I wrote at the end of August about the use of pre-assessments that will evaluate teachers in New York State and the negative effects on our schools. The madness of the Student Learning Objectives(SLO) is being rushed and forced upon educators across the Empire State. Teachers in schools around New York are puzzled, angry and stressed. A Long Island Principal wrote a tremendous piece about the SLO process, calling it “Squashed Learning Opportunities“. My son actually took one of these pre-asssesments in his second-grade physical education class.
The New York State Education Department is rolling out the use of SLO’s even though most districts in New York State have not agreed to the new teacher evaluation system. This rushed process is leading to a lack of information and understanding in our schools. School administrators and principals were trained on the fly by either paid contractors or NYSED folks who have never taught a day in their lives. The result is that school leaders cannot accurately help the teachers with the whole SLO process. At first the thought was that all teachers would need to create a pre-assessment, but instead others will take on another task that has no validity whatsoever.
My school is now telling some teachers, including me, that we need to create targets for how our students will perform on our various local final exams. For my seventh grade Social Studies classes, I was told to look at the final exam and quarterly averages my current students received in sixth grade. After reviewing the data(hate this word now), I should be able to take a guess(not an educated guess in my view) as to how the students will score on my exam.
In sixth grade, students learn about world cultures. In seventh grade, our curriculum is American History. How can you judge growth on two entirely different courses? How can I look at “historical data” such as final exam scores and quarterly averages with any reliability? Each sixth grade teacher has their own expectations when it comes to grading. Would students who received a 90% in the three different sixth grade classes be considered equal? How can I accurately make any judgement using this information.
I have the choice of guessing each student’s growth or use my whole group instead. I must create a target score for my students and depending on the percentage of students who meet that goal, I will get my evaluation score. My SLO plan, err guess, must be approved and I cannot “low ball” my target goals. Insane, yes. Valid, no.
I would be laughing, if this was not how the folks at NYSED in Albany think I will be evaluated. When the amateurs in the state capital decided that test scores should be used to judge teachers, they had to come up with a method to evaluate teachers without a state assessment. Of course the brain trust at NYSED, which does not include anyone with real educational experience, thinks the SLO process is a valid measure of my abilities as an educator.
A significant amount of time and money is being devoted to the SLO process. This system will not improve my instruction or help my students in anyway.