Tuesday, June 25, 2013

International Studies of Teacher Evaluation: Student Tests Seldom Cited, Portfolios Carry More Weight

Big News: U.S. student test performance emphasis in teacher evaluations is a global anomaly. This is a devastating retort to the edureform/privatizing industry, their media supporters, their political supporters and acquiescing teacher trade unions.

A number of comparative internationally studies have been available in the last five years, delving into the different ways that other countries handle teacher evaluation. Diverse qualitative measures abound in these surveys; student test scores are rarely used for teacher advancement or termination conditions.

ch (International comparisons references: Laura Figazzalo, "THE USE AND MISUSE OF TEACHER APPRAISAL: An overview of cases in the developed world," Education International [the international federation of teachers' unions], 2013; Marlène Isoré, Teacher Evaluation: Current Practices in OECD Countries and a Literature Review, OECD Working Paper, 2009; Tim Walker, "How Do High-Performing Nations Evaluate Teachers?," NEA Today, March 25, 2013. Link for Isoré is difficult. You may access the initial page [http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/education/teacher-evaluation-current-practices-in-oecd-countries-and-a-literature-review_223283631428] and the pdf link: http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/docserver/download/5ksf76jc5phd.pdf?expires=1372295146&id=id&accname=guest&checksum=4C3FAA149C84B4E2B2FC0000C187934F)

The UFT, the AFT and the larger ramifications of these studies
These studies --and the conclusion that high-performing countries do perform well in spite of no test-score link-in on teacher promotion or firing-- indicate that this country's teacher unions, by and large have not performed their job in looking beyond our borders at other countries at how they evaluate teachers. For all the current talk of international benchmarks and keeping up with the Finnish or Singaporeans, facts and logic indicate that unions have done a terrible job of researching or of doing some serious self-analysis or comparison. Worse, in the face of all the teacher bashing Michael Mulgrew's United Federation of Teachers (UFT) or Randi Weingarten's American Federation of Teachers (AFT) have not taken the opportunity to refute the line of the reformers that teachers can be held exclusively responsible for test results, they have cooperated with evaluation schemes that rest on reference to test scores. They have the resources to research these matters. The Chicago Teachers Union, to their credit, referenced Isoré's 2009 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) study in one of their statements on teacher evaluation, "Teacher Evaluation or Teacher Collaboration?" Incredibly, the UFT's Mulgrew is promoting the state-imposed teacher evaluation system as a long-needed model of reform.

Major takeaways

I) High-stakes tests and student performance.
A common current among these studies: reference to test scores are made in some countries, but not the top flying countries in global comparisons. Finland has no national standardized test; and Singapore does not use test scores to measure teacher performance. The report authors cited few specific countries, China, the U.K. and the U.S. being exceptions, that use student test scores.
Indeed, Figazzolo's study indicates that the consistently top-performing nations on international tests do not evaluate teachers on the basis of test scores. High flyers, no test incorporation: The following countries are countries that are consistently higher performing in the PISA and TIMSS international comparative tests of students, yet, their teacher evaluation systems do not cite test scores: Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Finland, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland. (References: PISA test result rankings, and TIMSS test result rankings, Laura Figazzolo's 2013 study.)
Marlene Isoré's OECD survey provides a number of reasons why test score reliance is avoided. (See summation paragraph, no. 65, and component paragraphs, 60 to 64.)

II) Student portfolios
Student class portfolios carry greater weight than they do in the U.S. (Isoré)
It is interesting: in New York City it is the alternative school where we often find student portfolios as traditionally trumping the state-wide standardized test. In several countries in Isore's OECD student student portfolios carry greater weight in teacher assessment than in the U.S.

III) Evaluations by staff other than school principals
In many countries peers (other teachers) are evaluators. The evaluations are meant in a supportive, rather than competitive manner. (Figazzolo; Isoré)

IV) The overall climate is less hostile and more professional

The tenor in public discourse is hostile to teachers. The working conditions, worsening by the year, are making the job status less professional and marked by deskilling.

Linda Darling-Hammond has noted the greater respect the high-performing nations afford their instructors.
They enter a well-paid profession – in Singapore earning as much as beginning doctors -- where they are supported by mentor teachers and have 15 or more hours a week to work and learn together – engaging in shared planning, action research, lesson study, and observations in each other’s classrooms.
VI) More qualitative assessment

This comes with reports of greater Charlotte Danielson reach than we realized. Isoré reports that Danielson or Danielson-influenced evaluation schemes are used in Chile and in Quebec, Canada.

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Laura Figazzalo, "THE USE AND MISUSE OF TEACHER APPRAISAL: An overview of cases in the developed world," Education International [the international federation of teachers' unions], 2013
A review of the technical evidence leads Baker et al (2010) and other sources (Burris, 2012; Strauss, 2012) to conclude that, although standardised test scores of students are one tool school leaders can use to make judgments about teacher effectiveness, such scores can only be a part of an overall comprehensive evaluation. Any sound evaluation has to necessarily involve a balancing of all relevant factors in order to provide a more accurate view of what teachers do in the classroom and their contribution to student learning. In addition, binding teacher evaluation and sanctions to test score results can discourage teachers from wanting to work in schools with the neediest students, while the large, unpredictable variation in the results and their perceived unfairness can undermine teacher morale (Baker et al, 2010). For instance, teachers show lower gains when they have large numbers of new English-learners and students with disabilities than when they teach other students. This is true even when statistical methods are used to “control” for student characteristics (Darling-Hammond, 2012). Surveys have found that teacher attrition and demoralisation have been associated with test-based accountability efforts, particularly in high-need schools.
The use of VAMS is also associated with a narrowing of the curriculum; a de facto curriculum whose subject matter is defined by what is tested. Teachers who rate highest on the low-level multiple-choice tests currently in use are often not those who raise higher scores in assessments of more-challenging learning (Darling-Hammond, 2012). Some believe that the pressure to teach “fill-in-the-bubble tests” will further reduce the focus on research, writing, and complex problem-solving; areas which students will need competence in to compete with their peers in high-achieving countries (Darling-Hammond, 2012). Finally, as far as merit-pay systems are concerned, tying teacher evaluation and remuneration to test results is problematic on numerous levels, not least because it reinforces a competitive spirit that undermines teacher collegiality and teamwork (Froese-Germain, 2011).

