I liked Michael Mulgrew's Op-Ed in the NY Daily News calling for an end to relentless test prep. There were some good things in that piece, and other than a few flaky references to RttT, it sounded like something I or a number of my anti-deform peers might have penned.
Mulgrew touched on the need for instruction instead of test prep. He discussed the ever-expanding achievement gap and the phony graduation rates. He even called the state tests flawed and asked for the state to develop a new, more reliable measure of teacher performance. Anti-deform bloggers have been talking about these things for years. And therein lies the problem.
Mulgrew is TOO LATE.
In order to help win those RttT funds, Mugrew has already agreed to tie teacher evaluations to the horribly flawed test scores. Starting next year, many teachers, myself included, will be largely judged by the results our students achieve on these flawed tests. To make things worse, value added has been thrown into the mix--a system that is so unreliable that even the New York Times roasted it yesterday.
So to recap, you will be judged on flawed data (state test scores) that will be run through an even more flawed and unproven formula (value-added).
Mulgrew's Op-Ed, while mostly correct, is far too late. What he should be saying is these flawed data should NOT be used to evaluate teachers at all. He should be discussing how the data was corrupted by politicians hoping to make themselves look good, and that there is absolutely no guarantee that this won't happen again next year. Or the year after that.
Of course, that will never happen. We will all be judged by these scores starting in 2011, and if you don't get your students up to speed you can be fired in 60 days.
Even as Mulgrew calls for an end to test prep, he has ensured that your job will depend on the results of the state tests. So the answer to the question "How will I keep my job without doing test prep?" is pretty much the same as the old joke about getting to Carnegie Hall.
You'd better practice.