Monday, July 9, 2012

Teacher Stack Ranking??

Recently, I read an article on the demise of the creative brainstrust at Microsoft. Author Kurt Eichenwald interviewed many employees at Microsoft and discovered that the evaluation system that was used to categorize employees, typecasting them into ranking bins that will either lead to firing or idling.  ". . . a management system known as “stack ranking”—a program that forces every unit to declare a certain percentage of employees as top performers, good performers, average, and poor—effectively crippled Microsoft’s ability to innovate." (Allen, 2012). In many ways the APPR used in NYS and other states to qualify for federal funding is a form of stack ranking, where teachers and administrators are given the equivalent of an evaluative ranking that either guarantees continued employment or elimination.  Unfortunately, the basis for the evaluation hinges on the standardized assessment of students, that are developed by companies such as Pearson and other psychometrics corporations making a handsome profit off of the states.  As Peter Dewitt states in his recent blog:  "Teachers and administrators need to be evaluated, and those that I work with and connect with on Twitter want to be evaluated. However, the tools that are being used to evaluate are not the best ones. State testing should never be a part of a teacher or administrator's evaluation. We know that large educational publishers like Pearson Education are making millions off of states because they not only offer the tests, they offer the textbooks that will "ensure" that students will do well on tests...if teachers are really doing their jobs (they say...). All of this spending on testing is happening at the same time that schools are getting their budgets cut which means a loss of programs and a loss of staff. We should stop spending so much on testing and provide some of that funding back to schools that need it. Programs and staff are what really have a positive impact on students, not more testing. " (Dewitt, 20120 Once again I continue to remind the profession that political hucksters masqeurading as state officials have buffaloed the voting populace into believing that passing a test is an excellent benchmark for learning and teacher effectiveness. Those of us in the profession know that is not the best way to evaluate nor foster student success and learning. If the example from Microsoft has any message, the APPR system will frustrate and inhibit creativity and student learning. 1. Allen, F.E. (July 3, 2012). The Terrible Management Technique That Cost Microsoft Its Creativity. [BLOG] Forbes. Retrieved July 8, 2012 at 2.   Dewitt, P. (July 8, 2012). The Pro's and Con's of Accountability. [BLOG] Retrieved July 8, 2012 at