Thursday, March 8, 2012

Value added gone wrong

From the NYT, "Hard working teachers sabotaged":


aparent said...

As far as the reporting mistakes go, it is a shame that the "correction" never gets as much attention as the original report. As far as reporting with names, the only word I can think of is moronic, and I usually adhere to the no name calling policy of this blog. The decrease in a student's performance could be attributable to many factors, in the case of my own kids the first place I would go is "he just did not feel like working as hard this year."

Somebody (Duncan maybe, Gates maybe) needs to admit this was a bad idea and come up with a new way. This VAM stinks.

Anonymous said...

No way, hard working teachers sabatoged?!! Never here in Pgh! No way.....not!

Speaking as a once hard working teacher who has been sabatoged and run through the mill, the entire Empowering Teacher/Teacher Effectiveness needs thrown out.

It doesn't work. In fact, the exact opposite of the intented outcome is what you get.

Gates, Heinz, Broadie go away. Interfere with you own childrens lives, but stay out of ours!

Anonymous said...

When I seen one of the kool aide drinkers have a lower Vam score than I did, I laughed until it hurt.

Dam the Vam

Empowering Teachers, more like neutering and spaying teachers.

I was 5 times the teacher before the scripted curiculum.

Please Help Us! Get rid of all Gates and Broad influences.

The rich can keep there money, and gives us back our educational freedom.

Anonymous said...

People with money do not know everything.

If Bill Gates & Eli Broad know so much about education and children, maybe they should tell me how to raise my child, or better yet what religion I should raise them.

Rich elitist using their wealth to play with us like we are their puppets.

Why do the rich use their wealth to manipulate our lives. Who knows?

Are children sould not be one of Gates social experiments. His foundation has been tracking your children's education progress, and will countinue to do so through K-12 through standardize test scores.

Information is power, why does he want all this data? Scary isn't it?

Anonymous said...

Yup, and all backed by the PFT.

You wonder how anyone will vote for Nina after she and her predecessor gave the farm away over the years, and yet, you get mailings from cowards who would support them.


If you're a teacher and vote for Nina, you have absolutely no room to make any complaint.

The level of spinelessness among some teachers is beyond amazing.

Anonymous said...

It's also in Gates' and Broad's interest to divide and conquer -- makes it easier to tear public education apart. I'm what they call a "career ladder teacher" and I'm not brainwashed. Some initiatives funded in this Gates grant DO have merit. The Promise Readiness Corps is a smart concept and it's hard, hard work for the teachers. We should be careful not to quickly label teachers as "kool aid drinkers." We need solidarity now more than ever.

Anonymous said...

PRC is a Joke, its a tool to get rid of a teachers building senority. Loping is more common in K-5. You did drink the Kool Aide. I always thought teaching was a career.

Anonymous said...

Our own Union divides and conquers us every election.

Wake up and smell the coffee, not the kool aide.

Anonymous said...

All is lost if you are a teacher

Our union is a joke

God help us

CLT and not ashamed said...

I get you don't believe this administration is doing a good job. I agree with you. But when you refuse to acknowledge anything they might do right -- like the PRC for example -- you weaken you're position. The PRC and looping allows teachers to get to know a smaller group of kids and really help them do better at school. Personally, I don't even give a hoot about test scores. I think the PRC may or may not boost test scores -- I don't care. Like many of my colleagues in the cohorts in my school, we also don't care about a bonus. The reason the PRC is a positive thing is because it's a good way to build those teacher-student relationships over two years. We're not always doing great at it (my cohort is going pretty well but another cohort in my building is really struggling) but the concept is smart.

I thought Roosevelt was terrible. I'm happy to see Lopez gone. There are too many highly paid incompetent administrators doing not a lot of work and messing a lot of things up. The union is too close to this administration and it impedes their judgement. I think we agree on most of the stuff in this paragraph?

But some initiatives that came out of the Roosevelt era -- like looping and the PRC -- we're good. I don't think it works in your favor to denigrate teachers -- your colleagues, your union sisters and brothers -- who are working hard for students -- just like you -- by assuming they have "drunk the kool-aid." It just makes you sound divisive and foolish.

Anonymous said...

My concerns VAM will be published results in Pgh with PPS teachers names as laundry list.
The papers will use “the right to know” law and all teachers will be published as lists with their classroom instructional score results from the test results within two years.

Similar to LA and NYC teacher names published with VAM in their major papers newspapers. The human variable is not part of the data equation=as the student human conditions. It will be sad day in the scope of integrity of education from my parental viewpoint.

What so you think about the public having that much data for teacher justification of student learning and achievement?

As a parent will be demanding our children only be with the right teacher and the right classmates?

CLT and not ashamed said...

I completely agree with you, Anon 8:45. The VAM is a sham. It's bogus and more and more research supports us on this. I think the Post Gazette will likely publis the results and it's not going to be pretty.

