Archives For standardized test scores

By Dan Lupkin
Special Education Teacher & UFT Delegate
P.S. 58, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn

Parents and teachers are often set against each other by politicians engaging in demagoguery and cynical “divide and conquer” tactics, but the truth is that our interests and passions are far more similar than they are different. What it boils down to is that teachers (many of whom have kids in the public schools) and parents are working towards exactly the same goal: facilitating the growth of the children of New York into brilliant, confident, kind, self-actualized human beings  ready to succeed in the world on their own terms.

Politicians, particularly those pushing a particular brand of privatizing, testing-obsessed, anti-union “education reform”, have provided ample proof in word and deed that their goals are different from ours. They have not given birth to or nurtured these students*, nor do they understand the blood, sweat, and tears that a teacher invests in a student over a course of a year or more.  This crop of “education reformers” are not educators, they are business people, and their expertise is in the management of  data points on a graph. As such, a student (or a teacher) is not viewed as an individual, but as a scaled test result, a growth score. The schools are seen as spoils to be disassembled and distributed at bargain basement prices to allies and campaign contributors.

In my experience, parents and teachers across New York City agree on many of the vital education issues facing us today, though we don’t always realize it. On issue after issue, politicians like New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York State Education Commissioner John King (and their local equivalents in most large cities) impose policies that fail and degrade the children of this country. Not surprisingly, these dangerous policies are decried passionately by the stakeholders who know our students as individuals, as learners. These issues are the ideal soil in which to sow parent/teacher solidarity, to work together to  protect the  students. Among the most pressing of these concerns are politicians pretending class size doesn’t matter, massive waves of school closings, and high-stakes testing. These are natural opportunities for collaboration between parents and teachers, instances in which the politicians are just wrong. Continue Reading…

"let Senator Flanagan and the Committee on Education know that The Regents Reform Agenda Hurts our children"

Show Up In Person to Stand Up for Public Education!

Education Advocacy Groups from across New York Unite to form NYS Allies for Public Education and Plan Protest  at Commissioner King’s Visit to Rochester

New York Education Commissioner John King will be visiting Rochester’s School of the Arts on August 28th. Although his visit is not open to the public, members of a newly formed coalition of parents, educators and students called New York State Allies for Public Education [NYSAPE] plan to make their opposition to excessive tests and data sharing known by protesting outside of the school at 1pm.

NYSAPE includes groups from the following regions:

NYC: Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE), Save Our Schools, Stop Common Core in NYS, Change the Stakes, Class Size Matters, ParentVoicesNY, Time Out From Testing

Long Island: Long Island Opt Out Info, Long Island Parents for Education

Western New York: Western New Yorkers for Public Education, Concerned Teachers of Chautauqua County, East Aurora Supporters of Public Education, Hamburg Parents for QUALITY Public Education, Ken-Ton Parents Against Excessive Testing, Lancaster Central School District Info on Standardized Testing, NYS Stop Testing, O.P. Parents Against Excessive Testing, Partnership for Smarter Schools , Rush Henrietta Parents Against Excessive Standardized Testing, Williamsville Parents for Meaningful Assessment

Central New York: New York State Foundations of Education Association Opt Out of State Standardized Tests – New York (Opt Out NY) 

Oneonta Area for Public Education 

Adirondack Region: Opt Out Staab, Saranac Lake Parent Faculty Education Alliance 

Hudson Valley: Heads Down-Thumbs UpOssining Citizens For Schools

Parents For Change – Warwick, NYRe-Thinking Testing Mid-Hudson Region

Student test scores on the state standardized exams plummeted this year: only 31% of students passed these tests.  Parents throughout the state are outraged and convinced that Commissioner King set the passing scores on these exams to convince them that their children and schools are failing to help him impose his damaging agenda.   Last weekend, nearly 2,000 parents and teachers, including members of NYSAPE, attended a protest rally in Long Island, expressing their opposition to these unfair and invalid exams.
Continue Reading…

alt="Not everything that counts can be counted Einstein"

Prescient advice for Mayor Bloomberg and his fellow Corporate “Reformers”

Gulag

August 14, 2013 — Leave a comment
alt="high stakes test harm children"

Corporate Education Reform comes from a long, proud tradition

alt="NYC's 2013 test scores don't highlight how arbitrary high stakes testing is"

The high stakes testing emperor has no clothes

By: Two Social Studies Teachers for MORE

By nature, social studies teachers do two things: they make it their business to know what’s going on, and they try to answer why is this happening. Perhaps this is why many of the bloggers you read just happen to be social studies teachers.

