Saturday, March 28, 2015

Liz Phillips' Speech at the " Protect Our Schools Rally" at Cuomo's Offices in Manhattan

We all want great teachers teaching our children.  Unfortunately,the governor’s teacher evaluation proposals will do absolutely nothing to help us meet that goal—and in fact with have the opposite effect as great teachers and principals become demoralized and leave the profession—or decide not to enter it in the first place.

50% OF A TEACHER’S EVALUATION WOULD BE BASED ON A FLAWED GROWTH MODEL ON FLAWED STATE TESTS.  It is shocking to think that a model that has been shown to have a high margin of error—particularly for those who teach the highest and lowest performing students—would count for 50% of a teacher’s rating.  In New York City we remember what happened just a few years ago with TDR scores based on a growth model.  
Fabulous teachers by any other measure were at times rated in the lowest percentiles.   It is ironic that a year after passing a law mandating that state tests cannot be used for high stakes decisions for students, the governor has decided that they should be more high stakes than ever for teachers.    

But of course, making tests so high stakes for teachers will  make them high stakes for students.  Many schools will narrow their curriculum, focusing even more time than they currently do on test prep at the expense of an enriched curriculum that helps students develop critical thinking and problem solving skills.  And there is no doubt that this will happen more in schools where students have traditionally had more difficulty ontests…which ultimately means a widening of the achievement gap. 

The governor also proposes that ongoing observations by the educational leaders in the building that currently count for 60% of a teacher’s evaluation would now count for only 15%.  35% of the teacher’s rating would be determined by one observation by an outside evaluator.   Maybe we should we bring in someone from the outside to evaluate those who work in state government on how they perform in a 45 minute meeting once a year?  What profession does this?  

The governor’s proposals will hurt students—and they will hurt our neediest students the most.  Teaching is both a science and an art.  Let’s not forget that.  Whose schools?  Our schools!