Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Chap. 100: Teacher Quotas: The New Pass - Fail System

Quotas: The Latest Trend in Teacher Evaluations

Chapter 100: The New Pass - Fail System


Dear Teacher,
Pass your students or you fail!

Who doesn't want to keep up with the latest trends?  Who wants to be considered out of date or, God forbid, old fashioned?  So let's keep up to date with the latest trends in teacher evaluations.  If you thought that firing teachers based merely on standardized test scores was the "most" in teacher evaluations, then you haven't heard of scholarship quotas.  The latest - and Cindy Adams doesn't even have this yet - the latest is that teachers can now be fired for not meeting their scholarship quotas.  Cops have to give out x amount of citations.  Teachers have to give out x number of free passes.

There are 94 New York City schools currently defined as “renewal” schools.  Post-apocalyptic - I’m sorry, post-Bloomberg New York City Mayor de Blasio and his chancellor Carmen Farina promised to stop closing schools and calling it reform.  Instead of closing schools that Bloomberg would have axed, they’ve redefined them as “renewal” schools and given them a three year reprieve.  If in three years these schools are not “renewed,” they will be closed.  We might go to a spa to get renewed but not so for schools.  Such is the keeping of political promises.

In an article by Elizabeth A. Harris entitled “De Blasio Unveils New Plans for Troubled Schools in New York" the New York Times on Nov. 3, 2014 reported on this renewal plan and noted the improvements that would have to be made:

             Schools in the Renewal program will work along a three-year timeline, which will require improved attendance in the next school year and enhanced academic performance the year after that. 

In other words, these schools have to show “progress” in getting truant students to attend school.  These schools must also improve their graduation and Regents pass rate “data,” which would be considered "enhanced academic performance."

Improved attendance can be dicey.  Since a school can do nothing to actually get students into the building, the only alternative is data manipulation.  This is done through various ruses, prestidigitation, subterfuge, magic formulas and sleights of hand.  Since the education reform powers-that-be have mandated that the school somehow do the impossible, the impossible is “done.”  Somehow attendance data shows progress, students or no students.

Steps toward “enhanced academic performance,” on the other hand, are more readily available to  administrators hoping to keep their schools open and their jobs / pensions in tact.

Disclaimer: What follows applies not just to New Explorers High School and the other 93 schools on the renewal list but to every school in New York state.  I use New Explorers High School as an example only because of my direct experience there.  The administrators at New Explorers are merely doing what administrators at all high schools are doing.  They are attempting to deal with absurd and unrealistic mandates and expectations put on them by people who care little about education but everything about their various agendas.

What exactly is “enhance(d) academic performance?”  By one measure it might be credit accumulation.  Credit accumulation is simply the number of classes passed or failed by any given student.  It's that simple.  Is a student passing enough classes in the 9th grade to be defined as a “sophomore” the following year?  School reformers are now scrutinizing the credit accumulation data of schools state and countrywide.  They want to know if 9th grade students are progressing to the 10th grade, 10th graders to the 11th grade, etc., at a rate deemed acceptable to them.  What actually constitutes a “freshman,” “sophomore,” “junior,” or “senior” deserves its own chapter and social advancement remains in disrepute even though it is not a good idea to have a 19-year-old predator sitting in a freshman class with 14-year-old girls, which happens if there is no social advancement.  I’ve had to deal with that situation first hand.

Unlike attendance, credit accumulation is something that administrators can get their hands on.  If students are not passing their classes, could it be that the teacher isn’t teaching them well enough?  Could it be that if the teacher just taught them better, they would pass and thus accumulate the credit?  Could it be that it’s the teacher’s fault rather than the student’s fault that the student failed?  Could it be that it is the teacher’s fault that the student does no work and doesn’t care whether he/she passes the class or not?  Could it be that in spite of the great lesson taught by the teacher, it’s the teacher’s fault that the student spent the entire class period preoccupied with daydreams, cell phone apps, gossip, teenage drama, food, t.,v., video games, movies, make-up and everything else that students do rather than learn?  Of course it could!  In fact, it must be the teacher’s fault!  This is the twisted logic of current school reformers.

The obvious solution?  Quotas.  If a school is mandated to graduate a certain number of students, why can’t teachers be mandated to pass a certain number of their students?  Such is the twisted logic of the school reformers.

Thus it was that I was called into a disciplinary meeting by my A.P. concerning my “scholarship.”  Perhaps you thought that “your scholarship” referred to how you did in school.  If so, you know nothing of current school reform and the re-defining of the obvious.  “Scholarship” now euphemistically refers to the number of students passing or failing “your” classes.  Here is the letter that I and others at New Explorers received recently concerning this vital issue:  “Scholarship Meeting.”

Note the bromide at the bottom: "When students graduate, we all succeed."  I like to see students graduate.  But that's their success, not mine.

It’s brief and to the point, as you can see.  They wanted to discuss my “scholarship,” which perhaps exists as a euphemism for purposes of plausible denial.  A clever lawyer might twist the term “scholarship” into almost anything.  Among New York City teachers and especially those of us who have experienced these “scholarship” discussions, however, there is no doubt about what it means.  It means that you are failing too many students.

Most troubling is the last line:

           Because this may lead to disciplinary action, you may bring a union representative.

UFT Chapter Leaders also understand quite well what “scholarship” really means.

So in this era of school reform, disciplinary action can be taken against teachers who simply fail students who do failing work.  Kafka isn't just smiling.  He's lol'ing!

Let’s take the school reform logic to its logical conclusion.  New Explorer’s High School has been mandated to increase it’s graduation rate from 54% to 63% for the 2014-15 school year.  The fact that fewer than 63% of students at the school have legitimately met graduation requirements is moot.  A mandate is a mandate.

If the school has been mandated to graduate 63% of its students this year and more than that next year and more than that the following year, then students had better be acquiring their credits at a rate of at least 75%.  This year’s freshman cohort had better be up to snuff.

In other words, if a teacher is not passing at least 75% of his / her students, disciplinary action might be taken.  What form might this action take?

The Charlotte Danielson puppet has provided “objective” rubrics for evaluating teachers.  See Chapter 31: The Charlotte Danielson Rubric for the Highly Effective Husband.  This pretense at objectivity would be laughable if it weren’t being used to incriminate good teachers.  If a teacher fails to meet his / her quota, obviously some of the objective Danielson categories can be deemed “ineffective.”  A good teacher’s career can be brought to a screeching halt by students who don’t attend, don’t work, create chaos in the classroom and who don’t care about education in the least.  That, according to the reformers, is the teacher’s fault.

So let’s take this concept to its ultimate extreme.  After all, there is no reason why every student who never shows up at school or who does no work and spends the day in the hallways shouldn’t accumulate every credit and graduate in four years.  Let’s imagine one of these disciplinary meetings in the year 2018 when the old No Child Left Behind mandate of 100% graduation is the “standard” for public education.

A.P.    So, Mr. Haverstock, only 99% of your students passed your class.  What’s up?
Me    Well, I never saw Jimmy.
A.P.    And?
Me    Well, since I never saw him, there was no work in his portfolio.
A.P.    And?
Me    Since his name was still on the roster, I had to submit a grade.
A.P.    And?
Me    Well ….
A.P.    Let me see your outreach log.
Me    Ok.  Here.
A.P.    You called at the beginning of the term?
Me    Yes.
A.P.    That’s it?
Me    Well, the number was disconnected.  I heard from students that he was in ….
A.P.    What sort of interventions did you attempt?
Me    Well, since I never saw him except that one time on the stairs smoking ….
A.P.    Don’t you understand that it is your responsibility to make sure that every single student on your roster gets the intervention that he needs?
Me    I did chase him down the stairs that day.
A.P.    Did you catch him?
Me    He was on the football team, you know, before he ….
A.P.    You should have run faster.  Maybe if you’d tackled him, he could have passed your class.
Me    Well, I passed Susie even though I only saw her once after catching her on the Concourse.  She did some extra credit.
A.P.    That’s not good enough.  We need to graduate 100% of this cohort and because of you Jimmy is not going to graduate.  Do you know what that means for our school?
Me    Because of me?
A.P.    Okay, I’ve had this meeting with all of his teachers but that doesn’t mitigate your responsibility in our failure to graduate a student that we never saw.
Me    Well, all I can say is ….
A.P.    I’m afraid this will result in an “ineffective” rating for you this year ….

I could go on but it’s pathetically easy to spoof the absurdity of current school reform.

Could there be anything more absurd and surreal than giving teachers quotas on the number of students they have to pass?  Could there be anything more absurd or surreal than placing quotas on the number of students a school must graduate?  Could there be anything more absurd than current education reform?

This is the shell game that the education reformers are playing and they’re playing it for their own purposes that have nothing to do with education.  As always teachers are on the front line and are the first to fall.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Chap. 86: ATR Supervisor Covers Her Ass


Chapter 86: Highly Effective Lesson Rated Unsatisfactory


Covering Her Ass


What was my ATR supervisor up to when she rated a highly effective ELA lesson “unsatisfactory?”

Covering her ass, of course.  Read on.

As I said in Chapter 82, when the premise is faulty, everything that follows is nonsense.  Like a student highlighting a text, Annellisse Falzone, an ATR field supervisor, has set that point off in bold face with an observation that took place on Dec. 9, 2014 at the Women’s Academy of Excellence (WAE) where I was assigned as a maternity leave replacement through the end of the 2014-15 fall semester (end of Jan. 2015).  Of course, assurances to ATRs are written in dry erase if not lines in the sand.  I was assured on Nov. 10, 2014 that I would remain at my 3rd school assignment for the rest of the semester.  Principal Quintana of Bronx H.S. of Medical Science gave me this assurance.  As it turned out, two weeks later I found myself at WAE.  Not only did I not stay at Bronx Med. Science for the semester, that became my shortest ATR stint yet.  Not surprising that the opposite of what you’re told by DOE people turns out to be true.

