I’ve been wondering why no one is talking about the “teacher incentive payment program” that Governor Kasich has included in his budget proposal.  Are we wondering if maybe it’s a good thing?  Are we thinking that maybe we want to keep this component of his proposal because it offers teachers a chance at getting more money?

Well, today I have the details.  I have the projected dollar amounts and where those students and teachers are located.  And I’m going to tell you why all teachers should summarily reject the Governor’s proposal as an insult to education.

I’ll warn you in advance that this issue has many layers, and I didn’t even come close to addressing them all.

First the background:

In the budget bill (HB 153, Sec. 3302.23), the Governor proposes paying teachers fifty dollars per student for a class where students demonstrate more than a standard year of growth as determined by the Ohio Department of Education’s value-added model, a measure based on Ohio’s standardized tests.  This growth is designated as Green on the state’s report (Yellow designates a year, Red designates less than a year; full reports can be found in the Ratings folder)

These results are only applicable to students in grades 4-8 in Reading and Math.  In co-teaching situations, or situations where students grow in both areas, teachers will split the stipend equally.  A single student represents a single fifty dollar stipend.

Kasich’s rationale from his Reform Book reads:

Reward Superior Educators
What will change
Pay teachers a per-student bonus for every student in a class which achieves more than one year growth as measured by the value-added dimension of the local report cards.
Why this change is important
Teachers who are helping students gain more than a year‘s growth in a year deserve to be rewarded.

But let me put those statements into context for you.  The heading and sentence that immediately precedes these reads:

Put Superior Teachers in Every Classroom,
Excellent Principals in Every School
We will make Ohio the preferred destination for creative, talented educators including Teach for America.

 

LAYER #1 — All professional educators in Ohio should find the Governor’s comparison to Teach for America insulting, at best.  For more detail, you can read my comprehensive critique of TFA on Facebook.

So if I let that insult to professional educators slide and focus instead on the “Reward” that is promised, I need to know what this reward looks like.

The Ohio Department of Education databases for Value-Added results do not identify teachers or specific classrooms, but they do identify student counts in grade levels by schools.  Using this data set, I projected the total stipend amounts that would have been paid out over the past four years.

2007: $20,854,900.00
2008: $18,660,050.00
2009: $20,240,000.00
2010: $15,918,150.00

Why the significant drop for 2010?  The value-added calculations were “reset” to better balance the results.  According to ODE:

  • A stabilization process was included as part of the value-added analysis to provide you with more useful and consistent information about grade and subject gains. This will provide a more even distribution of value-added results for subject- and grade-level ratings.
  • This typically happens every 3-4 years to better reflect current state performance averages.
  • Over the past two years, there have been considerable skews in the grade- and subject- level gains for a cohort from one year to the next. Value-added models assume there is vertical alignment in the rigor of tests, that is, the rigor in this years’ fourth-grade reading test is of the same amount of rigor in next years’ fifth-grade reading test. However, the previous assessments were not created with consideration for value-added analysis needs. Until Ohio launches the new assessments, the addition of the stabilization process is a necessary interim solution to providing Ohio practitioners full utilization of value-added information.

Hmm.  According to the Ohio Department of Education the tests that we are using to judge the performance of teachers and students for annual growth “were not created with consideration for value-added analysis needs.”  And these tests will remain in place until new assessments are launched (SY 2013-2014).

The Governor wants to use a flawed model to calculate not only Teacher Incentive Pay, he is also proposing using this value-added model as a key component of school district funding (LAYER #2) and as a key measure in the evaluation of an individual teacher’s compensation (LAYER #3).

Okay, I threw those substantial Teacher Incentive Program payments at you without much warning or detail, so let’s take a second look.

2007: $20,854,900.00
2008: $18,660,050.00
2009: $20,240,000.00
2010: $15,918,150.00

Remembering that these numbers represent $50 per student, we can extrapolate the following numbers of students who demonstrated more than a year of growth each those years.

