Reblog of Brilliance from THE Jose Vilson! @TheJLV #netDE


The Jose Vilson | It’s Not About A Salary; It’s All About Reality.

Eww. Seriously. That Is So Gross.

by Jose on January 31, 2012

Eww. Seriously? So Gross. (GEICO Commercial)

Ever have a baby sleeping right on your stomach when you see a hilarious commercial and you’re trying to suppress your laughter which only makes you laugh harder? That was the premise for tonight when I watched this Geico commercial about a guy who uses some popular girls from the local high school to help him with his diet. Watch:

Had. Me. In. Tears.

Then it got me thinking if I picked out my most incorrigible students and had some of our favorite education reformers present ideas to them, just to see what they thought. Up first, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg:

Blooomberg: Secretly, I want to fire half the teachers in New York and give the ones left a $20,000 raise. Just to keep ‘em quiet. Maybe that’ll show them.
Girl 1: Bloomberg, where all the kids going to go?
Bloomberg: Well, we won’t right out FIRE all the teachers left over. Your same teachers will still be around for a few weeks. Then when we get bored, we’ll rotate them. Imagine if you had more teachers throughout the year!
Girl 2: Imagine if we had to sit next to all those people mad tight or stand in the back of the class because we didn’t have any more seats?
Girl 3: That shit would suck. [Vilson looks from across.] My bad, language, language …
Girl 2: But, but but, yeah, what if I have to stand next to that one boy I really don’t like, but it’s our turn to stand next to each other because of this stupid idea?
Girl 1: Eww.
Girl 2: Seriously?
Girl 3: So gross.

Next up: US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

Duncan: I have this Race To The Top program where I make states compete for money if they only agree to the reforms we like.
Girl 3: Like what?
Duncan: Well, we ask states to have more tests, find a way to fire bad teachers, and close down schools if they’re not doing exactly what we think they should be doing.
Girl 2: Oh. Sounds good.
Girl 1: Ugh, I hate tests! That mean ol’ teacher always has to give us one every week and she yells, “Hurry up and spit out your gum!” You know how much gum I have to spit out?
Girl 3: Yeah, well if this guy has his way, that teacher get fired!
Girl 2: No, that teacher wouldn’t! He gets good test scores, so he’ll probably stay!
Girl 3: Remember that one teacher we liked?
Girl 1: The geeky one who liked math a lot? Yeah, we liked her! What happened?
Girl 3: They fired her. The rumor is that some kids didn’t do well on the test, so they fired her for it.
Girl 1 and 2: Oh WOOOOWWW!!
Girl 1: Eww.
Girl 2: Seriously?
Girl 3: That’s gross.

Finally: former Washington DC Schools Chancellor and current edu-lobbyist Michelle Rhee

Rhee: First, let me say how much I really like students and …
Girl 1: Eww! :: cough, cough :: Sorry, continue.
Rhee: Like I was saying … [snickers to self], let me say how much I really like students. That’s why I created an organization called StudentsFirst, where students get to be first!
Girl 2: First where?
Rhee: Well, it’s like your football team. You like it when your school team wins right? It’s the same thing here. We want students to win!
Girl 3: Huh?
Girl 2: I think I see what she’s saying. She’s trying to say that students come before everybody else. It doesn’t matter if they’re adults or whatever, like, they need to fall back.
Girl 1: But I’m confused. Why does it matter as long as the adults are there to help us?
Girl 2: Right? Shouldn’t all schools just be good for everybody?
Girl 3: I just Googled her, and this is the same lady with the broom in her hand! Is she trying to sweep kids?
Girl 2: Is she gonna hit me with that thing?
Girl 3: Let her do it! I’ma get my brother after her.
Rhee: Umm, I think you’re missing the point, ladies …
Girl 1: Yo, you calling us dumb? You trying to say because we didn’t go to the school you went to that we not as smart as you! Ewwww!
Girl 2: Seriously?
Girl 3: That is so gross!

These girls will not be fooled.


Jose, I read your blog every day, and I get your RSS feed and follow your tweets, your stuff is money and I just had to share this with the DE edreformers, thank you for this one!

