Monday, August 16, 2010

Comparing Apples and Rutabagas

If you haven't heard, the 2010 ELA and math scores were released today. You can look your up on ARIS. I looked mine up, and predicably, most students went down. It wasn't as disastrous as I'd feared, but it was pretty upsetting nonetheless.

It shouldn't be upsetting, though. The state toughened standards, so the number of students rated proficient nosedived citywide. The percentage that my own students fell was less than the citywide average, so I figure I must have done OK by some measure.

The problem is that ARIS, that wonderfully expensive boondoggle of a computer system into which the city poured untold millions, only lists three numbers: the 2009 score, the 2010 score, and the '09-'10 progress. That last progress column is what looks so awful, as most students went down. A student who scored a 3.25 in 2009 and a 2.75 in 2010 has a progress score of -.50, so it appears that child lost half a year's progress. But did they?

Let's not forget that the state raised the cut score this year. So in everyone's ARIS report, it compares last year's results obtained with a bullshit cut score to this year's results with a more realistic (but possibly still bullshit) cut score.

My eighth graders, for example, may have gotten 23 of 45 questions right and scored a 2. But last year they may have gotten 19 of 45 questions right and scored a 3. ARIS will show such students as making negative progress even though they got more questions right this year than last. It's insane.

At the very least, ARIS could have added another column comparing the number of questions a student got right last year to the number they got right this year. That might be an apples to oranges comparison, but it's not the apples to rutabagas comparison we're getting now. But what do you want for an 80 million dollar computer system? Meaningful data? Pshaw.

What it boils down to is that all of us will get teacher data reports this year that rate us on data that everyone involved, from the state education commissioner on down, admits is bullshit.

And starting next year, thanks to the idiocy of Michael Mulgrew, our annual performance will hinge on data like this. Just like in Washington, DC, where Michelle Rhee fired 6% of her staff.

God help us all.


Math Teacher said...

Then the media will be happy when us teachers are all fired. My proof is today's editorial in the NY Daily News. Why did I try so hard to become a teacher in the first place.

Chaz said...

Mr Talk:

This is Joel Klein. According to the multi-million dollar ARIS boondoggle. Your students have regressed. Therefore, under the new union-approved teacher evaluation system you are hereby labeled "ineffective". If you are again found "ineffective" you will be reassigned and terminated.

I suggest you lick your Principal's shoes and praise me and my non-educators in your blog.

ASTRAKA said...

God helps only those who help themselves.

Anonymous said...

Not only will your performance ratings depend on it, but if the folks at the LA Times prove influential, it might even be published online or in the paper!

Is there anything left to be sacrificed to the Data deities? If so, hide it now.