2007: 417,098
2008: 373,201
2009: 404,800
2010: 318,363

Anyone should question a sudden drop of 1/4 in the population of students demonstrating progress.  Did anyone hear this when it became public last August?  In the leadup to the election, wouldn’t a huge drop in student achievement have been trotted out by Kasich as a condemnation of Strickland’s policies?  OF COURSE it would have.  And the fact that it wasn’t reinforces the notion that student achievement did not suffer, it was the recalculation of Value-Added scores that caused this apparent drop.

This demonstrates the significant effect the recalculation of the value-added model has on the final numbers, and on incentive pay, and teacher salary, and district funding.

 

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

LAYER #4: You may remember that Governor Kasich has also proposed another component to “hold teachers accountable” in his Reform Book:

Test Teachers in Poor-Performing Schools
What will change
Teachers employed in a school identified in the bottom [ten] percent of the state‘s schools on the basis of student results will be required to take licensure tests.
Why this change is important
Struggling schools need to be sure teachers are competent and fully capable of teaching their assigned curriculum. Testing teachers to be sure they know their content and basic pedagogy is a key step in this process.
Testing will make sure teachers are competent in the subjects they are teaching. Limiting this provision to poor-performing schools will minimize costs and avoid unnecessary burdens on quality schools.

(I posted a detailed discussion of  teacher testing last week.)

 

In my previous post, I alluded to the fact that under Kasich’s proposal, teachers could receive incentive pay AND have to retake the Praxis exams.  I have confirmed this to be true.  Based on the ODE data, I can only calculate the number of grades (classes) and schools affected in this manner.

2008: 741 out of 3342 classes
2009: 1123 out of 4175 classes
2010: 860 out of 3146 classes

In 200822% of the teachers receiving Teacher Incentive Pay would need to retake their Praxis exams.

In 200927% of the teachers receiving Teacher Incentive Pay would need to retake their Praxis exams.

In 201027% of the teachers receiving Teacher Incentive Pay would need to retake their Praxis exams.

Why? “Teachers who are helping students gain more than a year‘s growth in a year deserve to be rewarded” because “Struggling schools need to be sure teachers are competent and fully capable of teaching their assigned curriculum.”

 

So you’re still wondering why teachers should reject a payment of $16,000,000?  For starters, that money is only available to the 30% of teachers who have value-added data.  Most educators would philosophically disagree with the premise that “Teachers who are helping students gain more than a year‘s growth in a year deserve to be rewardedonly refers to reading and math teachers in grades 4-8.  In fact, take a poll of those 4th grade reading teachers and ask them to talk about the K-3 teachers that taught their students previously.  Those teachers who actually taught the children to read but are not being rewarded.

While Kasich has distracted the teachers with dollar signs with his left hand, his right hand is relieving us of salary for experience and education.  The Governor thinks that dangling a $16 million dollar carrot in front of Ohio’s teachers will dazzle us so much so that we won’t notice him trying to reduce our collective salaries by 5%, or $310 million dollars.  Kasich wants to cut the pay for all teachers and believes that offering a paltry incentive to some teachers will make up for it.

And for this process, Kasich wants to bastardize a tool (value-added) that has many useful applications for teachers, schools, and districts, but was never intended to be used for the purpose of evaluating teachers or determining compensation.  Think of a hammer.  That a hammer has many useful applications in a variety of scenarios would not be debated.  But using a hammer to break your car window to retrieve your car keys would be considered a misapplication of the tool.

Someone appears to have sold Kasich on value-added as an elixir for every educational ailment he sees, and he’s using it generously.  But Kasich has been misled.  The Ohio Department of Education states repeatedly that the data, based exclusively on standardized test results, is not intended for these purposes.

 

But look, let’s not argue about the details, right?  This is just the stuff that teacher unions tell you to try and make the Governor look stupid.

As if  he needs any help with that.

 

 

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