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U.S. Warning New York State on Teacher Evaluations

Ohanian Comment: The US Department of Education is threatening New York State over teacher evaluations. Your tax dollars at work.

There's no mention of this in the New York Times, New York Post, or New York Daily News. Cuomo claims 'the devil is in the details.' I'd say the devil is in the money. Send it back. New York received $292 million from the Feds. There's never any mention of how much it costs the state to follow all the federal rules that are attached. When Vermont "won" a $50 million NCLB grant, William Mathis determined that it cost the state $150 million to implement it. (Phi Delta Kappan, May 2003, pp. 679-686.)

The cost of Race to the Top to the teaching profession is immeasurable. this excerpt about New York's approval of bloodletting seems appropriate.

Bloodletting went wild [in the U.S.]. It had an enormously influential proponent in Dr. Benjamin Rush, still revered as the greatest statesman-physician of our revolutionary and federal periods, and a genius of medical administration. Dr. Rush Got Things Done. Among the things he got done, some of them good and useful, were to develop, practice, teach and spread the custom of bloodletting in cases where prudence or mercy had heretofore restrained its use. He and his students drained the blood of very young children, of consumptives, of the greatly aged, of almost anyone unfortunate enough to be sick in his realms of influence.

"His extreme practices aroused the alarm and horror of European bloodletting physicians. And yet, as late as 1851, a committee appointed by the State Legislature of New York solemnly defended the thoroughgoing use of bloodletting. [emphasis added] It scathingly ridiculed and censured a physician, William Turner, who had the temerity to write a pamphlet criticizing Dr. Rush's doctrines and calling 'the practice of taking blood in diseases contrary to common sense, to general experience, to enlightened reason and to the manifest laws of the divine Providence.' Sick people needed fortifying, not draining, said Dr. Turner, and he was squelched.... "In the pseudoscience of bloodletting ... years of learning and a plethora of subtle and complicated dogma [arose] on a foundation of nonsense."--Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities

By Leslie Brody

A federal education official warned Tuesday that if New York delays using student test scores as part of teacher evaluations this year, the state risks losing up to $292 million of a grant tied to making these reviews more rigorous.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers have been meeting in recent days to find a way to postpone linking test scores to teacher ratings due to widespread complaints that the rollout of the Common Core standards was botched. Last year, students' scores plummeted on new state exams tied to the higher expectations.

Ann Whalen, a U.S. Department of Education official who oversees implementation of what is known as Race to the Top, said by email that delaying using student growth on tests as part of teacher and principal evaluations would "undermine four years of hard work by the state's educators, school leaders and stakeholders."

"Breaking promises made to students, educators and parents and moving backward on these commitments--including stopping the progress the state has made to improve student achievement--puts at risk up to $292 million of New York's Race to the Top grant for improving schools and supporting their educators and students," Ms. Whalen said.

The warning was reported earlier by Chalkbeat New York, which covers education news.

Many New York educators have complained students were tested on the Common Core before schools had curriculum and materials to teach it. The budget law passed in April said that students' state test scores wouldn't go on their transcripts.

New York State United Teachers, the statewide union, has pushed for a moratorium on using scores in evaluations. Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, a Democrat from Queens, introduced a bill this month that would bar using test scores in teacher ratings through the 2014-15 school year.

In a radio interview Tuesday morning, Mr. Cuomo said he was "cautiously optimistic" that lawmakers would find a compromise on a fair way to delay tying evaluations to test scores. "We are at that devil in the details point," he said.

A spokesman for the governor's office said: "We would not accept a proposal that puts Race to the Top funds at risk."

About 20% of New York teachers--those who cover math and language arts in grades four through eight--get ratings based on their own students' scores on state standardized exams. For them, tests can account for 20% to 40% of an evaluation, with the rest coming largely from classroom observations by principals. In some districts, other teachers may have ratings tied to schoolwide results.

In 2010, New York won $700 million in the Race to the Top competition, launched to promote President Barack Obama's education agenda, such as expanding charters, tougher learning standards and more stringent evaluations.

By state law, if a teacher gets two ineffective ratings in a row, a district may start dismissal proceedings. This past academic year has been the first for New York City teachers working under the new evaluation system, but the second year for the rest of the state.

— Leslie Brodie
Wall Street Journal





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