Neither was I was surprised to receive an email from Ms. Falzone on Monday afternoon, Dec. 8 informing me that I would be formally observed the following day.  I wasn’t surprised because on the preceding Friday, Dec. 5, she had called me into a “disciplinary” meeting where I had remained, like many Bronx students, "oppositionally" defiant for insisting that she had acted improperly and unethically by observing me in a coverage of an advisory period.  On Dec. 8, she didn’t indicate which class she would be observing on Dec. 9, just that she would be showing up.

Show up she did.  Ms. Falzone observed as I taught a 10th grade ELA class.  Unfortunately, there is no video tape of this lesson, which by even the faux-objective Danielson criteria was nothing if not highly effective.

Attached here is Ms. Falzone’s Formal Observation Report.

At least Ms. Falzone got the date right and didn’t have me talking to imaginary students in the room, as one previous “supervisor” had me doing.  (See: A.P. Erica Clarke Observation Report)

Ms. Falzone fairly describes the groupings that I used for the lesson.  Grouping in this class was relatively easy since these were high functioning sophomores all either at or above grade level.  This was the best group of kids I have ever taught in 14 years in the DOE.  It was a pleasure and an honor to be their teacher.  It will certainly be the highlight of my year as an ATR in spite of the “unsatisfactory” rating for the observation.

The reason this was an honors group was clear and would have been clear to any Bronx teacher.  They were learning and excelling because they had the ability to sit quietly, listen, and focus.  They were academically inclined and certainly the ones who really should be in a college readiness course of study.  But this is true for perhaps 20% of Bronx public school students.  The idea that every student should be college ready is as ludicrous as a 4 ounce pint of Guinness.

In any case it was a very simple workshop / jigsaw lesson.  Notice that Ms. Falzone failed to include in her report the actual handout that the students were working from.  It was Pearson’s Open Book Test for “The Monkey’s Paw.”  These worksheets are designed for class discussion and text analysis and for students who can function in an academic setting, i.e., a classroom, they are useful.  I will attach the worksheet here: Pearson Open Book Test: "The Monkey's Paw"

It’s common for teachers to be accused of lacking rigor in their questioning.  It’s common because it is completely subjective and comes down to the supervisor’s word against the teacher’s but the teacher is the one who best knows the level of his/her students.  The teacher, in fact, is the only person in a position to evaluate the appropriate level of rigor in any given class or with any given student or in any given questioning situation.  Yet it is the outsider who has the last word on this.

Nevertheless Ms. Falzone did not even attempt this common “gotcha” evaluation technique in this class but not because the level of rigor wasn’t clearly evident.  It was.  I suspect that she declined to take this route because I was using Pearson materials.  If she had suggested that my lesson “lacked rigor,” she would actually have been accusing Pearson’s common core aligned materials of lacking rigor.  They certainly don’t want to upset the Pearson juggernaut in its quest to monopolize educational materials and the hundreds of millions of dollars they stand to make via the common core scam.  (See chapter: Common Corps.)

So I guess I passed the “rigor” test.  That, in fact, is the reason I’ve been happy to use Pearson materials for the past few years.  I think that virtually any materials can be useful in the hands of teachers who know the subject and care about communicating it and students who are interested in gaining everything they can in the short time they have to spend with their teachers.  Pearson materials, like any others, can be used in this way and they become a de facto method of averting that onerous “lack of rigor” criticism that lazy and ignorant supervisors often resort to.

So what didn’t I pass?  Let’s take a look at her positive comments first.  You’re always supposed to begin your criticism with something positive.  It’s like giving you a shot of bourbon before punching you in the face.  Who can’t appreciate that?

On page 3 Ms. Falzone listed 3 items headed “Effective Instructional Strategies:”

1.     You reviewed with students past learned material in preparation for an examination.
2.     You provided your students with clear and concise board notes to copy into their note books [sic] as a running record of what was learned.
3.     Students supported their responses using text-based evidence in their writing and discussion with their classmates.

According to Ms. Falzone herself, the students began by reviewing previous material.  They then answered questions posed by the experts at Pearson by discussing these questions with their classmates and referring to the text in order to support the arguments or positions in answering these questions.  Meanwhile, I tracked these discussions by keeping “clear and concise” notes on the board as a means of recording what was learned and of monitoring student behavior and accountable talk.

So far so good.

Furthermore according to Ms. Falzone’s Description of the Lesson” on pp. 2-3 of her report, I grouped students into 5 groups and assigned each group 2 of the 10 Pearson questions to answer and present to the class.  “Students were asked to give evidence,” Ms. Falzone notes on p. 3 in presenting their conclusions.  Thus the class was organized according to both the workshop and the jigsaw models, both of which are still in vogue.  Additionally, as administrators have been cleverly taught to use as a transition ad infinitum!! - I also displayed, according to Ms. Falzone’s description, the “aim Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS) [sic] and task instructions on the white board.”  Thus, the lesson was aligned to the common core, as Pearson now swears all of their materials certainly are.  Who am I to doubt!

It can be readily inferred from both this description and the effective instructional strategies that this was a highly student centered lesson.  The role of the teacher was merely to monitor behavior and record the results of what students were discovering in their efforts both individually and collectively to respond to the questions presented by Pearson, questions which were aligned to the Common Core and which ran the gamut of the DoK (Depth of Knowledge) chart, currently in vogue, or of Bloom’s taxonomy, formerly in vogue but amounting to the same thing.

This, I would argue, constitutes not merely an effective lesson but a highly effective lesson.  But what do I know?  I was merely an observer as was Ms. Falzone.  I watched as those kids worked.  So being unsure of whether the objectives were met and the standards covered, let's resort to that expert in all things educational, our great guru, the Charlotte Danielson Puppet.  What would Charlotte Danielson have to say about this lesson?  Let’s take a look.

1c: Setting Instructional Outcomes

Distinguished (Level 4): The teacher’s plans reference curricular frameworks or blueprints to ensure accurate sequencing.

Again Pearson comes to the rescue.  These students had worked their way through the introductory materials including reading and vocabulary warm-ups,  the “get connected” and “background” videos, and were using this Open Book Test, as observed by Ms. Falzone “in preparation for an examination.” (Effective Instruction Strategy #1, p. 3).  Pearson ensures accurate sequencing.

Distinguished (Level 4): Teacher connects outcomes to previous and future learning.

Brushing aside for a moment the fact that there is no difference between this standard and the previous one - just different wording - I’d cite Ms. Falzone’s notation in the same “Effective Instructional Strategy: “You reviewed with students past learned material ….”

Distinguished (Level 4): Outcomes are differentiated to encourage individual students to take educational risks.

For this I would again cite Ms. Falzone: “You asked students if they agreed with the answers presented.” (P. 2, paragraph beginning, “At 11:19 AM ….”)  In other words, I encouraged students to exchange alternate opinions or points of view and to debate them using textual evidence.  This is risk taking.  The discussion allowed for a variety of differing perspectives, i.e., differentiation.

Considering that 2 or Ms. Falzone’s criticisms were classified under the heading “Demonstrated Classroom Management Skills” (p. 3.), what would Charlotte herself have had to say about this lesson.


2d: Managing Student Behavior

Distinguished (Level 4): Student behavior is entirely appropriate; any student misbehavior is very minor and swiftly handled.

As pointed on in chapter 31 of this blog, The Charlotte Danielson Rubric for the Highly Effective Husband, which see, it’s impossible for student behavior to be “entirely appropriate” and yet minor at the same time.  Nevertheless, this is the nonsense by which teachers are now being evaluated.  What does Ms. Falzone have to say about this: “You allowed a student to sleep throughout the entire lesson ….”  This I did and yet I would argue in all seriousness that her behavior was entirely appropriate.  She was, after all, very sleepy, as evidenced by Ms. Falzone’s observation that she not only slept, she slept through the entire lesson.  This student had told me that she wasn’t feeling well.  Clearly she was in need of sleep.  I took up the lifestyle situations that might have caused this sleepless condition later with her counselor.

Distinguished (Level 4): The teacher silently and subtly monitors student behavior.

I would note some of the direct notations made by Ms. Falzone of my activities during this lesson:

     “You displayed the heading, aim Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS) [sic] ….”
     “You displayed the group names and questions they would answer.”
     “While students worked with group members … you walked around and provided guidance.”
     “Students were asked to give evidence, [sic] by citing their class notes … and the reading passage.”
     “You continued to assess which groups were ready to present.”
     “Students were prompted to support their answers by citing evidence from the text."
     “You asked students if they agreed with the answers presented.”
     “You asked, ‘Who is the most frivolous person in this room?’”

I think it would be entirely plausible that these observations are of a highly effective teacher conducting a highly effective classroom according to this Danielson rubric.

Perhaps the sleeping student falls under the umbrella of “classroom management,” though she presented no misconduct to be corrected silently or otherwise.  Ms. Falzone’s second point in this area, however, my failure to include “the use of an agenda,” has nothing at all to do with classroom management.  In fact, as I point out below, there was an agenda in place with timing and sequencing made explicit and Ms. Falzone made note of it in this very report.  What was missing was her cookie cutter formula agenda.  Such an agenda would have been highly inappropriate for this high functioning group.

