Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Our Schools Are In the Very Best of Hands

Our schools are in the very best of hands.  How do I know?  MSDE has told me so.  In late October the Maryland State Department of Education notified the public that in the most recent evaluation of public school teachers 97.4% were rated either highly effective or effective in a 3-tiered rating system.  Is that wonderful or what?!  Truly I feel I have been transported to Lake Woebegone.   You know that place where are the women are brilliant, the men are handsome and all the children are gifted.  Except in this instance, all the teachers, well except for a very small minority, are just ever so effective.  REALLY!

This is the second annual statewide effort to evaluate teacher and principal effectiveness based on student growth.  Each school system in Maryland developed its own evaluation system within parameters specified by the State.  Evaluations were based on two factors: 1) professional practice- education, leadership and observation, 2) student growth.  At this time student growth is measured by teacher report of the achievement of instructional goals.   Now there is an objective measure.

Here are some other interesting numbers:  Students in low poverty schools are 2 times more likely to have a highly effective teacher than are students in high poverty schools.  Students in low minority schools are four times more likely to have a highly effective teacher than are students in high poverty schools.  Oh and “there is significant variation between school systems in their teacher and principal effectiveness ratings.”  (Quoted from the MSDE press release.)

Here is what I do not understand.  According to this report only 2.6% of teachers are not effective.  Just how are we managing to spread all of these ineffective teachers out into the schools with high minority or high poverty enrollments?  Hardly leaves any ineffective teachers for the high socio-economic schools and/or the schools with small minority enrollments. 

And then there are the recent PARCC scores that were terrible.  Everyone is scrambling to explain why with all these effective and highly effective teachers working in our schools, kids managed to do so poorly.  In all fairness there hasn’t been enough time to teach to these tests to bring the scores up.  Maybe we are not in Lake Woebegone.  Maybe we have fallen down the rabbit hole.

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