For high school social studies teachers, this June marks the first attempt at centralizing the grading process for our two exams: Global History and Geography and United States History and Government. According to the plan, student exams, when finished, are placed in a shipping box and sent (to Conneticut, of all places) to be scanned by McGraw-Hill, a private company. The scanned version of the exam is then presented to a teacher for grading over the Internet using software that has been developed by McGraw-Hill.

Teachers have been assigned to report to central grading hubs located throughout the city’s five boroughs. Each hub can accommodate approximately two hundred teachers. The process is supposed to be simple: teachers go to a URL, located on a McGraw-Hill-owned domain, and use their official Department of Education username and password (the same used for email, SESIS, ARIS and the payroll portal [each built by other for-profit corporations]). Upon entering the password, the teacher is presented the test that he or she has been assigned to grade and grades the different portions of the exams.

A few things need to go right in order for this to happen. Well, a lot of things need to go right in order for this to happen. First, the exams must reach their destination and be scanned over the two-day weekend. I’m sure McGraw-Hill swears they were. Then, the Internet connection between the exam locations and the user (the teacher, located at the school) needs to be up and running—and it needs to continue to operate throughout the entire process. Lastly, the servers (including the file server, where the scanned version of the exams are stored and the authentication servers that validate the usernames and passwords for each teacher) must be functioning.

Now, the original schedule for the week included having social studies teachers grade between the days of Monday and Thursday. We were supposed to return to our assigned school on Friday. Remember that original schedule. The fiasco that has ensued since yesterday wouldn’t be the same without referring to this original schedule.

On Monday, we all sat around while the “system” presented exams on our screens to grade. Many teachers were not able to log in (a true problem with the authentication server). Others were able to log in, but not able to access a single exam item to grade. Although the system listed many exams available to be graded, it simply did not present these exams to teachers’ screens for grading. After two hours of sitting around in the borough of Brooklyn, teachers were told to go back to their assigned schools. The system had a problem, the supervisors said. It couldn’t download the scanned exams. Teachers in Queens and Manhattan were given this news one hour later (a noon “dismissal to site” order was given at one hub at least in Queens; a 12:30 “dismissal to site” was given in at least one hub in Manhattan). At that point, teachers in all three boroughs were informed that Friday “may be a grading day.”

Overnight, the system seemed to be doing just fine. Exams were processed and seemed ready to be delivered to teachers’ screens at their “hub” schools. When teachers arrived this morning, everything seemed to be up and running. Now this was similar to the experience that high school English teachers had during the January Regents: The exams weren’t ready to be viewed on the first day, but by the second day, everything was up and running. So imagine the surprise felt on people’s faces when, at around 9:25 (just 25 minutes after everyone in the system was logged in and grading the exams), the system started to experience glitches. It would hang for long periods of time before presenting an item to grade. It would not present exams. It would freeze completely, forcing the user to log out and log back in to try to access more exams.

It limped along until about 11:30 AM (remember that time) and the folks in charge thought they had fixed the glitch. But by about 12:30 in the borough of Brooklyn and 1:00 in the borough of Queens (unknown as of this moment in Manhattan) teachers were, once again, sent back to their assigned schools and told to come back again on Wednesday.

Wednesday was another disaster with the computer system crashing and teachers being sent back to their home schools for a third straight day. Hey, we though this mayor was so concerned with the environment, yet he has people driving back and forth!

Thursday the system worked until 2:00pm then shut down. At this point we have frustrated, demoralized teachers grading exams. That’s not fair to anyone. Per session (over-time) hours are being offered for the weekend. Can this money be better used going to our classrooms and our children?