2009 OECD Working Paper, Teacher Evaluation: Current Practices in OECD Countries and a Literature Review
By Marlène Isoré
65. As a consequence, despite the attractiveness of the idea, there are numerous caveats against the use of student scores to evaluate teachers. In particular, there is a wide consensus in the literature around two specific directions: student outcomes should not be used as the sole measurement of teacher performance, and student outcomes should not be naively used for career decisions concerning the teacher, including the link to pay, because this incorporates a substantial risk to punish or reward teachers for results beyond their control (Kane and Staiger, 2002; Kupermintz, 2002; McCaffrey et al., 2003; CAESL, 2004; Raudenbush, 2004; Braun, 2005; Ingvarson, Kleinhenz and Wilkinson, 2007; Rowley and Ingvarson, 2007). These rejections from teachers and scholars have materialized, for instance, in the New York State’s legislature decision to ban the use of test scores in evaluating teachers in April 2008.

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60. Student learning outcomes is an appealing measure to assess teaching performance, since the ultimate goal of teaching is to improve student learning. Not surprisingly, much research has focused on the use of student achievement as measured by standardised tests to evaluate teachers. For instance, Leigh (2007) recently examined the test scores in literacy and numeracy of three cohorts of students, and concluded that the changes in the relative positions of classes of students provided a basis for the identification of effective and ineffective teachers. Braun (2005) argues that considering student scores is a promising approach for two reasons: first, it moves the discussion about teacher quality towards student learning as the primary goal of teaching, and second, it introduces a quantitative – and thus, objective and fair – measurement of teacher performance. In this respect, the development of “value-added” models represents significant progress relative to methods based on the absolute proportion of students meeting a given achievement level. “Value-added” models are designed to control for the individual students’ previous test scores, and therefore have the potential to identify the contribution an individual teacher made to students’ achievement.

61. In Florida, the “Special Teachers are Rewarded” (STAR) scheme links salary or bonus awards for individual teachers to value-added measures of st udent learning (Ingvarson, Kleinhenz and Wilkinson, 2007). Nevertheless, this type of link between a direct measure of performance and pay remains extremely rare, given the numerous statistical and theoretical challenges associated with the use of these methods. Indeed, Braun (2005) emphasises the marked contrast between the enthusiasm of those who would like to use such measurements, mainly policymakers, and the reservations expressed by the researchers who have studied their technical characteristics.

62. Using student achievement on standardised tests to evaluate teacher performance presents numerous statistical challenges. Most authors (L ockwood, Louis and McCaffrey, 2002; Kupermintz, 2003; Braun, 2005; Aaronson, Barrow and Sander, 2007; Goe, 2007) are not convinced that the current generation of value-added models is sufficiently valid and reliable to be used for fairly evaluating individual teachers’ effectiveness. Statistical limitations first refer to the noticeable lack of reliable data, mainly due to the fact that individual students rarely take annual standardised tests. Rowley and Ingvarson (2007) criticise Leigh (2007)’s methodology, which consists of creating a hypothetic test score in the missing data year at the midpoint of two available test results, arguing that it does not allow to fairly attribute the students’ success to the different teachers involved. Second, when data are available, sampling variations can cause imprecision in test score measures; this problem is particularly striking in elementary EDU/WKP(2009)2 schools, where the limited number of students per classroom creates large idiosyncrasies of the particular sample of students being tested (Kane and Staiger, 2002).

63. Broader methodological criticisms stress that value-added models, whatever their degree of sophistication, can neither fully integrate all factors influencing student achievement scores – qualitative by nature – nor reflect all student learning outcomes. Family background and support, school attendance, peer and classroom climate, school policies, availability of adequate materials, and children effects influence student learning (CAESL, 2004; Ingvarson, Kleinhenz and Wilkinson, 2007; Goe, 2007, Weingarten, 2007). Specific factors at the time of the test – “a dog barking in the playground, a severe flu season, a disruptive student in a class” – can also affect one student’s results independently from his teacher’s contribution (Kane and Staiger, 2002). Moreover, good teachers are likely to have an impact on children’s achievement during several years after having taught to them; and conversely, after several years of ineffective teachers, students may never be able to catch up academically. These teacher ‘cumulative effects’ cannot be accurately measured at discrete points in time (Hanushek, 1986; Sanders and Rivers, 1996; CAESL, 2004). Finally, teaching impact on students is not restricted to areas assessed through student standardised tests, – generally limited to reading and numeracy –, but also include transfer of psychological, civic and lifelong learning skills (Margo et al., 2008). While Xin, Xu and Tatsuoka (2004) tried to decompose single test scores into several categories of cognitive abilities in four countries (Japan, Korea, the Netherlands and the United States), they found that teachers’ attributes used in pay decisions have no consistent positive impact on any type of cognitive skills, despite their attention to controlling for individual and family background. These are sources of skepticism for using such statistical methods.

64. Theoretical limitations also need to be considered. First, a statistical correlation is not a causal relationship: the fact that teachers matter for student learning does not necessarily indicate that student learning is the result of good teaching. Second, the standardised tests used to differentiate students are not specifically designed for the purpose of assessing teachers. Following Popham (1997), Goe (2007) argues that they were not engineered to be particularly sensitive to small variations in instruction or to sort out teacher contributions to student learning. Thus they do not provide a solid basis on which to hold teachers accountable for their performance. Third, using student tests scores to evaluate teachers may induce unexpected distortions and constrictions in teacher behaviour towards the sole achievement on standardised tests. High-stakes incentive schemes based on standardised tests can incite teachers to concentrate exclusively on teaching areas assessed in the tests – therefore reducing the curriculum to the basic skills generally tested – (Jacob and Lefgren, 2005, Weingarten, 2007), incite teachers to concentrate on the specific students who are close to passing mark at the expense of children who are behind or ahead (Weingarten, 2007), and even provoke serious cases of teacher cheating on standardised tests (Jacob and Levitt, 2003; Jacob, 2005). Furthermore, test results may identify teachers who are ineffective or should professionally develop but do neither permit to fairly discriminate between the wide range of effective teachers nor identify which professional development activities should be established in order to improve their performance (Braun, 2005). Finally, it may lead to holding teachers responsible for the whole student performance whereas one should instead recognise that successful teaching is a shared responsibility between governments, schools and the teaching profession (Ingvarson et al., 2007).
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84. Measuring the effect of teacher evaluation faces a number of challenges. First, it needs to control for the broad set of qualitative variables which are likely to influence student learning. These variables encompass teacher characteristics (e.g. age, gender), teacher education and experience, students’ family factors (e.g. parents’ background, parents’ support), school factors (e.g. school policies, school incentives, peer and classroom effects) and student factors (e.g. motivation, cognitive abilities, cumulative experience). The complex realities of education prevent researchers from accurately assimilating these factors as traditional inputs into production functions (Hanushek, 1986). Second, because of its qualitative and heterogeneous nature, the output itself – student learning – is not a traditionally measurable ‘end product’, and this makes the decomposition between different factor contributions even more difficult (Hanushek, 1986; Ingvarson et al., 2007). This does not mean that doing any quantitative study in education is vain but rather than it requires particular attention to analytical issues or potential misinterpretations of the results. A particular focus should be placed on the fact that each factor omission or measurement problem – including lack of data – creates a potential quantitative bias in the estimated relationship between teacher quality and student achievement (Xin, Xu and Tatsuoka, 2004).

