Rhee-Assessing

Atlantic rounds-up takes on election eduimplications in D.C. Also, don’t miss Michal Lomax in The Root.

Update: Newsweek talks with Rhee.

Update II: On WaPo’s front page, lead story, Turque writes  that she’s gone. Times Ed Board weighs-in about the new contract and its funding.  And from the other day, my take in TIME on what that would mean. Plus Rishawn Biddle says, “No Tears For Fenty.”

Update III: Joe Klein @Time = pissed.

60 Responses to “Rhee-Assessing”

  1. phillipmarlowe Says:

    Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty offered a searing criticism of teachers unions on Wednesday morning for helping defeat Washington D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty in last night’s primary.

    “Public schools are failing too many children across the country, but arguably nowhere worse than in our nation’s capital,” Pawlenty’s statement read. “Using education reforms similar to what I’ve fought for in Minnesota, Mayor Fenty and his chancellor of schools, Michelle Rhee, began to turn their schools around, dramatically improving test scores in the last few years. Their work is an inspiration to me and school reformers across the nation.”

    “Mayor Fenty lost after the teachers’ unions led a campaign against him and Michelle Rhee. Fenty’s loss is further evidence that despite all their rhetoric about ‘the children,’ what the teachers’ unions really care about is getting more money for jobs they can’t lose at schools that produce students who are not prepared to compete. . . .

  2. DC resident Says:

    Tim Pawlenty joins the ranks of pundits from around the country who are talking out of their behinds. They simply don’t know the details about education in DC and they don’t understand DC voters. THey don’t get their trashed pick up here. They don’t have kids in public schools here. They don’t deal with DC city agencies. They probably haven’t met Adrian Fenty. I’m sick of all the misinformed bloviating.

    Michelle Rhee was not on the ballot. Adrian Fenty was, and he is such a colossal prick that you can’t automatically interpret the vote count as saying anything about Michelle or DC’s reforms. Gray ran on basically the same policies as Fenty except that he’s not a prick.

    How about more links to people who actually cast a ballot in this election?

  3. thenofunzone Says:

    hey dc resident how about if you’re going to claim that michelle rhee wasn’t a major component of fenty’s loss that you provide statistical evidence for such a claim using some high quality exit polling data? from what i’ve seen – the regressions i’ve run – the ex-Mayor’s support correlated above .7 with Rhee’s support and that opposition to the mayor was associated with voters who ranked school reform as an important issue (at least for Blacks), but for whites who ranked K-12 as important fenty was their choice. see the WaPo ongoing series of polls – i’ve run the numbers. i suggest you do the same before doing exactly what Tim Pawlenty was doing – bloviating.

  4. HstResident Says:

    My prediction-

    Rhee is off to Sacramento…”I haven’t been shy about the differences in opinion I’ve had with the chairman, but I think he deserves the opportunity to start with a fresh plate and recruit someone for this job that shares his vision and will execute that.”

    Kaya will take over as chancellor, with a fresh face but similar vision as Rhee.

    Thoughts?

  5. John Says:

    @DC resident,
    Pawlenty didn’t say that Fenty lost because of Rhee or reforms. He just pointed out that the AFT spent over $1M to unseat him, and that clearly wasn’t spent in the interests of kids in the DC school system.

    Fenty’s defeat may well be for reasons other than the school system, and perhaps we ed reformers shouldn’t be taking it as a referendum on reforms. However, there’s no doubt that the AFT has sent a clear message about what you’ll get if you stick your neck out for kids.

  6. Attorney DC Says:

    Coming from the point of view of an attorney who has some experience with unions (and as a former teacher), I don’t understand the posters that deride unions for not acting in the interest of the “kids” or of the “schools.” Unions are organizations set up expressly for the purpose of protecting the employment rights of their members (who are paying a fee for these services). As part of their role, unions sometimes branch out into the legislative or political area to support candidates that the union believes be best for its members.

    Would you fault the AARP for not sticking up for teenagers, or fault the American Medical Association for not acting in the interest of construction workers? When students, parents, administrators or other groups start paying the union reps’ salaries, then they can complain that unions don’t advocate for them. Until then, teachers (like any group) have the right to pay for an organization for the purpose of representing its members’ interests politically.

  7. Chris Smyr Says:

    Attorney DC:

    “When students, parents, administrators or other groups start paying the union reps’ salaries, then they can complain that unions don’t advocate for them. ”

    I’ve never heard a teacher’s union express anything close to this sentiment. “You didn’t pay your dues, Little Johnny, so run along while the grown-ups plan out what’s best for them.”

    Instead, I hear a lot about how the unions have student interests at heart, and that what’s good for teachers and what’s good for students is really just the same thing: more job protections for teachers. I agree with you that this is not the case, however.

  8. Linda/RetiredTeacher Says:

    The “unions” are teachers and of course teachers, like parents, are the people who most stick their necks out for the sake of children. They are the ones who provide direct services to young people. That said, there are still many other citizens who give generously of their time and money.

    Mr. Vincent Gray is a man who has demonstrated much concern for the education of children over the years. He will undoubtedly choose a school superintendent who will do a better job than Rhee at providing the kind of services for children that teachers have been advocating. Specifically I think we can expect to see:

    more services for infants, toddlers and preschoolers for the purpose of preventing the achievement gap;

    the use of RttT money to lure the best qualified principals and teachers to DC;

    an end to the placement of inexperienced teachers in the most challenging schools;

    support and respect for present teachers;

    collaboration with teachers to weed out ineffective colleagues (Administrators, not unions, have kept weak teachers in the classroom. Administrators hire, evaluate and fire. Unions do not.);

    Perhaps I’m being overly optimistic, but I also expect to see some of these positive changes at the national level. Arne Duncan recently lauded a North Carolina district for using financial incentives to lure the best teachers to its schools. Now THAT’S something that will get results!

    Go, teachers! Thanks again for accepting the challenge of teaching the nation’s youth. You are among the heroes of our country.