Vision 2015 pushing non-peer reviewed study as proof. #MoreofTheSame #netDE

Teacher Effectiveness | Vision 2015

A newly released study by professors at Harvard University and Columbia University uses research on 2.5 million students over 20 years to demonstrate the impact of effective teachers on improving their students’ academic performance and life trajectories. Providing the necessary development and support to teachers is a key component of the Vision 2015 recommendations, and this study aims to contribute to the conversation about the importance of teachers. The results from their study showed that effective teachers can benefit their students for years, increasing their likelihood in attending college and earning more money in their lifetime.

To learn more about the study, read The New York Times op-ed by Nicholas Kristof and The News Journal’s editorial.


Here’s a more balanced look:

Just days ago, three economists released a study that created a great deal of controversy. Raj Chetty and John N. Friedman of Harvard University and Jonah Rockoff of Columbia University studied the school records and income tax records of 2.5 million students in a major urban district (probably New York City) over a 20-year period. They concluded that good teachers cause students to get higher test scores, which lead in turn to higher lifetime earnings, fewer teen pregnancies, and higher college-going rates.

The study was reported on Page One of The New York Times, covered on the PBS Newshour, and lauded by Nicholas Kristof in the Times. While the study itself did not have specific policy recommendations, one of the authors told the Times:The message is to fire people sooner rather than later.

The study seemed to vindicate supporters of value-added assessment. It was certainly good news for Erik Hanushek of the Hoover Institution, who has been arguing for several years that the key to improving education is to fire the bottom 5 to 10 percent of teachers based on the test scores of their students. In theory, if a “bad” teacher is replaced by an average teacher, then scores go up.

As you can well imagine, the study had immediate political ramifications. Conservative Republican governors immediately embraced the study as justification for abolishing tenure and any other job protections for teachers.

Bloggers quickly chimed in, and here is a list of the best posts, compiled by blogger extraordinaire and Sacramento, Calif., teacher Larry Ferlazzo.

Here are some obvious conclusions from the study: Teachers are really important. They make a lasting difference in the lives of their students. Some teachers are better than other teachers. Some are better at raising students’ test scores.

The problems of the study are not technical, but educational.

The Chetty-Friedman-Rockoff analysis points us to an education system in which tests become even more consequential than they are now. Teachers would work in school systems with no job protection, and their jobs would depend on the rise or fall of their students’ test scores.

Most teachers do not teach tested subjects, so it is not clear how they would be rated. But those who teach reading or mathematics in grades 3-8 would have to pay close attention to the tests. They would spend extra time preparing students to take them, even more than they do now.

There would be even less time in our schools than now for the arts, history, civics, geography, the sciences, foreign languages, health, and physical education. There would be less time to read challenging literature. There would be less time for science experiments. There would be less time for field trips to museums or historical sites. There would be less time for anything other than getting ready for the state tests.

There would be less time for extracurricular activities. There would be less time for chorus or band or dramatics or painting or film-making. There would be less time to read books, whether novels or histories.

None of these things is directly related to raising test scores.

What matters most is getting the right answer on the test. Divergent thinking would be discouraged because divergent thinking might produce wrong answers. So would originality, creativity, ingenuity, or any other display of independence or critical thinking.

We can expect that some teachers will find ways to avoid teaching the most challenging students and to avoid the most difficult schools and districts. Isn’t that the way incentives work?

When you put all these likely outcomes together, it’s hard to imagine that we will have better education for more kids. We might or might not have higher test scores, but at what cost? Under these circumstances, who will want to teach? Is there a large pool of average, good, or great teachers waiting in the wings?

It’s not surprising that students who get higher test scores are likelier to go to college and eventually have a higher income. But, according to economist Bruce Baker of Rutgers University, it is not so simple to identify which teachers produced these good outcomes. Baker writes: “… just because teacher [value-added] scores in a massive data set show variance does not mean that we can identify with any level of precision or accuracy which individual teachers (plucking single points from a massive scatter plot) are ‘good’ and which are ‘bad.’ Therein exists one of the major fallacies of moving from large scale econometric analysis to micro level human resource management.” (my italics)

It is surprising, in light of all the publicity, that the differences produced by the high value-added teachers are relatively small. Baker shows that the income gains are only about $250 a year over a 40-year working span for each of the students.