But enough of Charlotte Danielson.  Let’s not give credence where none is due.  The Danielson rubrics are nothing more than a pretense of objectivity.  There is nothing objective about them.  They are a fraud and a scam.  Madoff would be proud.

Of course, I would not credit myself, Pearson, Charlotte Danielson or Bernie Madoff for this highly effective lesson.  I would credit the students.  With the single exception of the student who slept, the other 22 young ladies present were all high functioning students with a real desire to think and learn.  They were grouped together for this very reason.  They had strong study skills, the ability to focus on a task and perhaps most importantly, as mentioned above, the inclination to listen to others respectfully, express themselves in an appropriate manner and think for themselves.  Unfortunately these scholarly traits are lacking in more than 50% of the Bronx students that I have taught.  This was an exceptional group of kids.

So how did Ms. Falzone manage to turn a highly effective lesson into an unsatisfactory one?  Let’s take a look at the “Instructional Areas in Need of Improvement” (p. 3).

Promotes Positive Student Learning Outcomes
In spite of the very optimistic heading, this section is actually about areas in need of improvement, i.e., reasons for running a teacher out of the teaching profession.
First, the lesson was “void of a summary ….”

That is not merely a strong statement but, as I taught my students in that first “unsatisfactory” lesson back at Mott Hall, the one in which I was observed during a coverage of an advisory period - that is a very strong visual image.  (Maybe Ms. Falzone learned something about sensory images during that “U” rated lesson!)  A “void” suggests a vacuum that sucks in everything within reach.  My “void” of a summation, therefore, sucked in every positive attribute of the lesson, leaving it “void” of value.  Nice metaphor, Ms. Falzone.  Too bad it’s so easy to see through your specious use of figurative language.

Since this “void of a summary” must have taken place near the end of the lesson, let’s take a look at exactly how this lesson was concluded.  There is an interesting gap in Ms. Falzone’s description of the lesson.  After noticing the sleeping student at 11:18, students began answering assigned questions at 11:19.  Note that at the top of the report, it is stated that the class ran from 11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.  It actually ran from 10:59 till 11:44 but we won’t quibble about attention to detail in the critical area of teacher evaluations.  What would be the point in demanding an accurate description of an objective Danielson based work of pure science?

At the beginning of her description at the bottom of page 1, Ms. Falzone quotes me as saying:

“There are ten questions on The Monkey’s Paw to be answered.  Students will have 20 minutes to answer the questions and 20 minutes to share their answers with their classmates.  You displayed the heading …. [sic]

Unfortunately Ms. Falzone failed to note where my words stopped and hers began but who hasn’t failed to close a quotation from time to time?  More importantly, whether in these words or others, I told the class that they would have 20 minutes to get their answers together with evidence and then 20 minutes to present.  Ms. Falzone got that part right.

Given these strong academic students, they were able to begin their presentations a minute early at 11:19, as noted by Ms. Falzone (or right on time if the exact time of the class period is used).  Without noting how much time had passed, Ms. Fazlone then says:

After reviewing the questions you displayed a list of 22 vocabulary words.  Students were asked to use the vocabulary words in a sentence.

Ms. Falzone goes on to note that I got students to interact with one another in a real life exchange using the word “frivolous.”

Since Ms. Falzone failed to note just when this part of the lesson began, I will fill her in.  It began at about 11:42.  At that point it was clear that as a result of the discussion generated by the Pearson Open Book Test group activity, the class was not going to be able to answer all 10 questions in a single period.  The final group had yet to present their findings for questions 9 and 10.  Thus I announced that we would finish the presentations the following day.

Strangely, not a single student raised her hand to ask if that was an adequate way to end a lesson.  Not a single girl demanded a summary of what had just happened in the class and what they had all recorded on their worksheets.  Not a single student wanted to know what to expect the next day - the presentation of the final two questions.  Even the kid who was asleep was happy to find when she awoke that class would continue as expected the next day.

Nevertheless with 3 minutes left there was time to review vocabulary for their weekly vocabulary quiz, one of the routines I quickly established.  Instead of summarizing what they had just done and what was fresh in their minds, the class ended with students using words taken from the reading and highlighted in Pearson vocabulary worksheets, which the students had completed before the reading of “The Monkey’s Paw.”  It seems to me that I’ve heard or read somewhere that vocabulary ought to be worked into the lesson in any way possible in order to allow for repeated exposure to the word.  I swear I’ve heard that somewhere!

So to conclude about Ms. Falzone’s criticism of the lesson, that there was a “void” where a summary ought to have been, I would simply point to her own notations, which show something other than a void.  While a spectacular visual image - nothingness has led to the creation of religious movements - “void” by definition is not what Ms. Fazone got at the end of that lesson.  The class was not suddenly sucked into the nothingness of a void during those last 3 minutes.

The students, in fact, spent that “void” learning vocabulary.  Ms. Falzone recommends at the bottom of page 3 that an effective lesson allows for 10 minutes for the “Summary Component.”  Ms. Falzone would have had me trade 10 minutes of classroom activity to go over what had just been done with students who knew very well what had just been done, had recorded what had just been done and who were eager to continue - trade those last minutes of discussion and vocabulary study for a review in order to avoid the “void” that thinking about vocabulary was in her estimation.  I would argue that following Ms. Falzone’s recommendation would have turned a highly effective lesson into a developing or even ineffective one as a result of wasting valuable class time (though only 3-10 minutes).

As for timing the lesson down to the minute, as the cookie cutter agenda recommended by Ms. Falzone suggests, I would ask this question: Should I have been able to predict accurately that this group of students would only be able to research in groups and then to present merely 8 of the 10 questions in 20 minutes?  In truth I would have been happy to get through 6 of the 10 in that amount of time.  But these students worked efficiently.  Having taught them for 8 days previously, I knew they were good, but didn’t yet know how good.  Even so, it would have been impossible for anyone to predict how long this activity would take.  It was open ended and allowed for as much debate and discussion as might be generated.  Even for this same group, on any given day it might have taken longer or shorter.  There is no cookie cutter formula for this sort of student oriented activity.  What was important was that the maximum amount of time possible be devoted to the learning activity.  That was my only priority.

Demonstrated Classroom Management Skills
As it turns out, this “void of a summary” is the only criticism that Ms. Falzone was able to come up with for this highly effective lesson.  That’s not surprising.  It’s hard to come up with criticism of a highly effective lesson.  Nevertheless, she was forced to come up with something more than the mere “void” of a summation and so there are 2 problems listed under “Demonstrated Classroom Management Skills.”  The first of these involves a student who slept through the entire lesson.  Ms. Fazone is not remiss in this description.  That student lay down on one of the 2 sofas in the room and slept soundly through the entire period.  This much is true.

I wonder how much time Ms. Falzone spent observing sleeping beauty?  In the observation report we hear from Ms. Falzone that at 11:19, right on schedule after 20 minutes, the class began to present their findings.  The next we hear from Ms. Falzone in this report is just after the bell at 11:45 when she asks about this student who slept through the period.  (I wonder if Ms. Falzone took a cue from that student and nodded off herself for a bit?  After all, it must be fairly tedious to sit through a lesson when the outcome has been predetermined.)

This particular student was the single low functioning student in this group.  Although I had been teaching that group for less than 2 weeks by Dec. 9, I had already established a rapport with many of them as well as class routines.  Establishing a rapport with the one dysfunctional student was going to take more time and care.  She had failed the first marking period.  She had already demonstrated an inability to focus and participate.  She had already demonstrated an ability to intimidate the other students in the class and to disrupt an otherwise well functioning group.  I was hoping that by the end of the marking period I would have established some sort of relationship with her that would help me to motivate her to study.  Thus, when she told me at the start of the class that she wasn’t feeling well, I decided to allow her to sleep if that was what she was going to do - and sleep she did - and to talk to her counselor later that day, which I did.

I would ask two questions about this situation.  The first is this: what does it have to do with the quality of the lesson?  Was I being evaluated on my teaching, i.e., the quality of the learning environment during classroom activities, on my ability to make decisions more related to the social sciences than to teaching or on both?  The lesson itself was highly effective.  If Ms. Falzone considered my decision on how to treat this one student a bad decision, is that enough to turn a highly effective lesson into an unsatisfactory one?   My decision was based on the well being of the group as a whole.  22 students experienced an excellent learning opportunity.  I was not going to allow a single student to deny them that.

My second question would be this: Is a supervisor coming into a classroom infrequently and with no knowledge of the students under observation in a position to evaluate the teacher - student relationship?  The teacher - student interaction is crucial to the success or failure of any lesson, regardless of learning objective, common core (or other) standard, motivation, lesson development or anything else that is used to discredit good teaching.  Thus, is a person unfamiliar with classroom dynamics in a position to make any evaluation at all on how to manage dysfunctional students?  If Ms. Falzone disagreed with my decision in this case, she ought to have spoken to me afterwards and tried to gauge my perspective on the situation.  She did not do this.  She simply stated that it is unacceptable for a student to sleep through a lesson.  Naturally teachers don’t want students to sleep through a class.  The unfortunate reality is that there are occasions when allowing a student to sleep is the best decision that can be made at the time and with the best interests of all taken into consideration.  Only the classroom teacher is in a position to make such a determination.

I would argue that this situation has nothing to do with classroom management.  This was a special instance that demanded an individual response that had to take place outside of the classroom.  Teachers know full well how much instructional time is lost dealing with the individual needs of one or two students.  I was not going to allow this student’s individual needs to impact the good of the group.  Therefore, this “criticism” had nothing at all to do with the evaluation of the lesson but everything to do with an agenda that seeks to ostracize teaching according to mandates and dictates send down from school reformers who have their own agendas that have nothing to do with educating kids.

