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In a bizarre statement, somewhat akin to Arne Duncan’s famous utterance about Katrina being the ‘best’ thing that ever happened to New Orleans schools, is something that NY city Chief Academic Officer, Shael Polakow-Suransky, said about the latest round of New York City school closings. Last year 116 elementary and middle schools had gotten an…

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Sep 25 2012

New Orleans: Joke Of The Day

I almost feel bad for these guys.  My sense is that they so want to believe that their reforms are working that they view every score release through this lens and they don’t even realize how pathetic they are. In this latest press release they call their AP results a ‘surge’ because the number of…

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Sep 20 2012

Grasping at Straws in New Orleans

New Orleans was the home of a very important battle in The War of 1812.  Exactly two hundred years later, 2012, New Orleans is again the focus of another type of battle, one of how to best help our schools. About a year ago I analyzed a press release by TFA alum and then Recovery…

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Sep 15 2012

Analyzing Released NYC Value-Added Data Part 6

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Less technical post about VAM:  What ‘value-added’ is and is not As if there weren’t enough already, I found yet another few flaws in ‘value-added,’ flaws which, I believe, makes it beyond salvation. ‘Value-Added’ is, once again, how much better or worse a…

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Aug 12 2012

That’ll Learn ‘em

There are certain pairs of verbs in the English language that by definition imply one another.  One example is ‘sell’ and ‘buy.’  If you sell something, someone else must be buying.  It would make no sense to say “I’m selling a lot, but nobody is buying.”  If nobody is buying, you might be ‘trying’ to…

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I do not deny that some teachers are more talented than others.  My first year I was a very ineffective teacher who spent half of each class trying to maintain order.  My second through fifteenth years, I was much better.  But even within the very small sample size of myself, there is variation.  Some days…

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May 01 2012

Examining NYC DOE’s Only Egg Basket

When the leaders of the largest school district in the country decide to put all of their proverbial eggs in one basket, that basket had better be strong.  In the case of New York City, this basket is the June 2010 ‘research’ report by MDRC entitled ‘Transforming the High School Experience:  How New York City’s…

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Mar 30 2012

Analyzing Released NYC Value-Added Data Part 5

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Less technical post about VAM: What ‘value-added’ is and is not It’s all about the ‘error rate’ — or so, even I, used to think. Nearly everything I’ve read that questions the validity of the value-added metric mentions the astronomical ‘error rates.’  When…

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Mar 22 2012

SIGnificant Progress?

One year into the US Department Of Education’s 4 billion dollar School Improvement Grant (SIG) program, giving an average of half a million dollars to 800 ‘failing’ schools, the preliminary results are in.  Anyone who understands school reform should know that looking at ‘test scores’ after one year doesn’t really tell you much.  It is…

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Mar 10 2012

Analyzing Released NYC Value-Added Data Part 4

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Less technical post about VAM: What ‘value-added’ is and is not Value-added has been getting a lot of media attention lately but, unfortunately, most stories are missing the point.  In Gotham Schools I read about a teacher who got a low score but…

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Mar 06 2012

Analyzing Released NYC Value-Added Data Part 3

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Less technical post about VAM: What ‘value-added’ is and is not The inaccuracy of the New York City teacher evaluation data is taking a beating.  As I expected, this data would not stand up to the scrutiny of the public or even the…

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Feb 28 2012

Analyzing Released NYC Value-Added Data Part 2

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Less technical post about VAM: What ‘value-added’ is and is not In part 1 I demonstrated there was little correlation between how a teacher was rated in 2009 to how that same teacher was rated in 2010.  So what can be more crazy…

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Feb 26 2012

Analyzing Released NYC Value-Added Data Part 1

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Less technical post about VAM: What ‘value-added’ is and is not The New York Times, yesterday, released the value-added data on 18,000 New York City teachers collected between 2007 and 2010.  Though teachers are irate and various newspapers, The New York Post, in…

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Feb 25 2012

IMPACTed Wisdom Truth?

The big news in New York today is the release of the Teacher Data Reports (TDRs) for some 18,000 teachers.  These were ratings that the city calculated using a value-added model.  The New York Times is going to publish all the scores, including the teachers’ names, on their website. Much to the surprise of most…

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Feb 22 2012

New York State Tests: 5th Grade Math 2010

As I’ve looked through the state tests for questions that I considered ‘bad,’ I should mention that there are other things I object to besides ‘bad’ problems that are included on the test.  What I’ve noticed is a lack of ‘good’ problems too.  If you want to see all the full tests, I found them…

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Feb 21 2012

New York State Tests: 4th Grade Math 2010

After critiquing the 3rd grade test, I saw a comment on Twitter that I was someone who had low expectations.  This person said that he could do questions like that when he was in 3rd grade.  I have no doubt that there are some kids that can succeed at a test like this, even one…

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Feb 14 2012

New York State Tests: 3rd Grade 2010

I don’t know when the first time I took a bubble test was, but I don’t think I was aware of them back when I was in 3rd grade during the 1977-1978 school year.  At the time, though, I was part of another failed reform ‘The Open Classroom’ where about fifty kids were in a…

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Feb 10 2012

New York State Tests: 7th grade math 2010

Looking over the 7th grade math test, I try to view it through someone else’s eyes — anyone’s eyes who is not a professional math teacher, and when I do, I think, “I forgot almost all this stuff.”  When you learn something in English class, like the definition of the word ‘satire,’ that knowledge generally…

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Feb 08 2012

New York State Tests: 8th grade math 2010

If schools are going to be closed and teachers fired over state tests, the tests had better be good.  So I downloaded the most recent 8th grade New York State math assessment to see how it was.  Out of 45 questions, I had issues with at least ten of them. In this question, there is…

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In today’s New York Times there was a story about a research study which supposedly proved that students who had teachers with good value-added scores were more successful in life. This inspired me to complete something I have been working on for several months, off-and-on, a detailed analysis of the raw data supplied in the…

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It’s a lot more satisfying showing that a ‘failing’ school is being unfairly closed than showing that a ‘miracle’ school is getting accolades it doesn’t deserve. I applied the same analysis I recently did for Jamaica High School to the just announced closure of a New York City school since 1913, Washington Irving High School. …

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Dec 20 2011

Come Back To Jamaica

The New York City reform model is centered upon closing ‘failing’ schools and opening new ones. Some of these ‘failing’ schools have been pillars of their communities for decades. One such school I read about in The New York Times is Jamaica High School in Jamaica, Queens. This large high school opened in 1925. But…

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Perhaps the most controversial issue in Ed Reform is whether or not it is fair to tie teacher evaluation to their ‘performance’ as defined by reformers as how their students do on standardized exams.  Since even reformers acknowledge that teachers aren’t able to take students from a low starting score to any absolute target of…

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Oct 26 2011

The Vindication Of P.S. 84 Part III

In the first two parts of this series I examined how the New York City progress report system is less about measuring a school’s quality and more about comparing schools.  The number of comparisons that occurs to determine the ‘progress’ score is staggering:  Students are compared to other students with the same starting score.  Students…

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Oct 25 2011

The Vindication Of P.S. 84 Part II

In the previous post I demonstrated how the New York City progress reports are distorted by a inappropriate use of ‘standard deviation’ to unfairly punish schools that score slightly below average on certain metrics when all the scores are very close together.  One such calculation gave P.S. 84 a .8 out of a possible 5…

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