Monday, May 19, 2008

Audio of Ed Sector Teacher Quality Event

I spoke to someone today who insisted that teacher quality is a separate entity from conditions. I argued that TQ is very variable and dependent on things like class size, the type of students, the general conditions in the school. Even time of day - like most any teacher will agree that under equal conditions, they are more effective in the AM than in the PM. It makes sense since everyone is more tired. This is not to say that if you get your best class at the end of the day you won't be energized.

Almost every teacher I talk to signs on to the quality teacher debate as if it's a digital concept: 0 if not a quality teacher, 1 if you are a quality teacher. I look at TQ as analog - it fluctuates on let's say a scale of 1-10. Now there may be some teachers who are in a range of say 5-7 generally and others might be a 3-5.
What we would hope for is some consistency. Would you want a 10 20% of the time who can float down to a 3 when he is depressed? (It does happen). Or a consistent 7?

Of course the big bugaboo in all this: what determines the quality of a teacher? The ed reformers have only one response: results on high stakes tests with the added bonus of value-added which tracks the growth of a child over time and attempts to find what part in that growth an individual teacher had.

They might as well rate teachers on the real growth of the child - how many inches taller they get the year you have them. "My class grew an aggregate total of 5 feet." BONUS!

Can't you just see schools slipping human growth hormone into the milk and cookies?

But let's go back to the TQ debate as if these factors didn't exist and we really had an effective ratign system that went beyond the test. The 5% that many people agree that are at the low end of TQ - say 1 or 2 all the time are the main focus of the so-called reform movement that includes assaults on seniority and the union contract. Call it the "put a Quality Teacher in every classroom" concept.

Like a chicken in every pot. (But it is a quality chicken?)

All this reform aimed at 5%. Like they are the ones responsible for an entire nation falling behind in the global economy. Give me a break. If principals could remove whoever they wanted tomorrow, these people would be replaced with a similar percentage of low quality teachers.

Start off with the idea that first year teachers are lower quality than they will be in their 2nd year and 2nd year teachers are lower quality than in their 3rd -- oops! (Half the TFA people are gone before they get to the 3rd year.) Also assume a % of new teachers no matter how hard they are trying are just not all that competent in their first year. Given the numbers that don't finish the year, I bet it is higher than 5%.

Thus, my theory that 5% of the entire teaching corps will fall into the lower end no matter what is done. As would a similar percentage of cops, doctors, lawyers, plumbers - you name it. I find it interesting that there's a witch hunt for teachers but not for bad doctors who have better than tenure - the AMA.

Check out the ednotes analysis of the biased
Education Sector teacher survey which didn't ask about the impact of class size because the Ed Sector is totally on board with the usual suspects on this issue. Read the Ed Notes post exposing some of the biased questions here.

David B has broken the Ed Sector audio of the presentation of the survey on May 7 into 3 parts so you can listen to them in segments – if you can stand it. There were some teachers present, including one from a NYC middle school and the president of the Providence TU.

Part 1:
Part 2:
Part 3


NYC Educator said...

Boy, talk about trenchant. That tanveer iqbal always knows just what to say.

ed notes online said...

Turkish expression, I believe, meaning NO CONTRACT, NO WORK!