After two years of court battles, it seems that the release of NYC Teacher Data Reports will happen any moment now. For the life of me, I cannot understand the journalistic justification of publishing individual teachers’ results. I would like to applaud Gotham School schools for choosing not to do so, and express my disappointment that the New York Times seems prepared to. I would further ask the Times why they are choosing to publish teacher’s scores when they have not published principal’s ratings in the past. I do not expect integrity from the Daily News or the Post. (In the interest of full disclosure, I serve on an advisory board for Gotham Schools, though was not consulted on this decision. I also write for the Time’s Schoolbook site.)
I wrote the following piece over a year ago when the DOE first announced they would share the results, and stand by it today. I would be willing to update results, but I do not have access to my students scores from 2011 (I believe about 60% of my students passed the Global exam. This was extremely disappointing to me, though the results can partially be explained by having to teach the two year Global curriculum in one year). This past semester, I worked with seniors who had failed one or both of the history exams. Of the twelve students I worked with on US History, six passed; for Global History, eight out of eight passed.
From October 20, 2010:
As you might know, this week the NYC DOE said it would release 12,000 teachers’ names and their students’ test scores on State ELA and math tests in grades 3-8. I teach high school, so I am not directly affected, but here are my students’ Regents test scores from my four years teaching in NYC, anyway. I put them out there in solidarity with my brothers and sisters who are about to be put under the microscope.
You can have the scores, just please remember they are almost meaningless. They tell you about 5% of what I do. Here’s what they don’t tell you:
- They don’t tell you that last year I taught 100% of our juniors who are special education students and/or English Language Learners, even though I only taught 50% of our juniors. They also don’t tell you I requested these most challenging students.
- They don’t tell you that last year I taught our 15 seniors most in danger of not graduating for two periods. In that time, I prepped them for English, Global, and US Regents, as well as helping them earn credits in a wide variety of areas.
- They don’t tell you that I spent six weeks in the middle of the year teaching my students how to do college-level research. I estimate this costs my students an average of 5-10 points on the Regents.
- They don’t tell you that when you ask my students who are now in college why they are succeeding when most of their urban public school peers are dropping out, they name that research project as one of their top three reasons nearly every time.
- They don’t tell you which of my students had a home and a healthy meal the night before the test.
- They don’t tell you that 20% of our seniors come to me every year for letters of recommendation because they feel they did their best work in my class.
- They don’t tell you that my students went through a two-week-long veiled simulation of the Constitutional Convention, writing one that might be better than America’s.
- They don’t tell you about the phone call I got from a student at 3am because he was kicked out of his home and had nowhere to go.
- They don’t tell you about my work as an adviser.
- They don’t tell you what I really want my students to learn.
- They don’t tell you that I create a classroom where students who were on their way to Williams, Trinity, and Lafayette share tables with students who read at a second grade level, and that they all learn something daily.
- They don’t tell you about the other teachers I coach or the department and grade teams I’ve led.
- They don’t tell you if my students know anything about Native Americans or Latinos, since there are almost never questions on those two groups on the Regents.
- They don’t tell you that my principal told me my first year not to worry about the Regents until the last month of the year. We learned that lesson together quickly.
- They don’t tell you that I give some of my best students independent projects to challenge them through reading college-level texts – which means that they don’t “cover” as much material as is necessary for the test.
- They don’t tell you if it was a good test or a bad test.
- They don’t tell you whether I taught my students to write.
- They don’t tell you whether I taught my students to think.
So as long as you keep that in mind, go ahead, take a look, and tell me what these scores tell you. But know that they tell me almost nothing of importance about what I need to know to do my job.