  9. Attorney DC Says:

    Linda & Chris: I didn’t mean to imply that the interests of the teachers unions and that of the students cannot align. In several cases, policies that help the teachers would benefit the students/parents as well. Take class size for an example: If a union presses for reducing class size, most teachers, students and parents would support this position. As an analogy, think about airline pilots: If their union advocates for more rest time for pilots between flights, this benefits the pilots (b/c they will feel more rested and comfortable) but I’d bet most passengers would like it as well!

    Linda: Of course teachers care about students (if they didn’t, they/we likely wouldn’t have entered the profession!). But I think it’s a mistake for teachers unions to continually proclaim that they are doing things for the benefit of the students, when they really should be acting (quite appropriately) for the benefit of the teachers.

  10. GGW Says:

    what will happen to the $65 million in private philanthropy?

    does it leave when rhee leaves?

  11. thenofunzone Says:

    fundamental flaw in your analogy Attorney DC:

    Teachers are public employees – public sector employees aka “bureaucrats”… who are advantaged by the force of states’ collective bargaining laws in their level of organization. state governments literally give a free “subsidy” to these special interest groups by helping them organize and rack up “dues” that they can use to lobby for policies that support their own interest.

    The AARP, the NRA, and just about any other “special interest” membership organization that comes to mind is not given a subsidy by the state to help organize its members and boost political power. Certainly parents are afforded no such subsidy in boosting their political influence over state and local education policy-making. If we didn’t have agency fees and mandatory exclusive bargaining rights for teachers then you are right it would be ideas vs. ideas and if teacher associations only wanted to support teacher preferences in their lobbying (as opposed to kids) that would be their choice. But don’t act like its equal footing, and don’t let them use my tax dollars (via public sector employee salary dollars that go into union dues) to give them preferential treatment.

  12. Linda/RetiredTeacher Says:

    Teachers are the opposite of “bureaucrats.” A bureaucrat is usually thought of as an administrator or a person with a desk job. Teachers are the core professionals for the field of teaching. They are the people who offer the service directly to the students. A teacher is to a school or college what a doctor is to a clinic or hospital.

    The negative attitudes towards teachers expressed on this blog tell us all we need to know about why the United States is not where it should be in education. When I went to Turkey this summer I noticed an immediate change in people’s attitudes when I told them my friends and I were teachers. They immediately asked us to sit down, have a refreshment and tell them about education in the United States. It was a great feeling to be so appreciated.

    If you hold great disdain for teachers, you need to look at yourself. Did you have a terrible time at school? Are your children failing? Do you stand to make a lot of money if public education is discredited? Do you resent seeing so much of your tax money going to other people’s children? Do you look down on teachers because they are mainly women teaching little children (i.e. “women’s work)?

    If your problem is the low achievement of your own children, I guarantee they will do better within six months, if you follow this advice:

    Show your child that you value education yourself. Read, take courses, visit the library and have lots of books in your home;

    Support the school and your child’s teacher. If you can’t, make a change;

    Turn off the TV from Sunday night to Thursday night during the school year;

    Allow computer use for homework only during the week;

    Read to your child every night;

    Follow your child’s interests and nourish them.

    Remember, every time you say something negative about a teacher, you are helping to hurt education in the U.S.A.

  13. thenofunzone Says:

    calling public school teachers bureaucrats is not necessarily a negative thing. we tend to think of the term bureaucrat negatively, but all it means is that teachers represent the “agent” in a principal-agent model. generally we use principal agent models to describe government operations, and last I checked teachers are employed by government. school boards/superintendents who hire teachers are principals (elected or appointed political authorities) who because they are not experts delegate responsibilities to agents (teachers) who you are right are supposed to be professional experts in their field. i don’t know why this is taken negatively, it just describes the reality of public sector services.

  14. Linda/RetiredTeacher Says:

    AttorneyDC:

    I understood what you meant and I agree. Unions represent the employment rights of teachers but they also represent the interests of teachers, which, for the most part, coincide with those of their students. For example, unions lobby for small classes, school nurses and social workers, nutritious meals, equal education for the poor and the disenfranchised (immigrant children). Also, by helping to improve the salaries and benefits for teachers, unions have made the job somewhat agreeable to men. Children of all ages profit from having both male and female teachers.

  15. Chris Smyr Says:

    Linda/RetiredTeacher:

    “an end to the placement of inexperienced teachers in the most challenging schools;”

    You continue to avoid any and all discussion as to the merits (or lack thereof) behind this proposal, yet you repeat it countlessly in nearly every thread you post in. It’s incredibly annoying.

    (http://www.eduwonk.com/2010/09/eduimplications.html/comment-page-1#comment-209879 )

    “support and respect for present teachers;”

    What does this look like to you? Does it mean giving teachers additional chances to improve upon receiving bad evaluations?

    “collaboration with teachers to weed out ineffective colleagues (Administrators, not unions, have kept weak teachers in the classroom. Administrators hire, evaluate and fire. Unions do not.);”

    Why do we need to have other teachers decide who the ineffective colleagues are? And aren’t we already doing this, say, with IMPACT, which describes a process where master teachers are leading the classroom observation/evaluation process?

    Also, unions seem to have largely been an obstacle in the firings of teachers. We discussed this not too long ago, as well:

    http://www.eduwonk.com/2010/09/five-ideas-and-a-dc-round-up.html#comment-209575

    Attorney DC:

    “I didn’t mean to imply that the interests of the teachers unions and that of the students cannot align. In several cases, policies that help the teachers would benefit the students/parents as well.”

    Problem is, there are important situations where the interests are mutually exclusive, especially when we try to have any real discussion regarding accountability. It’s absolutely false that the interests of both parties go hand-in-hand, as Linda argues. It’s like saying that the interests of workers and employers generally should align because workers are the ones willing to do the work and employers need them working. It’s wrong on multiple levels, like some kind of Inception of faulty logic (“a fallacy within a fallacy”).

  16. Bill Jones Says:

    The article says it all. Rhee, handsomely paid for her “leadership” attracted the best and brightest management staff and paid them handsomely.

    With her departure, they will become demoralized and unproductive.

    Well then let’s apply the Rhee solution. Fire the nincompoops. Kick them in the butt and out the door.

    Education managers are a dime a dozen.