As Baker writes: “One of the big quotes in the New York Times article is: ‘Replacing a poor teacher with an average one would raise a single classroom’s lifetime earnings by about $266,000, the economists estimate.’ This comes straight from the research paper. BUT … let’s break that down. It’s a whole classroom of kids. Let’s say … for rounding purposes, 26.6 kids if this is a large urban district like NYC. Let’s say we’re talking about earning careers from age 25 to 65 or about 40 years. So, $266,000/26.6 = $10,000 lifetime additional earnings per individual. Hmmm … no longer catchy headline stuff. Now, per year? $10,000/40 = $250. Yep, about $250 per year.”

Now, to clear up any doubt, let me make it clear that I don’t believe any school should hire or retain incompetent or “bad” teachers. If teachers can’t teach, they should be fired. No one who is incompetent should be awarded due process rights. Teachers who are having problems should be evaluated by their (hopefully, experienced) principal and peers, offered help, and if they don’t or can’t improve, they should be terminated.

The most peculiar aspect of the study is its concluding paragraph. It is not at all consonant with their public statements about “firing sooner rather than later,” nor with the policy agendas that are being built around the assumption that they recommend laying off more teachers and instituting merit pay. They conclude:

“While these calculations show that good teachers have great value, they do not by themselves have implications for optimal teacher salaries or merit pay policies. The most important lesson of this study is that finding policies to raise the quality of teaching–whether via the use of value-added measures, changes in salary structure, or teacher training—is likely to have substantial economic and social benefits in the long run.” No one could disagree with that statement, certainly not me.

As for me, I prefer deliberate efforts to raise entry standards into teaching, to improve teacher preparation, and to ensure that every school has a significant number of experienced teachers who are masters of their craft. That seems to be what the high-performing nations do. The goal would be to make teaching a prestigious profession, rather than a job that any college graduate—with only minimal preparation—can do.

Diane Ravitch

First line sums it up pretty well……but key point of change missed in article.

Del. limits link of test scores to teacher pay | The News Journal |

The state Department of Education has again changed how it will calculate public school teacher ratings for the 2011-12 school year.

For this year, the only teacher evaluations that will have a tie to student test scores are certain grade levels in math, reading, social studies and science — areas that are tested on the state’s Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System.

And with that, has gravely deepened the credibility gap they have worked so hard to create with our educators. Bad idea, begets a bad plan, which then begets an amazingly narrow minded approach to evaluation.

Bottom line, if you don’t teach those precious tested subjects you cannot earn extra pay while your colleagues can (covered in depth in my recent TC post)…. Why is this not covered in the NJ article? Because it’s not a good talking point…..and the deft attempt is to have the PIO sell us on the non-punishment angle. That doesn’t fly! All non tested teachers are locked out of a maximum evaluation rating by this plan, no matter how good they are, no matter how much they impact their students. That’s the real story here, no matter how they spin it….and did I ever call that!

. @GovernorMarkell and @ArneDuncan: this is one major reason why your policies in education are doomed to fail. #netDE #WAPO

How high stakes corrupt performance on tests, other indicators

This was written by Larry Cuban, a former high school social studies teacher (14 years, including seven at Cardozo and Roosevelt high schools in the District), district superintendent (seven years in Arlington, VA) and professor emeritus of education at Stanford University, where he has taught for 20 years. His latest book is “As Good As It Gets: What School Reform Brought to Austin.” A version of this post appeared on his blog .

By Larry Cuban

Test scores are the coin of the educational realm in the United States. No Child Left Behind demands that scores be used to reward and punish districts, schools, and teachers for how well or poorly students score on state tests. In pursuit of federal dollars, the Obama administration’s Race to the Top competition has shoved state after state into legislating that teacher evaluations include student test scores as part of judging teacher effectiveness.

Numbers glued to high stakes consequences, however, corrupt performance. Since the mid-1970s, social scientists have documented the untoward results of attaching high stakes to quantitative indicators not only for education but also across numerous institutions. They have pointed out that those who implement policies using specific quantitative measures will change their practices to insure better numbers.