I might note that not one of the other 22 students was distracted by the presence of this sleeping student.  They were all too familiar with that student’s waking behavior.  In fact, they were relieved that she was asleep and not disrupting the class but, of course, there was no way for an outsider to know that.   Ms. Falzone could not have known that.  Ms. Falzone would not have been aware of how much less tension there was in the room with that one student rendered, for all practical purposes, unresponsive.  Ms. Falzone could not have known, but I had learned that very quickly.

The other classroom management issue noted by Ms. Falzone on page 3 is an alleged lack of an agenda.  This is the same agenda that would have had me waste the last 10 minutes of this class reviewing material just learned, but be that as it may, I would point again to Ms. Falzone’s own words in her description of the lesson.  On the one hand she states:

“You did not include the use of an agenda to aid you in pacing your lesson ….” (p. 3, #2 under “Demonstrated Classroom Management Skills).

But recall that in Ms. Falzone’s description of the lesson earlier, she noted that I had written “task instructions” on the white board and that I had told the students that 20 minutes would be devoted to creating a presentation and 20 minutes to making the presentation, leaving 5 minutes for any unanticipated turn of events, as any open ended “agenda” ought to do.  If that is not an agenda, what is?

But let’s just stipulate that there was no agenda.  Let’s forget about the fact that I had told the students what they would be doing and for how long they would be doing it.  Let’s pretend that Ms. Falzone’s insistence on a lack of agenda were true and let’s see what happens if I apply Ms. Falzone’s recommended agenda to this class.

Do Now: 4 minutes.  I could have wasted this time asking students to remember something from the previous day that they wouldn’t have forgotten and would have had to access in their notes during this lesson anyway.
Motivation: 3 minutes.  I could have wasted this time giving them a pep talk when all they wanted to do was to start the lesson.
Lesson Development 5-8 minutes.  I could have wasted this time modeling how I wanted the questions to be answered ignoring the obvious fact that these students clearly understood exactly what I was asking them to do and were eager to do it.
Independent Practice / Learning Activity: 20 minutes.  In fact, as noted in Ms. Falzone’s report, the students actually spent 40 of the 45 minutes of the class in independent practice and learning as the teacher (me) in her words “walked around and provided guidance” to the groups (p. 2).  (3 of the other 5 minutes were spent merely learning vocabulary.)
Summary Component: 10 minutes.  I could have wasted this time beating a dead horse.

In short, according to Ms. Falzone’s recommendations, I ought to have wasted 25 minutes of this 45 minute class period.  That’s more than half.  Evidently the last thing Charlotte Danielson wants to see is students actually working.

But it’s true that the Danielson rubrics have little to do with learning and everything to do with pretending that teaching is an exact science and that the interactions in the classroom can be objectified in the way that a test tube experiment pretends to be objective.  The Danielson rubrics are meant to give administrators “reasons” for their subjective opinions, opinions that now are mostly preordained by education reformers desperate to break unions, sell educational materials, turn education into assembly line production and create illusions of intensive rigor no matter what level of development the child may have achieved.  The Charlotte Danielson puppet strings are in the hands of corrupt plutocrats masquerading as politicians, greedy salesmen, and “educators” who are more interested in the state of their pension than in the state of learning in their schools.  Charlotte Danielson couldn’t care less about the learning that goes on in the classroom.  She exists at the behest of the reformers who have teachers in their sights - teachers, the front line in the war on education as a human right.

But getting back to the observation at hand, I have to admit that it isn’t often that I’ve conducted a class in which so little class time was wasted.  Again, I credit no one but those incredible students.  It was unfortunate for Ms. Falzone that she picked this particular class to observe, the highest functioning class I ever taught in the Bronx.  I’ve conducted many classes in which it would have been much easier for a supervisor to come up with reasons to flunk me.  This was not one of them.

Maintaining an Ongoing Commitment to Learning
As a final nail in the coffin of this excellent lesson, Ms. Falzone finds it relevant that I failed to maintain “an Ongoing Commitment to Learning,” as described on page 4 of her report.  She notes my response to her opinion that every lesson requires a summation: “That’s ridiculous!”  I’d argue that she failed to accurately convey the tone of my comment but leaving out the exclamation point.
But what does my “commitment to learning” have to do with the lesson anyway?  If the lesson is effective, does it matter how committed the teacher is to learning or anything else?  Does it matter what the teacher’s commitments are if that teacher is performing his duties in the classroom and overseeing and directing an effective learning experience?

But again, this final criticism boils down to the one and only fault that Ms. Falzone found with this lesson - the summation “void.”  Clearly Ms. Falzone is trying to turn one small criticism into several overblown ones.  It’s obvious that a summation has little to do with the quality of a lesson.  Lessons so engaging that students continue working right up to the bell are the most desirable.  It seems to me that I read once that teachers ought to conduct “bell to bell” lessons.  Of course, this had more to do with classroom management than with instruction, but I swear I heard that somewhere.

If I were more committed to learning, in Ms. Falzone’s opinion, I would have followed her formula and wasted most of the time for these high functioning students.  But the formula that constitutes her criteria doesn’t apply to a group of high functioning students like this group.  It would be malfeasance to interrupt good work to conform to a cookie cutter formula for what a lesson should look like.  Teaching and baking cookies are two different things.

But school reformers are handing cookie cutters to supervisors and telling them that if the lesson doesn’t come out perfectly round and with icing on top, it’s distasteful and unsatisfying.  That is not how teaching and learning work.  Only people who have never been in a classroom would make such demands.  Only people desperate to hold onto their jobs would allow themselves to help perpetuate such a farce.


Covering Her Ass
As noted elsewhere in this blog, in Oct. 2014 Ms. Falzone observed as I taught an ELA lesson in a coverage of an advisory period.  She rated that lesson “unsatisfactory” for the same reason she rates this lesson unsatisfactory - a “void” for a summation.  I objected, of course, and made both her claim and my objection public in this blog.  In fact, I no longer write for my DOE file.  I write strictly for this blog now.  This is a response to another evaluation but I won’t bother to put it into my DOE file.  This is meant as a more objective and impartial record, one that exposes the bigger picture of what is going on in current school reform.

Ms. Falzone knew that she didn’t have a leg to stand on with such an observation.  You can’t legitimately observe an English teacher covering an advisory period where most of the students as well as the teacher are on a class trip.  It’s not just useless as evidence for evaluation, it’s unethical.
So Ms. Falzone knew she had to cover her ass.  She had to rate me “unsatisfactory” in a real English class in order to justify her earlier bogus evaluation.  Unfortunately, Ms. Falzone picked one of the best groups of students in the Bronx to observe.  I used recommended materials (Pearson) in recommended groupings (workshop / jigsaw) and demonstrated highly effective classroom management according to the Danielson rubric - there was nothing but accountable talk and monitoring student behavior required merely a look (though there was no behavior to modify).  Fortunately, the sleeping student didn’t snore.

Ms. Falzone now finds herself in an even worse dilemma although maybe it won’t matter if I don’t send this to the ATR administration or insert it into my DOE file.  Maybe it won’t count - as if teacher rebuttals counted anyway.  Maybe it won’t be on the official record and Ms. Falzone won’t have to worry about it.  Maybe it will only be seen by the few people who read my blog.

But a dilemma it is nevertheless for Ms. Falzone.  She needed to rate me unsatisfactory to justify her first hatchet job.  Thus she was forced here to ignore her own mostly honest observations of what happened during the class and rate a highly effective lesson “U.”  She had to ignore her own evidence.  Ironic, isn’t it, that as I was teaching students to back up their answers with textual support, Ms. Fazlone was doing the exact opposite.

So I will conclude this response to an observation in the same way the observation report itself concludes.

Promotes Positive Supervisory Outcomes
The observation noted many of the important details and components of the class, omitting merely to note periodic time increments between 11:19 and 11:45, a fairly large chunk of the class being observed.

Supervisory Areas in Need of Improvement
Refrain from determining the outcome of the lesson before observing it.
Do not allow the need to cover your ass affect how a lesson is rated.
Align the final evaluation of the lesson with the evidence presented.
Accurately portray the tone of a teacher’s comments when quoting them even if they have no relevance to the observation.  For example, “You’re wasting my time,” was clearly expressed more emphatically than related near the top of page 4.
Observations should be confined to baking cookies.

Finally, I would recommend that Ms. Falzone be brought up on charges of fraudulently rating me unsatisfactory.  The only evidence required would be her own observation report, a report that describes a highly effective lesson and yet rates it “unsatisfactory.”

Why would someone honestly and accurately describe a highly effective lesson and then dishonestly rate it “unsatisfactory?”  Maybe when charged, Ms. Falzone can be convinced to turn state’s evidence and rat out the unsavory characters known as school reformers who are bribing states and school districts and demanding this sort of unethical conduct in their minions.  I would be the first to recommend that Ms. Falzone be given immunity to prosecution for revealing what she knows.

Ms. Falzone, you could be a hero yet.


ETA: Check out Betsy Combier's excellent coverage of ATR / rubber room issues at NYC Rubber Room Reporter and ATR CONNECT

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Chap. 68: Long Term Absolution (LTA)

My Life As an NYC Teacher


A Tribute to the LTA - Long Term Absolution


Chapter 68: Addition by Subtraction

     Riddle: When is a negative of greater value than a positive?

