Posts Tagged ‘high stakes testing’

Danielson Condemns Using Test Scores to Assess Teachers: A Potential Chip in the Reformer Armor

August 26, 2013


Diane Ravitch posted a blog this morning stating that Charlotte Danielson, creator of the infamous Daniel Framework for teacher effectiveness that has been implemented into practice and written into law in New York, publicly condemned using standardized test scores to assess teachers in the strongest term possible. “Using standardized test scores to assess teachers is indefensible, ” said Danielson. This is not the first time I’ve heard Danielson make such a declaration – there is a clip of her saying something of the kind floating around You Tube – but it is the most forceful and unambiguous.
As such, it is also something that all teachers effected by Danielson’s system should know and make sure as many parents of school children as possible know. We would do well, too, to contact Danielson, thank her for her courageous statement and urge her to repeat it as publicly and widely as possible. Her statement is potentially a serious chip in the reformer armor but will only be if we make it so. If not it will die on the vine. Moreover, we need to bring Danielson’s statement to the attention of Andrew Cuomo, Commissioner John King, Meryl Tisch, Dennis Walcott, Michael Mulgrew, and ask them, in light of Danielson’s statement to defend the system they have all agreed upon. This need be public knowledge. Above all the parents must know. You can be sure the reformers are attempting damage control and to muzzle Danielson as I write. The importance of such action on our part cannot be overstated. The evaluation system as it stands is a monument to reckless and cavilier thinking and, in effects, is rolling dice with the livelihoods, reputations and lives of teachers. It is unconscionable. As written it will unquestionably lead to the unjust termination of countless fine teachers. The politicians do not care and have hid behind Danielson’s reputation. Her statement can be used as a spotlight and should be. The public, by and large, does not know and this is an opportunity to inform them.

There is contact information for Charlotte Danielson at her website at

Following is Dr. Ravitch’s entire post.

Charlotte Danielson speak about how to use her rubric: “At the
NJAFPA Conference on May 29, Charlotte Danielson (creator of the
Danielson Frameworks for Teaching evaluation system that so many
states and districts have adopted) said in her keynote: “Very
strong words, considering her audience included members of the
NJDOE. Danielson went on to say: “What counts as evidence? How will
we use it? People are calling me for information on this; I don’t
know; NO ONE KNOWS! Rather than standardized tests, we need to look
at classroom/teacher’s learning evidence.”

Sickening: May Day in Corporate American Education

May 1, 2013

Today is May Day, the international celebration of worker’s rights, and I spent much of my working day fighting off a sickening feeling deep in the pit of my stomach caused not by anything I ingested, but rather by insult to my dignity and character, a sensation increasingly familiar to members of my profession from sea to shining sea.
I am a teacher.
I am a teacher fated to practice my craft in the midst of the most cynical, relentless and well-financed public relations campaign against any profession in American history. According to the campaign, I am of an occupation whose members have proved so inept and incompetent that, according to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, American education is in such a wretched state it now poses a threat to our national security. The campaign is one of two essential components in the corporate takeover of the American public school system. The other is high stakes testing,” the mechanism by which the takeover is occurring and occurring at alarming speed. It was in relation to such testing (bear in mind that everything in American education is now in relation to tests which are in themselves insults to the students) that the aforementioned insult was given.

One week after most of my students were forced to endure up to 18 hours of standardized tests, I am obliged to make sure my nearly 40 students complete another battery of standardized tests, an exercise I have engaged in annually for years now. But this year will be different. And so will all the years that follow.

The insult I speak of is this: my employer, the New York State Department of Education, no longer finds me a person worthy of trust. Let me rephrase that: the DOE flat out does not trust me. It’s nothing personal, you understand. Such distrust is extended, officially if insidiously, to all of my colleagues across the entire state. Like them, I have never given the DOE reason not to trust me; they have simply assumed that I, like all teachers, am too morally degenerate to do the right thing. Of course, they don’t use that kind of language to explain their reasoning. Indeed, they do not bother to explain it at all, implying that the truth of our degeneracy is as self evident as the credo that all people are created equal. They simply informed me in writing that from now on I am forbidden to score the grades of my student’s tests. They fear, I suppose, I might inflate their scores and thus my own teaching ability as more and more teachers are more and more perceived and judged as mere aggregates of their students’ standardized test scores.

