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Response to femmocrat (Original post)

Sun Feb 2, 2014, 07:43 PM

4. Who Is Charlotte Danielson and Why Does She Decide How Teachers Are Evaluated?



A New York Times editorial endorsed the state imposed teacher evaluation system for New York City as "an important and necessary step toward carrying out the rigorous new Common Core education reforms." The system is based on the Danielson Framework for Teaching developed by Charlotte Danielson and marketed by the Danielson Group of Princeton, New Jersey. Michael Mulgrew, the president of the city's teachers union, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, also announced that they are generally pleased with the plan. According to the Mayor, "Good teachers will become better ones and ineffective teachers can be removed from the classroom." He applauded State Commissioner John King for "putting our students first and creating a system that will allow our schools to continue improving."

Unfortunately, nobody, not the Times, the New York State Education Department, the New York City Department of Education, nor the teachers' union have demonstrated any positive correlation between teacher assessments based on the Danielson rubrics, good teaching, and the implementation of new higher academic standards for students under Common Core. A case demonstrating the relationship could have been made, if it actually exists. A format based on the Danielson rubrics is already being used to evaluate teachers in at least thirty-three struggling schools in New York City and by one of the supervising networks. Kentucky has been using an adapted version of Danielson's Framework for Teaching to evaluate teachers since 2011 and according to the New Jersey Department of Education, sixty percent of nearly 500 school districts in the state are using teacher evaluation models developed by the Danielson Group. The South Orange/Maplewood and Cherry Hill, New Jersey schools have used the Danielson model for several years.

According to the Times editorial, the "new evaluation system could make it easier to fire markedly poor performers" and help "the great majority of teachers become better at their jobs." But as far as I can tell, the new evaluation system is mostly a weapon to harass teachers and force them to follow dubious scripted lessons...The group's services come at a cost, which is not a surprise, although you have to apply for their services to get an actual price quote. Individuals who participated in a three-day workshop at the King of Prussia campus of Arcadia University in Pennsylvania paid $599 each. A companion four-week online class cost $1,809 per person. According to a comparison chart prepared by the Alaska Department of Education, the "Danielson Group uses 'bundled' pricing that is inclusive of the consultant's daily rate, hotel and airfare. The current fee structure is $4,000 per consultant/per day when three or more consecutive days of training are scheduled. One and two-day rates are $4,500/per consultant/per day. We will also schedule keynote presentations for large groups when feasible. A keynote presentations is for informational/overview purposes and does not constitute training in the Framework for Teaching."

Charlotte Danielson is supposed to be "an internationally-recognized expert in the area of teacher effectiveness, specializing in the design of teacher evaluation systems that, while ensuring teacher quality, also promote professional learning" who "advises State Education Departments and National Ministries and Departments of Education, both in the United States and overseas." Her online biography claims that she has "taught at all levels, from kindergarten through college, and has worked as an administrator, a curriculum director, and a staff developer" and to have degrees from Cornell, Oxford and Rutgers, but I can find no formal academic resume online. Her undergraduate degree seems to have been in history with a specialization in Chinese history and she studied philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford and educational administration and supervision at Rutgers. While working as an economist in Washington, D.C., Danielson obtained her teaching credentials and began work in her neighborhood elementary school, but it is not clear in what capacity or for how long. She developed her ideas for teacher evaluation while working at the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and since 1996 has published a series of books and articles with ASCD (the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development). I have seen photographs and video broadcasts online, but I am still not convinced she really exists as more than a front for the Danielson Group that is selling its teacher evaluation product...The United Federation of Teachers and the online news journal Gotham Schools both asked a person purporting to be Charlotte Danielson to evaluate the initial Danielson rubrics being used in New York City schools. In a phone interview reported on in Gotham Schools, Danielson was supposedly in Chile selling her frameworks to the Chilean government, "Danielson was hesitant to insert herself into an union-district battle, but did confirm that she disapproved of the checklist shown to her." The checklist "was inappropriate because of the way it was filled out. It indicated that the observer had already begun evaluating a teacher while in the classroom observation. She said that's a fundamental no-no." Bottom line is that 40% of a teacher's evaluation will be based on student test scores on standardized and local exams and 60% on in-class observations. In this post I am most concerned with the legitimacy of the proposed system of observations that are based on snap-shots, fifteen minute visits to partial lessons, conducted by supervisors potentially with limited or no classroom experience in the subject being observed, followed by submission of a multiple-choice rubric that will be evaluated online by an algorithm that decides whether the lesson was satisfactory or not.

Imagine an experienced surgeon in the middle of a delicate six-hour procedure where the surgeon responds to a series of unexpected emergencies being evaluated by a computer based on data gathered from a fifteen-minute snapshot visit by a general practitioner who has never performed an operation.

Imagine evaluating a baseball player who goes three for four with a couple of home runs and five or six runs batted in based on the one time during the game when he struck out badly.

Imagine a driver with a clean record for thirty years who has his or her license suspended because a car they owned was photographed going through a red light, when perhaps there was an emergency, perhaps he or she was not even driving the car, or perhaps there was a mechanical glitch with the light, camera, or computer.

Now imagine a teacher who adjusts instruction because of important questions introduced by students who is told the lesson is unsatisfactory because it did not follow the prescribed scripted lesson plan and because during the fifteen minutes the observer was in the room they failed to see what they were looking for but what might have actually happened before they arrived or after they left.


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femmocrat Feb 2014 OP
Peregrine Feb 2014 #1
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LWolf Feb 2014 #18
knitter4democracy Feb 2014 #17
Lifelong Protester Feb 2014 #3
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