85. As a consequence, the empirical literature that primarily indicated that teacher evaluation may have an important role in student learning came from a process of elimination. By contradicting or restricting the respective roles of individual teachers’ apparent features (whether characteristics, education, experience, or financial incentives), numerous studies concluded that it was teacher practices – and, by extrapolation, evaluation of these practices – that indeed matter. The first influential contribution was Hanushek’s distinction between observable aspects of teachers, such as teacher background, gender, or race, and teachers’ unquantifiable “skills” (Hanushek, 1986, 1992). According to Hanushek, if the previous literature has found no significant impact of teacher quality on student achievement, it was because it concentrated on observable attributes of teachers – teacher’s holding of a master degree for example – while teacher quality was instead related to their “skills” or “idiosyncratic choices of teaching and methods” (such as classroom management, methods of presenting abstract ideas, communication skills, and so forth), i.e. their practice.
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1. Teacher evaluation for summative purposes with links to pay: The US District of Cincinnati [Milanowski, 2004]
Context: Cincinnati is a large urban district with 48,000 students and 3,000 teachers in more than 70 schools and programmes. Its average level of student achievement is low compared to the surrounding suburban districts. Cincinnati has also had a history of school reform activity, including the introduction of new whole-school designs, school-based budgeting, and teams to run schools and deliver instruction. The union-management relationship has generally been positive. Like many other urban districts, state accountability programmes and public expectations have put pressure on the district to raise student outcomes.

Implementation: In response to the obsolescence of the existing teacher performance evaluation system, and ambitious goals for improving student achievement, the District designed a knowledge- and skill-based pay system and a new teacher evaluation system during the 1998-1999 school year. The assessment system was piloted in the 1999-2000 school year and is used for teacher evaluation district wide since the 2000-01 school year.

Criteria: The assessment system is based on a set of teaching standards derived from the Framework for Teaching (Danielson, 1996). Seventeen performance standards are grouped into four domains: (i) planning and preparation; (ii) creating an environment for learning; (iii) teaching for learning; and (iv) professionalism. For each standard, a set of behaviourally anchored rating scales called rubrics describe four levels of performance: unsatisfactory, basic, proficient, and distinguished. Instruments: Teachers are evaluated using the rubrics based on two major sources of evidence: six classroom observations and a portfolio prepared by the teacher. The portfolio includes artifacts such as lesson and unit plans, attendance records, student work, family contact logs, and documentation of professional development activities.

Evaluators: Four classroom observations are made by a teacher evaluator hired from the ranks of the teaching force and released from classroom teaching for three years. Principals and assistant principals do the other two observations.

Aggregation of scores: Based on summaries of the six observations, teacher evaluators make a final summative rating on each of the standards in domains (ii) and (iii), whereas principals and assistant principals rate teachers on the standards in domains (i) and (v), primarily based on the teacher portfolio. Standards-level ratings are then aggregated to a domain-level score for each of the four domains. Scope and frequency of the evaluation: The full assessment system is used for a comprehensive evaluation of teachers in their first and third years and every five years thereafter. A less intensive assessment is done in all other years, conducted only by principals and assistant principals and based on more limited evidence. The annual assessment is intended to be both an opportunity for teacher professional development and an evaluation for accountability purposes. EDU/WKP(2009)2

Training on the evaluation process: Both teachers and evaluators receive considerable training on the new system. Evaluators are trained using a calibration process that involves rating taped lessons using the rubrics and then comparing ratings with expert judges and discussing differences. To ensure consistency among evaluators, the district eventually requires that all evaluators, including principals, meet a standard of agreement with a set of references or expert evaluators in rating videotaped lessons. Since the 2001-02 school year, only those who meet the standards are allowed to evaluate. Direct consequences: For beginning teachers (those evaluated in their first and third years), the consequence of a poor comprehensive evaluation could be the termination of the contract. For tenured teachers, consequences of a positive evaluation could include eligibility to become a lead teacher. A poor evaluation could lead to placement in the peer assistance programme and to the eventual termination of the contract.

Link to pay: The performance evaluation system was designed in part to provide the foundation for the knowledge- and skill-based pay system. This system defines career levels for teachers with pay differentiated by level. The new pay system was originally scheduled to come into effect in the 2002-03 school year, resulting in relatively high stakes evaluations for the district’s teachers. However, the link between the evaluation system and pay was rejected by teachers in a special election held in May 2002.

2. Teacher evaluation for formative purposes and as part of broader school policies
2a. Finland [UNESCO, 2007]
Context: In Finland, school teachers have positions comparable to national or municipal public servants. However, school leaders are in charge of teacher selection – once the required license is obtained – and in charge of all the policies that are considered as necessary to the enhancement of teaching quality, among which teacher evaluation. Finland is a paradigmatic case where the former system of ‘teachers and schools inspection and supervision’ was removed in 1990 but not replaced by another similar external system. As a consequence, teacher evaluation currently goes hand in hand with other policies within each particular school.

