my stinky TDR.
The effect on me was immediate, because I knew why I'd gotten such a low score. Besides the fact that the formula is wildly unpredictable, I had the added disadvantage of teaching extremely needy kids in an otherwise excellent school. I have no one to blame for that but myself; when my AP asked whether I'd take on the most challenging students they had, I agreed. I had some crazy idea in my head that helping the students who needed it most was what a teacher should do. So I did it. I've done it most of my career.
Now, because my school is so good, it was compared to other schools that are equally good or better. And there is simply no way that the kids I had taken on could compare to the average child in a "comparable" school. It didn't matter that I got the average child in my class to read (and document the reading of) well over 30 books each. It didn't matter that I managed to get a bunch of unruly and disinterested children to follow routines and learn to respect both the learning process and each other. No, all that mattered, as far as the DOE was concerned, was that I could not bring these children as far along as kids without learning and behavioral problems.
So when I got my TDR last year, I did something I am still not proud of. I quit.
No, I didn't quit teaching. I just quit volunteering to teach the very children who needed me most. When my AP asked me to take them on again (which he would not do unless he knew I'd been successful), I said no. This year, those kids are with another teacher who has difficulty just getting them to sit in their seats. (This is not a knock on her. She is new and these are tough kids).
I sometimes regret my decision even though this year I have a group of motivated students who will no doubt vault me back into the rarefied air of the "excellent" teacher. I might have gone back to teaching the toughest kids next year, because I think teaching is all about reaching the toughest-to-reach children. That was before the DOE decided they wanted to release the TDRs to the public.
I have a family to support and they are my primary duty. I can not take a chance that I will lose my job over some erroneous data.
There are other consequences of the TDRs that became apparent to me immediately. I've had discussions with at least three excellent teachers who have told me that they are now planning on leaving the DOE for sure, because they can not see how they will ever be able to put in enough years to retire from this system. They feel everything is stacked against them. Because it is.
Another consequence is that no one wants to teach the grades or subjects that are targets of the reports. I have a feeling that a LOT of teachers are going to request K-2 assignments or look to leave middle school so they don't have to be subjected to public humiliation should their numbers not stack up with whatever new system the DOE devises.
Those are the unintended consequences of the TDRs. Or, I wonder, did the DOE know exactly what would happen? Could it be that they want teachers to leave and to feel under the gun at all times? Could it be that they want no one around long enough to collect those pesky pensions?
Perhaps these consequences aren't so unintended after all.