    I remember the first time I met a particular principal.  It was my first day assigned to his school.  I was resigned to teaching there.
    I thought he might want to know something about my qualifications or experience as a teacher.  More important to him, however, was the one question he asked me.
    “Do you make phone calls?”
    Not wanting to create an adversarial relationship on the first day, I gave him the answer he was clearly looking for.  “Of course.  No problem.”
    “Okay.”  He went back to his work.
    With that I became a member of his faculty.
    The phone call that the NYC teacher is expected to make has one of two purposes.  Either it is to implore the parent to help curtail the student’s outrageous behavior in the classroom or it is to implore the parent to make the student attend school.  The answer to the riddle above is found where these two purposes intersect.
    One of the main components of an NYC school’s quality review is its attendance.  The higher the attendance, the better.  The lower the attendance, the worse.  Therefore it is in the interest of the school to increase attendance.
    I’ll point out a few of the flaws in this reasoning.  First, a school is an educational institution staffed by people trained in imparting knowledge in various subject areas.  It is not a gestapo with the resourses and training to penetrate the various “ghettos” and goose-step people to where they are expected to be.
    Second, the percentage of working telephone numbers supplied by students to schools is roughly equivalent to the graduation rate - 50%, the recent uptick to 62% notwithstanding, given that such a number is the result not of increased learning but of increased paranoia on the part of school administrators needing to show “progress.”  How does a teacher call home if there is no working phone number?  Maybe you have to see it to believe it, but I’ve worked in schools where the likelihood of a phone number leading to a parent or guardian is about 25%.
    Third, calling home isn’t necessarily the answer.  I knew a teacher who attempted to call students’ homes on a daily basis.  No one made more of an effort to contact parents.  More than half of the time the number had been discontinued.  More than half of the rest of the time, no one responded.  On one occasion, however, he got through to a "parent" and the conversation went something like this:
    “Hello, I am the teacher of so-and-so.”
    “Who?”
    “I’m calling to tell you that so-and-so hasn’t been doing his work and ….”
    “Listen, teacher.  If you bother me again, I’ll come down to that school and I’ll be looking for you.  Got that?”
    Needless to say, that teacher never made that phone call again.
    You don’t have to be in the DOE long to witness child abuse at parent-teacher meetings.  I’ve seen parents slap cowering students across the face in front of multiple DOE employees and I’ve seen that such “discipline” is more likely to create more disruptive behavior and academic failure than to improve it.
    But aside from the many flaws in the teacher - student - parent relationship, the greater flaw is in the very idea that a school ought to be evaluated on its ability to increase attendance.  In the majority of cases, the school is better off without the LTA - long term absent - student.  The school shouldn’t be attempting to increase attendance.  The school should be attempting to lower attendance to include only the students and families who are actively seeking an education.
    The addition of a student on the attendance roster who has no interest in education is a subtraction for the education of those students who are there to learn.
    At the end of any school day, any teacher will tell you that they were very happy that so-and-so didn’t show up for school that day because it meant that they were able to cover more material for the functioning students than they otherwise would have covered.  Teachers won’t admit this publicly because the school reformers insist that they are reforming education and reaching those students who were previously being left behind by "failing" schools although it isn't the school that is failing but the student who is supposed to be taking advantage of a free public education who is failing.  Like objecting to the idea that a person should be evaluated on the performance of another person - see Chap. 66 -  teachers are threatened with toeing the line on attendance.  Get those disruptive students into your classroom or else!  Destroy the possibility that your highly functional students will learn as much as possible OR ELSE!
    The truth is that it is in the interest of all to decrease attendance rather than to pretend to increase it and to pretend that students who aren’t learning are.  In spite of what I said to that principal, I have often refused to make phone calls to try to lure students into my class who would do nothing but make teaching and learning impossible.  I admit that I have frequently been happy - joyful isn't too strong a term - when certain students didn’t show up for school because that meant that more learning could take place in my classroom.
    Any teacher will also tell you that it only takes 2 or 3 highly dysfunctional students to render a highly effective lesson “ineffective” in terms of how much learning took place.  But they will only tell you this off the record.  On the record, they are doing everything they can do to get those highly dysfunctional students to start attending school, to suddenly acquire those study habits that have been missing for the past 10 years, to miraculously become a person who can sit in a traditional classroom, listen to the lecture and discussion going on around him/her, think about these in terms of their own experience as well as the texts they've devoured at home, and be transformed into something they are not.  That’s the lie / line that teachers have to spout / toe.  It's a thin but potentially fatal lie / line.
    Many teachers are, in fact, shooting themselves in the foot by making genuine attempts to get those dysfunctional students into their classrooms.  These are the ones who are in denial about the likelihood of changing the behavior of a 16 or 18 or 20-year-old whose environment weighs far more in his character development than a few strange looking people standing in the front of classrooms or anything those strange looking people might have to say - even if they could hear it over the blare of the larger cultural and familial environments.  These are the idealistic “Freedom Writer” teachers who hold pseudo-religious beliefs about the absolution of everyone or who fervently believe that they’ve been put on this earth to turn around the lives of the disadvantaged or who just like people so much that they can’t give up no matter how many times they are disappointed.  I can’t help admiring them while at the same time wondering what it is that makes them try to change the world from a tiny teacher pulpit.
    Many teachers realize that such a mission is futile and opt to try to focus on the kids who truly are redeemable, the highly functioning students who deserve the best that a teacher can offer but who frequently have to sit through the frequent and continual admonishment to the class about how to behave or the threats to call home or to put in failing grades for disruptive participation or the calls to the dean to remove the truly incorrigible.  Do they really want to invite that student back to their classroom?  How many chances does someone deserve?
    If education is the purpose of the school, then subtraction becomes addition.  It’s better to remove the dysfunctional than to add them.  It’s better not to make that phone call, even given the slight chance that it will go through, than to waste time that could have been spent preparing a better lesson for those who will appreciate it.
    If in these my last months in the DOE I were to meet that same principal, the interview would go something like this.
    “Do you make phone calls?”
    “Why would I try to get into class someone who is going to disrupt it and diminish the learning that might take place?

     “So you don’t make phone calls?”
    “The students who deserve the education I can give them are the students whose homes don’t need to be called.  They are in class and waiting to learn.”
    To the school reformer “LTA” means long term absence -  a student who is bringing down the “data” in the Quality Review.  It’s the school's responsibility and the teacher’s responsibility to get those phantom kids into the building.
    To the teacher, whether they admit it or not, “LTA” means long term absolution from kids who will do nothing but cause them grief, take up their time in disciplinary proceedings and disrupt the learning of the “TCB’s” - my term - the truly college bound.  That is truly taking care of business.
   

Answer to Riddle:    When the subtraction of a positive is different from the addition of a negative.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Chap. 67: Cuomo, Part 3: The Weiner Defense


My Life As an NYC Teacher

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Part 3: Why Politicians Should Be Excessed from Education


Chapter 67: Education Reform Lies:  The Weiner Defense


Riddle: What do you do when you run out of mustard?

    As reported on page 2 of the Feb. 10, 2015 New York Post, N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s latest attempt to shield himself from the same sort of scrutiny that recently brought down powerful Albany colleague Sheldon Silver is to resort to the Weiner defense.

 If Anthony Weiner shows his private parts, do you blame Obama …  What would you have me do?

    According to the Post’s Carl Campanilo, the governor was making an analogy to the Silver criminal case.  Cuomo made this reference to Weiner

… in a New Yorker profile, speaking of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who faces charges of taking millions in kickbacks.

    First the education analogy.  Then the politics.
    Governor Cuomo has called for public school teacher evaluations to be based 50% on the performance of students.  But students, like prominent politicians and newscasters, have a tendency to act in their own worst interest.  I and every teacher I know have spent countless hours pointing out the obvious to students - that it is in their interest to study, to learn, to get good grades and to graduate from high school with the option of going to college.  Frequently we discover that student behavior is based less on logic than on impulse.
    Anthony Weiner’s blowing his own horn, so to speak, was nothing if not impulsive.  Brian Williams’ need to become the news he was reporting was something but it wasn’t logical, ethical or in his own best interest.  These are two of the most recent and best known self destructively impulsive acts.  History is littered with them.  If history teaches us anything it's that we don't learn from it.
    Students fail.  It’s not in their own best interest but they fail and they fail in large numbers in places like the Bronx.  No one knows this better than the high functioning Bronx students who spend their entire academic public school careers being interrupted by impulsive behavior.  Unless it’s counselors who are trying to get these kids the credits they need to graduate … or the principals who are trying to keep their schools off the SURR (and related lists) … or the parent coordinators who are trying to get the parents of these kids to come in for conferences … or the teachers whose very careers now depend on the impulsive behavior of dysfunctional students.
    Yet Governor Cuomo wants the performance of teachers to be based at least 50% on the performance of these students, many of whom acquire the designation “LTA” - long term absence.  You can’t even lead the horse to the water if the horse is at home asleep … or worse, out roaming the wild range.
    Yet this same Governor Cuomo, who thinks he should not be held responsible for the behavior of his legislators, thinks that teachers should be held at least 50% responsible for the irresponsible behavior of their students.  Gov. Cuomo thinks that Obama shouldn’t be held accountable for the impulsive behavior of Anthony Weiner and prays that no one holds him accountable for the behavior of Sheldon Silver.
    This, of course, is the Weiner defense.  Why should the governor or the president be held responsible for Weiner’s wiener?
    I propose that a new governor evaluation system be put in place wherein the governor is held 50% responsible for the impulsive behavior of all of the politicians in his state.  That would make Gov. Cuomo 50% responsible for the photos of Weiner’s wiener sent out by the impulsive politician under Cuomo’s watch.
    Weiner may only have one wiener, but given that he has two balls, this makes the calculation of the DATA used to evaluate the governor fairly straight forward.  Gov. Cuomo ought to be deemed “ineffective” for at least one of Weiner’s balls - whether the right or the left will be left to further unpacking of the data.
    Fair is fair, Governor Cuomo.  If you can rate teachers “ineffective” on the performance of their most dysfunctional students, then politicians ought to be rated just as “ineffective” based on the performance of their most dysfunctional elected officials.  You see the logic.  It's not much different from the logic you used in declaring that if only 38% of students are "ready," then only 38% of teachers should be rated "effective."  [See my new TWERC teacher evaluation proposal.]
    But enough about the governor's ideas on education.  What about politics?  Maybe Gov. Cuomo’s Weiner defense has another purpose.  Could it be that he would like to redirect the attention of the media and the public from his relationship with his other highly dysfunctional student, the one who rose to the head of the Albany pay-to-play class?  Could it be that Gov. Cuomo really just wants us thinking about the flow of knowledge rather than about the flow of money in state politics?  Particularly the money that comes delivered in paper bags and nondescript envelopes?


