Monday, October 8, 2012

More Made Up Nonsense from Albany

S.L.O. = S.O.L. Part II: Validity Not Needed.

Our Good friend Chris Cerrone posted this on and it's so good I just stole it.

I wrote at the end of August about the use of pre-assessments that will evaluate teachers in New York State and the negative effects on our schools.  The madness of the Student Learning Objectives(SLO) is being rushed and forced upon educators across the Empire State. Teachers in schools around New York are puzzled, angry and stressed.  A Long Island Principal wrote a tremendous piece about the SLO process, calling it  “Squashed Learning Opportunities.  My son actually took one of these pre-asssesments in his second-grade physical education class.
October 7, 2012 by Chris Cerrone
The New York State Education Department is rolling out the use of SLO’s even though most districts in New York State have not agreed to the new teacher evaluation system.  This rushed process is leading to a lack of information and understanding in our schools.  School administrators and principals were trained on the fly by either paid contractors or NYSED folks who have never taught a day in their lives.  The result is that school leaders cannot accurately help the teachers with the whole SLO process. At first the thought was that all teachers would need to create a pre-assessment, but instead others will take on another task that has no validity whatsoever.
My school is now telling some teachers, including me, that we need to create targets for how our students will perform on our various local final exams.  For my seventh grade Social Studies classes, I was told to look at the final exam and quarterly averages my current students received in sixth grade.  After reviewing the data(hate this word now), I should be able to take a guess(not an educated guess in my view) as to how the students will score on my exam.
In sixth grade, students learn about world cultures.  In seventh grade, our curriculum is American History.  How can you judge growth on two entirely different courses?  How can I look at “historical data” such as final exam scores and quarterly averages with any reliability?  Each sixth grade teacher has their own expectations when it comes to grading.  Would students who received a 90% in the three different sixth grade classes be considered equal? How can I accurately make any judgement using this information.
I have the choice of guessing each student’s growth or use my whole group instead.  I must create a target score for my students and depending on the percentage of students who meet that goal, I will get my evaluation score.  My SLO plan, err guess, must be approved and I cannot “low ball” my target goals.  Insane, yes.  Valid, no.
I would be laughing, if this was not how the folks at NYSED in Albany think I will be evaluated.  When the amateurs in the state capital decided that test scores should be used to judge teachers, they had to come up with a method to evaluate teachers without a state assessment.  Of course the brain trust at NYSED, which does not include anyone with real educational experience, thinks the SLO process is a valid measure of my abilities as an educator.
A significant amount of time and money is being devoted to the SLO process.  This system will not improve my instruction or help my students in anyway.


  1. Ah, but my unions - the UFT and the NYSUT - will attack me or anybody who else who expresses concerns over APPR or SLO's. They'll send out Lyin' Leo Casey to sling some horsebleep about the wonders of SLO and how APPR is not an error-riddled mess. Instead we have principals like Sean Feeney and Carol Burris leading the charge to point out the deficiencies of APPR and SLO's.

    The NY Post today took Bloomberg to task for his school report card system that tars many excellent schools as mediocre or failing. But APPR does exactly that for individual teachers, as Sean Feeney pointed out here:

    And of course none of this has been put into place to improve instruction or help students or teachers. It's in place to help districts and cities lower the hammer on so-called "bad" teachers who, if the NYCDOE Teacher Data Reports from the past and the preliminary APPR scores from this year are any indication, will eventually be every teacher who ever walks into a classroom.

    I only hope when all this becomes apparent to parents and voters, that Governor Cuomo gets some of his own cherished accountability.

    The same goes for the sell-outs at the UFT and the NYSUT.

    But I'm under no illusion about that.

    If Lyin' Leo Casey could fail upward from the UFT to a higher paying AFT gig, I'm sure Mulgrew and Ianuzzi will manage to skirt accountability for this mess too.

    And as for Cuomo, voters seem to love him no matter how Nixonian he gets.

  2. One group that never speaks up are the administrators. On the local level, we have total adherence to the crazy policies of Albany on the SLO and the APPR issue. I wonder why the Admin unoin does not speak out on the absurdity of the SLO process and the APPR in general. The administrators have become nothing more than data vultures in their own buildings. No time to interact meaningfully with staff or students. No time to create a culture of learning, only a culture of data. The evaluation system has made the jobs of our administrators meaningless in terms of "vision". The craziness of this just highlights the point that is often made that admins are in it for the money. Their silence says that they will do anything for the almighty dollar bill. Are they really that spineless? Or are they just afraid to speak up for fear of their jobs? I do not want to believe that they are all so crass but.......
    OR, do they really believe in all this nonsense?

  3. Buffalo is all ready suffering buyer's regret with Lyianuzzi on several fronts. For starters he invited the boy wonder here to speak after King had repeatedly insulted Buffalo then seemed at a loss when BTF members got up and walked out on the little fellow as he began his soporific screed. Secondly, when the Board of Ed here decided they didn't like the way the arbitrator ruled as they were warned he would that their 50% stupid game of musical chairs was illegal we needed legal representation you'd think we'd get as part of the dues we float NYSUT's way. But they were all off at the Democratic Convention kissing Reformer ass and couldn't be bothered so BTF had to hire its own legal help. And finally NYSUT decided they wanted to back Tim Kennedy instead of Betty Jean Grant whom Phil Rumore was supporting for reasons beneficial to teachers. The understanding has always been if the local guy from the district wants to go against the larger group he is given his choice since it's his home turf and he likely has his constituents in mind. NYUST decided to buck that trend and go with Kennedy in spite of the standing tradition of deferring to the local's own choice. So what does it take for us to dis-affiliate with these self serving schmucks and how soon can we accomplish this ? In Buffalo it appears Fran Wilson is the go to gal on the SOL questions and from what I am hearing she is as baffled or maybe moreso than anyone else. Aren't we paying a distunguished educator something like 5 K a day to hang out and get her hair spiked ? Maybe this is an area she can jump in and take the lead on. And maybe my son's JV quarterback from Eden HS can start for the Bills next week and get is a win against Arizona too.