Monday, August 26, 2013

Measures of Student Learning

As per Reformy John King's mandated junk science plan, a committee in my school needs to determine which local measures we will recommend to determine 20% of teacher ratings. I was not able to attend the first few meetings, but I'm informed that measures will include comparisons of how students performed on last year's Regents exams with this year's Regents exams. There are also measures like comparing Regents exams to AP exams.

Music teachers will be judged on Social Studies exams, I'm told. Art and gym teachers will be judged on ELA exams. Every single example I was given makes no sense at all. How on earth can, for example, you compare a student's progress on two distinct courses and determine anything whatsoever? Yet these, I'm told, are growth measures.

I went to the DA the day we were to vote on the NYC junk science plan. Mulgrew told us that growth measures were reasonable. In any class, he said, you ought to be able to move kids from point A, wherever they began, to point B, someplace that showed some progress. While I've seen no research to that effect, and while there are certainly factors outside my control that would impede or prevent it, I'm willing to entertain such notions. For one thing, I have no choice. Under the law negotiated by the UFT, Reformy John may do whatever he wishes.

However, the measures I've heard about do not even meet that standard. They measure how students did in other subjects with how they do in mine. That's absurd on its face.

My colleagues who've gone to these meetings report that it was a matter of trying to choose the least awful of a menu containing only awful choices.

The very worst part, for me, is that I will be available for the next meeting while one of my colleagues will not. I honestly wonder how long I'll be able to sit through this nonsense without just getting up and walking out. I wonder whether I'll be able to take outlandish and invalid choices seriously.

What's my professional responsibility as a teacher? Is it simply to determine which option is the least insane? Or is it to stand up and say insanity is not an acceptable component in the field of education?
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