Answer to Riddle:    Ask the Wiener Himself

   

Friday, February 6, 2015

Chap. 66: You Make Your School Reform ... You Lie in It.


Chapter 66: Teaching Shelly Silver

The Latest Lie in Education Reform

You make your school reform … you lie in it.


    Riddle:    Does a sleeping dog lie?

    A lie transmitted through the moneyed corridors of power is truer than the truth.
    And let's not forget that if a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, that tree is still on the ground.
    The dogs at the DOE do, indeed, lie and they keep out of the sun as much as possible although at times the sun shines so brightly that even they, as the Luv Guv discovered, can't hide.  Go no further than the nearest public school building where it may not be pronounced outside of union meetings, but pronounced the lies are.  Teachers can feel it in their bones.
    But “lie” is a strong word.  I don’t know if it’s libelous to call someone a liar without backing it up with empirical, logical and anecdotal support, as the common corps(e) calls for.  But when you’re told that black is white and threatened with loss of job if you point out that black is not white, then are you a sleeping dog?  (Note that lap dogs go to Albany or into retirement along with Dennis Walcott and Cathie Black.  Panting still?)
    Governor Cuomo has called for a new teacher evaluation system on which 50% of the evalution is student performance on standardized tests.  This is only step two.  Step one, of course, was passing legislation in early 2014 creating an “evaluation” system for teachers, 20% of which was based on student performance.  There is nothing in Albany but lap dogs and they were lapping it up at teachers’ expense.
    So let’s lay out the ultimate plan:

Step One:    20%
Step Two:    50%
Step Three:    100%

They may find it politically expedient to insert an interim step between two and three at 75%, depending on how long it takes NYC Mayor De Blasio to follow in his predecessor’s footsteps and appoint Rachel Noerdlinger Chancellor of the New York City public school system.  Platform heels, after all, lead to the next step - except, perhaps, in the case of Sanford Rubenstein's accusor.
    In the news is another analogy - the expanding lies of NBC news anchor Brian Williams.  What started out as a little white lie - we were all shot at  - became an orangish lie - the helicopter in advance of us was hit - and then a violet lie - we were all on the same mission - to finally the scarlet letter lie - the helicopter I was in was hit by enemy fire.  Maybe Brian Williams' descent into self enfatuated fantasy qualities him as a new reform schooler - a job he may soon need.

    Teacher evaluations should be based 20% on someone else’s performance.
    Teacher evaluations should be based 50% on someone else’s performance.
    Teacher evaluations should be based 75% on someone else’s performance.
    Teacher evaluations should be based 100% on someone else’s performance.
    Teachers' livelihoods and sense of well being should depend 100% on the performance of their most dysfunctional students.

    I’m reminded of the great Alfred E. Neuman, who pointed out that math scores will improve when students finally give 110% effort.

    The latest lie of the education reform schoolers is that you can base one person’s performance on the performance of someone else.  It’s absurd on the face of it.  Yet we know that the bigger the lie and the more often you tell it, the truer it becomes.  When you have everyone from the president of the U.S. to his hand-picked lackey Arnie Duncan to the slate of slimy state governors wallowing in race to the top money to every lower level school superintendent and administrator whose job depends on perpetuating the big lie, it takes on a reality of its own.  It becomes a fatal fallacy.
    You cannot judge one person on the performance of another.  It’s that simple.  Yet the big lie insists that you can and rather than simply reject the lie on the face of it, the lie is accepted.  A lie transmitted through the moneyed corridors of power is truer than the truth.
    Even many teachers have accepted this latest lie unquestioningly.  Thanks to Michael Bloomberg, there is now a coterie of corrupt school administrators, who believe that shoving this lie down the throats of their faculty is their mission in educational life.  Many of them were spawned by the despicable Leadership Academy, a lie in itself as are most of the new school names and reform acronyms, that was created for this very reason: to perpetuate this particular lie and to strike fear in the hearts of newly hired teachers.  Spout the lie or be rated “unsatisfactory” or “ineffective” or, even worse, “dubious.”  There was such a category, believe it or not.  This person’s ability to spout the big lies is “doubtful.”  Termination almost recommended. No wonder they got rid of that one.
    A lie transmitted through the moneyed corridors of power is truer than the truth.
    What teachers need to remember is this: teachers teach and learners learn.
    I can remember  a time (1960’s) in Massillon, Ohio, which is just up I 77 from West Virginia - no offense to West Virginians because I feel the kinship - when teachers felt it was very important to teach the difference between “teach” and “learn.”  But it wasn’t that teaching was being confused with learning.  It was that learning might be confused with teaching as in, “I’ll learn ‘em somethin’.”  We learned that that was incorrect.  The correct expression was, “I’ll teach ‘em somethin’.”  I learned the difference between teach and learn, obvious as it was, but it turns out to be a very important distinction now that it is been subverted in the (under) hands of the new school reformers.  Some of the advances in 1960s education are being eroded by the new reform schoolers.  Maybe - God forbid! - some of them are from West Virginia and Ohio.
    Teaching and learning are not the same thing.  Teachers teach.  Learners learn.  If a teacher teaches an effective lesson but no one learns anything, the teacher is nevertheless effective.  The lesson is no less effective even if not a single learner learns.  It’s the learners who are “ineffective,” not the teacher or the lesson.  Conversely, if a learner learns effectively but the teachers are ineffective, the learner is nevertheless judged “effective” in spite of the teaching, which is a separate issue.  That learner should be congratulated.
    Teachers teach and learners learn.  Trees fall whether anyone other than the nite owl hears it or not.
    Now let’s apply this obvious distinction to the new teacher evaluation proposals.
    Teachers teach.  The evaluation of teachers ought to be based on nothing more than their performance as teachers.  Surprising as it might seem in this age of reform schoolers, that was precisely how it was done for more than a century, so obvious was it that a person should be evaluated on his/her performance and on nothing else.  It was as obvious as the apple in apple pie that a teacher, like anyone else, ought to be evaluated on his/her performance of the job.  If the teacher teaches good lessons, the teacher ought to be rated “good.”  If the teacher teaches bad lessons, the teacher ought to be rated “bad.”  Notice that nowhere in this does the learner play a role.
    The learner ought to be evaluated in the same way.  If the learner learns well, the learner gets an "A."  If the learner learns poorly, the learner gets an "F."  Notice that nowhere in this does the teacher play a role.   Teachers come and teachers go but the learner is nevertheless responsible for his/her own learning.  For more than a century this obvious truth - as opposed to the big reform lie - worked.  If a teacher performed well, that teacher was rated effective or ineffective based on the evaluation of a supervisor who was in a position to observe first hand that teacher’s performance.  It had nothing to do with whether or not the learners were doing their job well.
    As for those learners, they, too, were rated successful or unsuccessful based on their own performance whether or not their teachers were rated effective or ineffective.  Learners should be evaluated on their own performance as a learner, not on the performance of their teachers.
    Teachers teach.  Learners learn.  The latest reform school lie is that teachers are responsible for BOTH the teaching AND the learning while the learner has no responsibility at all.
    Don’t let them get away with it.
    Everyone ought to be evaluated on their own performance - not on the performance of someone else.  What could be more obvious.  So let’s apply this latest reform lie to Albany and Governor Cuomo’s administration.  If a teacher should be evaluated at least 50% on the performance of his/her students, then a governor ought to be evaluated at least 50% on the performance of his/her legislators.  After all, if teaching is learning, then governing is legislating.
    Move to the head of the class Shelly Silver!  But it wasn’t an apple that this student gave to the teacher.  It was millions of dollars of bribes and kickbacks (allegedly at this point in the legal process) that took Shelly to the head of his class.  Where was Mr. Cuomo during all of this?  Was he polishing that million dollar apple that Shelly gave him?
    By his own criteria. Gov. Cuomo rates at least 50% INEFFECTIVE.  Based not on his own performance but on the performance of those under his command, Gov. Cuomo doesn’t make it through  his probationary first year in office.  He doesn’t even rate a “doubtful.”
    Gov. Cuomo campaigned on the promise of cleaning up corruption in Albany.  Yet when he got close to the real corruption, he shut down the Moreland Commission.  In educational terms that is akin to a principal noticing that attendance has dropped below Quality Review levels and suddenly discovering that all of those LTA's aren't really on the roster after all.  In reform educational terms that is akin to a principal noticing that the graduation rate is likely to dip precariously below 60% and suddenly finding that some of those 19-year-olds with only 14 credits are better off in a GED program.  It's akin to a principal promoting the best of the juniors to graduate with the seniors in the great graduation Ponzi discussed in an earlier chapter. It's akin to telling Regents test takers to leave blank the questions they don't know so that "graders" can fill them in later, as happened (allegedly) at one Bronx school where the principal found herself ousted but only to land in an even sweeter consultancy position - ehtical consultant, no less but we won't name (Lynn Passarella) names.
    By now most of us are too cynical to believe a politician’s promises when running for office.  But a lie transmitted through the moneyed corridors of power is truer than the truth.  The governor is counting on this.
        Maybe Preet Bharara should be the next NYC schools chancellor rather than Rachel Noerdlinger.  Or maybe Tawana Brawley is looking for a job.  At least,“Brawley” is how most NYC teachers feel at the end of the day.

