Teacher Evaluations and the Pasco Fiasco
Pasco County School District’s Moronzano Method
I remember when our fearless leaders over at district put their vast intellectual arsenal to work and put this pitiful snake oil system for “evaluating” teachers together. A workshop of sorts was held at our site in order to explain the new way evaluations would be done. As usual, with the district plan so full of inconsistencies and contradictions, far more questions were asked than could be answered, and the district rep simply informed us that “it’s the best we could come up with, because the state really didn’t give us enough time.” I remember thinking, “Wow. What a bunch of morons over there.”
The roll-out was slow, mostly because our administrators had absolutely no idea about what they were doing. The district had pretty much left them to figure it out themselves. The so-called “system” was poorly constructed and even more poorly explained, which is totally logical. It is impossible to adequately explain something that is as constitutionally flawed as Pasco’s teacher eval system, and to make sense in the the course of doing so, especially when you cannot make sense of it yourself.
A few years have passed since then, and we seem to have gotten settled-in with this new way doing things. Whether or not this entire affair is an abject farce is of absolutely no import to ol’ Bubba. Of course, that’s another post altogether.
Things aren’t getting any better.
In order to expose Pasco County Schools’ system of teacher evaluation as the half-baked, subjective, poorly thought out, overly complicated bunch of horse poo that it is, we are going to have to pick it apart systematically, one absurd element at a time. Hopefully, when we are done, we will have compiled all the evidence needed to show even the people who are responsible for its adoption that this system bunk. It is really nothing more than a really complicated looking way of justifying predetermined results. It’s another tool to use to get rid of older, “tenured” teachers.
The Method Is Utterly Unreliable
Consider this: According to an article by Ronnie Blair of The Suncoast News, dated December 5, 2014,
The state said 4.7 percent of Pasco teachers earned the “highly effective” designation for the 2012-13 academic year. That jumped to 81.5 percent for 2013-14, the biggest increase in the state, according to the report released Wednesday.
So, 4.7% “highly effective” in 12/13, and 81.5% in 13/14. “The biggest increase in the state.” I would hope.
All that tells us is that the administrators conducting the “evaluations” got a whole new set of marching orders for the second go-around of the Marzano kangaroo show.
Another gem from the same article:
That surprised even the school district. Betsy Kuhn, Pasco’s director of employee relations, said the district made some changes to its evaluation system because previously it was too difficult to earn the highly effective designation. An increase in the number of highly effective teachers was anticipated, but not that much, she said.
“We have a lot of great teachers in the district, but that number is very high,” Kuhn said.
This “evaluation” instrument is beginning to sound a lot like the old FCAT Writes, wherein the state tried to reverse engineer a test to fit an unpredictable spectrum of results. The same essay could get many different scores, depending on which $10.00 per hour human scorer read it and how they interpreted the rubric, and even depending on which year it was submitted, because they kept moving the target.
Same thing with the Moronzano Method. They just keep changing it. You can bet right now, judging from Betsy Kuhn’s tone, that there will be fewer “highly effective” teachers in Pasco this year than last, but more than 12/13.
That means three years in a row of BOGUS RESULTS.
The district is obviously tweaking its instrument (or the people administering it) in an effort to make it resemble a predetermined “bell curve” of some sort. The problem is that, even after you have finished the torturous process of getting the instrument “adjusted,” how can you be sure the people whose lives the instrument affects most, the teachers, are, in fact, assigned to the correct category?
It goes on:
In Pasco’s case, the increase was largely because of teachers moving from the effective category to highly effective. A year ago, 93.6 percent of Pasco teachers were rated effective, while in the latest report 17.5 percent are effective.
Is it fair to teachers to have an evaluation system developed using their careers as the laboratory? Doesn’t a teacher who got “effective” in 12/13, and “highly effective in 13/14 have a legitimate complaint that they very well may have been robbed by an invalid instrument in 12/13? Just that element of stupidity alone is enough for any sensible person to say SCRAP the ENTIRE system.
The movers and shakers over at district seem to be pretty determined to make it look like it’s a sound instrument.
One last little tidbit from the article that I thought was really telling, not to mention very amusing:
She (Kuhn) said coming up with just the right evaluation formula is complex.
“We want the system to work, for us to have an objective and valid way to measure teacher performance,” Kuhn said. “We want it to be fair, but accurate.”
Well, it seems to me that Kuhn is all but admitting that the Pasco County teacher eval system is SUBJECTIVE and INVALID. To me, she really pulls it all together when she says, “We want it to be fair, but accurate.“
That statement blew my mind. The first time I read it, I had to stop reading because I was suddenly overcome with an irrational and yet irresistible desire to delve into an analysis of whether evals could in fact be fair without being accurate, or if they could be inaccurate and still be fair, or still perhaps, accurate but unfair, and so on and so forth. The philosophical depth of the matter rendered me unable to digest anymore bullshit whatsoever. I have to wonder out loud what exactly she was thinking when she said that. Talk about a sideways chuckle…
The only fair thing to do is cut our losses and get rid of Marzano altogether. There has to be a better way than this.