In the meantime, my efforts are being put toward my students. I try not to think too much about this. It makes me too angry. I just hope it passes -- along with most in this current administration -- as quickly as possible.

anon said...

What VAM will insure is cheating on the tests. If a teacher knows they could lose their job if their VAM isn't high enough it will be worth the gamble to keep the students' scores going up.

Old Timer said...

Anon at 8:37, your comments speak to an ignorance of what is going on in PPS. Perhaps you are not cognizant of the fact that 400 teachers are about to be terminated, or perhaps you took your valued PRC spot to avoid being a part of the carnage. Perhaps you are unaware of the firings that take place via RISE each month. Perhaps you do not read the board minutes and have failed to take notice of the "resignations" and "terminations." The list grows monthly to incredible proportions, and I have read the minutes for years. Do you take solace in the fact that you are not on the list and as such, label those who take exception as being "alarmists?" Perhaps you truly feel "empowered" and perhaps you were one of the names listed on the recent mailer that supported the Keystone Cops of teachers unions, the PFT. Please know that the mailing is in its rightful place, at the bottom of my cat's litter box. Thanks.
And perhaps you are unaware of the numbers of teachers on improvement plans, the list of teachers who are routinely threatened and the fact that still, our district's administration worries about things like where to have lunch or NCAA March Madness parties...and have no worries about maintaining their jobs.
There is NOTHING redeeming about this district's leadership, from forced curriculum that is a complete and utter failure, to grading policies that have undermined the idea of academic integrity.
Try to remember that you are a teacher. Try to understand what union and solidarity actually mean. Maybe you should look up the actions of Tacoma teachers last year. It's what WE need.
Here's hoping you find some guts in the years to come.

Anonymous said...

There is no question that "cheating" will occur at high levels across the boards just as it has elsewhere. But, more importantly, PPS Central Administration will not care in the least. It will allow them to claim progress that does not exist and they will have a teacher to blame and dismiss if evidence of "cheating" is uncovered. PPS will claim AYP whether or not it exists, just as it does now!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Divisive and Foolish

Welcome back Old Timer & Thank You

To Wet Behind the Ear's

I have lost on every contract from the PFT

Call Me Bitter and Pissed Offed never Foolish, do not lecture me about soladarity I was a 9'er.

The PRC sould never have been used to break up building senority.

You have a lot to learn.

Verteran Master Teacher

Anonymous said...

Veteran Master Teacher
March 10, 2012 8:10 PM

Also, You are now a VAM Teacher as well as a VMA.

Veterans do not receive preference or respect for perseverance and diligence.

Additionally, you will lose again this year, with the voting in od President Nina.

Nina-affectionately known as Ms. RISE to the occasion will be elected as president than appointed person.

Old Timer said...

Oddly, it is the elementary teachers that will carry Nina to victory, just it was that group that carried Tarka in previous years. Call it youthful ignorance or call it lack of courage, but this is the same group of people who routinely vote in contracts that when studied closely, has teachers losing money, as Veteran Teacher noted. I haven't had a raise in years and while that is not noteworthy or an appeal to the public in any way, one has to wonder how a union can negotiate contracts in which its rank and file LOSE money each time.
This has been the tactics of the Tarka regime and undoubtedly will be the same tactics of the current cowards in charge.
I looked over the mailer which came from Nina's supporters this past week and laughed aloud. I had to wonder about the mindset of anyone who would call this an effective union or praise union leadership. Mass brainwashing? Cumulative psychoses? Hallucinogenic vitamins? Just what can it be that has elementary teachers so delusional and Nina at ease in the knowledge that she will likely win the election even though she is alternately incompetent and/or weak?
Reading the list of supporters who co-signed the letter, I was struck by the act that perhaps one or two were secondary school teachers, a couple were retired "teachers" and everyone else was an elementary teacher.
How sad.
I will again recommend to anyone who understands the words "union" and "solidarity" that there is safety only in numbers, and as such, the current tyranny and mutation tactics of PPS would have met a brick wall with a strong union in place. Instead, the PFT capitulated on a continual basis.
Take a look at what happened in Tacoma last year and realize the power that you still have...the power to stop RISE intimidation tactics, to reformulate the firings of teachers, to bring integrity back to PPS teachers. It won't be popular with the general public, but who cares?
I'm at a loss as to how any individual who supports PFT leadership can look him- or herself in the mirror.

CLT and not ashamed said...

Old timer, you're making my point for me. I'm fully aware of what's going on in this district, of the layoffs coming up and the ones that have already happened (did you forget about those?). I'm hardly a novice. I've been around almost 20 years now. I read the minutes too. And I agree with you that this is an incompetent and mostly corrupt feckless regime that has mostly ruined this district through wanton firings and irresponsible and poorly designed curriculum. We agree.

