Wednesday, April 06, 2011

The Perpetual Audition

Today I was speaking to a relatively new teacher who expressed gratitude he had reached tenure. "I'm glad I don't have to do what Mr. Newbie has to do. He has to do a whole portfolio, with all kinds of stuff in it. What a pain in the neck."

He's right, of course. The DOE, in its infinite wisdom, decided to make a bunch of arbitrary requirements on what's needed for tenure, and if you hadn't been collecting for your portfolio the last two-and-a-half years, well, you'd better start searching those papers in your attic. Maybe there's stuff in your file you can use, but if not, you'd better get searching, or at the very least get fabricating.

But don't be so smug as you chuckle over Mr. Newbie's unfortunate circumstances. There's a new teacher evaluation program coming down the pike, it's a mystery box, and no one knows exactly what's inside. 20% of your rating will depend on some state test that doesn't exist. Another 20 will be based on some district-based assessment, which of course doesn't exist either. A whopping 60% will depend on other things, and it could very well entail some sort of portfolio, with pictures of your field trips, the ones where no one got lost or killed, and the amazing things that go on in your classrooms. Science teachers might include experiments, and those with Leadership Academy principals may want to add a Think and Do Page.

Maybe there will be a modern day variant on Goofus and Gallant, with the good teacher taking the job to help children no matter how bad the salary or benefits, and the bad teacher taking it because the school's across the street from Five Guys and Fries. In any case, you, I, and all state teachers may be doing what Mr. Newbie's doing every year until we retire.

That would be an incredible waste of time for those of us already immersed in the job. Hopefully the UFT will move to preclude this never-ending audition. There are ways to tell whether teachers do the job or not. Value-added has not proven to be one of them, and I'm quite certain this notion of portfolios would be yet another needless diversion for already hard-working teachers.
blog comments powered by Disqus