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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Rubberization And the Decline of Student Achievement

One of the telltale signs that the leadership of the New York City Department of Education wants to deliberately harm children in the public schools under their care is the fact that when principals exercise their power to remove anyone for any reason at any time and make up allegations that stick at 3020-a arbitration (or U-rating appeals, grievances, etc) like silly putty thrown against a wall, the charged employee is replaced by someone not qualified to teach the class.

This fact can be seen in any classroom, physical education, art, English, Social Studies, Regents classes, it doesn't matter. All that matters is that the employee is out of the classroom in which he/she is accused (rightly or wrongly). Often, Principals are "ordered" to remove someone, and told to do so immediately. So in their defense, they are not always given time to hire a person licensed to teach the subject, nor do they have the teaching staff to move teachers in who DO know the curriculum to replace the now absent teacher.

In order to cover up the chaos that often results in this process when a teacher is suddenly removed, principals scrub grades, change testing dates, suspend kids who "know" what happened, and lie to parents concerned about their child(ren)'s progress in the class....especially near to test times.

I always thought that if the NYC DOE gave any oversight to the "rubberization" process (sudden removal of teachers for any reason and placement of the accused in a hostile environment) they would have to consider the effect of the process while giving the authority to principals and Superintendents to remove anyone on a whim. But Bloomberg did not do that, and this is a cornerstone  his legacy.

The article below elaborates on the effect the last 10 years has had on students in the NYC public schools as well as elsewhere.

Betsy Combier

Teacher Turnover Affects All Students' Achievement, Study Indicates

When teachers leave schools, overall morale appears to suffer enough that student achievement declines—both for those taught by the departed teachers and by students whose teachers stayed put, concludes a study recently presented at a conference held by the Center for Longitudinal Data in Education Research. 
The impact of teacher turnover is one of the teacher-quality topics that's been hard for researchers to get their arms around. The phenomenon of high rates of teacher turnover has certainly been proven to occur in high-poverty schools more than low-poverty ones. The eminently logical assumption has been that such turnover harms student achievement.
But a couple years back, two researchers did an analysis  that showed, counter-intuitively, it's actually the less- effective teachers, rather than the more- effective ones, who tend to leave schools with a high concentration of low-achieving, minority students. It raised the question of whether a degree of turnover might be beneficial, since it seemed to purge schools of underperforming teachers.
When reporting on that study, I played devil's advocate by pointing out that it didn't address the cultural impact of having a staff that's always in flux. The recently released CALDER paper suggests I may have been right in probing this question.
Written by the University of Michigan's Matthew Ronfeldt, Stanford University's Susanna Loeb, and the University of Virginia's Jim Wyckoff, the new paper basically picks up on the same question. Even if overall teacher effectiveness stays the same in a school with turnover, it's well documented that turnover hurts staff cohesion and the shared sense of community in schools, the scholars reasoned. Could that have an impact on student achievement, too?
To find out, they looked at a set of New York City test-score data from 4th and 5th graders over the course of eight years. The data were linked to teacher characteristics. 
(All the usual caveats about limitations of test scores apply, of course.)
Among their findings:
• For each analysis, students taught by teachers in the same grade-level team in the same school did worse in years where turnover rates were higher, compared with years in which there was less teacher turnover. 
• An increase in teacher turnover by 1 standard deviation corresponded with a decrease in math achievement of 2 percent of a standard deviation; students in grade levels with 100 percent turnover were especially affected, with lower test scores by anywhere from 6 percent to 10 percent of a standard deviation based on the content area.
• The effects were seen in both large and small schools, new and old ones. 
• The negative effect of turnover on student achievement was larger in schools with more low-achieving and black students.
"Turnover must have an impact beyond simply whether incoming teachers are better than those they replaced—even the teachers outside of this redistribution are somehow harmed by it," the authors conclude. "Though there may be cases where turnover is actually helpful to student achievement, on average, it is harmful."
They authors call for more research to identify the mechanics of the decline—whether a loss of collegiality, or perhaps a loss of institutional knowledge among the staff due to turnover, is the cause of the lower achievement.

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