    Who would possibly notice their departure?

    Certainly NOT the children.

  17. Bill Jones Says:

    Ooooh, we should be sooooooooo worried about nincompoop suits, miles away from the daily concerns of children who want to learn, becoming demoralized and unproductive when Rhee leaves.

    I thought this was about the CHILDREN.

    Let’s Rhee them all.

    Adios you nincompoops who cannot teach Algebra 1 or a physics class.

    Please tell me the one thing you did to improve test scores that had a thing to do with rigorous content OR DIRECT student learning.

    Shed those tears, suits. Your days are numbered.

    People are wising up. Good teachers make all the difference, not you with your high pay, Blackberrys, and edu-jargon.

  18. Bill Jones Says:

    Rhee tooled around town in a chauffeured , armored, full equipped, Suburban.

    Maybe someone in cash strapped California will offer her the same perks. She was paid near $400K per year.

    Here is better idea. Hire a Stanford MBA and bring some real RATIONALITY to the education debate.

    Rhee is a public policy wonk. That is a lame degree. which lacks any notion that INCENTIVES MATTER.

    Rhee was on a religious crusade, not a factual analysis of business climate and incentives.

    She should have been wearing armor and carrying a sword and shield, but all she could muster was a broom.

  19. Chris Smyr Says:

    (tried to post this earlier; still awaiting moderation due to links, so they are excluded below)

    Linda/RetiredTeacher:

    “an end to the placement of inexperienced teachers in the most challenging schools;”

    You continue to avoid any and all discussion as to the merits (or lack thereof) behind this proposal, yet you repeat it countlessly in nearly every thread you post in. It’s incredibly annoying.

    “support and respect for present teachers;”

    What does this look like to you? Does it mean giving teachers additional chances to improve upon receiving bad evaluations?

    “collaboration with teachers to weed out ineffective colleagues (Administrators, not unions, have kept weak teachers in the classroom. Administrators hire, evaluate and fire. Unions do not.);”

    Why do we need to have other teachers decide who the ineffective colleagues are? And aren’t we already doing this, say, with IMPACT, which describes a process where master teachers are leading the classroom observation/evaluation process?

    Also, unions seem to have largely been an obstacle in the firings of teachers. We discussed this not too long ago, as well.

    Attorney DC:

    “I didn’t mean to imply that the interests of the teachers unions and that of the students cannot align. In several cases, policies that help the teachers would benefit the students/parents as well.”

    Problem is, there are important situations where the interests are mutually exclusive, especially when we try to have any real discussion regarding accountability. It’s absolutely false that the interests of both parties go hand-in-hand, as Linda argues. It’s like saying that the interests of workers and employers generally should always align because workers are the ones willing to do the work and employers need them working. It’s wrong on multiple levels, like some kind of Inception of faulty logic (”a fallacy within a fallacy”).

  20. Chris Smyr Says:

    And someone needs to notify Bill Jones that a 12-year-old has hijacked his online identity.

  21. phillipmarlowe Says:

    Chris,
    Click on your name to get easy html instruction for links.

    Chris Smyr

    Or, just leave of the h t t p:// part

  22. Billy Bob Says:

    Inexperienced teachers generally tend to be less effective teachers, particularly at the secondary level. They are also disproportionately employed in in poor/minority and/or low-performing schools. Pretty much everyone (except Chris, evidently) accepts the voluminous research in this area.

    One way to close the achievement gap is to address this inequitable distribution. See Ed Trust on this issue. NCLB includes requirements in this area, but never enforced them.

  23. Billy Bob Says:

    Strange how really important things that most researchers agree on annoy Chris. That seems to be a trend.

  24. Chris Smyr Says:

    Billy Bob:

    The real trend here is you continually ignoring (or forgetting? I can’t tell anymore) all prior discussions, particularly counterarguments directed at you. See the past thread where this was discussed:

    http://www.eduwonk.com/2010/09/eduimplications.html#comment-209869

  25. Billy Bob Says:

    Yes–and you simply could not comprehend that the majority of research has found that inexperienced teachers are less effective than more experienced teachers. Its very simple, but your little brain refuses to let in any information that contradicts your ideological stances.

    You keep blathering instead of responding, so everyone gives up. Then you criticize them for bailing on the argument. If that is a trend, then take a look in the mirror–the problem is you.

  26. Billy Bob Says:

    Chris–your reading comprehension is worse than my 4th graders. The link you gave was about preparation. The thread above was about experience. Two DIFFERENT things. Please READ.

    Experience matters. You deny it. You also deny preparation matters when research says that it matters as well. Pretty soon you will deny the holocaust and that the earth revolves around the sun if it supports your agenda.

  27. da professor Says:

    Hate to rain on your parade BB, but the research is actually a little more nuanced than a linear relationship regarding experience and effectiveness. The truth is the research shows that teacher experience ceases to be a good predictor of teacher effectiveness after year 5 of a teacher’s career. But for some reason we have salary schedules that favor teachers with 15 years experience over those with 5-6, yet the research says we could spend our human capital dollars more wisely.

    That said, I completely agree with Linda that we should not have high poverty schools bare the brunt of novice teachers, but after 5 years its all pretty irrelevant.

  28. Billy Bob Says:

    we, professor, I suggest you read some of the fantastic research by Sunny Ladd and her cohorts using some pretty sophisticated techniques and student-level data. She finds returns through 10 yaers at least. Now, I agree its not a linear relationship and that the returns to experience diminish over time, but experienced teachers do a lot more than teach kids. They mentor, serve as dept chairs, help administration, etc. Not everything is based on test scores, wouldn’t you agree?

    I think a lot of jobs have diminishing returns to experience, yet those professions still provide cost-of-living pay raises which are essentially what teachers get. Rare is the year when teachers get more than anything that covers cost of living which is one reason I got out.

    I propose cost of living with additional pay for additional duties or exceptional performance.

  29. Chris Smyr Says:

    Billy Bob:

    1) You are too busy sneering and strutting to correctly evaluate the point I was making. Linda proposes placing only highly prepared and/or experienced teachers with evidence of good teaching into challenging schools. Can’t fault her for dreaming big, but we can (and should) if the dreams espoused are not as dreamy as she intends.

