Thursday, January 26, 2012

On Evaluating Teachers in a Fair and Positive Fashion

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First I would insist on a truly representative sample of the teacher's teaching performance.

Then I would have an initial judging done by three teachers, who teach populations of similar socio-economic backgrounds, located at least 2 or more school districts away from the teacher being judged [the judgee] district.

I would have the results of the initial judging reviewed by 3 professional judges, teachers already rated excellent, on leave for a year of judging, who rate the teacher in 10 to 20 areas, on numerical scales.  There would be an overall rating and recommendations for areas where improvement is needed, and suggestions as to how to go about making such improvements.   These judges might not necessarily teach kids of the same socio-economic background, but could not, all three,  share just one socio-economic teaching population background.

The evaluation would be done in the second semester of teaching.  The results would come back to the teacher, no penalties, but a clear indication of how well they are doing, referenced to other teachers.  In the second year, the classroom would again be rated, but this time, those rating 3 standard deviations to the low side would be let go in June.  Those 2 standard deviations below would get a warning, and would be tested again in their third year, unlike the rest, who get a pass until year 5.

50% of teachers self select to quit on their own, within five years of starting teaching. 

How to capture a truly representative sample of a teacher's performance?

Closed circuit surveillance systems are readily available to handle multiple cameras and multiple sound tracks, wirelessly, recording full fidelity images and sound, such that the viewer can choose which camera to watch and which mic to listen to.  A rig, cameras and software, mics and computers, can be had for under $2,000.  The teacher works with a tech to set up his classroom for optimum recordings.  Dummy versions of the gear can be placed initially to get the kids through their initial curious and screwup phases.  Then the teacher records up to ten days worth of teaching over a three week span, max.  The teacher can then edit out 20% of the material recorded.  If the teacher can get what he feels is necessary in 5 days, so much the better.  Three weeks is more than enough time to get a representative sample.

The teacher can then pick out 3, 20 minute sections that he feels represents good teaching.  A computer will pick out 7 more 20 minute blocks at random.  The three initial evaluators will thoroughly review the teacher's choices, and can skim or closely review the computer choices, and will need to write up and evaluation of each of the teacher choices, and 4 of the computer choices.

All of this information is passed on to the Pro judges, who review the materials and video, alone, and come up with independent ratings and suggestions.  Then they meet as a group, and assign one final set of ratings and an overall rating.  The teacher [judgee] gets to see both sets of ratings, and all recommendations.

This would not be cheap to do, but it would be far more accurate than letting school politics be the real determiner, or all mighty test scores, which tell very little about a teacher, especially in a school with disadvantaged kids.

I think all CEO's salaries should be compared to those of the occupations you list, as well as teachers. As for teachers themselves, shouldn't those 2 standard deviations above the average be as well paid as a beginning graduate from a technical school? Normally it take 20 years to get up to $60,000, like these graduates start with.
What a thrill as a first year teacher to get that kind of boost, for your second year. And for those that score only 1 standard deviation up from the norm, let them jump to year ten on the local scale. That's what I would call rewarding teachers. How about you? "A Golden Brass Apple, how nice....I think I'll try law school next. This teaching job can pay my tuition, and guess where I'll pay my attentions..." (you did want to know where "bad" teachers came from, didn't you?)

Gingrich Lied Through Misrepresentation about Gas Prices

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Newt claimed gasoline prices “doubled” under Obama. This is only true if you take the last month of December in 2008, which was the lowest ever under Bush, 1.61, and compare it with today. June 2008 gas was at $4 and then some. If you take the last 36 months of Bush and compare it to all 36 months of Obama, you get $2.74 and $2.89 respectively.

Lying through misrepresentation seems to be a fine art for Gingrich.

On Identifying "BAD" Teachers

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These are a few of my most recent posts at George Rebane's Blog, in a discussion of improvements to society.

The problems here, Mr. T, can be broken down into several parts:

How do you identify a "bad" teacher?

Are "bad" teachers really that responsible for all the evils in the world as you post of 11:04 pm suggests?

Your article suggests "better education" as a cure for income inequality. You suggest getting rid of "bad teachers" as a means of achieving better edu8cation, and Obama and I think you rewarding good ones. I point out that "rewarding good K-12 teachers never happens. [You'll note I leave out higher ed, where there are countless MD professors in med schools to inflate public employee pension calls, I avoid that trap] Instead of saying anything nice about rewarding good teachers, you go off on a total tirade about "bad teachers" without ever quantifying the situation, mentioning where the replacements will come from, or most importantly, how your "better teachers" are going to be rewarded.