Methods / Evaluators: The Finnish scheme of teacher evaluation is characterised by the very high level of confidence placed in school and teacher competencies and professionalism as a basis to improve teaching quality. Thus, teacher self-evaluation is considered as a prime means of professional optimisation. School leaders also have a crucial role in engaging teachers in self-reflection about their own practice, and in developing a culture of evaluation alongside ambitious goals, according to the school context and challenges. The majority of schools have implemented annual discussions between school leaders and teachers to evaluate the fulfillment of the personal objectives set up during the previous year and to establish further personal objectives that correspond both to the analysis of the teacher and the needs of the school.
2b. England [Ofsted, 2006; TDA, 2007]
Context: The English system was originally designed with summative purposes, aiming at evaluating teachers’ performance, and providing them with opportunities to access a higher career stage and the corresponding pay scale. However, numerous concerns about the fairness of the process and the potential perverse impacts of the procedure on teacher performance itself were addressed (Kleinhenz and Ingvarson, 2004). Hence, the recent developments of the system – including new professional standards from September 2007 – indicate an increased formative approach, embodied by a willingness to reinforce the link between the teacher appraisal system and teacher professional development needs relative to the EDU/WKP(2009)2 school goals. More generally, the system, completed within a wider framework for the whole school workforce, aims to improve school leadership and to be an integral part of the school’s broader policies. Scope/Methods: The evaluation is differentiated according to the career stage of the teacher being evaluated. Five professional stages are identified: (i) the award of the Qualified Teacher Status (Q); (ii) teachers on the main scale (Core) (C); (iii) teachers on the upper pay scale (Post Threshold Teachers) (P); (iv) Excellent Teachers (E); and (v) Advanced skills Teachers (A).

Criteria: At each stage, teaching professional standards encompass three domains. The first one refers to the teacher’s professional attributes, including relationships with children and young people; attitude vis-à- vis the framework and the implementation of new school policies; communicating and working with others; and professional development activities. The second domain is composed of the teacher’s professional knowledge and understanding, including knowledge on teaching and learning; understanding of assessing and monitoring; subjects and curriculum knowledge; literacy, numeracy and ICT skills; understanding the factors affecting the achievement of diversified student groups; and knowledge on student health and well-being. The last domain refers to the teacher’s professional skills, including planning, teaching, assessing, monitoring, giving feedback competencies; ability to review and adapt teaching and learning; ability to create a learning environment; capacities to develop team working and collaboration. All of these standards are statements of good teaching which do not replace the professional duties and responsibilities of teachers.

Consequences on teacher professional growth and links to school expectations and policies: The standards support teachers in identifying their professional development needs. Where teachers wish to progress to the next career stage, the next level of the framework provides a reference point for all teachers when considering future development. Whilst not all teachers necessarily want to move to the next career stage, the standards also support teachers in identifying ways to broaden and deepen their expertise within their current career stages. These frameworks are a basis for professional responsibility and contractual engagement to engage all teachers in effective, sustained and relevant professional development throughout their careers. They provide a continuum of expectations about the level of engagement in professional development that provides clarity and appropriate differentiation for each career stage. They also set expectations about the contribution teachers make to others, taking account of their levels of skills, expertise and experience, their role within the school, and reflecting on their use of up-to-date subject knowledge and pedagogy. In all these cases, performance management is the key process that provides the context for regular discussions about teachers’ career aspirations and their future development, within or beyond their current career stage.

For further information:
• Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA): http://www.tda.gov.uk/teachers/professionalstandards.aspx and http://www.tda.gov.uk/teachers/continuingprofessionaldevelopment.aspx
• Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted): http://www.ofsted.gov.uk
3. Conciliating the summative and formative purposes in a comprehensive approach: Chile [Avalos and Assael, 2006]
Context: The historical context of the Chilean educational system has doubtlessly played a critical role in understanding the necessity for a comprehensive and conciliating teacher evaluation scheme. In 1980, the military government [1973-1990] transferred the management of schools to the municipal authorities, which also implied a change of status of teachers from public servants to salaries employees of EDU/WKP(2009)2
municipalities. At the end of the dictatorial regime, a major concern was that teachers’ conditions did not evolve in line with those for public servants, which had an enormous impact on how teachers perceived and valued themselves, as well as on public opinion. In the 1990s the teaching profession suffered from a dramatic deterioration of the quality of applicants to teaching and from worsened working conditions. At the same time, evidence of unsatisfactory student learning results put a strong pressure on the government to include a clause in the new Teacher Statute (1991) that required a yearly evaluation of teachers. But while teachers continued to make their case for improved salaries and working conditions, they rejected the implementation of the evaluation system. This was followed by a long period of discussions and negotiations on the teacher evaluation model to be implemented.
Design and implementation of the system: The system was enacted by law in August 2004, that is, some seven years after the initial discussions. The system is directed toward the improvement of teaching and learning outcomes. It is designed to stimulate teachers to further their own improvement through the learning of their strengths and weaknesses. It is based on explicit criteria of what is evaluated, but without prescribing a model of teaching. It rests on the articulation of its different elements: criteria sanctioned by the teaching workforce, an independent management structure, especially prepared evaluators, and a coordinated set of procedures to gather the evidence required by the criteria.
Key actors in the system: The Centre for In-service Training located in the Ministry of Education (Centro de Perfeccionamiento, Experimentación e Investigación Pedagógica) manages the system. A consultative committee composed of academics and representatives from the Teachers’ Union, the Chilean Association of Municipalities and the Ministry of Education, monitors and provides advice on the process. A university centre is contracted to implement the process: production and revision of instruments, selection and preparation of evaluators and scorers, and analysis of evidence gathered from each evaluation process. The application process itself is decentralised so that in every district there is a committee that is directly responsible for organising the evaluation procedures. The evidence gathered is processed at the district level and sent to the central processing unit at the university, together with contextual information that can help interpret results. This central form of processing the evidence follows a request by teachers with the purpose of greater objectiveness.

Criteria: The Ministry of Education took the lead in defining the assessment criteria, producing a set of standards based on the work done earlier for the initial teacher education standards and on Danielson’s Framework for Teaching. The result is a framework for competent teaching formulated in four teaching domains (planning, learning environment, professionalism and teaching strategies for the learning of all students) and twenty criteria/standards. The framework was the subject of wide consultations among teachers until an agreement was reached. The criteria are linked to four levels of quality/performance: ‘unsatisfactory’, ‘basic’, ‘competent’ and ‘excellent’.