    2) Give citations for this overwhelming support for experience or extensive teacher preparation as a predictive characteristic of good teaching. Linda has argued that both should be a central attribute to consider when placing teachers. Here’s a few studies that would suggest a more nuanced view:

    “Course-taking variables play quite different roles in the education production functions we estimated than do the less direct measures of teachers’ preparation. Indeed. the conventional measures (teacher degree level and experience) tended to be either unrelated or negatively related to improvements in pupil performance. There ‘is little in these data to suggest that the simple accumulation of credits with no regard for the subject being taught has a positive effect on pupil performance. Moreover, with the exception of pupil performance in mathematics during the junior year, there is little evidence to suggest that additional teacher experience contributes to pupil performance. Indeed, in the junior year science analyses, the coefficient for teacher experience was significantly negative. It appears that gross measures of teacher preparation (such as degree levels, undifferentiated credit counts, or years of teacher experience) offer little useful information for those interested in improving pupil performance.”

    (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6VB9-45BC418-31&_user=10&_coverDate=06%2F30%2F1994&_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_orig=search&_origin=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_searchStrId=1467752228&_rerunOrigin=scholar.google&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=c880bb7a908abd341abbb2445097d7bc&searchtype=a )

    “There appear to be important gains in teaching quality in the first year of experience and smaller gains over the next few career years. However, there is little evidence that improvements continue after the first three years.[...]

    Though it is tempting to tighten standards for teachers in an effort to raise quality, the results in this paper and elsewhere raise serious doubts that more restrictive certification standards, education levels, etc. will succeed in raising the quality of instruction. Rather the substantial differences in quality among those with similar observable backgrounds highlight the importance of effective hiring, firing, mentoring, and promotion practices.”

    (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-0262.2005.00584.x/abstract )

    “In addition, for many potentially salient teacher characteristics—such as experience, race, and study of teaching methods—studies that use convincing research designs simply do not exist or have not been conclusive.”

    (http://rer.sagepub.com/content/73/1/89.abstract )

    3) TFA provides a simple yet extensive counterexample to Linda’s proposal, as seldom, if any, of their recruits come equipped with extensive teacher preparation or background teaching experience, and yet they tend to generate comparable or higher positive effects on student achievement as other teachers, experienced or not. Linda worries about a lack of talent entering the teaching profession, yet essentially decrees that TFA and other similar programs should not be utilized to fill this talent gap in failing schools (and no, it’s not feasible to assume they could simply be placed in high-performing schools instead, as I argue below). The glaring inconsistency between these two perspectives is telling.

    4) We can continue with Linda’s line of wishful thinking only up until the point where we would want to implement her changes, and that’s where the proposal quickly goes south. Linda wants there to only be teachers placed in challenging schools that have a record of excellent teaching. I’ve asked her the following questions before, but alas!, she didn’t respond. (http://www.eduwonk.com/2010/07/teach-for-america-and-the-problem-of-study-laundering.html#comment-208357 )

    How does she exactly intend to do this? Is she assuming that a good teacher on the nice part of town will also be a good teacher for any other school with a vastly different student population, and if so what is the basis for that assumption? If you pay teachers more to work in a low-performing school, does the fact that they are mainly drawn to teaching in that school by money instead of a love for teaching mean anything, good or bad? Are there other feasible ways to herd these teachers into certain schools? Does she suppose that the communities of high-performing schools will be ecstatic about losing their best teachers? Does she suppose that TFA can be tailored into the program that she deigns best?

    Both ideally and pragmatically, Linda’s original proposal comes off as an empty solution to a deeply entrenched problem, and her disinterest in responding to counterarguments makes it increasingly apparent that she’s only interested in this blog as a medium for her to proselytize. This does, however, place her a few notches higher on the maturity scale than yourself, Billy Bob, and for that she deserves minor recognition.

  30. JasonP Says:

    BB,

    Your response suggests perhaps we figure out a different career path for teachers after 10-15 years. Meaning, if teachers are still great and not burnt out, they continue teaching. However, if teachers are burnt out but still have great experience to offer (mentoring, dept. chairs), they can find a career path or take 2-3 year break from teaching. Right now, I know a lot of teachers that no longer like teaching but want to rack up the benefits/pension. I completely understand why after the years of service they’ve put in. But if we could acknowledge burn out as part of the profession and figure out paths for good teachers ready to step out of the classroom (long-term or for a 2-3 period), it could benefit everyone. The current system seems a lose-lose.

    Jason

    Jason

  31. Billy Bob Says:

    Jason–I agree 100%. We need more options and career pathways like we do in other professions. I think that would help tremendously.

  32. Billy Bob Says:

    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/local-opinions/2010/09/a_chance_to_learn_from_rhees_m.html

  33. Chris Smyr Says:

    Billy Bob:

    1) You are too busy sneering and strutting to correctly evaluate the point I was making. Linda proposes placing only highly prepared and/or experienced teachers with evidence of good teaching into challenging schools. Can’t fault her for dreaming big, but we can (and should) if the dreams espoused are not as dreamy as she intends.

    2) Give citations for this overwhelming support for experience or extensive teacher preparation as a predictive characteristic of good teaching. Linda has argued that both should be a central attribute to consider when placing teachers. Here’s a few studies that would suggest a more nuanced view:

    “Course-taking variables play quite different roles in the education production functions we estimated than do the less direct measures of teachers’ preparation. Indeed. the conventional measures (teacher degree level and experience) tended to be either unrelated or negatively related to improvements in pupil performance. There ‘is little in these data to suggest that the simple accumulation of credits with no regard for the subject being taught has a positive effect on pupil performance. Moreover, with the exception of pupil performance in mathematics during the junior year, there is little evidence to suggest that additional teacher experience contributes to pupil performance. Indeed, in the junior year science analyses, the coefficient for teacher experience was significantly negative. It appears that gross measures of teacher preparation (such as degree levels, undifferentiated credit counts, or years of teacher experience) offer little useful information for those interested in improving pupil performance.”