Update: Friday, over a week and half after the exams were given the system continues to fail. To say teachers are annoyed and mentally drained would be an understatement. We are not robots and this week of a fiasco, out of our home schools, in am environment where we are treated as nothing more than factory workers, teachers are “sick and tired”. The crowning moment was when we were notified that we were required to report back to the grading centers on Monday. Remember if we were in our home schools doing this the right way, we would be done already a long time ago. We try to remain as objective as possible when grading, but we’re not machines and this deteriorating situation has to be affecting the grades. Usually we use this time of year to clean up our rooms, organize our files, collaborate with our colleagues, and prepare for some of the ridiculous new reforms that seem to make its way to schools every year.

Many of us who have been assigned to reeducation—I mean, grading centers—will miss the most important day of the year, graduation day. We all know the media, politicians (both parties) and corporations have attacked teachers and our unions saying we’re the ones who are anti-children, but truth be told, watching “our kids” graduate is our favorite day of the year. Not allowing us to watch our own student’s graduate, the chance to spend one last moment celebrating with them, is an extreme disappointment for us all who have watched our students grow for the past four years.

The greatest travesty is as class-size continues to increase; after-school programs have been eliminated; arts and music, and many other courses have been reduced; yet millions of dollars are being spent on a flawed system. Where are all the “private sector always does it better” folks now? The grading system is impersonal: read the essay, punch in a score, and move on to the next one. This is supposed to a more accurate, fairer system? We think not. The art of teaching and grading continues to be done away with. Cookie-cutter rubrics, scripted lesson plans, standardized testing, and now computerized grading. Millions of dollars has been siphoned off from our public school children instead it goes to further fill the pockets of Bloomberg’s cronies and their corporations who only look to “monetize” our children

There isn’t anyone, even the most corrupt politician, who wouldn’t agree that this money being wasted on a flawed grading system could not be better utilized by going to our children, where it belongs!

So as exceptional social studies teachers we have learned the key to any great lesson is great questions.

The state law says teachers can’t grade their own students’ exams, why did this mayor feel the need to take it one step further and start this new multi-million dollar system?

Why are charter schools excused from this process?

Can the money being diverted to McGraw-Hill be better used for our children and their schools?

If teachers are being evaluated on these tests, how do we know if we have have improved or not without grading the final test?

How can we help our children improve if we don’t grade their last exam?

Is standardized grading the right answer to help all our children become “college and career” ready?

Isn’t a teacher who has taught the student better prepared to grade their essays and know if they have developed their skills?

Does the regents exam and the grading rubric take into account the child’s cognitive skills, socio-economic situation, and level of fluency with the English language?

UFT Rank and File Says King’s Evaluation Plan Bad for Teachers, Students

While Michael Mulgrew launches a campaign to convince the membership that the new teacher evaluation system is designed to help teachers improve and give them a professional voice, Bloomberg is proclaiming victory. The truth of the matter is, this evaluation system is bad for educators and the children they serve: the system requires a tremendous amount of additional work with no compensation, time or otherwise. It will create an even greater climate of fear and effectively ends tenure as we know it; putting all educators who partner with parents to advocate for the best policies for children at risk. This system places too much value on testing and is flawed in its high stakes premise. Educators are best positioned to evaluate and assess our students and teachers, not imposed tests, not junk science, not pre-packaged rubrics.    Julie Cavanagh, Elementary School Teacher & Chapter Leader P.S. 15 Brooklyn

The day has finally come. State Education Commissioner John King has imposed a new teacher evaluation deal on New York City.  UFT president Michael Mulgrew’s attempts to claim a victory in the face of defeat are hardly convincing. In his letter to the membership Mulgrew says “Here is the bottom line: The new teacher evaluation system is designed to support, not punish, teachers and to help them develop throughout their careers. That is what we will be fighting for as this plan is implemented.” Given the enormous amount of money the DOE has spent trying to fire our colleagues over the last few years, it’s credulous to suggest that this system will be about “supporting” teachers. The media has honed in on the point that Mulgrew wants to avoid: tenure has been seriously weakened, and it will be easier to fire teachers who are seen as “ineffective” based on flawed standardized tests.