All of this, of course, is done to insure and concretize the absolute centrality of the high stakes standardized test in American public schools, to establish once and for all a system that will, in words of that great educational leader, Mike Bloomberg, “hold teacher’s feet to the fire”. And it will hold them even as it reduces our children to bubble test taking pawns in a vast, cynical multi billion dollar corporate hijacking of the last and most vital public institution in America. It is now clear that, for the sake of the tests, any price is to be paid, any sacrifice to be made including, above all, human decency and dignity. After all, can dignity be measured ?

The sickening feeling reminded me once again of how degraded teachers’ working conditions have become, how soft and complicit our unions have been in our own degradation, how thoroughly we have been stripped of our professionalism under a corporatism that is all but totally internalized. And most of all how hard we will have to fight to win back that which has been stolen.
Yes, yes, I am aware of the cheating scandals in Atlanta and the yet to be affirmed scandal bubbling still beneath the miraculous gains and the stupendous amount of erasures in DC schools under the holy reign of Michelle Rhee. But the prohibition against teachers grading their own students’ tests was announced earlier in the year, long before those stories broke.
There is something else at work here. Some other message being given. Some other message meant to be received. And as for the alleged cheating in Atlanta and elsewhere, threaten a person’s livelihood with experimental policies that have never worked on the face of the earth, for the sole reason that no other nation on the face of the earth has ever been reckless or stupid enough to implement them, and you are bound to produce crazy, even criminal results. This is not a mystery. People with guns to their heads will do desperate things. The question is not why did they do the desperate things but who put the guns to their heads in the first place and why? Cui bono? Who benefits? The kids? As in “putting kids first?” I think not.

There is a lesson here and it is a lesson that is sure to be learned on one level or another by all of my students. They are intelligent and can put 2 and 2 together. The lesson is this: Teachers are not to be trusted. This is a sick lesson for my students to learn. Sick and damaging in a way, that like dignity and decency, cannot be statistically measured
Today is May Day, the international celebration of worker’s rights, and I spent much of my working day fighting off a sickening feeling deep in the pit of my stomach caused not by anything I ingested but rather by insult to my dignity and character, a sensation increasingly familiar to members of my profession from sea to shining sea.
I am a teacher.
I did not become a teacher to be insulted and treated with abject contempt.
And neither I nor my colleagues will be treated this way.

Resistance to High Stakes Testing Grows and Grows

April 27, 2013

cthe 4

If there is anything positive that can be said to have come out of the relentless billionaire backed corporate hijacking of public education, it is the building of communities of resistance.    In the end, after the initial shock wears off and the public relations campaigns are exposed as just that, almost nothing  can stronger create communities of resistance than attacks on one’s children in the guise of “reforming” their education.  This is that much the more when “reforming” their  education is little more than boiling it down to a number on a standardized test: the same number, mind you, that can be used to fire your child’s teacher and close your child’s school.

Such a community of resistance, hundreds strong, was in overwhelming evidence at a rally last night on the steps of the Tweed Court House, home of the NYC Department of Education. The crowd was united behind one overall goal:  the end of high stakes testing and all that goes with it.  As high stakes testing comprises nothing less than the central nervous system of corporate education reform, an end of the high stakes dictate would effectively paralyze their entire campaign. Corporations would lose out on a multi-billion dollar taxpayer guaranteed revenue stream which explains the insidious nature of the entire corporate education reform campaign.

cts 1

Organized by Change The Stakes ( and Time Out From Testing (, the rally drew parents, teachers, and students a like from all corners of the city and even a stray politician or two. ( Mayoral candidate John Lui was there.)  The rally  was a joy to  partake in and a joy to behold.    There will be more.  Many more. As many as it takes.

People will do what they have to do to protect their children.