Thursday, October 16, 2014

TLE: Should be DOA. One Teacher's Story

I posted Rob Miller’s insightful blogs here and here on TLE – Teacher Leadership Effectiveness program, designed, IMHO, as a way to intimidate teachers, overwork administrators, and label educators as failures when observations are linked to student test scores, in the failed practice called Value-Added Measures, or VAM. Other states and cities have used VAM teacher evaluation with disastrous effects, incorrectly labeling excellent, award-winning teachers as bad teachers.

The research is clear…this is rotten practice, but it goes along with Bill Gates’ hunches about getting rid of bad teachers, and since Gates’ hunches and experiments run US educational policy, state politicians have jumped on the bandwagon. And as that has happened, Gates has backed away from some of his earlier enthusiasm. No matter…we’re going full speed ahead on a failed practice.

VAM measures take the joy out of teaching and learning. It upsets the balance in the classrooms.

We in OK have tried to communicate with the policy makers running TLE, to no avail. We have shared links to research, but it’s like they don’t care: “Don’t confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up.” Policy makers are bound and determined to hold teachers ‘accountable’ for student learning.

NEWSFLASH: standardized tests measure innate abilities, parent socio-economic status. They predict the score on the next standardized test. They were never designed to be anything but a quick snapshot of ONE KIND OF learning. They are being abused by every state that evaluates and assesses teachers or schools, or students. Policy makers simply don’t care. They want to root out those lousy teachers and fire them. To replace them…with whom? All the teachers who are knocking down the doors of OK schools begging for jobs? Don’t our politicians know there’s a teacher shortage? And, how do we assure those lousy teachers are replaced with better ones? Don’t confuse them with facts. Their minds are made up.

Here is an image of the 'formula' used to compute a teacher's value-added measure. Sorry, I don't understand an evaluation system I can't understand.

I’ll be honest, TLE is the reason I retired. I wasn’t afraid of being held accountable. I was accountable to every one of my students (300+ a year), to their families. To my department chair, my principals, and to the patrons of Norman Public Schools. I was not afraid of being evaluated. I simply knew TLE would not evaluate my practice or my influence on student learning with any accuracy . I knew it was junk science put in place by non-educators, with no research base. I could walk away, and I did. Throughout my 39-year career, I saw wrong-headed reforms and good reforms come and go. I wrote about it a few years ago.

I could walk away.

I did walk away.

My friends and colleagues cannot.

Today I received the following message from an online friend. I have permission to share one teacher’s experience. Again, teachers are not afraid of being evaluated. We see effective evaluation as a way to grow. That’s why I pursued National Board Certification. I wanted to challenge myself with the highest standards in my profession.
One teacher’s story:

 I was excited for TLE. I thought, for once, I would get some positive feedback as to how to improve. I know I am a good teacher. I constantly strive to improve, because I have weaknesses.

I was fearful of getting a 3...knew I was not deserving of a 5. Yes, I got a 4, but every standard my principal marked as low I thought was my strength. What was high was my weakness.

Then I spoke with teachers from other schools. At the TLE training, they were told if you give a 2 or a five there is an extensive documentation and additional paperwork. So good or bad, A school or F school teachers get 3 or 4.

In defense of the long has it been since they were in the classroom? How do they have time to evaluate teachers, deal with parents, students, discipline...etc. my principal also teaches 2 hours a day. Because of lack of funding, schools cannot hire assistant principals. Who should evaluate? I believe that each school should have a curriculum specialist who attends a specified number of workshops in every area throughout the year in order to stay abreast of change. I think they should attend free if charge and at the expense of the SDE.

 As it is TLE is a useless tool. Many teachers are assessed by people who are not qualified to access curriculum. I relate it to doctors. If your medical specialty is podiatry...I would not use you as my oncologists. Or have a podiatrist evaluate an oncologist.

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