Teachers Union, District Agree On Contract


This was a horrible decision.

There is no evidence that using student test scores is a relevant or fair way to judge teachers. It sounds good, but it doesn't work. Student's test scores are all over the map, and have little to do with the teacher.

Kids can do poorly on a test for all sorts of reasons:
- They didn't get enough sleep the night before
- They didn't study
- Their parents are going through a divorce.
- Someone sitting next to them is bullying them
- They're doing drugs
- They're having a period
- Their teacher didn't teach the material
- They are dyslexic, ADHD, bipolar, etc
- They have the hots for someone sitting in front of them and can't concentrate
- They'd rather be scateboarding.

Only one of these is even remotely within the control of the teacher. And yet we think it is a good idea to judge teachers by the student's test scores.

I give the school board a failing grade in basic logic.
hear that, illiterate, slovenly dumb fuck parents? it can't possibly be your fault anymore. you can up your level of neglect as far as you want.
@1...yeah all of those variables are legit, but the simple fact is that a good teacher is going to consistently have better results than a mediocre teacher.

My question is what tests are these evaluations being based on? Teacher created tests? School/district created tests?

Can someone clarify this for me?
I think its fair to consider test scores as part of the a teacher's evaluation. If in the same school, in the same subject, and with kids of a similar background if Teacher A's students are testing much better than Teacher B, then Teacher A deserves some kudos and Teacher B needs some help.
@ 1:

Relax. The contract does no such thing. Bhattacharjee is full of shit. She's just a stupid fucking credulous hack who is repeating word for word the District's pathetic attempts to spin the fact that the teachers pwn3d them, big time, in this contract.

The only way test scores will be used, under this contract, is if a teacher's test scores vary widely from the teacher's past evaluation. Test scores will then be used to trigger a second evaluation. That's all. That's it.

Goodloe Johnson didn't get much of anything she wanted in this contract, and hopefully that will hasten her departure.
@3 Theses are based on WASL or other standardized test scores. Basing it on teacher created tests wouldn' be very useful and could lead to epic grade inflation.
Thank you, Stranger, for increasing your coverage of Seattle Public Schools lately. The Seattle Times does an abysmal job of it, and other than a few terrific blogs (see http://saveseattleschools.blogspot.com/ for the best one IMHO), there's not much out there in the media about what's happening in Seattle.
Rotten666: Actually there's no research to back up your contention. Even from year to year a teacher's performance, when based on standardized test scores, can vary wildly, and a teacher who looks fantastic one year looks like the worst teacher on earth the next.

Which is not to say there aren't ways to evaluate teachers. But standardized test scores are one of the worst.
@6 How is that possible? If I teach social studies, how am I going to be evaluated if that subject is not on the test? Wasl (and its replacement) only tests English, math and science.
"yeah all of those variables are legit, but the simple fact is that a good teacher is going to consistently have better results than a mediocre teacher."

Actually, that's not true. Case studies have shown that if you look at any one teacher, their student's scores are all over the place. Same teacher, same subject. But different classes of students will test much differently. There can be as much as a 40% swing in scores from one year to another or one class to another, all under the same teacher.

I totally understand the desire to try to promote great teachers and get rid of bad teachers. But using student test scores is a lousy basis on which to judge a teacher.
The test used is called MAP (measures of academic progress). It wasn't created as a test to rate teachers and, in fact, the company itself says this.

Now what is interesting is that Board approved the contract using these tests (it's about a $4M investment so far) and THEN found out that our Superintendent sits on the board of the company (in a non-paid seat but you know how these associations can play out). It may not be illegal but pretty unethical.

It is a little hard to understand how they created a contract where some of the outcome is based on the supplemental levy passing and/or getting federal grants. It's just not sustainable so why?

Also, I hope The Stranger really covers the levy. (Public disclosure, I'm on the committee against it and for good reason.) Just as a heads up: it's the third school levy this year, the budget has already been created without it, there is very little of the $48M they are asking for that will see the light of a classroom (but yay! more people at central administration) and this is the district (and School Board) that got called out by the State Auditor's office as not following state law and the district's/Board's own regulations and policies and not doing due oversight of public funds.

Please don't give these people more money until we know that they are capable of using it wisely (see the $7,000 retirement party that the Superintendent threw in June 2009 complete with a carving station, live music and $100 restaurant certificates). What did the Auditor's office have to say about this since the district has NO policies for banquets and award ceremonies?

"We discussed guidance from the AG that we audit to, that tells us that unless there are policies in place to address this topic it is considered gifting of public funds."

Your tax dollars at work.