D.C. expose–one teacher’s evaluation

Jay Matthews:

Dan Goldfarb, a 51-year-old history teacher at the Benjamin Banneker Academic High School, says his first encounter with an evaluator under the District’s new IMPACT system for assessing teachers did not go well. Goldfarb does not claim to be an objective observer. He doesn’t like the new system. He doesn’t like how it is being implemented by D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee.

But he is willing to reveal what the evaluator said to him, give me a copy of his evaluation and expose himself to what I expect will be an unhappy reaction from his principal and other D.C. school officials. So here goes. I think we learn more from small individual cases than big multi-variant studies. Goldfarb hit some bumps that deserve attention.

The assessment by his evaluator (the official title is Master Educator) occurred on Sept 25. The evaluator had never taught the subject Goldfarb was teaching, Advanced Placement U.S. History. “My ‘Master Educator’ has taught AP Government,” Goldfarb said. “Is there a difference? I would think so.”

The fact that Goldbarb has an AP class at the city’s only academic magnet school suggests that his supervisors determined long ago he was a good teacher. He is also, by his own description, not afraid to speak up. But he said he respects his principal, Anita Berger, who has had a long and successful career at the school, and will go along with the changes demanded by IMPACT because she has asked him to do so.

One thought on “D.C. expose–one teacher’s evaluation”

  1. The story here is not particularly surprising, nor is it surprising to review the comments to the story. Given my cursory review of Rhee’s style and behavior generally, I had early on labeled her an obvious fraud — a clueless politician.
    The brief description of the evaluation technique and process is laughably flawed and not even a college sophomore with a couple of sociology courses under his/her belt would be fooled into believing in the validity or reliability of the results.
    The observational research methods and training necessary to pull off reliable and valid evaluations is difficult to do right. I remember taking part in such research while a student and after at UW, and amount of training we observers had to go through, and how tightly controlled our observations had to be to obtain good data, and how much data we had to collect and how complex the analysis was afterward. And our observations last many hours, not just 30 minutes.
    I can only remember a few observational studies I was involved in: 1) behavior of the monkeys at Vilas Park Zoo, 2) birds in an aviary, 3) severely developmentally disabled children at Central Colony, 4) delinquent boys confined to Wales.
    Now, I can compare my limited experience in such observations with the published methods of the truly great studies, and then with the joke that is described in this article of Rhee’s evaluation of teachers in the DC Public schools.
    The gaping hole between the knowledge and effort necessary to produce reliable and valid observational evaluations, and the public’s and Rhee’s knowledge is a chasm that will never be closed. The propagation of ignorance far exceeds the propagation education.

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