You also fail to mention how you are going to ID these teachers. Are you going to randomly yake every 20th teacher out behind the gym and shoot them? Are you going to use test scores? How are you going to avoid firing a very dedicated teacher, who, at risk to life and limb, chooses to teach in a ghetto school? I served along side a teacher in the heart of Hunter's Point, who choose to live there, walking distance to the school. After a bullet flew through her living room at chest eight, she choose to line all her outer walls on the inside with concrete blocks. Her kids, on average, scored well below your beloved norms.

You see, in a ghetto school, there are real disconnects between how some of the parents perceive society, and how you and I do. There are literally kids who are raised such that they believe it is the God given mission to go to school and disrupt it. These may not necessarily be the dumbest kids either. In fact, techniques of disruption, are learned, and strategies of of disruption have evolved into cyberbaiting* today. Their parents [in many cases, relatives of their parents, real parents separated, drug incapacitted, locked up, or dead] of several generations back have learned all the in's and out's of finageling the system against itself, and they pass it on.

Based on my experience in Hunters Point, I would say maybe 3 to 5 percent of the students fall into this category. Add in another 3 to 5 percent who have serious untreated medical conditions, another 35 who are willing to play along with the ringleader(s) [one to three per classroom], and you have a recipe for disaster for the remaining 55% who are desperately trying to anything and everything to learn and get the hell out of Hunters Point. Would you like to try teaching in such a zone?

Most importantly, would you like to be fired for not fixing what you never broke?

Teaching is about the only profession where if you are not hired by September, you will have to wait an entire year for another chance at a real paycheck. Substitute teachers make typically one THIRD what a regular teacher does, and there are no benefits, not even unemployment over the summer.
Once again, what real rewards are you proposing for good teachers? Will the "best" teacher in the nation ever make one one thousandth of a CEO making $25,000,000 per year?

And tell me again, is it the teacher who gives birth and raises all these abject rejects for the American Corporate machine? Or is it the parents, who earn a supposed living from the American corporate machine?
Douglas Keachie
Are you upset that I mention rewarding teachers? Golly, you want the best, right? The best CEO's and other "leaders" in their fields, all expect to get paid very well. Why? because that how you get them as "employees." Why wouldn't the same human dynamics apply to teaching? Maybe "American Teacher: should be the new reality show, with the winner taking home $1,000,000. We just heard Gingrich or was it Paul wanting the government to offer prizes for the best moves by private corporations involved in space exploration, why don't they call for the same for teachers? Why is the psychological makeup of a teacher so different from the rest of us mortals?
Douglas Keachie
I also note that a certain "more educated than thou" poster has gone into hibernation, now that he's been hoisted up by his own table of numbers, that show gas under Obama at 2.90, and under Bush at 2.74, thus proving that Gingrich LIED when he claimed gas price doubled under Obama when compared to Bush. Said poster does not seem to risk a lawsuit for libel and to be so stupid as to call my photo a fake either, so a few of his neurons are still functioning, despite the shock of discovering the Keach can and does use spreadsheet functions.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Collecting Unemployment is not a Sin

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Unemployment is not a sin.  It is one of the few times the working man, with the help of unions, got a set of laws passed, for their benefit, and for the greater good.  I'm sure many employers out there think the program is terrible.  These will be the same employers who never, never fail to collect on any insurance that is due to them.  Do you think you will ever hear:

"Hey man, my auto reapir shop burned to the ground, I've paid thousands of dollars in insurance every year, but me collect?  Nope, I'm too macho for that.  Let the sissies collect, I'm better than them." 

So why on earth would there be bragging rights here in this paper for having never collected unemployment? 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Cyberbaiting the Teacher Destroys Learning in the Classroom, a Cure for This Idiocracy.

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It is high time that a teacher be allowed to set up multiple cameras and mics in his or her classroom, to squash any students who would like to engage in cyberbaiting, and to shut up, once and for all, parents who claim their little Johnny or Susie would NEVER do what the teacher claims they did. Modern surveillance software and wireless nanocams and an on-teacher wireless mic will set up a room for less than a grand, and i 'll bet many teachers would consider it a great form of insurance.

What costs the quality of education in the USA the most is the enabling by the parents and administrators of the favorite pastime of a sizable portions of the students. That pastime is best described as, "chewing up the clock." The less that is presented to and learned by the better students, the easier the resulting tests will have to be, and cyberbaiting is FUN!.