Last week, at the Wednesday School Committee meeting, the issue of teacher evaluations came up in a staff report. Two issues of note surfaced:
On point #2, the latest findings of bias paralleled a BTU study that was released a short while back. The school department is “looking into these patterns.” Here’s what the school department stated on the above point #2 (see slide 7):
“We (the school district) recognize that factors such as age, race, and gender may improperly affect the evaluation that a teacher receives, and we are taking steps to eliminate these biases.”
(action steps to be taken)
We await the results of action steps 1, 2, and 3.
On Point #1, School Committee member Meg Campbell ignited a firestorm by suggesting that given that 92% of our well-educated and well-trained staff is in the top two rating categories, we should consider that “grade inflation” has played a role. Campbell added fuel to the fire by the following comments, printed in the Globe a day later.
HIGH PERFORMANCE STANDARDS
Recently, I raised the question at a Boston School Committee meeting of whether we have a version of “grade inflation” when 92 percent of Boston Public Schools teachers are rated proficient or exemplary.
More than 50 percent of our schools currently are poorly performing. Holding principals — and teachers — to a high level of both growth and performance is a sign of respect, just as holding students to a high level of growth and achievement is a sign of our respect for their intelligence and capacity to grow.
So, yes, I do raise the question of how 92 percent of our Boston Public School teachers can be rated proficient or exemplary when more than 50 percent of our schools are low performing? Shall we just blame the kids?
Boston School Committee
Who is this “we?” Ms. Campbell, the director of the Codman Academy Charter school in Dorchester, cutely implies that those who disagree with her are somehow blaming the kids. Sorry, Ms. Campbell, our members do not blame our students for their scores.
We don’t blame children; we educate them. We don’t evict children; we welcome them. In fact the attrition rate in the BPS is less than half of Codman Academy’s over comparable grades. This year alone Codman attrited 25% (!) of its 11th grade class. This rate of eviction is truly obscene.
In school years 2009-10, 2010-11, and 2011-12, Codman attrited (attrited is just a polite way to say “kicked out”) 14%, 16% and 15% of its 9th graders — just prior to their taking the MCAS in the 10th grade. (Hmmm, do we detect a pattern?) In comparison, the BPS averaged 7.4% over that same period using the same methodology as the state.
So, Ms. Campbell, you picked the fight. We suggest that you first get your own house in order before you lob gratuitous insults towards the BPS staff you are charged with managing. You see, we’re not like your non-unionized staff at your day job. We can lob back.
For a look at the rates of attrition at all Boston charter schools with comparable data, grades 6-12, see here.