Answer to riddle:    All dogs lie (in the shade).

  

Friday, January 30, 2015

Chap. 92: ATR Priorities: My Way or the Highway

Chapter 92: ATR Priorities

    The ATR rotation came to an end for me the week of Thanksgiving, 2014.  That week I was sent to the Women’s Academy of Excellence to perform as a maternity leave replacement for one of their English teachers.  This is an all girls school in the Bronx, a place I knew nothing about before arriving there.
    Seven weeks later I have nothing but good things to say about the school and the people running it and teaching in it.  In my humble opinion as a roving, excessed ATR indigent, the principal, Dr. Crocker, and her assistants Mr. Molina and Mr. Ford along with the entire staff are nothing if not dedicated to their students.
    I taught the final six weeks of the semester to five classes and was responsible for the semester grades, although I had the help of an excellent young teacher with whom I co-taught in two of those classes.  I should say that I was the assistant in those classes because Ms. Brown was in complete control and had the unconditional respect of all of the students in those two groups.  That made things much easier for me as the new person stepping in.
    I preface this chapter with these comments only to say that by all accounts I had a successful time at WAE - in spite of the the fact that my ATR supervisor, Ms. Annelisse Falzone, observed a highly effective class and rated it “unsatisfactory,” which I address in other chapters.  The students did a lot of work for me and expressed their desire that I remain with them until their regular teacher returns in March.  That, of course, is the most gratifying feeling a teacher can have, especially a temporary ATR replacement cog, which is how the ATR experience makes you feel.
    Initially the maternity leave was set to end on Feb. 2.  It was subsequently extended to March 10.  I was under the impression that I would be on duty for the full extent of the maternity leave, whatever that might be - if, that is, I was performing in a manner acceptable to the administration.  Dr. Crocker sat in on the disciplinary meeting that I had with my ATR supervisor but Dr. Crocker is her own person.  She saw that the relationship that I have with Ms. Falzone does not reflect my abilities and performance as a teacher.
    Thus when she expressed the desire to keep me on until the return of her regular teacher, I believe that she was sincere.  When she said that she emailed the ATR juggernaut to request that I stay on into March, I believe that she did.  I know that she got positive feedback from both staff and students about my performance in her school.  I know that the students do not want me to leave.
    Nevertheless the ATR system insists that a maternity leave is a six week gig and that my six weeks are up and so it’s time for me to go back into the rotation.  Thus I got an email yesterday (Jan. 29, 2015), the usual weekly email, sending me to a new location for Monday, Feb. 2, 2015.  I would just put it this way:
    I want to stay at WAE.
    The principal wants me to stay at WAE.
    The students want me to stay at WAE.
    QUESTION: What are the priorities of this ATR monster?
    ANSWER: Clearly not the interest of the students, the school or the teacher.
    So in keeping with the whimsical nature of this “memoir,” let’s dream up a little conversation between between me and some ATR bureaucrat.  I'll shorten the word "bureaucrat" to its last three letters - just for the sake of convenience, of course.

Me:    So, how you doin’?
RAT:    What do you mean?
Me:    I mean, how are you doing?  Sure, it’s rhetorical but you’re supposed to understand that and answer in a rhetorically appropriate way. You know, something like, “Okay, how ‘bout you?”
RAT:    What are you talking about?
Me:    I’m talking about the nature of language.
RAT:    The what?
Me:    You know, that brilliant, imaginative way we have of communicating with one another, that incredible, completely abstract way of making sense out of the concrete universe.
RAT:    Oh, I see.  But why are you here?
Me:    For kicks.
RAT:    Huh?
Me:    Because I have nothing better to do that interact with morons.
RAT:    Are you talking about your assignment?
Me:    I’m talking about you.
RAT:    What about me?
Me:    Never mind.  Here’s why I’m here.
RAT:    Okay.
Me:    I want to know what your priorities are.
RAT:    My what?
Me:    Priorities.  It was on the vocabulary list I gave to my sophomores.
RAT:    What about them?
Me:    What are they?
RAT:    Well, we are here to ensure that every excessed teacher is following the mandates that we send out each week ….
Me:    The mandates?  What are those?
RAT:    Huh?
Me:    You just used the word “mandate.”  What is that?
RAT:    It’s what it says here on the paper.
Me:    Let me ask you this.  If the square block fits into the square hole, where do you place it?
RAT:    Place what?
Me:    The square block
RAT:    What square block?
Me:    The one I just gave you in a hypothetical.
RAT:    A what?
Me:    Sorry.  I forgot.  Let me put it this way.  Tell me something you like.
RAT:    Well ….
Me:    Something you really, really like.
RAT:    You mean, something I like?
Me:    No, something you really like.
RAT:    I like ice cream.
Me:    Okay.  Now, if you like ice cream, doesn’t it make sense that you should have ice cream once in a while?
RAT:    Sure.
Me:    So there are things that make sense?
RAT:    I guess.
Me:    I was beginning to wonder about that myself.
RAT:    About what?
Me:    Never mind.  So about these weekly emails.
RAT:    What about them?
Me:    Do I have to go where you tell me to go?
RAT:    Yes.
Me:    But if a principal wants me ….
RAT:    What do you mean?
Me:    I mean, if a principal has a need for me and wants me to work for her ….
RAT:    I don’t think that ever happens.
Me:    It happens.  If the principal and the students want a particular ATR …
RAT:    There are no particular ATRs.
Me:    There are from my point of view.
RAT:    You have no point of view.  Your point of view is our point of view.  It says right here ....
Me:    If a school wants to keep an ATR….
RAT:    It’s against the rules.
Me:    So the rules are all that count?
RAT:    A rule is a rule.
Me:    Is a rule.
RAT:    Huh?
Me:    A rule isn't a rule.  A rule is a rule is a rule.
RAT:    No, a rule is a rule.
Me:    Ever heard of Shakespeare?
RAT:    Who?
Me:    A bureaucrat by any other name ....

    I could go on.
    The next time you hear a politician or an an employee of the DOE mouth the words, “It’s all about the kids,” think of this:  ATR transposed just slightly is ...  you get the idea.
   
   

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Chap. 65: TWERC: A New Teacher Evaluation System

Chapter 65: TWERC: A New Teacher Evaluation System

You can lead a politician to a check, but can you make him cash it?

Riddle:     If an apple a day (from the teacher's pet) keeps the teacher away, how big a check does it take to keep a politician off your back?

    Question to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo: If a businessman offers a bribe to a politician and the politicaian doesn’t take it, should the businessman be rated “ineffective” for not having the correct strategies, Danielson rubrics and learning objectives in place to ensure the acceptance of his offering?
    I ask this question in light of the governor’s recent comments on teacher evaluations as reported in the Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015 edition of the New York Post on "Postscript" page 25:

     “They’re baloney.  How can 38% of students be ready and 98% of the teachers rated effective?  The problem is clear.  We need real, fair, accurate teacher evaluations."

    Statistics for the number of bribes offered to politicians and the number accepted, of course, are sketchy so I’ll just sketch in some numbers for the sake of discussion.  How can only 38% of political bribes be accepted yet 98% of politicians be reelected in a state known for its pay to play governing process?  The answer is simple.  You can hand the check to the politician but you can’t make him cash it.
    Gov. Cuomo may be the most powerful man in the state, but his comments on teacher evaluations reveal that he knows as little about real education as he would like us to believe that he knew about Sheldon Silver’s under the table compensation - the same ignorance that caused him to shut down the Moreland Commission after campaigning on the promise to uproot corrupt colleagues.  Maybe someone ought to double-check the governor’s math - someone proficient in that area, of course, and someone other than his personal tax attorney.  Like Silver's, Gov. Cuomo's grasp of the basics in arithmetic seems to owe more to brown paper bags and mattresses than to math text books.  Maybe it's his version of the "new" math.
    According to the Wed., Aug. 7, 2013 edition of the on line New York Daily News:

       Only 31% of New York State students in grades 3 to 8 passed the 2013 math and reading tests, down from 55% in English and 65% in math in 2012 on easier tests.

    This is an even lower percentage than that quoted by the governor.  Furthermore, according to that Daily News article:

       Just under 30% of New York City students met state math standards and 26% passed the new reading exams — a drop of about half from last year’s scores.

    The numbers are even more troubling for minority students (same Daily News article):

     Citywide, only 16% of black students were rated proficient in English, and 15% passed in math. Hispanic students showed similar results, with 16% meeting standards in English and 19% passing math.

    The governor’s comments imply that if only 38% of students are “ready,” then it can be inferred that only 38% of teachers are “effective.”  Presumably by “ready” the governor means “career and college ready,” the latest lingo from the school reformers.  Maybe Mr. Cuomo’s aides didn’t effectively drill the full academic language into him.  I wonder in exactly which of the Danielson domains are his aides merely “developing” or even, God forbid! - “ineffective.”  Clearly their MOGL - “measure of governor learning” - needs to be improved.