My point is simply that teachers who went after a career ladder position, be it a PRC or CRI or LES position or what have you, this doesn't make them bad teachers or evil people. And the concepts behind some of these positions -- the PRC in particular -- I get because I've read about looping on my own and understand the research out there beyond what has been shoveled my way by PPS administrators (of whom I'm always skeptical). So I'm for the PRC. And I liked the original idea of CRIs until that fell apart (ummm... and that fell apart because the PFT wisely drew a line in the sand about giving job security to the residents -- that would have been absurd).

Again, this is an important forum but don't think everyone here immediately reveres what you say because of your "old timer" label and up-start sounding postings. I respect honest, reflective, and smart writing more than emotional vitriole which often just makes posters look foolish.

Old Timer said...

CLT, you simply have no clue what the meaning of "union brother" is all about. You've been around, but are clueless about what unions are supposed to be all about. In and of themselves, union leadership should be respectful but naturally adversarial with administration so as to safeguard the best interests of its rank and file. You have none of that here, and administration has usurped all the things which were previously negotiated for---things that as a veteran, you should appreciate.

As a union brother, you should abhor what has happened in this district for if its true that another man's death diminishes me, then the death of his livelihood in this era is alongside it, if nothing else.
The rank and file's only remaining alternative---to strike---would be frowned upon by many, to be sure, especially at the elementary level. Instead, they'd like to remind us about what great, effective leadership we have, even as 400 teachers will be fired and hundreds of others will bounce to schools that essentially means they will have to begin again.
But hey, you know that already. You're a veteran.
I don't claim to be the conscience of this forum and truly, I could care less. I come from a different era, it would appear, one that remembers what solidarity and teamwork all about. It doesn't matter if I have a job if 400 of my brothers are going to be terminated. It doesn't matter that the district fell upon one thing worthwhile when the entire ship is sinking.
I don't want to sound progressive and cooperative when administration will lose NO positions and when they won't be bounced around. I don't wish to be looked upon as progressive at the expense of union brothers and sisters who either won't be around as employees or will have a separate pay scale and raise scheme.
Teamwork always worked for me, and whether you or any other reader cares to agree is inconsequential.
There's only one way to react to a bully, and it's not by giving more things away, "being cooperative" or lauding their one great idea.
Shame that as a union member, you don't have a hunch as to what the idea of "safety in numbers" is all about.
Emotional? Sad that a history lesson that nukes your mindset would be seen in such a way. Why is that no surprise?

Anonymous said...

Would that we see the same passion for teaching our students, in spite of PPS Administration. Would that teachers, who feel as the good ones do, that they can educate kids. Put aside all else and FOCUS on the education of our children, in a "whatever it takes" stance. Do what good teachers know how to do without regard to the incompetence in central office. Take passion to another level here and get the job done. Students and parents will join you in sincere efforts to take on the PPS currently dysfunctional on behalf of educating kids. Put all else aside and do the educating that you were hired to do, that you were trained to do, that you have the natural ability to do, that will leave you satisfied at the end of a long day. Put your passion in the right place and let no one come between you and your commitment to educate children.

Given the circumstances described here, what to you have to lose?

Put passion, persistence, knowledge, commitment, caring, wisdom, skill, and all of the other good qualities that you possess, teachers, to the task of educating our children and they will respond in kind!

Questioner said...

Teachers, do you feel you can " put all else aside and do the educating that you were hired to do, that you were trained to do, that you have the natural ability to do, that will leave you satisfied at the end of a long day" without placing your jobs at risk?

Anonymous said...

Nope, they can't. Nice thought, but not currently possible.

They can put a little bit aside and do some good stuff or they can try to fly through the required stuff in such a way that something more interesting/educational to them and the students can be snuck in there. Or they can be lucky enough to teach a subject that isn't (yet) scripted.

IF they have a good working relationship with the coach and principal they may able to, with lots of time and effort, explain how a slight variation of the requirements will work much better for their students. But they'll not do it during walkthroughs, for sure, and they'll have to be careful that nothing ever goes wrong during that time.

But in general, what that person is describing is no longer possible if you want to remain employed.

It used to be possible at PPS, perhaps when that person was last in a classroom teaching.

Anonymous said...

From all of the comments here, it would appear that your jobs are already at risk, teachers. Or are you comments being misinterpreted?

If the PFT does not represent you, see your point of view, understand education as it should be, stand beside you, behind you and in front of you what is the purpose of your union? What would happen if the 400 anticipated "firings", furloughs, etc. and all of their supporters would withdraw from the PFT? What would be the effect/result?

Currently, it appears that the only purpose of teachers, here, is to rant against administration (and rightfully so) and their Union (again, rightfully so); but what is being gained from the 'rant'? Are teachers gaining ground or losing ground?