The work of social scientist Donald T. Campbell and others about the perverse outcomes of incentives was available and known to many but went ignored. In “ Assessing the Impact of Planned Social Change ,” Campbell wrote:

The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor” (p. 49).

Campbell drew instances of distorted behavior when police officials used clearance rates in solving crimes, the Soviet Union set numerical goals for farming and industry, and when the U.S. military used “body counts” in Vietnam as evidence of winning the war.

That was 40-50 years ago. In the past decade, medical researchers have found similar patterns when health insurers and Medicare have used quantitative indicators to measure physician performance. For example, Medicare requires — as a quality measure — that doctors administer antibiotics to a pneumonia patient within six hours of arriving at the hospital.

As one physician said: “The trouble is that doctors often cannot diagnose pneumonia that quickly. You have to talk to and examine the patient and wait for blood tests, chest X-rays and so on.” So what happens is that “more and more antibiotics are being used in emergency rooms today, despite all-too-evident dangers like antibiotic-resistant bacteria and antibiotic-associated infections.”

He and other doctors also know that surgeons have been known to pick reasonably healthy patients for heart bypass operations and ignore elderly ones who have 3-5 chronic ailments to insure that results look good.

Here are some more examples:

TV stations charge for advertising on the basis of how many viewers they have during “sweep” months (November, February, May, and July). Nielsen company has boxes in 2 million homes (representative of the nation’s viewership) that register whether the TV is on and what families are watching during those months. They also have viewers fill out diaries. Nielsen assumes that what the station shows in those months represents programming for the entire year (see 2011-2012-Sweeps-Dates). Nope. What do TV networks and cable companies do during those “sweeps?” They program new shows, films, extravaganzas, and sports that will draw viewers so they can charge higher advertising rates. They game the system and corrupt the measure (see p. 80).

And, ripped from the headlines of the daily paper, online vendors secretly ask purchasers of their products to write reviews and rate it with five stars in exchange for a kickback of the price the customer paid. Another corrupted measure.

Of course, educational researchers also have documented the link between standardized test scores and narrowed instruction to prepare students for test items, instances of state policymakers fiddling with cut-off scores on tests, increased dropouts, and straight out cheating by a few administrators. (see Dan Koretz, “Measuring Up ”)

What Donald Campbell had said in 1976 about “highly corruptible indicators” applies not only in education but also to many different institutions.

So why do good policy makers use bad indicators?* The answer is that numbers are highly prized in the culture because they are easy to grasp and use in making decisions.The simpler the number — wins/losses, products sold, profits made, test scores — the easier to judge worth. When numbers have high stakes attached to them, they then become incentives (either as a carrot or a stick) to make the numbers look good. And that is where indicators turn bad as sour milk whose expiration date has long passed.

The best policymakers, not merely good ones, know that multiple measures for a worthy goal reduce the possibility of reporting false performance.

@ChadLivengood @DoverDelDenison: How this for a whopper? #netDE #Component5 @dwablog

So, here’s a quote from a News Journal Story from 1/12/12, after a pivot from schoolwide scores for non tested subject areas, Dr. Lowery then proclaims this:


Officials alleviate teachers’ concerns | The News Journal |

She also said the state received a special one-year U.S. Department of Education exemption from rules that require student test scores to be a component of teacher evaluations.

“It will not in any way impact a teacher’s grade or trigger teacher discipline,” she said.

Then she writes this: HERE in which there is the following quote:

For the 2011/12 school year, educator summative ratings will be determined without use of Component V except as used to identify highly effective teachers, as noted below. Using Components I – IV, an educator’s summative rating will be determined as follows:

  • 0 or 1 satisfactory components = Ineffective summative rating
  • 2 satisfactory components = Needs Improvement summative rating
  • 3 or 4 satisfactory components = Effective summative rating

Only teachers of DCAS-tested subjects (math, English Language Arts in grades 3-10) will receive a Component V score for this year. They will be eligible for a Highly Effective summative rating and therefore eligible for incentive and retention bonuses. Details on the incentive/retention program will be finalized and announced this spring and will be voluntary at the local level.