    So let’s take the governor’s logic to the limit with the following chart, which could be adopted by the reformers for future use when teacher evaluations are based 100% on student performance.  Certainly that is the goal.  Gov. Cuomo himself has called for the evaluations to be based 50% on student performance or “MOSL” (measure of student learning) right now.  Obviously 100% is the ultimate goal.  Then every evaluation of every teacher will be 100% low inference, objective and data driven and based on the performance of someone other than the person being evaluated.
    Since the governor’s comments suggest that a 38% student “readiness” rating should result in a 38% teacher effectiveness rating, I propose the following as a new way for evaluating teachers based on this logic.


Proposed Teacher Evaluation Chart: School Based

Step ONE: TWERC the Data


% of African                         % of Teachers
American                              Effective
Students Proficient               in ELA
in ELA

0                                            0
10                                         10
37.5                                      37.5
42.213                                  42.213
100                                       100

    The calculation is fairly straightforward as you can see.  By setting the TWERC (translucently wrangled effectiveness rating constant) at 1, you simply apply the algorithm.  Multiply the percent of proficient students by the TWERC (one) and you come up with the percentage of effective teachers for that group of students.  What could be more straightforward?
    The complications arise when there is a number that is neither 0 nor 100.  In the former case, all teachers would be rated “ineffective;” in the later all teachers would be rated “effective.”
    But if, for example, only 42.213% of African American students are “proficient” in ELA, exactly which 42.213% of the ELA teachers does a principal deem “effective?”  This is a smidgeon under half of the ELA teachers on the staff.  If there are 5 teachers, the numbers are fairly easy to crunch.  Rate 2 of the 5 “effective” - never mind which two - that will be determined in Step TWO of the evaluation process
     Five ELA teachers on staff is easy.  However, if there are 3, 4 or 17 ELA teachers on the staff, the numbers become a little more dicey.

    Now, let’s see if the theory and algorithm work for Hispanic students and teachers.

% of Hispanic                       % of Teachers
Students Proficient                Effective
in ELA                                  in ELA

0                                            0
10                                         10
37.5                                      37.5
42.213                                  42.213
100                                       100

    Luckily, applying the TWERC, we see that the algorithm lends itself equally well to Hispanic students as it does to African American students.
    Lest we jump to conclusions, however, let’s do one final test for confirmation.  Let’s see if the algorithm works when applied to Caucasian students and teachers.

% of Caucasian                     % of Teachers
Students Proficient                Effective
in ELA                                  in ELA

0                                            0
10                                         10
37.5                                      37.5
42.213                                  42.213
100                                       100

    Happily we can report that the algorithm appears to work across racial and ethnic barriers, as any objective, unbiased educational tool ought to do.  Thus we can state the final formula thusly:


% of All                               % of Teachers
Students Proficient               Effective
in ELA                                  in ELA

0                                            0
10                                         10
37.5                                      37.5
42.213                                  42.213
100                                       100

     We can say most assuredly that the TWERC works!  We can thank Governor Cuomo for his advanced reasoning, which was the inspiration for the TWERC, the sole criterion for which was that it be a rational number based on the Governor's irrational logic.  (See Appendix below for the complicated formula used to arrive at the TWERC.)

    Now that we’ve taken care of Step ONE, the data, we come to Step TWO of this proposed new teacher evaluation system: the LOT.



Step TWO: LOT

     Say for example, as in case number four above, a principal can only deem 42.213% of the ELA teachers on his/her staff “effective” based on the objective data and Governor Cuomo’s reasoning.  Which 42.213% of the staff, then, will be rated “effective” and which 57.787% of the staff will be rated less than “effective?”  At a glance, this might appear to be an insurmountable obstacle, given that most or all of these teachers have contributed to the education of most or all of these students, not to mention teachers at previous elementary and middle schools, parents, relatives, friends, peers, television, movies, the internet, books, inspirational leaders, self reflection and motivation, and epiphanies, none of which is taken into consideration by the TWERC or the Governor's logic.  (TWERC2 is in development in association with Disney productions to account for previous teacher performances. ONE SQUARED appears to be an exponentially more useful constant than ONE.)
    However, at a second glance and remembering that objectivity is the guiding light in all education reform, we can, indeed, see the light, an objective way out of this merely illusive dilemma.  With objectivity as our sole criterion, we simply apply the LOT (Lottery of Teachers) to the problem and come up with an immediate and satisfying conclusion.
    Here’s how it works.  Say there are 6 ELA teachers on the staff and only 42:213% of them can be rated “effective.”  Very carefully toss all six names into a brown paper bag:

Smith, Jones, Brown, Green, Wilson, Johnson

    Shake up the bag.

Brown, Johnson, Smith, Wilson, Green, Jones

    Without peeking, pull out 2 names.

Brown, Johnson

    Rate these 2 teachers “effective” but only provisionally until Step THREE is completed.  Then, again without peeking, pull out three more names.

Smith, Wilson, Green

      Since no more than 2 of the 6 teachers can be rated “effective” according to the objective data and the Governor’s reasoning (because 3 of 6 would be 50% and the rule of thumb is to round down), these criteria will have been met by rating these teachers “developing.”  (After all, you can’t fire everyone at once.)
    Finally, pull out 1 more name.

Jones

    Rate this teacher “ineffective.”  Place him/her on probation immediately as proof that the principal is running a tight ship.

    Considering that it is impossible to determine the exact input any single teacher has in the exact learning of any single student, what could be more objective, non-inferential, and serendipitous?
     NOTE: I cannot take credit for the brilliance of the brown paper bag concept.  I must give due credit to Gov. Cuomo and Sheldon Silver for that, along with made men, gun dealers, lemonade stand vendors, gambling casino operators and people desperate to have certain marital problems go away.



Step THREE: Merit Pay

    Finally we come to the last part of this proposed teacher evaluation process: merit pay.  Education reformers are desperate to give money to people they think have done an outstanding job educating the nation’s children.  With this new completely objective, non-inferential and entirely accidental evaluation tool, determining which teacher is deserving of extra bucks is no problem at all.
    We’ve provisionally narrowed it down to two effective teachers based on the objective data and Governor Cuomo’s logic.  Both probably taught most or all of the students who were rated proficient.  Clearly neither did enough damage to those students to drop them from proficient to less than proficient regardless of what level those students were at when they began a given teacher’s course.  Possibly one of them even did enough good for some or many of those students to ensure that they came out “proficient” on their objective, unbiased, standardized ELA tests.  Now we determine precisely which teacher that was.

    Place both names into a brown paper bag.

Brown, Johnson

    Without peeking, reach in and pull out one name.

Brown

    And there you have it - an  unbiased, purely objective winning teacher!  Simply rate Brown “highly effective” and deserving of merit pay and Johnson merely “effective,” resulting in a supervisor competence ratio of 1 - 1- 3 - 1.  (See below.)  An added benefit of this efficient and objective method of teacher evaluation is that should it later be revealed that Brown is the son/daughter-in-law of one of the assistant principals, no blemish will appear on his/her record.  This new evaluation process is as fair and square as can be.



Step FOUR: PRICK  (adjusted to New York State standards)

    Finally as a bone to principals and supervisors, we have devised the PRICK system for this entire process.  The PRICK (“Precise Rendering of Instructional Capabilities and Knowledge”) ensures that principals are adhering to their mandates and quotas for rating as many teachers as possible either “developing” or “ineffective.”  Find a given principal's PRICK by awarding 100 points for each “ineffective” rating, 50 points for each “developing," 15 points for each “effective” rating, and 3 points for each “highly effective” rating.  Then simply add the numbers up and divide by the total number of teachers rated. The higher the score, the more competent the administrator.
    Thus, in the example discussed above, that principal would achieve the following PRICK:

Highly Effective    1    x 3        =    3
Effective                1    x 15      =    15
Developing            3    x 50      =    150
Ineffective              1    x 100    =    100

PRICK Score                                   268 / 6    =    44.66

    Even considering that this principal could not have achieved a perfect score of 100 since unfortunately, according to the data and Governor’s Cuomo’s logic, about 2 teachers had to be rated “effective,” a score of 44.66 falls, nevertheless, unimpressively into the low end of the “oppressor” category.  Remediation in debasing, devaluing, debunking and demoralizing will be provided.

PRICK Levels (New York State Supervisory Standards)

100           Fuhrer

80-99       Tyrant

67-79        Capo

53-66        Dictator

42-52        Oppressor

28-41        Kingpin

15-27         Strongman

1 - 14         Milksop


    However, by simply rating one of the 3 "developing" teachers "ineffective," this principal could have raised his PRICK by 9 points to a 53, which would have placed him/her into the more authoritarian "dictator" category and well on his/her way to "capo."
    Note that only under absolutely ideal conditions wherein 100% of students fail to achieve proficiency in every academic field can a principal achieve a perfect PRICK 100 and receive the highly coveted "Fuhrer" title by rating every single teacher "ineffective."

    Just as with trying to get a politician to cash that check, it’s a truism among teachers that you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.  Teachers teaching thirsty horses will never have a problem.  Teachers teaching horses interested in something other than water will not fare so well no matter how many standards are quoted, what learning objectives are aimed at or how well delineated the lesson plan might be.

Answer to riddle:    Checks are all the same size.


APPENDIX

Calculating the TWERC
The number of proficient students divided by the number of less than proficient students times the number of less than proficient students divided by the number of proficient students.