Instruments: The evidence used to evaluate the teachers, structured around the Framework, includes four sources: (i) a portfolio with samples of teachers’ work and a video of one of their lessons; (ii) a structured self-evaluation form; (iii) a structured interview with a peer evaluator; and (iv) a report from the school management and pedagogic authorities. The evaluation takes place every four years. Training of evaluators: The peer evaluators are specifically prepared for their task and must pass a test to be accredited. Although they should be familiar with the context in which the evaluated teacher is based (e.g. socio-economic and working conditions) they may not be teachers in the same school.
Consequences of the evaluation: One of the main challenges that needed to be addressed during the negotiation process referred to the potential implications for the individual teacher evaluated. It was agreed that teachers rated as being at a ‘basic’ level are provided with specific professional development opportunities in order to improve. Teachers rated as performing ‘unsatisfactorily’ are also provided with EDU/WKP(2009)2
professional development opportunities, but are evaluated again one year later; if the teacher fails to perform satisfactorily in two consecutive evaluations, he or she is dismissed. By contrast, teachers assessed as ‘competent’ or ‘exceptionally competent’ are given priority in promotion opportunities and in professional development activities of their interest. They may also apply for a salary bonus provided that they take a test on curricular and pedagogical knowledge. The system has both summative and formative elements instead of being primarily dedicated to one of the purposes, which is the result of the negotiation process which had taken the multiple stakeholders’ interests into account. For instance, the summative elements neither include a link between teacher’s performance and student results (something the union strongly opposed) nor a link to the career ladder. The link to professional development is emphasised and differentiated on the basis of the teacher’s level of performance.
For further information: Chile’s laws on the Teaching Statute: Ley N°3.500; Ley N°19.070; Ley N° 19.933; Ley N° 19.961.

4. Teacher evaluation stemming from bureaucratic procedures: France [Haut Conseil de l’évaluation de l’école, 2003; Pochard, 2008] Context: French teachers are classified in three distinct categories according to their education and initial certification: primary education teachers (professeurs des écoles), secondary education teachers with a regular certification (enseignants certifiés), and secondary education teachers with a higher level of certification (enseignants agrégés). All teachers are public servants but are placed in one of these three career tracks. These differ in terms of conditions and hours of work, administrative pay scale, and teaching practice (multitask primary education teachers vs. subject-specialised secondary education teachers). France does not generally suffer from teacher shortages and examinations to enter the profession continue to be selective. However, France has concerns regarding the societal status of teaching, and the skills necessary to respond to school needs. The current teacher evaluation system is often described as ‘not very fair’, ‘not very efficient’, and ‘generating malaise and sometimes suffering’ for both evaluated teachers and evaluators, because it is based on administrative procedures rather than a comprehensive scheme with a clear improvement purpose.
Periodicity of evaluation/evaluators: Teacher evaluation is supposed to be undertaken on a regular basis, as an integral part of the work and duties of the teacher. Primary education teachers are evaluated by a teaching inspector (inspecteur), while secondary level teachers are evaluated by a panel composed of an inspector – who defines 60 % of the final score – and the school principal – responsible for the other 40 %. However, the intended frequent evaluations often fall short of expectations. First, the frequency of evaluations is not legally fixed, and is arbitrarily determined by the inspectors’ availability. This is a cause for concern regarding the fairness of the system – because teachers working under the same rules receive feedback at diverse intervals – as well as regarding its efficacy – the average interval between two evaluations being 3-4 years in primary education and 6-7 years in secondary education, deemed much too long. Moreover, the workload is such that concerns might be raised regarding the value of the feedback. An inspector takes responsibility for between 350 and 400 teachers, which is excessive for the feedback to be effective in improving teachers’ practices. As a consequence, the inspectors themselves report malaise and frustration associated with the evaluation process, mainly because they feel that they have little impact on teaching practices and cannot develop their competences and skills for teaching enhancement. Their role is sometimes de facto restricted to control the abuses within the profession.
Instruments: Evidence on the teacher’s practice is gathered through the observation of a teaching session, followed by an interview with the teacher. Criticisms of this approach include: (i) the fact that a single classroom observation might not be enough to forge a fair and accurate view of the teacher’s abilities and knowledge; and (ii) in the interview teachers focus on reacting to the inspectors’ criticisms instead of EDU/WKP(2009)2 discussing their particular needs for improvement. The whole procedure does not seem to give much room for self-evaluation and teachers’ reflection on their own practice and performance.
Criteria: Both ‘pedagogical’ and ‘administrative’ aspects are observed and rated but with no reference to a framework which defines what ‘good’ teaching is. Concerns are numerous. The nature of the different ‘pedagogical’ skills assessed, as well as their weight in the overall appreciation of the teacher, remains largely at the discretion of each inspector. This reinforces subjective appraisals, unpredictable and random results, at the expense of fairness and accuracy in the process. Teachers report not knowing how and on what criteria they are evaluated. The most objective and understood criteria used to evaluate teachers are the ‘administrative’ ones such as punctuality and attendance. As a result, the rating obtained by a teacher often remains primarily determined by their certification rating (i.e. result of entrance examination). Consequences: The consequences of the teacher’s evaluation on the career are limited, except in cases of serious misconduct. Teachers’ salaries are determined by a single salary scale in which progression depends on years of service and the initial qualifications and entrance examination. Commitment to work is rarely recognised and valued, as well as merit, outstanding performance, or initiatives seeking to improve student learning. In addition, there is no link to professional development activities, the latter being very limited and disconnected from teachers’ identified weaknesses. The evaluation process does not provide opportunities for self-reflection on teaching practices or for peer mutual learning, and entails little advice and coaching.