So, I attended the hearing that the NJ piece is based on as did several teachers. It couldn’t have sounded more clear to me: non tested subject teachers were not going to be subjected to component 5 at all, schoolwide scores or otherwise and component 5 will not be used in teacher performance conclusions even if the teacher got a rating their would be no punitive actions. Now, a quick read may suggest that since they are only offering perverse incentives for the ELA and Math teachers who score well, that they have satisfied the sensibility of no punitive actions….but, the scoring rubric above clearly suggests that a non ELA/Math teacher who gets 4/4 is effective only. Compared to an ELA/Math teacher who gets 5/5 and can be HIGHLY effective. So, Arts, Social Studies, Phys Ed, Foreign Language, Science teachers, no matter how good they are, cannot be rated highly effective this year? Seems so, and it seems to me like we’ve been lied to, again: non ELA/Math teachers will be punished by having an entire tier of ratings made inaccessible to them for OUTSTANDING, SUPERLATIVE work. I feel bad for all teachers in the system: leadership is failing them in so many ways and from so many different places. Keeping highly effective ratings from those who deserve, and more importantly EARN, them will poison any reasonable evaluation system with toxic doses of bad morale, jealousy, anger, and resentment: DPASS-II(R) will be no exception….

Cant wait to see the DDOE PIO spin machine on this load of crap.

Tragic miscalculation: DOE to count component 5 in tested subjects, this year, on no notice #netDE

Details of plan here:

My take: Governor Markell and Dr. Lowery are trying to sprinkle in performance bonuses and incentives in an attempt to get some measure of positivity in the system (getting teachers who get bonuses to talk up the program, etc) in an election year…… Here’s the two fold mistake:

1) They have been saying all year that it will not count, so this has become a lie. Not surprising from our state ed leadership, but just another example of dishonesty piled on top of many others.

2) Performance incentives do not work. Period. There is extensive research on this subject, but our DOE has chosen to ignore it because the Feds ignore it. I believe all involved will rue the day we ignored this fact.

Well, I can’t wait to start getting phone calls from my constituents and teachers complaining that we have created class-ism inside the DE teaching profession. Unlike, Governor Markell and Dr. Lowery, I’ll handle it rather than kick the can.

Partnership Zone Plans : More of the Same @RodelDE @Briyin #netDE

Albeit for different reasons, mark this day down, I agreed with Rodel, twice!

Partnership Zone Plans : More of the Same | Rodel Foundation of Delaware

Partnership Zone Plans : More of the Same

The Delaware Department of Education approved plans at five of six second round Partnership Zone schools (Laurel Middle’s plan is due in February), which will wrap up the state’s Race to the Top commitment to turnaround ten persistently low-performing schools.

Although the plans represent significant effort on the part of all stakeholders to come together and negotiate a path forward for these schools, they seem to focus on incremental gains without an overarching, clear, and coherent vision for these schools – and a willingness to fundamentally change conditions for schools that we know need more than a “light touch”.

Instead, they feel like a mash up of various, and potentially conflicting, initiatives, which frustrates all involved and leads to the disenchantment and fatigue already felt by many.  However, scanning the plans, there are components that leave me optimistic about the possibility of these to produce positive results for kids:

  • Incorporating Technology: While I question the use of these funds to purchase necessary hardware, it’s heartening to see schools explicitly state the potential of technology to help students through such innovative programs as Dreambox at Marbrook Elementary;
  • Extended Learning Time: A couple schools are adding a fairly significant chunk of time onto the school day and year in order to catch students up on essential ELA and math skills, such as at Stanton Middle; and
  • Family and Community Engagement: Schools are strengthening or adding on to the initiatives laid out in their Race to the Top plans, such as family home visits by teachers before the start of school at Dover High.

This is a stark contrast to other turnaround efforts across the country, such as Houston’s Apollo 20 program, which has five tenets guiding their efforts, including effective teachers and leaders, extended learning time, high-dosage tutoring, data-driven instruction, and a culture of high expectations for all students.  This program, in its second year of implementation, has yielded significant initial results for their students.

The ESEA flexibility process provides an opportunity to strengthen the state framework around low-performing schools, and not just the bottom ten. Other states have taken advantage of this opportunity to change the policy context, funding conditions, and incentives for low-performing schools. Delaware’s waiver is due February 6th.