Support from educated students and satisfied parents could go a long way in advancing your cause, don't you think?

Questioner said...

One purpose might be to let parents and the general public know what is happening. But, for some courses, departments and/or schools, central administration is curiously hands-off- even where there is room for improvement, or approaches that seem at odds with PPS's stated goals. There seems to be a concept of "core courses" where central administration is very involved and other situations where there is very little involvement. Can anyone shed light on the "core courses"?

Anonymous said...

The core is reading, math, science, and social studies. Emphasis on reading and math. Science a close second or third. Outside of the core, things are a lot less structured, less defined for teachers. Less scripted, I guess, is the parlance of our times right now.

Questioner said...

At least at the high school level, not all English, math, science and social studies classes are considered "core". Is there a list of which are "core" or highly monitored by PPS?

CLT and not ashamed said...

Yeesh, Old Timer, go back and reread my posts. You're not contradicting me. You're orating.

I've said our union is too cozy with administration. I've reaffirmed most of what you're rambling on about. If you truly think you're progressive about labor issues, then make note that career ladder teachers are still union members and your "union brothers and sisters."

And how funny you assume I'm a man. Hmm.

Anonymous said...

The problem with kinda "sneaking" what you know are best pratices into your classes--as some teachers have tried-- is that their students dont appear properly "trained" when the walk-thru happens--you cant just flip the switch oin the script-remember students get questioned too- and YES, it has gotten down to "does your teacher always do this or only today?' Again, parents-- your kids are being used in this, pumped for information as my GRan would say. Reality is that alot of students learned alot from some good teachers who have left rather than read the script. Some universities dont send us student teachers anymore--because they want their future teachers to THINK, and modify-- and figure out how best to teach a concept to each individual student

Anonymous said...

As veteran teachers we talk about union solidarity and claim to have each others back, well then how about some of those 35+ years of experienced teachers take their retirement so some younger union brothers and sisters can maintain employment? Hum, now it's not about union brotherhood but seniority and one keeping a big piece of the pie. Several of those soon to be terminated employees could retain their positions if the 35+ year teachers, administrators and all other school employes would get on with the next phase of their lives...RETIREMENT!

Just think about the PFT leaders who just retired: Tarka 40 years, Gensure 35+. How long will Van Horn and Wilson remain? It's time that those who can retire do. The call is out for all administrators, specialists, teachers, para's, nurses, psychologists, security, clerks, custodians and cafe workers to move on if you're at your 35th year so younger employees can hold onto their positions. Now that's how unionized workers can demonsrate having each others back.

Questioner said...

If someone began teaching at age 22, then after 35 years they would only be 57- too young for many people to want or need to retire, even if they can afford to. It is also an age when many people have fewer responsibilities to their own children, and more time to go above and beyond, and a time when years of accumulated experiences make it possible to develop greater wisdom than ever.

Anonymous said...

OK, so I'm going on record (unofficially, of course) as saying that I have a principal who is not married to the scripted curriculum. The new mantra is "it's the floor, not the ceiling." Annoying in its effort to be catchy.

Anyway, my principal -- a PELA -- is fair and reasonable with me and the colleagues in my department. This person is clearly married to RISE but is smart and seems to get that the curriculum we have isn't necessarily the best thing out there and we are given flexibility when planning and teaching.

I know, I know. Many out there won't believe me. They'll think I'm a principal plant, lurking here to find out what's going on these days a PURE reform. But I'm doing ok. I generally like my school and my principal. I know it's bad elsewhere -- I've been elsewhere, and I know it can bad! But I'm lucky since I'm doing ok.

15+ years in the district in case anyone accuses me of being a noob.

Old Timer said...

Actually, I DO believe you. I know of numerous principals who know that the forced curriculum is an absolute train wreck which is poorly conceived and agenda laden. I know of numerous principals who know that central administrative types are completely out of touch where the classroom and needs of our students are concerned. They know that these types were washouts in the classroom themselves and gladly moved into nice, cushy offices rather than continue to teach.
Them? Go back to the classroom?
Heaven forbid. They're glad to embrace the mindset and spread the vitriolic cheer.
Parents don't seem to realize the intimidation that is now going on.
Read the board minutes. Check the personnel area. Look at the resignations and terminations. Understand that the "resignations" should read "forced resignations thanks to RISE." You know...that process that "empowers" teachers. Cough.
As for the PFT, it's strange that in Pittsburgh, some type of historical rendering as to what a union is all about needs to be continually revisited.
To have allowed what has taken place to teachers in this district over the past five years has been criminal. Period.
You either have to have your head in the sand, have no courage or be a complete, blithering idiot to want to have PFT leadership for another minute, let alone a couple more years.
I just want to see PFT types hit the unemployment line. It's my prayer, that they get a chance to taste what they have provided to so many teachers who entrusted them.