How #EducationReform is Done. Circumvent the Legislature & Use a ‘Coalition of the Willing’
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The Missouri State Board Meeting was held yesterday and one of the items for discussion (VIII, D) was Use of Student Growth Measures in the Evaluation Process.
DESE’s Paul Katnik delivered a powerpoint and answered questions from State Board members about the use of student data (not aggregate data) in the evaluation process for teachers. The powerpoint may be found here: Use of Student Growth Measures in the Evaluation Process
My notes from the meeting:
Katnik began his report to the Board. The use of student data is one way districts will evaluate teachers and principals. This will affect 67,000 Missouri teachers and this use of student data will ‘help teachers teach better’. We looked at practices, content and how it is assessed. Did the teacher have an effect on student learning? Can we verify improvement? Instructional reform? We’ve always been about improvement and growth, not ‘just’ accountability. Missouri is different from other states; we measure growth in data (growth is over a period of time) vs achievement (a snapshot on how a student performs on one day).
The Student Learning Objective (SLO) training helped teacher to determine how their lessons fit into the standards. Katnik stated more important is the data we are getting to show what we need to do. If educators don’t show the growth, they can be terminated.
Peter Herschend, Board Member and Past President: How will you come back to the Board and show how the system is actually working? Is there a rubric to show how the system is actually working? What is the impact on student learning?
Katnik: It keeps bringing you that data. If you are truly using this effectively you should see the growth.
Charlie Shields, Current Board President: Everything I have dealt with in nationally benchmarked.
Katnik: The authority to determine teacher evaluation is at the local level according to Missouri statute.
Joseph Driskell, Board Member: What kind of local buy in do you have from the districts?
Katnik: We have 6 areas this year for districts. Next year will have to draw in student growth. We have had good reaction so far from districts. They feel comfortable how this is structured.
Mike Jones, Board Member: Look at President’s (Obama) comment on benchmarks? What conclusions do you have on assessments?
Katnik: These are nationally benchmarked and research based performances.
~~MEW: Note this next section. This is how this teacher evaluation system was created, tested with chosen school districts and deliberately done under the radar of the Missouri Legislature, which aligns itself to one of the four assurances (teacher evaluation program) in the CCSSI:
Katnik: We had a pilot program of 105 districts who helped. This was about 20% of districts in Missouri The reaction: teachers love the opportunity to get better. the DESE research: previously had nothing to offer teachers who ‘wanted to get better’. Now we have a ‘growth guide’ to show what ‘better looks like now’. It will show better teacher growth.
Victor Lenz, Board Member: If teachers look at it positively, I applaud you then.
Katnik: Better than other states’ evaluations, because it’s ‘not mandated’. We received the data and feedback at the end. This allows a lot of innovation when you leave knowing how kids need to be taught.
In 2013, we wrote about Governor Jay Nixon’s appearance at the National Governor’s Association (NGA) in which he described the process of circumventing the Missouri Legislature for the purpose of developing a controversial teacher evaluation program and utilizing 105 school districts, labeled by Nixon: The Coalition of the Willing:
While DESE may not be the agency gathering individual student data to determine if a teacher is effective or not, the school district will need to provide that data to align with the teacher evaluation system set by DESE. The school district is acting as the agent for personally identifiable data gathering for the state educational agency. If a school district does not use this system, it will lose points toward accreditation. This may not be a ‘mandate’ but it is coercion. Individual student data IS being gathered and parents need to go to their districts to determine what personally identifiable information is being accessed by what agencies/researchers and used for what purpose.
This teacher evaluation process was adopted based on 20% of Missouri schools (The Coalition of the Willing) participating in research whose teachers ‘love it’ according to Katnik. How do the rest of the 80% of the schools (The uninvited/The Coalition of the Unwilling?) not invited to participate in the research think about this evaluation system? While Katnik tells the Legislature the teachers welcome the chance to ‘get better’ vs being shown they are not an effective teacher because the students didn’t grow according to a rubric he/she didn’t create, the Francis Howell district couched the message of the new evaluation system to its teachers as pushed by DESE. Does it sound like the district is as enthusiastic about this system as the Grandview district? Do you as a parent like the idea of your student’s ‘growth’ or ‘non-growth’ data being used to evaluate teachers? Do you think teachers should have anywhere from 30-50% of their evaluations based on student’s growth? Are the measurements of growth actually based on valid assessments? What does the Missouri NEA stand on this system? We would appreciate teachers not associated with The Coalition of the Willing to comment and let us know what they think the new evaluation process.
Note also in Katnik’s remarks on how next year Missouri are required to use student data in teacher evaluations. This pretty much blows a hole in his statement that teacher evaluations are being set by districts via Missouri statute. Missouri legislators: are you paying attention?
Governor Nixon apparently felt comfortable enough in the 2013 NGA meeting on CSpan to share how the Legislature was circumvented and how the end would justify the means. Now you see how it played out at an October State Board meeting in 2015. And the State Board applauds him based on DESE’s presentation, doesn’t ask to see the research, what the 80% of schools left out of the process think about this system and any questions on where student PII data is stored, who has access to it, and how else it will be used. Perhaps when/if student data is breached, parents can investigate whether or not districts, DESE and the State Board members can be sued for damages as they don’t seem to have any interest in these questions regarding PII data and its dissemination.
Not one State Board member asked the question on why all this data is necessary when in the past, teachers were more than able to gauge a student’s growth based on teacher created quizzes, tests, reports, etc. What is the need for all this data and if this idea was so controversial, was it even a valid idea in the first place? Do we even have a representative governmental structure any more or just plans by the ‘choice architects’ to get their desired outcome? Just look at the response Governor Nixon received in the NGA (a private, not governmental organization) meeting. Not one governor batted an eye about his announced circumvention of legislative process. Not one. Just like the state board members, they accept the ‘research’ and the ‘end justifies the means’ governmental methods which circumvents the legal process. You can answer that last question, you know the answer.