    (D. H. Monk, 1994)

    “There appear to be important gains in teaching quality in the first year of experience and smaller gains over the next few career years. However, there is little evidence that improvements continue after the first three years.[...]

    Though it is tempting to tighten standards for teachers in an effort to raise quality, the results in this paper and elsewhere raise serious doubts that more restrictive certification standards, education levels, etc. will succeed in raising the quality of instruction. Rather the substantial differences in quality among those with similar observable backgrounds highlight the importance of effective hiring, firing, mentoring, and promotion practices.”

    (S. G. Rivkin et al., 2005)

    “In addition, for many potentially salient teacher characteristics—such as experience, race, and study of teaching methods—studies that use convincing research designs simply do not exist or have not been conclusive.”

    (A. J. Wayne and P. Youngs, 2003)

    3) TFA provides a simple yet extensive counterexample to Linda’s proposal, as seldom, if any, of their recruits come equipped with extensive teacher preparation or background teaching experience, and yet they tend to generate comparable or higher positive effects on student achievement as other teachers, experienced or not. Linda worries about a lack of talent entering the teaching profession, yet essentially decrees that TFA and other similar programs should not be utilized to fill this talent gap in failing schools (and no, it’s not feasible to assume they could simply be placed in high-performing schools instead, as I argue below). The glaring inconsistency between these two perspectives is telling.

    4) We can continue with Linda’s line of wishful thinking only up until the point where we would want to implement her changes, and that’s where the proposal quickly goes south. Linda wants there to only be teachers placed in challenging schools that have a record of excellent teaching. I’ve asked her the following questions before, but alas!, she didn’t respond. (http://www.eduwonk.com/2010/07/teach-for-america-and-the-problem-of-study-laundering.html#comment-208357 )

    How does she exactly intend to do this? Is she assuming that a good teacher on the nice part of town will also be a good teacher for any other school with a vastly different student population, and if so what is the basis for that assumption? If you pay teachers more to work in a low-performing school, does the fact that they are mainly drawn to teaching in that school by money instead of a love for teaching mean anything, good or bad? Are there other feasible ways to herd these teachers into certain schools? Does she suppose that the communities of high-performing schools will be ecstatic about losing their best teachers? Does she suppose that TFA can be tailored into the program that she deigns best?

    Both ideally and pragmatically, Linda’s original proposal comes off as an empty solution to a deeply entrenched problem, and her disinterest in responding to counterarguments makes it increasingly apparent that she’s only interested in this blog as a medium for her to proselytize. This does, however, place her a few notches higher on the maturity scale than yourself, Billy Bob, and for that she deserves minor recognition.

  34. Linda/RetiredTeacher Says:

    Maturity!

    Chris, I don’t respond to you because you sound like a child who just can’t bear to lose. You just keep going until one of us gives up. I find it extremely tiresome.

    You remind me of my younger son when he was an adolescent. He would argue and argue and I would say to my husband “Just don’t respond.” My husband would say, “But that’s how they learn.” He was right because that son turned out to be a lawyer. Food for thought, Chris, if you haven’t yet decided on a career.

  35. Chris Smyr Says:

    Linda:

    “Maturity!”

    Yes, maturity, in that up to this present moment, you haven’t engaged in constant ad hominem arguments and insults. Instead, you just ignore what you don’t want to hear.

    “Chris, I don’t respond to you because you sound like a child who just can’t bear to lose. You just keep going until one of us gives up. I find it extremely tiresome. ”

    I’m a child because I provide you counterarguments that you refuse to answer? And it’s my fault that, in nearly every one of your posts, there are an exceedingly large number of logical fallacies that prevent you from ever actually presenting some useful commentary? And, furthermore, it’s also my fault that I keep trying to critique your commentary, even when there is almost always something you’ve posted that can be critiqued?

    Thank you for making it 100% clear now: you don’t want to be a part of a discussion on this forum. You just want to repeat the same refrain (teachers are heroes!) over and over again until someone with a similar perspective high-fives you. I figured as much, but still, that’s not going to stop me from having a little fun and responding anyway.

    As a final point, please understand that the *ONLY* way that we’re ever going to be able to all sit down and pinpoint the right solutions for our students is if we continue to engage each other in discussions and skeptical thought. You’re not helping fix education by preaching to the choir, no matter how good your intentions are.

  36. Linda/RetiredTeacher Says:

    I seem to do a really good job of getting discussions going, don’t you think?

  37. Chris Smyr Says:

    Yes, and leaving them when they go beyond a superficial level of analysis.

  38. Linda/RetiredTeacher Says:

    Chris,

    I’m probably driving you crazy so I’ll explain a little about myself so you can just avoid reading my posts in the future.

    As you know, there are many different types of reading and writing. As Bacon said, sometimes you “taste” some books and “chew and digest” others. The same goes for writing.

    I enjoy “tasting” what people have said on this blog and others and I like giving my opinions, but I do not want to spend hours doing research so I can get into some of the arguments you get into over some topics. Also, I am smart enough to know that some of my opinions, like the opinions of others, have no “right” answer. If I find 1000 people who believe as I do that educational research is not that rigorous, you will find 1000 equally credible people who think it is.

    I also enjoy providing a counterpoint to many of the negative remarks made about teachers and “the unions” on this blog. Therefore when Andy made a comment about teachers who are “no-shows” on the first day of school, I wanted to mention the teachers who spend the whole month of August ready their rooms ready for September. These teachers are not paid for this work. From experience I know that teachers are some of the most dedicated of all professionals and don’t enjoy the bashing they are getting right now. What’s happening now is due to the recession because districts realize they can’t get rid of Miss Smith who is paid $70,000 per year and replace her with brilliant young Miss Jones, who will do the same job for $40,000.

    We all have our opinions about why many of our children get a poor education. Many people place the blame on “the unions.” I feel that the primary reason is that many of our citizens don’t value it (i.e. educating other people’s children) enough to fund it adequately. In other words, the disdain that is often expressed for teachers by Andy and others on this blog is the main reason, IN MY OPINION, for the less-than-stellar performance of American schools. However, this is just my opinion and can’t be proved or disproved.

