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Comments of the week: interviews, testing and targets

Our commenters provide a crucial voice to the conversation about education that GothamSchools strives to incubate with our audience every day. Through commenting, readers have the opportunity to safely provide insights and advance the dialogue that our reporters try to start.

So we’re excited to introduce a new feature to our site that highlights this important role. We encourage a vibrant commenting community and encourage readers to submit comments for stories. For those who want to submit a comment, please be sure to also review our commenting policy.

In “school turnaround” news this week, teachers interviewed to get their jobs back at the 24 schools that will close and re-open at the end of the school year. Rachel reported on Tuesday that the process had gotten off to a bumpy start at some schools. She also shed some light on the details of the interview process. Many of our readers are teachers at these turnaround schools and they quickly chimed in with their own – often critical – insights into the interview process.

R.I.P. Richmond, a frequent commenter who works at Richmond Hill High School in Queens, wrote:

At my school, teachers have been asked about how they use data in their lesson plans, how they differentiate instruction, what they’ve learned from our endless professional development, how common core standards are being implemented, how they collaborate with other teachers, and how they can prove student improvement… even when a teacher brings up their accomplishments or what unique talent they bring to the school the panel does not care. It’s all about differentiating and data. No one cares about the human element of this job.

On Wednesday, I published a story about the harsh feedback that charter school authorizers were receiving in response to their proposed target enrollments. Eva Moskowitz said it was misguided policy, setting off a flurry of criticism from readers who believed it was an attempt to under-enrol students with disabilities. But a teacher at one of her schools, “Teach”, stepped in to defend her.

As a Success teacher and a former DOE teacher of ELLs, I understand and support what Moskowitz’s letter is trying to achieve. I think Success and similar schools doe a good job of declassifying both its SPED population and its ELLs (I understand arguments can be made about difference of students, but I don’t honestly see a major difference between my students now and when I worked in the DOE).

DOE schools receive significant title III funds for ESL students. It changes both teaching practices and outcomes.

On Monday, State Education Commissioner John King testified about Pearson’s contract with the testing. Today, Philissa unpacked a presentation that New York State Education Department Commissioner John King gave to a Senate education committee earlier this week. The presentation outlined amendments to the state’s $32 million testing contract with Pearson.

One amendments included a requirement for an independent panel to review test questions before they are administered. Leonie Haimson, a frequent critic of Pearson, said the panel should not include anyone beholden to the interests of Pearson or the state education department:

A real independent review panel should be appointed, including parents and teachers, and guess what? I bet that they would not have to [be] paid.

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