Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Hard-Working Teachers, Sabotaged When Student Test Scores Slip

Here's Winerip's usual article.  He's so easy to predict.  I have no doubt that here's what went through his head: "I want to write an article to tear down the value-added system (and all testing in general), so let me scour all 1,500+ schools in NYC to find a A-rated one, but it has to have a bunch of low-rated yet very sympathetic teachers for me to profile."  Sure enough, he found one – but this article tells us nothing we don't already know – that the value-added system is imperfect, perhaps especially with very high performing schools where a drop from 97% to 89% can skew the results.

Their credentials would be impressive for college professors. Antoinette Byam, who received a grant to spend a month in Ghana in 2006, won a Fulbright scholarship in 2008 to do research in Mexico and Peru. She then wrote fifth-grade curriculums on the Mayans.

Before becoming a teacher, Nancy Salomon had her own theater company and ran a drama program in the schools that won an arts award from the Guggenheim Museum.

Cora Sangree has trained teachers at Bank Street College of Education and Teachers College at Columbia University. Laurie Matthews worked as an archaeologist in Brazil and France before she started teaching.

In 2009, 96 percent of their fifth graders were proficient in English, 89 percent in math. When the New York City Education Department released its numerical ratings recently, it seemed a sure bet that the P.S. 146 teachers would be at the very top.

Actually, they were near the very bottom.

Ms. Byam and Ms. Salomon each scored 7 out of 100 in math. Ms. Sangree got a 1 in math and an 11 in English. Ms. Matthews's scores got mixed up with the results for another fifth-grade teacher, Penina Hirshman, so nobody could say for certain what her real numbers might be.

A teacher's rating depends on how much progress her students make on state tests in a year's time, and is known as the value-added score. Ms. Allanbrook, the principal, has another name for what's going on. She calls the scores the "invalid value-addeds."

If city officials were trying to demoralize and humiliate the workforce, they've done a terrific job. News organizations get an assist for publishing the scores, and former Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein deserves a special nod for enthusiastically supporting the release.

…Though 89 percent of P.S. 146 fifth graders were rated proficient in math in 2009, the year before, as fourth graders, 97 percent were rated as proficient. This resulted in the worst thing that can happen to a teacher in America today: negative value was added.

The difference between 89 percent and 97 percent proficiency at P.S. 146 is the result of three children scoring a 2 out of 4 instead of a 3 out of 4.


On Education

Hard-Working Teachers, Sabotaged When Student Test Scores Slip

Librado Romero/The New York Times

Antoinette Byam, who was in the seventh percentile in math, with her fifth-grade class at Public School 146.


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