    So in summation I’ll just say that I won’t be spending hours defending my position. I’m not in grad school anymore so I don’t have to. If you want to, go ahead, but do it with someone else.

    Now, I need to go because I have a lecture to attend.

  39. Linda/RetiredTeacher Says:

    Correction: Districts realize they CAN get rid of Miss Smith….

  40. phillipmarlowe Says:

    Over on another posting, Chris Smyr put up DC-CAS data that showed the 4th grade racial achievement gap had widened this past year and that no progress had been made with Miss Rhee as chancellor.
    He then proceded to perform data analysis of one kind and lo and behold, he said the gap shrank.
    Who are you going to believe- Chris Smyr or your own mature eyes.

    Next up for Chris:
    He’ll use the same data analysis to show that under President Obama, that real wages have risen and the unemployment picture is better.

  41. Chris Smyr Says:

    Linda:

    1) Yes, you have the right to post comments you’re not willing to defend. No, it doesn’t make your opinions equally valid as other arguments here. Continue to hold your opinions if you want, but realize that lazily opining about education without any effort to substantiate your claims is probably hurting your causes more than it is helping. That’s because everything that you write here should be seen as opinion only (your words), and opinions mean little to nothing if we want to figure out and implement the changes necessary to better help our students learn.

    2) I can probably find 1000 people who don’t believe in evolutionary biology. That doesn’t mean they have an “equally credible” opinion as others who do “believe” in it. Opinions are not the same as arguments, but it seems that you continue to confuse the two. Just as the former group has never produced any compelling evidence for why we shouldn’t trust the science of evolutionary biology, you similarly cannot or will not provide evidence for why we shouldn’t trust the science of education research.

    Phillip:

    1) Here you’ve given another deft example of the disingenuous nature of your comments on this blog. Here are some links to my DC-CAS score analyses that you are referring to:

    http://www.eduwonk.com/2010/08/whole-lotta-news.html/comment-page-1#comment-209473

    http://www.eduwonk.com/2010/08/whole-lotta-news.html/comment-page-1#comment-209523

    http://www.eduwonk.com/2010/08/whole-lotta-news.html/comment-page-1#comment-209617

    http://www.eduwonk.com/2010/08/whole-lotta-news.html/comment-page-1#comment-209618

    Instead of arguing in sound bites, how about you be specific: what data exactly are you referring to that “showed the 4th grade racial achievement gap had widened this past year and that no progress had been made with Miss Rhee as chancellor”? Nearly all of those analyses suggest gains.

    2) The only thing you actually were able to show with your DC-CAS data analysis is that the achievement gap increases as students get older. That’s not quite a novel result.

    3) What’s ironic is that you’re pointing readers to another thread where the parties arguing with me (yourself and Billy Bob) did not feel it necessary to provide any counterarguments toward the end of the discussion, but instead left with jeering last words, such as, “the only reason I even post here is to see you get your panties in a twist”. Quite skillful debate, that. Hard to decide which of you three is the most convincing.

  42. phillipmarlowe Says:

    Chris’s data:

    4th grade Reading 2010 (N)
    Black Proficiency: 40.84% 3,847
    White Proficiency: 88.98% 363
    Achievement Gap: 48.14%

    4th grade Reading 2009
    Black Proficiency: 41.05% 3,713
    White Proficiency: 87.05% 309
    Achievement Gap: 46.00%

    4th grade Reading 2008
    Black Proficiency: 40.87% 3,827
    White Proficiency: 89.32% 307
    Achievement Gap: 48.45%

    4th grade Math 2010
    Black Proficiency: 40.30% 3,851
    White Proficiency: 87.43% 366
    Achievement Gap: 47.13%

    4th grade Math 2009
    Black Proficiency: 44.56% 3,716
    White Proficiency: 90.61% 309
    Achievement Gap: 46.05%

    4th grade Math 2008
    Black Proficiency: 39.92% 3,825
    White Proficiency: 88.67% 307
    Achievement Gap: 48.75%

    Not much difference between Miss Rhee’s first year and her 3rd.
    And the gap increased due to lower achievement by African Americans

    Who will you believe: Chris or your own eyes?

  43. phillipmarlowe Says:

    Other data that Chris won’t touch:
    Achievement Gap between African American students and White&Asian students:
    Reading Math
    2003 31.9 32.6
    2004 37.0 38.6
    2005 36.7 39.6
    2006 47.6 54.8
    2007 51.7 55.5
    2008 45.2 51.6
    2009 42.8 45.9
    2010 46.2 49.4

    Who are you going to believe:
    Chris or your own eyes?

    The next time you open your paycheck, examine it with a Chris Smyr analysis-Hey despite the deduction for furloughs, I’m earning more than ever!

  44. phillipmarlowe Says:

    “Poopyface”
    “panties in a twist”
    (actually the correct word is knickers)
    Really Chris.
    Your analysis is wrong as is your blind acceptance of what comes from Michelle Rhee.
    And so, accordingly, you act like a bully on this blog(ue).
    Your favorite fictional character is probably Janice Avery
    The proper response to that is to challenge you, much like Albert Grossman did to the London hotel staff back in 1965 or as Exeter did to the Dauphin:

    Scorn and defiance; slight regard, contempt,

    But I take pity on you.
    As I wrote before, you’re probably frustrated that no-one will treat you to the Lady Gaga suggestion of taking a ride on your disco stick.

    PS. Less you think I see you as an asshole, I will recognise that you are not as dishonest as that famous TFA charlatan.
    You haven’t claimed to gotten 90% of your AP Biology students to score a 5 on the test.
    For that, I salute you.