For further information:
• Haut Conseil de l’évaluation de l’école (2003): http://cisad.adc.education.fr/hcee/ documents/rapport_annuel_2003.pdf
• Rapport des inspections générales: http://lesrapports.ladocumentationfrancaise.fr/BRP/054004446/0000.pdf
• Ministry of Education: http://www.education.gouv.fr/cid263/l-evaluation-des-personnels.html
About other teacher evaluation systems:
• The Canadian Province of Alberta: http://www.education.alberta.ca/department/policy/k12manual/section2/teacher.aspx • The US State of Iowa: http://www.iowa.gov/educate/content/view/1450/1617

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* * *
Figazzolo's critique of value-added modeling and the use of standardized tests:
Value-added evaluation methods, where teacher effectiveness and compensation are increasingly being tied to student scores on standardised tests, have raised concerns among teachers, unions and practitioners in general. As Froese-Germain (2011) puts it, these methods originate from a highly charged climate of data-driven accountability, and are increasingly common across the US. For example, the Los Angeles Unified School District is among a growing number of US school districts using the results of standardised tests to determine the “value-added” outcomes produced by the teacher (the value-added measure of teacher performance is related to gains in test scores in the teacher’s class over time)5. Other stories are reported from Chicago, where some reformers, such as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, want as much as half of a teacher’s evaluation to be linked to student test scores6 (Strauss, 2012).
Rather than placing student results in context, these methods issue a comprehensive judgment purely based on data developed through standardised calculations. However, as Baker et al (2010) highlight, VAM estimates have proven to be unstable across statistical models, years, and teaching classes. Studies quoted in Baker et al (2010) prove in fact that a teacher who appears to be ineffective in one year may achieve dramatically different results the following year. VAM’s instability can result from differences in the characteristics of students assigned to given teachers in a particular year and from specific evaluation measures. Such factors include: small samples of students (made even less representative in schools serving disadvantaged students and which have high rates of student mobility), other influences on student learning both inside and outside school, and tests which are poorly lined up with the curriculum teachers are expected to cover, or which do not measure the full range of achievement of students in the class.
A number of non-teacher factors have been found to have strong influences on student learning gains. These include the influence of other teachers, tutors or instructional specialists; school conditions — such as the quality of curriculum materials, specialist or tutoring supports, class size, resources, learning environment; and other factors that affect learning.
A review of the technical evidence leads Baker et al (2010) and other sources (Burris, 2012; Strauss, 2012) to conclude that, although standardised test scores of students are one tool school leaders can use to make judgments about teacher effectiveness, such scores can only be a part of an overall comprehensive evaluation. Any sound evaluation has to necessarily involve a balancing of all relevant factors in order to provide a more accurate view of what teachers do in the classroom and their contribution to student learning.
In addition, binding teacher evaluation and sanctions to test score results can discourage teachers from wanting to work in schools with the neediest students, while the large, unpredictable variation in the results and their perceived unfairness can undermine teacher morale (Baker et al, 2010). For instance, teachers show lower gains when they have large numbers of new English-learners and students with disabilities than when they teach other students. This is true even when statistical methods are used to “control” for student characteristics (Darling-Hammond, 2012). Surveys have found that teacher attrition and demoralisation have been associated with test-based accountability efforts, particularly in high-need schools.
The use of VAMS is also associated with a narrowing of the curriculum; a de facto curriculum whose subject matter is defined by what is tested. Teachers who rate highest on the low-level multiple-choice tests currently in use are often not those who raise higher scores in assessments of more-challenging learning (Darling-Hammond, 2012). Some believe that the pressure to teach “fill-in-the-bubble tests” will further reduce the focus on research, writing, and complex problem-solving; areas which students will need competence in to compete with their peers in high-achieving countries (Darling-Hammond, 2012).
Finally, as far as merit-pay systems are concerned, tying teacher evaluation and remuneration to test results is problematic on numerous levels, not least because it reinforces a competitive spirit that undermines teacher collegiality and teamwork (Froese-Germain, 2011).
POSTSCRIPT: On a related note to the last point, one Nashville, Tennessee, U.S. study has concluded that merit pay alone does not raise student performance: Melanie Moran, "Vanderbilt News," September 21, 2010, "Teacher performance pay alone does not raise student test scores."

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Blockbuster: Post Writer on Bloomberg Wealth (Ab)Use of Political Power to Silence Supporters or Possible Dissenters

This calls into question the entire way that one person can exploit private wealth to swing public policy.

For the sake of democracy, this demonstrates the glaring need for public financing of elections and why it is very dangerous to have billionaries in public office.

And where were other politicians --or the United Federation of Teachers or other unions for that matter-- with criticisms during these 11 years of a travesty of elected democracy? -- Yes, this article could say more, but at least as much as is here is said.

Diane Ravitch wrote this about Tom Robbins' Post piece, "How Bloomberg Used His Fortune to Win Silence and Support." She says that Bloomberg's not under obligation to disclose his private spending. Yet, in a distorted democracy, where one man plays politics like he's playing with chess pieces, manipulating public opinion, I'd contest that he is under obligation. In other times and places, people worry that big money will buy the mayor’s support. In New York City for the past dozen years, the mayor has bought the support of almost everyone who might have been a critic or might have an independent voice. One of his favorite gambits was to cut the budget of a group that is heavily dependent on city funding, then make an allegedly anonymous contribution to the same group. The media often printed long lists of these “anonymous” contributions, acknowledging that they came from the mayor and were dispersed through the Carnegie Corporation.
This strategy made all the groups he “saved” dependent on his personal largesse. He was truly the Lord of the manor.
Robbins did not discover every trick the mayor used to buy support and silence critics. He has no way of knowing which influential intellectuals and power brokers are on the Mayor’s personal payroll, because the mayor is under no obligation to disclose his private spending.
It may be years before Mayor Bloomberg finds his Robert Caro. Caro writes in-depth biographies of famous people. In time, it will happen, and we will learn how Michael Bloomberg employed his vast fortune to win support, to intimidate once-independent critics, and to buy off activists from various communities.
Until then, Tom Robbins has pulled back the curtain in Oz. there is no magic; just a whole lot of money. Like, $27 billion.
The Robbins piece in today's New York Post: $ilence was golden

For three terms, Bloomberg quieted criticism and blunted budget cuts with his vast wealth. A new mayor won’t have that luxury, or that freedom

By  TOM ROBBINS, June 23, 2013, New York Post

When Mayor Bloomberg wanted to win over cocky state legislative leaders, he packed them aboard his private jet, headed for his Bermuda mansion and a friendly round of golf.

When he wanted to make sure he had their attention, he shelled out millions in contributions to their favorite political committees.

