Sunday, September 22, 2013

Teacher EFFECTIVENESS or CONFORMITY?


This was sent to me by Christy Hooley, a teacher in Wyoming who is part of our Truth in American Education Network.  She gave me permission to post the information she sent me in a blog format.

ROPE has long been concerned about the Teacher Leader Effectiveness program in Oklahoma.  Of course, this legislation was part of the larger - nationwide push through Race to the Top - to hold teachers 'accountable' for the grades of their students.  


We've never been on board with this particular aspect primarily because, as a former teacher, I know for a fact that a whole lot of the grades kids get have nothing to do with me.  They could've been out late the night before, their parents could have had an argument and it was causing the child to be preoccupied, they're thinking about the girl in the next row over and not their test...

What Christy explains here should make teachers cringe.  I truly believe that the idea is to get teachers unwilling to follow the 'program' to leave, allowing younger, more inexperienced, more worldly teachers - primarily through Teach For America - to come into the classroom and push the current Presidential administration's philosophical agenda.

Christy did an interview with Joy Pullman of the Heartland Institute.  It is not long.  I wish you would take the time to listen, it is very enlightening.

In the meantime, Oklahoma has apparently gone with Battelle for Kids version of a teacher evaluation system.  This is interesting for three reasons:

1.  Our new  "Secretary of Education and Workforce Development" - Robert Sommers is from Ohio, the home of Battelle.  It makes me wonder how Battelle was picked.

2.  They have something on their website called the "Student Experience Survey".  When I asked Battelle if I could see the survey, they replied that I could for $230.00 - the cost of the survey.  I am VERY concerned what kind of student behavioral data will be plucked from this particular 'survey'.

3.  They say this on the "Human Capital" portion of their website, "Human capital in education must be comprehensive and aligned with education-improvement goals."  WHAT?  Please tell me people remember that Human Capital was the catch-phrase used to describe the workers in the Communist system?

4.  They also push the Common Core.


At any rate, you get the idea...Here is Christy's story:
The state of Wyoming uses McREL's Teacher Evaluation System.
It assesses a teacher's performance as it relates to the Professional Teaching Standards.  These Professional Teaching Standards are the basis for teacher preparation, teacher evaluation, and professional development.  Each standard includes the skills and knowledge needed for 21st century teaching and learning.

Here is what is stated on their page:

A NEW VISION OF TEACHING
The different demands on 21st century education dictates new roles for teachers in their classrooms an schools.  These new roles reflect a deeper understanding about the content knowledge, skills, competencies, and outcomes that define a successful student in the 21st century.  Teachers must understand what comprises a 21st century education and how their practice must reflect the demands of the education in order to realize a new vision of teaching. 

These are the standards:

  1. Teachers Demonstrate Leadership
  2. Teachers Establish a Respectful Environment for a diverse population of students
  3. Teachers Know the Content They Teach
  4. Teachers Facilitate Learning for Their Students
  5. Teachers Reflect on their practice

These are broken down with very detailed information for each. 
Teachers are rated as either: Developing, Proficient, Accomplished,or Distinguished

I found it extremely concerning at my end of the year evaluation, that my administrator chose not to give me a distinguished verses accomplished rating on the sub section of standard 4: 

Here is section f:
Standard 4 Section f states "Teachers help students work in teams and develop leadership qualities.  Teachers teach the importance of cooperation and collaboration. They organize learning teams in order to help students define roles, strengthen social ties, improve communication and collaborative skills, interact with people from different cultures and backgrounds, and develop leadership qualities."

My administrator mentioned she felt I needed to attend a particular training about collaborative teams she felt strongly about, before I could be marked higher.  We debated It back and forth a bit but of course it was her ultimate choice where to rate me. 

My concern after reflecting on this process,  is that this is truly about control, control of how and even what a teacher teaches.  Eventually, had I decided I would need to have a higher rating to keep my job I would need to take the training my administrator suggested, even if it was against my personal philosophy as a teacher. 

The fact that my administrator can come into my classroom a handful of times, if I'm lucky, even in a very small district and be able to give a TRUE evaluation of my teaching is ludicrous  .The majority of the teachers I speak with roll their eyes and just "jump through the hoops".  Test scores being tied into this is something that should wake more of us up!!  I am trying but teachers truly are either apathetic, or afraid of losing their job or see it as "just talk". 

Christy Hooley