We knew already from State Education Law 3012-c, which was supported by the UFT leadership as part of Race to the Top, that two years of ineffective ratings means a teacher is presumed to be incompetent. In the new termination process for tenured teachers, the burden of proof will shift to the teacher, unlike the current system where the burden of proof is on the Department of Education to prove incompetence.[1]

King’s release states: “Teachers rated ineffective on student performance based on objective assessments must be rated ineffective overall. Teachers who are developing or ineffective will get assistance and support to improve performance. Teachers who remain ineffective can be removed from classrooms.” In other words, there will be more testing for our students and tests will be the ultimate determinant of a teacher’s effectiveness.  According to the outline of the plan, “Each school will have a committee comprised of an equal number of teachers and administrators who will determine, along with the principal, which assessments each school will use,” however the plan states that principals may reject this committee’s recommendations and apply their own default measures. In many schools, this is exactly what will happen.

Only 13 percent of all ineffective ratings each year can be challenged on grounds of harassment or other matters not related to job performance. Is the UFT comfortable trusting that the other 87% of ratings of “ineffective” will be based solely on teacher performance? Given the new principals Tweed is pumping out of the Principal’s Academy and their “fire your way to success” mentality, our union leadership has left us in an extremely dangerous situation.

The union leadership is pleased that the rating system will be using “the complete Danielson rubric, with all 22 points.” The potential for abuse of this complex and multifaceted rubric is enormous.

“This system will lead to educators teaching to a rubric,” says Mike Schirtzer, UFT Delegate at Leon M. Goldstein High School in Brooklyn.  “Pedagogy is a craft which no two teachers do the same, yet can still be equally effective.  This new scheme will limit teachers creativity in the classroom and our ability to differentiate styles in order to reach a diverse set of learners. Our greatest concern is the amount of time this will take from teachers to properly prepare for their classes, due to all of the assessments and/or SLO’s that need to be created, the committees need to be formed and countless hours of professional development dedicated to Common Core and Danielson, two directives that have no scientific evidence of increasing learning.”

In addition to the onerous micromanagement of the Danielson rubric, observations will be more frequent and at least one will be an unannounced observation. This is problematic, as without pre- and post-observation conferences, administrators will likely be unaware what scaffolding the teacher has done beforehand, and are likely to penalize teachers because they don’t have this information.  Mulgrew says this is not a “gotcha” system, but in practice it most certainly will be.

The new system also includes a pilot of student surveys. This encourages grade-inflation and a lack of discipline in the classroom. Research shows that student surveys don’t work in high-stakes settings. The use of such surveys poisons the relationships between teachers and students, who now in addition to their test scores bear even more responsibility for the future of their teachers’ careers.

Crucially, this agreement will not include a sunset provision, unlike districts in other parts of the state. The sunset provision was a key sticking point in negotiations, as the UFT was hoping it would be able to renegotiate the terms of this plan under a new and presumably friendlier mayor. The current deal is in place for the next four years at least, and can only be re-negotiated in collective bargaining within the framework of State Education Law 3012-c.

The mayor and his henchmen have been gloating effusively. The mayor’s statement said “Commissioner King has sided with our children on nearly every major point of disagreement we had with the UFT’s leadership, while also rejecting the UFT’s long-held demand for a sunset provision.” Dennis Walcott said he was extremely pleased with the commissioner’s announcement today and we look forward to implementing it.” Bloomberg advisor Howard Wolfson bragged on Twitter that the UFT was “shut out on nearly all their demands.”  No matter how the UFT leadership tries to spin it, this is a major defeat for teachers and students.

What Now?

The dropoff in voter turnout in the recent UFT election was already a sign of a disengaged and passive membership.  The new evaluation system and the way it was imposed are likely to further demoralize the rank-and-file and increase their cynicism toward the union.  The UFT surrendered our collective bargaining rights by turning over the key issue in the next contract to the State Education Department, calling for a biased state official to impose evaluations on us.