  45. Chris Smyr Says:

    Phillip:

    Your reply is just more of the same:

    * Still didn’t respond to literally each and every one of my analyses and counterarguments in linked threads

    * Still evaluating Rhee on how the 2010 scores compared to the 2008 scores, even though the 2008 scores already include a whole year of the effects given from her tenure; the gaps closed for 4th grade given the correct comparison between 2007 and 2010, btw

    * Still trying to incorrectly analyze one grade level over time, making the faulty assumption that each class of students in 4th grade throughout the years is identical in composition and that student variation is zilch

    * Still only capable of propounding arguments that largely rely on ad hominem and sound bite analysis

    * Still oblivious to the troubles inherent in making sweeping claims about incredibly small sample sizes (~60 students in each grade level of the entire DCPS student body identify as being Asian)

    * Still only interested in grandstanding with ankle-deep, lukewarm data. Here’s a more detailed breakdown of the data for black and white/Asian students, normalized to the number of students in each category:

    Grades 7,8,10 Reading 2010
    Black Proficiency: 38.07%
    White/Asian Proficiency: 86.24%
    Achievement Gap: 48.18%

    Grades 7,8,10 Reading 2009
    Black Proficiency: 33.60%
    White/Asian Proficiency: 83.66%
    Achievement Gap: 50.06%

    Grades 7,8,10 Reading 2008
    Black Proficiency: 32.24%
    White/Asian Proficiency: 78.82%
    Achievement Gap: 46.58%

    Grades 7,8,10 Reading 2007
    Black Proficiency: 23.18%
    White/Asian Proficiency: 77.02%
    Achievement Gap: 53.84%

    1) The achievement gap in secondary reading has closed in the years “post-Rhee” (-5.6% since 2007).

    2) The proficiency of black and white/Asian secondary students in reading has increased every year and overall (+14.89% for black students since 2007, +9.22% for white/Asian students)

    *****

    Grades 7,8,10 Math 2010
    Black Proficiency: 37.87%
    White/Asian Proficiency: 87.97%
    Achievement Gap: 50.10%

    Grades 7,8,10 Math 2009
    Black Proficiency: 33.54%
    White/Asian Proficiency: 84.86%
    Achievement Gap: 51.32%

    Grades 7,8,10 Math 2008
    Black Proficiency: 28.55%
    White/Asian Proficiency: 84.08%
    Achievement Gap: 55.53%

    Grades 7,8,10 Math 2007
    Black Proficiency: 21.08%
    White/Asian Proficiency: 79.76%
    Achievement Gap: 58.68%

    1) The achievement gap has closed every year “post-Rhee” (-8.58% since 2007)

    2) The proficiency of black and white/Asian secondary students in math has increased overall (+16.79% for black students since 2007; +8.21% for white/Asian students)

    *****

    Grades 3-6 Reading 2010
    Black Proficiency: 37.93%
    White/Asian Proficiency: 87.01%
    Achievement Gap: 49.08%

    Grades 3-6 Reading 2009
    Black Proficiency: 43.18%
    White/Asian Proficiency: 84.81%
    Achievement Gap: 41.63%

    Grades 3-6 Reading 2008
    Black Proficiency: 40.14%
    White/Asian Proficiency: 84.47%
    Achievement Gap: 44.33%

    Grades 3-6 Reading 2007
    Black Proficiency: 33.88%
    White/Asian Proficiency: 83.01%
    Achievement Gap: 49.13%

    1) The drop in % proficiency from 2009 to 2010 for black students in elementary reading can be partially attributed to the poor performance of 3rd graders (36.40% proficiency for black students) and the absence of the high scores seen for 2009’s 6th graders (45.38% proficiency for black students). The former group comprises a set of students that hitherto had not been tested and thus were not a part of calculations in previous testing years, and so while their data does suggest additional inquiry and support is needed, it also suggests that student variation itself as one ultimate cause for the dropping numbers this year. The loss of the latter group’s effect on the average also similarly contributes.

    2) The proficiency of black and white/Asian elementary students in reading has nonetheless increased overall (+4.05% for black students since 2007; +4.00% for white/Asian students).

    3) The achievement gap remains the same due partly to effect of #1 and similar overall growth from #2.

    *****

    Grades 3-6 Math 2010
    Black Proficiency: 35.85%
    White/Asian Proficiency: 86.40%
    Achievement Gap: 50.56%

    Grades 3-6 Math 2009
    Black Proficiency: 40.43%
    White/Asian Proficiency: 85.93%
    Achievement Gap: 45.50%

    Grades 3-6 Math 2008
    Black Proficiency: 34.15%
    White/Asian Proficiency: 83.68%
    Achievement Gap: 49.53%

    Grades 3-6 Math 2007
    Black Proficiency: 24.19%
    White/Asian Proficiency: 78.05%
    Achievement Gap: 53.87%

    1) Again, we see an impact on average proficiency due to the poor performance of 3rd graders (31.82% proficiency for black students). 3rd grade averages for math scores in general have trended slightly below the mean for the last 4 years. In 2010, however, they trended even lower than in prior years.

    2) The proficiency of black and white/Asian elementary students in math has nonetheless increased overall (+11.66% for black students since 2007; +8.35% for white/Asian students)

    3) The achievement gap overall has closed (-3.31% since 2007).

    *****************

    Linda at least could admit that she’s not willing (nor able, I suspect) to defend her opinions on this blog. Instead of these multi-posts where you apparently keep trying to shoot the moon in terms of generating understanding for readers, why don’t you just do the same?

  46. phillipmarlowe Says:

    I post data.
    You post “analysis”.
    By your “analysis”, real wages and the unemployment stats are better now than 2 years ago.

    Again, I salute you for not lying about your tenure as a TFA.

  47. Chris Smyr Says:

    I will assume that your non-responses are indication that you, like Linda, do not want (nor are likely able) to defend your opinions here. Let me know if that changes.

  48. phillipmarlowe Says:

    The facts stand.
    Your analysis of them that turns them on their head is wrong.
    As I said, your analysis of real wages and unemployment would show that things are better today than 2 years ago.

    Chris’s shit in = shit out.

  49. Chris Smyr Says:

    Then explain what you think is wrong with any of my analyses. You never did.

    I have responded to every single one of your analyses. Return the favor.

  50. phillipmarlowe Says:

    Chris,
    I haven’t analyzed anything except your motivation for your defense of Miss Rhee, her claims, and TFA.
    I just post the data on the DCPS OSSE/NCLB website.

    You don’t like the looks of it, so you “analyze” the data.

