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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Assessment Taskforce

Sorry for the late notice but I had been trying to find the location for today's Assessment Taskforce meeting.

The meeting is today, Feb. 21st from 4-6 p.m. at JSCEE in room #2278.  The public can come and view the meeting but "the limitation is the size of the room."  If you go and are turned away for space, let me know and we can work on that.

Here's a list of members and meeting minutes (there has been one meeting so far).   The group includes several Garfield reps including the testing coordinator at Garfield, a student and the principal.  There are four parents in the group (although some of the schools' staff may also be parents). 

The facilitator comes from a Kirkland company, Performance Dimensions Group, "the art and science of human performance."  I am waiting for information on how this cost is being paid.

Agenda for today's meeting.   Looks good especially since they have Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond from Stanford coming to present.  If you don't know, she is a powerhouse education researcher (and had been one on Obama's shortlist for Ed Secretary and she would have been fantastic). 

Also to note about assessments is a Scrap the Map forum including Diane Ravitch (via Skype) next Thursday, the 28th at 6:30 p.m. at UW in the Physics&Astronomy bldg, room A102.  RSVP on Facebook.

Want proof of assessments gone wild?  Read this account of a public school teacher in NYC who teaches gifted students.  Pretty crazy town.  
For 10 months, Carolyn Abbott waited for the other shoe to drop. In April 2011, Abbott, who teaches mathematics to seventh- and eighth-graders at the Anderson School, a citywide gifted-and-talented school on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, received some startling news. Her score on the Teacher Data Report, the New York City Department of Education’s effort to isolate a teacher’s contribution to her students’ performance on New York State’s math and English Language Arts (ELA) tests in grades four through eight, said that 32 percent of seventh-grade math teachers and 0 percent of eighth-grade math teachers scored below her.
Using a statistical technique called value-added modeling, the Teacher Data Reports compare how students are predicted to perform on the state ELA and math tests, based on their prior year’s performance, with their actual performance. Teachers whose students do better than predicted are said to have “added value”; those whose students do worse than predicted are “subtracting value.” By definition, about half of all teachers will add value, and the other half will not.

Carolyn Abbott was, in one respect, a victim of her own success. After a year in her classroom, her seventh-grade students scored at the 98th percentile of New York City students on the 2009 state test. As eighth-graders, they were predicted to score at the 97th percentile on the 2010 state test. However, their actual performance was at the 89th percentile of students across the city. That shortfall—the difference between the 97th percentile and the 89th percentile—placed Abbott near the very bottom of the 1,300 eighth-grade mathematics teachers in New York City.

How do her students perform on the content that she actually does teach? This year, the 64 eighth-graders at Anderson she teaches are divided into two groups, an honors section and a regular section. All but one of the students in the honors section took the Regents Integrated Algebra exam in January; the other student and most of the regular-section students will take the exam in June. All of the January test-takers passed with flying colors, and more than one-third achieved a perfect score of 100 on the exam.
In mid-February, the courts authorized the public release of the Teacher Data Reports, and they were published in print and online by major media outlets in New York City. “It was humiliating,” Abbott said. “To be published online, and stay there forever—it felt like an invasion of privacy.” She was terrified about the possible backlash from parents.
 

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Having myself attended the first meeting of the Assessments task force (TF), I would like to share a couple of the red flags that were raised for me at that first meeting.

My concerns have specifically to do with certain expectations in the "draft charter." The draft charter likely be formally adopted at start of today's meeting, with little or no modification.

The charter will spell out the TF's scope of work, final products, and the manner in which members of the TF will interact and conduct their work.

The TF was told that it gets to write its own charter. This charter is of course of central importance to the TF.

The TF members were presented with a four page "draft charter." Readers can find this draft charter here
http://www.scribd.com/doc/126619874

Go to pages 3-6 of this scribd file to see the draft charter.

The facilitator ("Lynda") informed the TF that idea of preparing this draft was to "jump start" the process of getting the charter written and finalized.

Here are two elements of that draft charter which I would like to draw attention to:

1. The draft charter requires each member to express support for and advocate for the final recommendations, even when a member does not personally agree with all the recommendations.

Quotations from draft charter pertaining to this point:
"In addition, our commitment includes "owning" the final product (recommendations) in such a way that you can/will support, endorse, or advocate for the recommendations at the time they are presented and rolled out."

and

"Agreement to support the final decision of the group - even if it wasn't the one you personally like the best."

Lynda (the facilitator) was asked whether these clauses would allow a member to share with their stakeholders any level of disagreement with the final recommendations. Lynda explained that it would be o.k. for a member to go only so far as saying something like "I would have preferred a different recommendation than what came out from the Task Force. These are reasons why the TF rejected the idea I favored....".

In other words, this is as far as a member could go toward expressing disagreement with the final recs without violating the agreements in the draft charter.


2. My second concern is that the draft charter would have the TF choose to exclude from its scope any consideration of whether MAP should be used in teacher evaluation.

If this limitation on scope is adopted, then it would be inappropriate to submit to the TF the position paper from NWEA that says that MAP data should not be used as a measure of teacher effectiveness in a performance evaluation system.

Jonathan Knapp spoke up at the meeting, and said, in effect, that there no legal contractual reason why the TF should not include this issue in scope of work.

According to the draft charter, scope of work will include "explor[ing] specific concerns about the MAP test." Is not the use of test data in teacher evaluation is genuine matter of concern in this community?

It Eric's hope, I have little doubt, that TF members will formally adopt these guidelines at the beginning of today's meeting with little or no modification.

Lynda told the TF members that there will be "no voting" on the final recommendations. She had the group do a silly exercise based on a fairy tale, to get across that for this group, the term "concensus" will not mean "100% agreement."

I guess the point is that the recommendations will be presented to the public as representing "consensus" even if there is not 100% agreement.

I will be very surprised if the Delph Technique is not employed to drive the TF away from recommendations that are unacceptable to Eric or the District.

Joan Sias

mirmac1 said...

Here's hot link to the meeting handouts Joan's referencing:

Assessment Task Force handout

mirmac1 said...

"In other words, this is as far as a member could go toward expressing disagreement with the final recs without violating the agreements in the draft charter."

This is why I don't sign onto to these groups. You get to watch some dog and pony shows (although I would LOVE to meet Linda Darling-Hammond!), then you keep your thoughts to yourself.

This is just another instance of window-dressing and I refuse to be associated with it.

Thank you Joan for your report.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thanks, Joan. (To note, I had a couple of people reach out to me on this issue and I was going to write a separate thread but I'm glad Joan brought it up now. The Board and the Superintendent really need to have a firm policy about how committees/taskforces do their work.)

mirmac1 said...

Reminds me of when former Ex Dir of Sped Marni Campbell simply ignored the recommendations of the ICS Taskforce....

Anonymous said...

Like every other SPS Task Force this one looks to be the same smoke screen. Too bad. There are probably some pretty good ideas in that room.

- tired of the dog and pony show.