Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Why Verify?

We now have a golden "opportunity" to verify the information in our Teacher Data Reports, or TDRs, that a judge ruled may now be released to the public. My question is, why verify?

The judge clearly said that it doesn't really matter whether the data is valid or not: “...there is no requirement that data be reliable for it to be disclosed.". Data is king, and must be released even if it's known to be garbage. And garbage it is--it is based on the flawed value added system, which has been fed the garbage test scores on the NYS ELA and math tests, which were so flawed that the grades had to be reconfigured.

In my own case, there are a number of errors in the classes I taught and the students who were in them. I have already blogged about how CTT teachers have been hammered by this data, and how I will refuse to teach that again until something is fixed. I'm sure I'm not the only victim of bogus information heaped upon flawed test scores.

The only effect that verifying the data will have is to give the DOE the opportunity to claim that teachers have fixed errors and all is fine and dandy with the numbers now. But that just isn't so. The formula used--value-added--stinks. The data drawn from the dumbed down tests stinks. And no matter what you "verify" it is highly unlikely that the DOE will recalibrate the scores based on the new information. They'll just release the same old information they had before, but claim that it is now "teacher verified". Remember, the judge in this case flat out told the DOE that the accuracy of their data doesn't matter. They can release whatever scores they like, based on any information they like.

So why is the UFT telling us to verify this information? Isn't it bad enough that the myopic UFT went along with this scheme and accepted the "word" of the city that the scores wouldn't be released? Now they want us to give the city more ammo by verifying class lists without any acknowledgment that the data underlying those lists is fundamentally, and fatally, flawed?

It reminds me of schools 200 years ago, where recalcitrant students were told to go break a branch off a tree so they could be beaten with it. Except now, teachers are the victims, TDRs are the weapons, and the UFT is urging us to hold our ankles.

Next, Mulgrew will be telling us to respond "Thank you, Ms. Black. May I have another?"

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