angle: a satiric animation video but making serious statements about the interlinking of investors, foundation philanthropy and money for video evaluation software in the face of limited funds for classroom essentials:

As writer Valerie Strauss said at "the Washington Post" in "Report: Test-based incentives don’t produce real student achievement:"
Incentive programs for schools, teachers and students aimed at raising standardized test scores are largely unproductive in generating increased student achievement, according to a new report researched by an expert panel of the National Research Council.

The report [by Michael Hout and Stuart W. Elliott, "Incentives and Test-Based Accountability in Education"] said that standardized tests commonly used in schools to measure student performance — including high school exit exams and tests in various grades mandated by former president Bush’s No Child Left Behind law — “fall short of providing a complete measure of desired educational outcomes in many ways,” according to a summary of the lengthy document.

The report, together with a number of other studies [summarized by Diane Ravitch] released in the past year, effectively serve as a warning to policymakers in states that are moving to implement laws, with support from the Obama administration, to make teacher and principal evaluation largely dependent on increases in students’ standardized test scores.

The practice doesn’t bring about the kind of student achievement policymakers say is necessary for the United States to compete with the highest-performing countries, according to the 17-member Committee on Incentives and Test-Based Accountability convened by the National Research Council, which is the research arm of the National Academies (including the National Academy of Sciences, the National Council of Engineering and the National Academy of Medicine).

The panelists — who include experts in assessment, education law and the sciences — examined over the past decade 15 incentive programs, which are designed to link rewards or sanctions for schools, students and teachers to students’ test results. The programs studied included high-school exit exams and those that give teachers incentives (such as bonus pay) for improved test scores.

The panel studied the effects of incentives, not by tracking changes in scores on high-stakes tests connected to incentive programs, but by looking at the results of “low-stakes” tests, such as the well-regarded National Assessment of Educational Progress, which aren’t linked to the incentives and are taken by the same cohorts of students.

The researchers concluded that the effects of incentive programs tend to be “small and . . . effectively zero for a number” of such programs.

Gains that were detected were concentrated in elementary grade mathematics and “are small in comparison with the improvement the nation hopes to achieve,” according to the summary.

The researchers concluded not only that incentive programs have not raised student achievement in the United States to the level achieved in the highest-performing countries but also that incentives/sanctions can give a false view of exactly how well students are doing. (The U.S. reform movement doesn’t follow the same principles that have been adopted by the other countries policymakers often cite. You can read an analysis of that by educator Linda Darling-Hammond here.)

Strauss closed by critiquing the efficacy of "value-added" evaluations because they ignore the effects of factors of social ills (outside the school) upon student learning:
Other studies in the past year have also cast doubt on the effectiveness and reliability of the value-added method of teacher/principal evaluation, which takes student test scores and puts them into a formula that is supposed to factor out other influences and determine the “value” a teacher has brought to a student’s learning.

The method often ignores outside-school factors that can influence how a child does on a test, including lack of sleep, hunger and illness, but even formulas that are said to take these into account are not especially reliable, some experts have said.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Contrasting Sept. 20 2011 Mulgrew, Walcott Statements on Teacher Evaluations; 3012c Law; & 10/19/11 UFT Complaint

Below are statements from today, September 20, 2011, from United Federation of Teacher Michael Mulgrew and New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott regarding teacher evaluations.
These statements do not address the rumor in some districts that formal observations are to begin this week.
The joint letter raises the new New York State Education Law on teacher evaluation, 3012-c. The union and the teacher activist community need to study, discuss and address this law more openly and thoroughly.
Notice that the second letter is a joint letter signed by Mulgrew, Walcott and Ernest Logan, President, Council of School Supervisors & Administrators. In the Mulgrew letter there is praise for the work of Charlotte Danielson, a writer on teacher evaluation. Mulgrew underscores a professional respect element in Danielson's guidelines, and he adds a request that District Representatives be informed if these aspects are not followed. In the M/W/L letter there is a clear departure from giving too much weight to evaluations stemming from Danielson's thinking. I have italicized the contrasting statements on Danielson's thinking in the two letters.
Dear Chapter Leader,

I am sharing with you, below, a joint letter from Chancellor Dennis Walcott, Council of School Supervisors & Administrators President Ernest Logan and myself that is going out this afternoon to all principals in the Principals’ Weekly. It comes in response to the concerns and misconceptions we are hearing in the field about teacher evaluations and observations.

