Page 351: A school administrator said about Weingarten’s criticism of TFA “she’d be glad to get as many of its recruits as she could.” I have a friend who is a TFA alum and a principal and over the years he took fewer and fewer TFA members. It seems like two new ones a year was the magic number since even if they do a good job, schools need a stable teaching staff.
Page 355: In the footnote he mentions that at Harlem Success Academy there were some new TFA teachers “but at Harlem Success they would be assistant teachers who would not run a classroom. Harlem Success allows only teachers with teaching experience, which could include one year as an assistant teacher at HSA, to be lead teachers in a classroom.” Whoa. I was already angry about how many TFA teachers are placed in charter schools. Now I’m learning that the $40,000 or so dollars it cost to train and support a TFAer is being spent so they can have a year of being an assistant teacher at a charter and then get to teach at that charter for their second (and maybe last — er, first?) year? Even I’m shocked by this. It’s as bad as the story this year where a new TFAer was assigned to be a KIPP phys ed teacher.
I guess I shouldn’t be that upset. With the poor quality of the training, this is probably the place where the under-trained TFAer can do the least damage. But I’d prefer they fix the training and send them to a place where they can ‘make a difference.’
Page 357: ‘Teach Like A Champion” is mentioned. It is quite a good book, though this TFA corps member rated it as only the third best book for new teachers. I wonder what was #1?
Page 360: New York is not revealing that they didn’t really meet the requirements to apply for RTTT, but are continuing anyway.
Page 362: The LA times publishes the ratings of all their 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade teachers. He describes this as “what would rank in any era as one of its most important pieces of enterprise reporting.”
Page 365: He explains about value-added, but he already explained the concept of value-added earlier in the book, when he implied that Klein invented it, though it had been around since at least 1996 with Sanders in Tennessee.
Page 367: L.A. Times article explained “Although teachers are paid more for experience, education and training, none of this had much bearing on whether they improved students’ performance.” How can experience and training not help make a teacher better?
Page 369: One of the ‘highly effective’ teachers in the L.A. Times ranking said her favorite movie was ‘Stand And Deliver.’ Jaime Escalante’s story, though, is wildly exaggerated in the movie. In reality, he team taught and the class was not a bunch of misfits but the top students that came through the school. Wendy Kopp likes to talk about that movie also since it was new around the time she was devising TFA.
Page 370: “Making performance scores public might embarrass some teachers or even UNFAIRLY stigmatize them because SOME OF THE RATINGS MAY BE INACCURATE. But those negatives are outweighed by the benefit to the children and their parents of getting a read on how their teachers are performing and holding teachers accountable.” (Emphases added.)
Page 370: “By 2010, TFA had poured so much effort into recovering from its early lapses in training and supporting its corps members that it had perhaps the best data system anywhere measuring its teachers’ performance.” He had already said that the training was terrible in 2004 earlier in the book. And it hasn’t changed much since then. Also, as far as their data system being the best, I know that is untrue. They have a system where the corps members self-report pretest and posttest results, sometimes on tests that they created themselves. They then declare that a large percent of the new teachers get ‘significant gains’ (which is 1.5 years of progress in one year.) See the comments after this blog post of mine for confessions from actual corps members about how bogus their stats are.
Page 372: New York wins RTTT despite not being compliant. This section from 371 to 378 is the craziest in the book so far. Basically the judges of RTTT have no idea what they’re doing. States that should have been disqualified win, while states that should have won, like Colorado, lost. The RTTT scoring is almost as inaccurate as the value-added scoring for teachers.
Page 384: Says that under Rhee “The schools were clearly doing better. Test scores and graduation rates were up, and Rhee had built a national following as someone who might be taking no prisoners but was getting the job done.” This article suggests otherwise.
page 384: Rhee fired 226 teachers, or 5% of them. Brill doesn’t mention that she eventually has to rehire 75 of them.
Page 385: Rhee says “We were so sure that what w were doing was right, ad we could see the numbers that proved it.” She resigns after Mayor Fenty lost, but new mayor picks Kaya Henderson to replace her and she seems to be continuing the same failed strategies.
Page 393: On Waiting For Superman, Tilson says “Waiting For Superman is focused on schools that PROVE, beyond any doubt, that demography is NOT destiny and that schools CAN change the life trajectories of kids, even the most disadvantaged ones.” (emphases was Tilson’s) Actually they exclude the ‘most disadvantaged ones’ who don’t apply for the lottery, or who win the lottery and are counseled out before starting, or are counseled out after starting. (There are probably some non-corrupt charters out there, but many are corrupt in that way.)
And what does ‘demography is not destiny’ really mean? Is there anyone who thinks that poor kids — none of them — are not capable of learning. They are saying, though, that they’ve figured out how to get large percentages of poor kids getting incredible gains in short periods of times with no games with statistics. If they have, why not share their secrets with the rest of us?
Page 399: “Klein’s impending departure in December 2010 triggered multiple retrospectives on his tenure, almost all positive.” Not this one.