Friday, April 03, 2015
The Atlanta Cheating Scandal And The NYS Teacher Evaluation System. What The Future Holds.
Rather than continue with the analysis of the demoralizing teacher evaluation system which has been thoroughly covered by Perdido Street School , ICEUFT Blog, nyc educator, and Ed Notes Online, this post will concentrated on the consequences to the future of teaching and learning in the New York State and City schools.
This week eleven educators, administrators, principals, and teachers were found guilty of "cheating" and were immediately sent to jail as they were convicted of "racketeering" and face long prison terms of up to twenty years. The cheating scandal resulted from the City of Atlanta who decided that high-stakes test scores should be the basis of a school's success or failure as well as teacher tenure decisions. The result was increased pressure on schools to show that their schools were successful, that meant test preparation was emphasized over actual learning and the joy of teaching and student learning was replaced by the threat of dismissal for not meeting the expectations for the teacher and hating going to school for the student. When the students still struggled to do well on these high-stakes tests, many educators either condoned or were complicit in changing student scores. Overall, 180 employees, including Dr. Hall, the head of the Atlanta school district, were charged and 44 schools had cheating allegations tied to their test scores. Most took a plea deal and are no longer in the education field as they lost their teaching license.
This brings me to the new teacher evaluation system that will hasten the exodus of experienced teachers from the already struggling schools and will see teachers refusing to work with a "high needs" student population for fear of being labeled "ineffective". Combine that with fewer college students going into education, especially in the classroom, and Board of Regents Chancellor Meryl Tisch's suggestion that a school district's graduation and/or college readiness rate be tied to the more punitive part of the teacher evaluation system, struggling schools will be left with two choices. Either they put increased pressure on the teachers to pass the students along deservingly or not, or "cheat" by changing student answers or encouraging them to select the correct choice while taking the test. Regardless, the potential for educational abuses is high and I suspect will commonly occur.
The bottom line is that no experienced teacher, no matter how much extra money is offered, will willingly take a position in a struggling school with a "high needs" population, knowing full well that they can be terminated due to their student population and the badly flawed Common Core high-stakes tests and not based on their teaching ability. For the rest? The potential to cheat to save their job will be real and thanks to the new teacher evaluation system I can see the Atlanta cheating scandal repeated in the City and the State.