The Elimination of ASW and the Intentions of the NCGA’s Budget Cuts to DPI

What follows in this post is another manifestation of the how the NC General Assembly is trying to weaken the Department of Public Instruction in such a way so that it can control as many aspects of teacher and school evaluation to validate its actions on what it perceives as school reform.

For the past three school years, there has been a nebulous cloud of ambiguous of evaluation for many of us teachers that resides within Standard 6 of the North Carolina Teacher Evaluation System as set forth by DPI within the North Carolina Professional Teaching Standards.

If you are a public school teacher in NC, you know of STANDARD 6.

Within the NC Professional Teaching Standards document ,

ASW

STANDARD 6 Teachers Contribute to the Academic Success of Students

The work of the teacher results in acceptable, measurable progress for students based on established performance expectations using appropriate data to demonstrate growth.

A teacher’s rating on the sixth standard is determined by a student growth value as calculated by the statewide growth model for educator effectiveness. The End-of-Course assessments, End-of-Grade assessments, Career and Technical Education Post-Assessments, and the Measures of Student Learning provide the student data used to calculate the growth value.

The student growth value places a teacher into one of three rating categories:

  • Does not meet expected growth: the student growth value for the teacher is lower than what was expected per the statewide growth model.
  • Meets expected growth: the student growth value for the teacher is what was expected per the statewide growth model.
  • Exceeds expected growth: the student growth value for the teacher exceeds what was expected per the statewide growth model.

The “Measure of Student Learning” was used for my Standard 6 evaluation for the last three years. It was actually called “Assessment of Student Learning” or ASW.

For an AP instructor who teaches a certain number of AP courses, I had to submit a rather large amount of evidence to satisfy this requirement. It required selecting five different objectives from the AP English Language and Composition curriculum (components) and show growth in arbitrarily selected students (by the state) within the context of the school year.

That means that I had to make sure to collect, organize, decipher, explain, offer supporting materials, provide working samples with explanations, digitize all materials, and upload in a certain window of time while as administrator approved all of my steps. It’s like putting together a professional portfolio to prove that I am doing what I am supposed to do but do not have the ability to verbally defend or seek clarification.

Then I get back a notice through a computer program of how it was perceived months after the fact.

The first year I had to perform the ASW component, I uploaded all of my materials in June of the school year. In November of the next school year, I received the feedback. Here is what I wrote about that in an earlier blog posting.

In June of 2015, I uploaded my documents in the state’s system and had to wait until November to get results. The less than specific comments from the unknown assessor(s) were contradictory at best. They included:

Alignment

  • Al 1 The evidence does not align to the chosen objective.
  • Al 4 All of the Timelapse Artifacts in this Evidence Collection align to the chosen objectives.

Growth

  • Gr 1 Student growth is apparent in all Timelapse Artifacts.
  • Gr 2 Student growth is apparent between two points in time.
  • Gr 3 Student growth is not apparent between two points in time.
  • Gr 4 Student growth samples show achievement but not growth.
  • Gr 9 Evidence is clear/easily accessible
  • Gr 10 Evidence is not clear/not easily accessible

Narrative Context

  • NC 1 Narrative Context addresses all of the key questions and supports understanding of the evidence.
  • NC 4 Narrative Context does not address one or more of the key questions.

 And these comments did not correspond to any specific part of my submission. In fact, I am more confused about the process than ever before. It took over five months for someone who may not have one-fifth of my experience in the classroom to communicate this to me. If this is supposed to supply me with the tools to help guide my future teaching, then I would have to say that this would be highly insufficient, maybe even “unbest.”

In June of 2016, I intentionally chose many of the same objectives to measure and used the same assignments as AP English Language and Composition does not really change in what is measured – students need to earn how to read closely and write effectively.

In November of 2016, I received positive feedback, but nothing specific. I actually thought that my 2015 material was just as good. And in that previous year’s experience, I realized that there may not have been much in the way of professional development to help evaluators to accurately measure artifacts. Maybe the program was not field tested enough to work out all of the bugs and errors.