When he wanted to confront unemployment among young black men, he anted up $3 million for literacy efforts, while cutting city funds for similar programs.

When he wanted to keep lights twinkling on the East River bridges, while sending a message that the city could afford few such frills, he coughed up cash to keep them lit, persuading other wealthy pals to join in.
When he wanted to keep longtime City Hall aides on board, he upped their city salaries — out of his own pocket.
When he wanted to jump-start an effort to train new school administrators, he wrote a check for a quarter of a million dollars to launch a new institute.
When his schools chancellor wanted to go stumping on behalf of education reforms, he made another six-figure gift to get things going.
In a fortuitous turn of events, a chunk of that dough — some $110,000 — found its way to that veteran tormentor of mayors past, the Rev. Al Sharpton, whose strident voice has been heard only rarely outside City Hall these past dozen years.
How did his vast wealth make the job of governing easier for the 108th mayor of the city of New York? Let us count the ways.
Wait. Scratch that. It’s impossible to count them all.
“No one will ever know everything Mike Bloomberg did with his money,” said a political expert who has seen the mayor reach for his wallet more than once.


What we do know is this: When it comes to the flow of private mayoral cash into the arenas of politics and civic need, the Bloomberg years have been a true hundred-year flood, one that often ran through subterranean channels, invisible to the public or the press. And unlike Hurricane Sandy, the Bloomberg money superstorm is unlikely ever to be repeated.

The next mayor — whoever it is — won’t have that kind of deep-pocketed backup plan at his or her fingertips when the going gets rough. Even long-shot Republican candidate John Catsimatidis, with a couple billion of his own dollars apparently burning a hole in his pocket, is nowhere close to the same league as Michael Rubens Bloomberg, whose net worth now tallies $27 billion, according to Forbes, and who has never hesitated to employ his fortune to his political advantage.

“There’s no doubt about it, it’s going to be much harder for someone who doesn’t have those resources to govern the city,” said Kathy Wylde, the influential leader of the Partnership for New York.

Have a comment on this PostOpinion column? Send it in to LETTERS@NYPOST.COM!
Go to the original Post article; but look at this one on page three, the manipulation of public officials and "independent" interest groups. This last part is the most insidious part. Organizations, terrified of losing their money from him, or indirectly through his possible bad-mouthing them to other possible donors, either spoke in favor of the "emergency" 2009 term limit extension or stifled their own dissent.

Political strings were tugged even harder in 2008 when Bloomberg decided to seek a third term despite his past support for the law’s two-term limit. The mayor’s Carnegie donations soared to $60 million that year, conveyed to 542 groups. When the City Council held hearings on the term limits change, mayoral aides asked organizations on the receiving end of his generosity to testify in favor.

“It’s pretty hard to say no,” one nonprofit leader said then. At least five of the lucky groups showed up at the council arguing in favor of extending term limits. None mentioned their dual relationship with the mayor.

“The money activated people, and in some cases it neutralized them,” said City Hall watcher Doug Muzzio, public-affairs professor at Baruch College.

Other Bloomberg donations could only be understood through a prism of politics. Some $400,000 went to cultural and youth groups spawned by leaders of the city’s Independence Party whose ballot line provided the mayor his crucial margin of victory in both 2001 and 2009. The tiny political group has long been controlled by a quasi-Marxist cult advocating psycho-sexual solutions to urban ills. But that never deterred the mayor who appeared regularly at their charity fundraisers.

When it came to political contributions, he was also the best thing that ever happened to them, donating more than $1 million to the party’s city organization, campaign finance records show. Another $2.6 million went to the party’s state committee, controlled by a different group.
And the other ways that Bloomberg has manipulated allies and staved off possible criticisms:
Rev. Al Sharpton

He never met a rally he didn’t like, but Sharpton has been eerily low-key when it comes to Bloomberg, perhaps because of favors from the mayor. In one instance, $110,000 was given to Sharpton’s National Action Network through a group called the Education Equality Project, just before Bloomberg ran for a third term. The project was funded by “anonymous” donations, one of them acknowledged by aides to be Bloomberg.

Cultural groups

Bloomberg helped rein in the city’s budget by cutting cultural funding after 9/11, then turned around and gave an “anonymous” $10 million donation to the Carnegie Corporation to dole out to 137 groups. The number of groups — and the amount of funding — has only increased over his terms.

Rev. Calvin Butts

The influential pastor of Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church, Butts was a fierce critic of Mayor Giuliani, once calling him “racist.” But he’s said hardly a peep about Bloomberg, who once wrote a $1 million check at a fundraiser for Butts’ community redevelopment non-profit, the Village Voice reported. “I’m not for sale,” Butts later told reporters. But he added, “it doesn’t hurt.”

Park maintenance

Park conservancies, which run city parks separate from government, have benefited greatly from Bloomberg. The Central Park Conservancy has received nearly $1 million from Bloomberg LP. Other donations have gone to the Prospect Park Alliance, the Historic House Trust, the Randall’s Island Sports Foundation and others.

Gay marriage

Bloomberg pledged his support to any politician who helped make same-sex marriage legal in New York. He hosted fundraisers and gave the maximum to four Republican state senators who voted in favor. Money isn’t everything, though. Two of the senators were defeated and one retired. Mark Grisanti, Republican from Buffalo, was re-elected with Bloomy’s help.

Department of Education

Bloomberg has added employees outside the budget process, by using his private Fund for Public Schools to pay the salaries of “consultants” to help run the department.

School testing

In 2011, state budget cuts threatened to cancel Regents exams given in January — which were used by students to graduate early, or a second chance if they did poorly on June exams. Bloomberg gave $250,000 — and raised another $1.25 million in other private donations — to get them reinstated by January 2012. For the kids, he said, but it also helped the city’s graduation rate.

9/11 Memorial and Museum

Infighting between the Port Authority and the non-profit that operates the 9/11 site threatened to delay the opening of the museum indefinitely, and perhaps even throw the project into court. To avoid the embarrassment, Bloomberg gave a $15 million loan to the museum in May (at a tiny 0.3% interest rate) to cover costs. NY Post at Twitter Have a comment on this PostOpinion column? Send it in to LETTERS@NYPOST.COM!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The UFT's Thompson Endorsement, After UFT's Lauding of Kings' Evaluations How Will Members Respond?