There is no new teacher evaluation process, and there will not be one until we can successfully negotiate one with the DOE. I do not know when that will happen.

The only schools using a different system are the Restart and Transformation schools, under an agreement that was made to ensure those buildings remain open.

There are also 110 schools piloting tools like Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching, to help administrators and teachers focus on instruction during the observation process. Please note that our contractual evaluation process remains in place in those pilot schools.

Charlotte Danielson’s lifelong work is based first and foremost on the fact that a school must have a professional, respectful culture where any instructional issues can be discussed in a safe and supportive environment. If discussions about Danielson’s framework in your school are not starting from that premise, please contact your district representative.

Remember: real educational improvements can only be accomplished by supporting teachers and their work in the classroom.

Michael Mulgrew

Sept. 20, 2011

Dear Colleagues,

Congratulations, once again, for a successful opening to the 2011-12 school year. We thank you for your dedication to raising the bar and creating robust learning experiences for our students, teachers, and staff.

As we work to ensure all New York City students graduate ready for college and careers, we must remain focused on strengthening student work and teacher practice. We want to clarify how this impacts your day-to-day work with teachers and administrators, particularly given New York State Education Law 3012-c, passed in May 2010, establishing a new framework for teacher and principal evaluation.

This new 3012-c framework will not take effect city-wide for teachers and principals until DOE reaches agreements with UFT and CSA, respectively, on its implementation. The only exception to this timeframe is in SIG funded Transformation and Restart schools.

The NYCDOE's instructional expectations recommend that principals/assistant principals engage in more cycles of classroom observation and feedback using a rubric that articulates clear expectations for teacher practice. Our goal is to help develop a supportive and professional dialogue that will help both administrator and teacher enhance instruction for the students of our schools. We hope that this will lay the foundation for the work ahead by practicing this feedback cycle with a rubric. That said, the current model of observation and evaluation of teacher performance remains in place and does not change the number of observations currently required under the UFT contract.

At this time, a research-based teaching framework, like Danielson's Framework for Teaching, should only be used for formative support of teachers. It should not be used for teacher evaluations.

Effectively adopting a research-based teaching framework helps to set clear expectations, so that teachers and administrators know what effective teaching looks like and have a shared language to discuss what is working and what needs to be improved. By having a continual dialogue about instructional practices, no matter where they fall on the performance spectrum, we will be able to develop stronger instructional practices which will benefit all of our children.

We applaud your hard work and dedication to our shared goals for this school year and beyond.


Dennis M. Walcott, Chancellor, NYC Department of Education
Michael Mulgrew, President, United Federation of Teachers
Ernest Logan, President, Council of School Supervisors & Administrators

Note the weakening stance: compare the 2013 UFT endorsement of the 6/1/13 imposed evaluation system with snap drive-by observations and no face-to-face post-observation to this 2011 UFT statement of complaint. Note in particular the misuses cited in the latter half of the WHEREAS statements. --7/22/13
Teacher evaluation and the Danielson Framework for Teaching
October 19, 2011

WHEREAS the historic system for the evaluation of teachers in the New York City public schools is broken, as it lacks a clear and comprehensive set of standards for what constitutes effective teaching and it fails to provide teachers with meaningful feedback on their practice and opportunities for professional growth and development; and

WHEREAS in May 2010 the UFT and our state affiliate NYSUT reached an agreement with Regents’ Chancellor Tisch and New York State Commissioner of Education Steiner on the parameters of a new teacher evaluation system, and this agreement became the basis for a law which was passed by the State Legislature and signed by the Governor; and

WHEREAS this law established a framework for a new teacher evaluation system, but required that the full scope of the system be negotiated between local school districts and teacher unions; and

WHEREAS the UFT and the New York City Department of Education have negotiated aspects of the new teacher evaluation system as part of an agreement for Transformation and Restart schools in the School Improvement program, most of the new evaluation system remains to be negotiated; and