I also realized that my best evaluator were actually the students who took my classes all year long, the people I worked with in the school, and the administrative team that allowed me to ask questions and discuss what was seen.

So, this year (June 16, 2017), I uploaded on the very last day of the school year for me (post-planning week) my ASW portfolio.

Let me reiterate. That was June 16. I intentionally made this the last thing I did officially for the school year. June 16 was the deadline.

On July 11, 2017, I received notification that the ASW has been eliminated for the 2017-2018 school year.

That means that what I turned in for June 16th will probably never be looked at. The contents of the email message I received is below and is being printed because it is under the North Carolina Public Records Law.

“I’m writing to inform you that the Analysis of Student Work Process to assess growth for Advanced Placement, Arts Education, Healthful Living, International Baccalaureate, and World Language courses has been eliminated by legislative action (Session Law 2017-57. Section 7.23E.(a)) beginning with the 2017-18 school year.

This notification will likely come as bittersweet news to many of you. While much of your feedback indicates that the ASW process allowed many teachers to dig more deeply into their standards, engage in more reflective teaching practices, and receive the same “validation” as tested subject areas, I recognize that participating in the ASW process also pushed the boundaries of some individuals’ technological comfort zones and was a time-intensive endeavor.

Due to budget cuts to the Department of Public Instruction, “.  A small cadre of reviewers are reviewing the remaining Evidence Collections for CEU credit.  We will review as many 2016-17 Evidence Collections as possible this summer.  If we are not able to review collections at the same level as previous years, the final decision as to whether we release the 2016-17 results will be made by DPI leadership.  

At this time, there are no plans to replace the ASW process.  Teachers who formerly participated in the ASW process or locally developed plans will not have a growth measure moving forward.  Teachers who participated in the ASW process will not receive school-level growth.

Thank you for your dedication in learning and implementing the ASW process over the past 4 years. The ASW process was one of continuous improvement, driven by your feedback and rigorous expectations for yourselves and your peers.  To support you in continuing professional learning, many of the current ASW resources will remain available to you or be adapted and posted either on the ASW wikispace or specific content area wikispaces.  ASW training materials are, at their core, about excellent instructional practices in our performance-based classrooms and we want to ensure your access to these helpful materials in the future.”

There are a few things that need to special attention in this email and I know that the person who sent it is just a messenger.

  1. “Due to budget cuts to the Department of Public Instruction…” – As soon as I read that, I immediately began to think of what the North Carolina General Assembly just did in its recent budget: cut DPI by %20 within the next two years and do everything that it could to oust anyone associated with the previous state superintendent so that a puppet of an elected official like Mark Johnson could do the bidding of politicians bent on weakening public education.
  2. “…the paid component of the 2016-17 review process ended on June 23.” – That’s literally one week after I uploaded everything and over two weeks before anyone told me or other teachers that this was ending without any review of my material. That’s like my never grading my students’ work to let them know what needs to be worked on in the future. In fact, it’s like my students doing lots of work, but never receiving feedback or a grade.
  3. If we are not able to review collections at the same level as previous years, the final decision as to whether we release the 2016-17 results will be made by DPI leadership.  “ – With the political climate that we have now the words “final decision to be made by DPI” is the equivalent to “final decision to be made by select GOP lawmakers who want to weaken public education so that they can take the budget cuts from DPI and put it into vouchers, ESA’s, and charter school growth.”
  4. At this time, there are no plans to replace the ASW process.” – With the number of special sessions done by this NCGA and the back-door, secretive meetings that constructed the very budget that literally caused DPI to drop this, forgive me if I say that there are plans – just not publically announced ones.
  5. driven by your feedback and rigorous expectations.” – Teacher and school feedback is the kryptonite of those who made the budget cuts in the first place.

Don’t get me wrong. I think that there is a better way of being evaluated than this. I don’t like the impersonal manner of this evaluation. But the instant removal of this is yet another symptom of a bigger problem. So I repeat,

This is another manifestation of the how the NC General Assembly is trying to weaken the Department of Public Instruction in such a way so that it can control as many aspects of teacher and school evaluation to validate its actions on what it perceives as school reform.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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