  51. Chris Smyr Says:

    And if you were to look at any of the analyses I’ve posted, you’ll see that I am referencing the EXACT SAME data. Go ahead, give it a look. You should be able to tell that the only thing I’m doing is disaggregating the data, something that you consistently fail to do as you add your commentary. Not only that, but every time that you have cited this data, I’ve done my best to show you what exactly is incorrect about your use of said data (I did it most recently in this thread: http://www.eduwonk.com/2010/09/rhee-assessing-2.html/comment-page-1#comment-210276 ).

    But instead of engaging the discussion, you never directly respond to my attempts at doing so, and instead just huff and puff about some unrelated point. You claim that you “haven’t analyzed anything”, and I would agree with you: you instead post data that doesn’t support your conclusions. You next imply that I am “turning [facts] on their head”, but you have not once– NOT ONCE — explained how exactly I am misusing the data.

    So try harder, big boy: How am I misusing the data? And how do you justify your own flimsy approach to said data?

  52. phillipmarlowe Says:

    Chris:
    ” you instead post data that doesn’t support your conclusions”

    Me:
    Achievement Gap between African American students and White&Asian students:
    Reading Math
    2003 31.9 32.6
    2004 37.0 38.6
    2005 36.7 39.6
    2006 47.6 54.8
    2007 51.7 55.5
    2008 45.2 51.6
    2009 42.8 45.9
    2010 46.2 49.4

    Chris:
    The achievement gap overall has closed

    THAT’s how you misuse data.

    What are you going to believe:
    Chris’s disaggregation or your own eyes.

  53. Chris Smyr Says:

    You STILL won’t respond to anything I wrote. This is an unbelievable waste of time….

  54. phillipmarlowe Says:


    and I agree.

    I’m going out back to gently argue with my black lab as she is sensitive.

    PS If you want a bulldog, I’m trying to help a friend give his dog a new home. He’s very obedient. Much, much more so than me.
    :)

    Have a good weekend, Chris.
    I’m done with eduwonk til Monday.

  55. Billy Bob Says:

    You cannot accurately measure the achievement gap using proficiency/pass rates.
    You cannot accurately measure the achievement gap using proficiency/pass rates.
    You cannot accurately measure the achievement gap using proficiency/pass rates.
    You cannot accurately measure the achievement gap using proficiency/pass rates.
    You cannot accurately measure the achievement gap using proficiency/pass rates.
    You cannot accurately measure the achievement gap using proficiency/pass rates.
    You cannot accurately measure the achievement gap using proficiency/pass rates.

    I told you that before, Didn’t you listen?

  56. Chris Smyr Says:

    Billy Bob:

    Oh, how nice to see you again Billy, do you plan on staying long? I’m heading out for vacation now, but I am looking forward to hearing further from you when I return.

    And hmm, you’re right, if only we had scale scores that we could analyze over time that perhaps would also show continuing growth in student achievement — and perhaps at a statistically significant rate faster than previous years — to bolster my analyses of DC-CAS proficiency levels… oh wait, we do!

    http://www.eduwonk.com/2010/08/whole-lotta-news.html#comment-209153

    Another response to you, as before:

    ***”I’ve not provided any scale scores other than NAEP because I don’t know of any others that I can cite as evidence for you. If you recall, that was one of the reasons I said you were being foolish in striking Rhee’s reform efforts down because of one friggin’ time point on the NAEP tests, a time point that even continued gains from the previous year’s test, and one that was similarly faster than the trend from the year before that.”***

    Please also realize that the only time I ever actually bring up the DC-CAS data is to correct others who try to use the same data as evidence of Rhee’s supposed failures. Either you can’t use the DC-CAS data one bit, or you can and it suggests gains in student achievement. At this point I don’t really care which one you or others pick to defend.

    What’s odd, though, is that you seem to illogically hold both perspectives to suit your fancy:

    * “You cannot accurately measure the achievement gap using proficiency/pass rates.”

    * “[Rhee's] NAEP gains and achievement gap results suggest she is not on track.”

  57. Billy Bob Says:

    Wow–you are dumber than I thought.

    * “You cannot accurately measure the achievement gap using proficiency/pass rates.”

    TRUE

    * “[Rhee's] NAEP gains and achievement gap results suggest she is not on track.”

    TRUE

    Gains are not different post-Rhee than pre-Rhee. Thus, she has not added any value.

    Achievement gaps have not closed in a statistically significant manner. Thus, she has failed on this part of her promise. We went over this multiple times, but you never understood.

    I don’t check in every day because I have a job and life (you might want to get both of those as well as a significant other)

    That, and you have pretty much ruined any civil discourse on the board which probably drives people away from coming on here.

  58. Art Says:

    Naturally there are limitations to dichotomizing achievement into proficient/not proficient. Andrew Ho has some nice work on this and suggestions for better ways of describing achievement trends. But even a limited measure such as proficiency rate can be useful. I’m all for better tests and better statistics, but when scores are going up for all kids, which seems to be the case in DC, the measurement debate is a red herring.

  59. Chris Smyr Says:

    Billy Bob:

    1) ““[Rhee's] NAEP gains and achievement gap results suggest she is not on track.”

    TRUE”

    This is NOT true. If you don’t want to cite the DC-CAS scores as evidence of a trend of increasing student achievement, then you have to rely one one data point on the NAEP tests, which if you were to extrapolate from anyway, show significantly significant gains in student achievement. You’ve not shown otherwise. Instead, you continue to say that the NAEP gains are not significant, even though I’ve shown you on several occasions that they are. Nor should we have expected that she would be able to close the achievement gap in the span of 3 years time.

    Billy, you have dropped MANY different discussions on this forum, and not just with me. You like to continue with this line of reasoning that your non-responses are all because those that disagree with you don’t “have a job and a life”, or that I’ve somehow “ruined civil discourse”. Since the former is illogical, asinine, and wrong, and you yourself are ironically perpetuating the latter (nor is it at all clear why disagreeing with someone somehow “ruins civil discourse”), perhaps your refusal to respond is because you just don’t know how to correctly phrase any counterarguments?

  60. Chris Smyr Says:

    ^ “statistically significant”

Leave a Reply


four + = 11