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Thompson: "We'll Miss You, Mrs. Velocci"

Teacher Goodbye

What were Tennessee "reformers" thinking when they decided to evaluate teachers of non-tested classes based on the value-added of their school? If they taught in a struggling school and were offered a get out of jail free card, liberating them from a soul-wrenching evaluation system that might not understand or respect, what would they do? Diane Ravitch's "Teachers in Memphis Speak Out" features a letter from a Memphis teacher who explains, "nearly all of the (non-tested) k-3 teachers at my failing school have transferred to other schools with better school-wide scores." 

Why didn't "reformers" ask teachers to help them play out the chess game?  Ravitch, in this post, is presenting anecdotal evidence. But her reader/ commenters  keep sending in more accounts of the same patterns that I, for one, have seen. I have yet to see an alternative scenario to the one that practitioners anticipate. As schools "exit" teachers, the most effective schools will welcome the best replacements, and what could be a better incentive than the concrete assurance to transfers that that they are guaranteed a good score on the dreaded value-added part of evaluations? So, schools starting with good value-added will get better, and given the importance of high-quality primary instruction, schools with low value-added will inevitably deteriorate.  

Can "reformers" articulate a scenario where their experiments don't worsen the situation that they sought to rectify, with the children who need the best instruction being subjected to multiple years of ineffective teachers?The only alternative scenarios I can imagine seem logistical (if there are no open spaces for fleeing nontested teachers) or unlikely (if tested teachers get better and scores go up despite the departure of other teachers). - JT(@drjohnthompson) image via.     


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It’s really the unfortunate vicious cycle that our society sets up. Students are trapped into their education, largely. The best will get better with systems they had the largest say in because of their success, and the poor will stagnate.

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