WHEREAS in our negotiations with the NYC DOE for Transformation and Restart Schools, the UFT advocated for the use of the Danielson Framework for Teaching with the portion of the new evaluation system that assesses teaching effectiveness, as it brought together the best professional work on the different components of effective teaching and drew upon the important work teacher unions have done in this area with the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards; and

WHEREAS the Danielson Framework is based on core principles that reflect our own vision of a good evaluation system:
that evaluation must be centered on professional learning and professional growth,
that for a good system of evaluation to take root, schools must build cultures of professional inquiry which encourage self-reflection and promote rich conversations about teaching practice, and
that a good system of evaluation requires, as its foundation, a school environment of trust and collaboration among all educators; and

WHEREAS on September 20th, UFT President Michael Mulgrew, CSA President Ernie Logan and Department of Education Chancellor Dennis Walcott sent a joint letter to all NYC public schools which explained that, until the full evaluation system was negotiated by the UFT and the DOE, no part of it — including the Danielson Framework — should be used in the evaluation of teachers1; and

WHEREAS this joint letter prohibits the use of the four point rating system — highly effective, effective, developing and ineffective — in the new law until the full system of evaluation is negotiated; and

WHEREAS this joint letter was clear in its instructions that until the full evaluation system is negotiated, the Danielson Framework should only be used for formative, professional development purposes, that is, to guide conversations on teaching practice, to develop the skills of clinical observation that focuses on evidence, and to practice written reports which are not part of official personnel files; and

WHEREAS it is essential for the integrity of the Danielson Framework that its implementation not be done in an arbitrary and capricious fashion, different from school to school depending on the whim of supervisors, and without fidelity to the core principles of professional inquiry, professional growth and development, collaboration and trust that define a good evaluation system; and

WHEREAS despite the joint letter and its clear instructions, there are schools where supervisors continue to use four point rating system in lesson observations and misuse the Danielson Framework, employing it for evaluative purposes in a ‘gotcha’ method of observations — in effect, establishing rogue systems of evaluation for their own schools; and

WHEREAS it is important that supervisors observe teaching in their school, there is no constructive educational purpose served by observation regimens that involve scores of ‘informal observations’ a week, lasting a few minutes at most and providing no meaningful feedback on teaching practice to teachers; and be it therefore

RESOLVED that the United Federation of Teachers [UFT] affirm our commitment to the development of a teacher evaluation system based on principles of professional inquiry, professional growth and development, collaboration and trust; and be it further

RESOLVED that the UFT calls upon the NYC Department of Education to enforce the clear directions of the joint Mulgrew-Logan-Walcott letter, directing supervisors to immediately cease and desist from the misuse of features of the new evaluation system until the entire system of evaluation is negotiated with the UFT; and be it further

RESOLVED that the UFT defend the integrity of the Danielson Framework of Teaching using all contractual, legal and other means at our disposal to stop its misuse in schools where supervisors are engaged in rogue evaluations that violate our members’ rights.

1 In Transformation and Restart schools only, those aspects of the new evaluation system specifically mentioned in the agreement for those schools, including the Danielson framework, may be used.
Read more: Union resolutions
Related topics: evaluation

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Democrat Emanuel Pitching Same Anti-Teacher Line as Republican Bloomberg

Today there is a war against teachers. The war takes many forms.
Administration failings, which I cited on Monday, parental and student failings bear upon the educational outcomes at schools. However, teachers are the only ones blamed.
But there is a hidden agenda threaded through the attacks. There is an attack on pensions, by Democrat Andrew Cuomo, by Republican Chris Christie, and there is an attack on the experienced, higher salaried teachers.
Democrat Rahm Emanuel, former White House advisor, former Democratic Congressman, is aiming to go after higher salaried teachers. He casts the argument as an anti-seniority argument. Emanuel is pushing the line of eliminating the older, experienced teachers, in the same way the Republican mayor Michael Bloomberg is.
Emanuel, in his get tough on veteran teachers zeal, is following in the footsteps of former Chicago schools chief Arne Duncan, another assistant to the Democratic president Barack Obama, who has blamed teachers for all of the ills of modern educational performance.