MORE campaigned for a membership vote on this evaluation system, and presented a petition with over 1,000 signatures to the December Delegate Assembly.  Unity opposed submitting this to the membership since they knew it would be deeply unpopular.  The fact that this has instead been imposed by the State Education Department means Mulgrew and the Unity leadership will have an alibi for what will now certainly be a deeply concessionary contract.  We must expose the leadership’s circumvention of membership in this process, and their contempt for the voices of their rank-and-file.

June 12 will be the day that city workers come together to demand fair contracts.  In light of the new evaluation system, one wonders what’s left to negotiate.  The key concessions, the biggest change to our working conditions in at least a generation, are already in place.  It will be crucial for UFT members to attend and discuss the magnitude of this sell-out, and the undemocratic way in which it was imposed on us.  Our next contract will inevitably include the new evaluation system.  It will also be the first time in this process that the membership has been consulted at all.  A campaign to vote no on this contract would send a signal to the leadership that the membership rejects this plan.

Everybody agrees that the key to this will be implementation.  Teachers must build active chapters that can be vigilant in calling out abuse of the new system.   A coordinated grievance campaign around particular issues of implementation can help us make the most of the 15 extra arbitration days to deal with systemic abuses.  MORE will be campaigning in the fall to organize and train chapter leaders, delegates and school activists to be effective in defending their colleagues and organizing strong chapters.

Teachers also need to unite with students and parents to call for an end to the high stakes testing regime that is central to this new evaluation system.  Students will now not only be taking high stakes state tests or PARCC assessments, but also regular “performance assessments” designed to assess teacher effectiveness.  Campaigns like the MAP test boycott in Seattle show the power of a community uniting to fight the standardized testing regime.

What this whole sad story tells us is that we can’t rely on our union leaders to deliver on our behalf.  They have conceded everything, and may now even prove unable to win us retroactive pay for the years we’ve spent without a contract.  It’s only by rebuilding the union from the bottom up, school by school, classroom by classroom, that we will begin to stand up to the corporate assault on our schools.  MORE is dedicated to a different kind of union, one where democracy and accountability replace backroom deals, where the members make the decisions that matter in their professional lives.  Join us!


[1] If a DOE-appointed validator disagrees with the principal’s rating, the DOE keep burden of proof.  However, validators are likely to be retired principals, in the PEP+ system, which is currently used to help fire teachers.

RALLY 042613 4 pm


Whether or not your children took the state tests, please join a rally in front of Tweed on FRIDAY 4/26 at 4pm to protest the ways that high-stakes testing is robbing our children of a decent education!
  BRING THE KIDS!

RALLY 


CLEANING UP the MESS of HIGH STAKES TESTING and 

Putting Back the ‘PUBLIC’ in Public Education


Our children are NOT a test score!


WHEN:  Friday, April 26 at 4 pm*


WHERE:  TWEED NYC Department of Education

52 Chambers Street (4, 5, 6 to Brooklyn Bridge.  N, R to City Hall.  J to Chambers Street)


WHO:  Families, Teachers, Children and Supporters of Educational Justice


WHY:  Because private schools already said “NO!” to high stakes testing!

Because WE demand 180 days of learning!

Because schools should foster a love for life long learning.

Because positive relationships between schools and families are at the core of learning.


BRING SIGNS with YOUR VISION and DEMANDS for the SCHOOLS 

we want OUR CHILDREN to be in.  

Bring Mops, Brooms, Scrub brushes, 

Buckets and cleaning supplies to Mop UP the MESS!  

Bring #2 Pencils for us to transform them into a new vision of Public Education


JOIN Change The Stakes (www.changethestakes.organd Time Out From Testing (www.timeoutfromtesting.org)

*Rain Date:  Tuesday, April 30 @ 4 pm

Like this on facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/events/121996241329636/?notif_t=plan_edited

Zero for Two

May 15, 2012 — 1 Comment

Please help us distribute this leaflet in your school (click here to let us know where you can get it out) and at the upcoming UFT Delegate Assembly on May 16th at 52 Broadway, 4pm.

0 for 2

The Mulgrew/Unity leadership is batting .000 this year. It has failed to protect us against school closings and a new teacher evaluation process that will tie our job security to our students’ standardized test scores.

Continue Reading…