Late Wednesday afternoon, at the Delegate Assembly, the United Federation of Teachers endorsed Bill Thompson for New York City mayor.  That's of course the official word.

The fact is, while the UFT did have forums in every borough, with all the Democratic candidates, before Anthony Weiner flew into the race, the fact is the fix has been in for Thompson.

First, behind the scenes, the momentum of the organization moves like a dynasty. Though she is in D.C., running the American Federation of Teachers (or AFT) Randi Weingarten is still playing an outweighed role in the union, as Perdido Street captured in his citation of the Daily News blog. Whatever idea, inclination she has, gets picked up by the group. So, when the unsettling alignment of Weingarten, New York State Regent Merryl Tisch (along with Alphonse D'Amato) became apparent with the Thompson campaign, the hand-writing was on the wall that the fix was in for Thompson. (Although, it's interesting: the one time that Weingarten is progressive, stepping out of the eduform talking points, calling for a moratorium on the high-stakes use of standardized Common Core tests, the UFT is staunchly silent and ignoring her advice. Granted, she should reject the VAM tests and Common Core outright; an enthusiastic Common Core supporter, she's more likely trying to co-opt the popular uproar over the VAM use of Common Core and other tests ....)

Second, the presentation of the popular reception at the UFT boro mayoral forums was suspicious at last month's DA. Reps from the different boroughs gave thumbnail reports of the mood. Hello? The UFT has the staff and time to count the preference cards that attendees submitted. Yet, where were these tallies this month or last month?

Third, yesterday's DA was all theater. So, the Executive Board met (unusually) immediately before the DA, probably pre-empting president Michael Mulgrew's characteristic self-aggrandizing time-wasting poor imitation of an Las Vegas stand-up comic schtick. But everything else made it apparent that this was to be presented as an endorsement by acclamation. For, all of a sudden, right after they endorse, none other than Thompson himself is there; and all of a sudden they have UFT campaign placards all ready for distribution. The guest contributor at ICEUFT blog captured it best in "DA REPORT: THOMPSON CORONATION": "Peter Lamphere tried to raise a point of order that the debate was one sided. This was ruled out of order. The vote was then held. Thompson was endorsed by the Delegates and then he appeared out of nowhere and addressed the crowd."

The irony, that progressives can hope for, is that people disgusted with the UFT leadership's being out of sync with the regular rank and file teachers on evaluations, selling us the historic John King-imposed Advance teacher evaluation disaster a blessing of fairness, will figure that whomever the UFT endorses is bad news, and will vote more sensibly in the primary for John Liu or Bill de Blasio (the latter of which made headlines last night in the Daily News as, "Chris Quinn-Bill de Blasio Mayor Brawl Steals Anthony Weiner's TV-Debate Debut Thunder").

Liu and de Blasio appear more teacher-friendly, when candidate positions are compared.

NYC Educator points out in Thompson Says No Raises for Teachers, to Near-Universal Acclaim of UFT Delegate Assembly that [four years ago] Thompson said flat-out that teachers did not deserve the salary increases that other city employees got. [NYC Ed cited this Daily News article.]
What happens when you publicly announce teachers don't deserve the raise all other city employees got between 2008-2010? Well, you get the UFT endorsement, of course. Now it's a little more complicated than that, of course. During the last mayoral run, it appeared that Thompson and the UFT were BFFs.
The UFT, desperate for Thompson to win, is peddling in its campaign literature the mis-truth that Thompson is promising retroactive pay increases, as Perdido Street School blog has pointed out.

Keep checking Perdido Street School blog. He regularly updates on the latest nonsense surrounding the UFT's unfathomable Bill Thompson endorsement for NYC mayor. The latest best stuff from PSS:
To be frank, while Thompson is talking some about changing Bloomberg's school policies, a lot of his education agenda is little different from Bloomberg's education agenda.

Thompson is not anti-charter. [Thompson has privately dined with charter school backers.]
Thompson will not charge charter schools rent for stealing space from public schools.
Thompson wants to add more days to the school year and more time to the school day.
Thompson praised Bloomberg for refusing to give teachers the 4%/4% pattern raise every other union in the city got.
Thompson wants to continue mayoral control.
Sure, there are some subtle changes Thompson says he wants to make to Bloomberg's policies, perhaps around the emphasis on testing, but I'll believe those changes will happen when I actually see them happen and not until then.
Plus, with APPR state law forcing both increased state testing and increased local testing, it's hard to see how Thompson can change the insane testing schedules we have these days anyway even if he wanted to (which I doubt he does, in any case.)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Where NYC mayoral candidates stand on the eve of UFT's presumed Thompson endorsement

Where the candidates stand, on the eve of the UFT's Wednesday, June 19, 2013 presumed announcement at the Delegate Assembly of an endorsement for Bill Thompson for New York City mayor. My takeaway is that Lhota, Quinn and Weiner would be the worst candidates, followed by Thompson, on education issues. But a union that threw up its hands in surrender to Ed. Commissioner John King and Governor Andrew Cuomo (see here, here and here), and then called the disaster a plus for teachers could err once again and throw its endorsement weight behind Thompson. The early clue was previous president Randi Weingarten's endorsement of Thompson; recent press reports echo the UFT for Thompson rumors.
See also NYC Public School Parents blog for their summation of last Friday's mayoral forum at Murry Bergtraum H.S. And see this link for Gotham Schools' interactive site on how th mayoral candidates stand on various issues of education governance and leadership.

de Blasio
Believes in ending Mayoral Control and has put forth a vision for democratic governance of our schools.

*has agreed to give up some appointed PEP seats
Believes there must be a change to current policing policies in our schools that moves authority over school safety officers from the NYPD and to school communities.

Has publicly committed to reducing class size.

Believes charter schools should not be given space in public school buildings and/or believes in a moratorium on charter school co-locations and/or has called for current co-located charters to pay rent.

Believes in a moratorium on school closings and/ or has stated that school closings as a policy is flawed.

Believes teacher evaluation should be tied to student test scores and/or supports merit-based pay for teachers.

No public statement
Not as currently implemented
Doesn’t want to “take anything off the table”
No public statement
Has publicly stated he/she will provide a new contract with retroactive pay for municipal union members who have worked without a contract.