Hold Your Horses!

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In response to the Acting Commissioner Cerf’s tenure reform proposal, a group calling itself “Educators for the Quality Assessment of Teachers” or EQuATE has produced a report maligning the use of student longitudinal growth in determining teacher effectiveness. The group defines itself as (according to New Jersey Newsroom) drawing its “membership from the research community, parents, boards of education, school leaders, policymakers and teachers who have demonstrated considerable success in improving large complex systems in the public and private sectors.”

Actually, the report (here) is hosted on the Education Law Center website, and its members include ELC staffers and union members. Explained NJEA President Barbara Keshishian,

“We believe student test scores have a place in the evaluation process, but we also agree with highly regarded researchers that they should not play a determining role in high-stakes personnel decisions. There are a lot of flashing yellow lights suggesting policymakers should proceed with caution before putting too much emphasis on test score improvement.”

A couple of tidbits:

In our view, the purpose of employing pupil progress indicators, or any other data, is to inform and improve professional practice. It is neither to sort nor screen, retain nor fire, reward nor punish educators (or students).

Most New Jersey districts are doing well by conventional measures. Students are receiving a through and efficient education. The community is engaged. The local board of education is high-functioning. Teachers and school leaders meet and exceed professional expectations. The need for State intervention, therefore, is neither needed nor welcomed. An appropriate response to the Governor’s Executive Order would allow successful14 districts to be exempted from yet another unnecessary and over-reaching mandate. One size does not fit all.

Although it has not endorsed any specific PAR [Peer Assisted Review] proposal, a National Education Association affiliate is the originator of the PAR model used in this paper.

The group proposes an “extremely aggressive timeline” that would pilot a PAR program by the academic year 2015-2116.

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