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Topic: Testing Math Teachers
Replies: 42   Last Post: Sep 17, 2003 4:52 PM

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Laura Barrett

Posts: 11
Registered: 12/3/04
Testing Math Teachers
Posted: Apr 25, 2000 5:11 PM
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Below are excerpts from an "Alert" that was sent to Massachusetts
Teachers Association local presidents during school vacation week
regarding the plan by Gov. Cellucci and subsequent proposed
regulations to test all mathematics teachers in so-called "low
performing schools." The MTA is strongly opposed to these regulations,
which are scheduled to be voted on at the May 23 Board of Education
meeting. Information in the "Alert" tells educators how they can
register their thoughts on these proposed regulations.

Alert:
Board of Education Proposes to Test Math Teachers

The Massachusetts Board of Education has put out for public comment a
proposal to test “mathematics teachers in middle and high schools with
low student performance on the MCAS mathematics test.” In order to
accomplish this intent, the Board of Education is proposing amendments
to both the Recertification Regulations and the Regulations on
Under-Performing Schools and Districts. Complete copies of the
proposals and other related documents are available on the Department
of Education web site, especially at:
http://www.doe.mass.edu/mailings/2000/405/regs_memo.html,
http://www.doe.mass.edu/lawsregs/proposed/p603cmr2.html, and
http://www.doe.mass.edu/lawsregs/proposed/p603cmr44.html.

The Board of Education currently intends to vote on these proposals at
its meeting on May 23, 2000, currently scheduled to be held in Monson,
MA.

The Department of Education has announced that it will be holding
regional forums on “strategies for improving student performance in
mathematics,” as well as on the mathematics teacher testing
regulations. As of today (April 25), dates and locations of only two
of the forums have been announced.

 The first will be held on May 9 at 6:30 p.m. at the West
Junior High School in Brockton, located at 271 West Street
(508-580-7381).
 The second will be held on May 11 in Shrewsbury at the
Regional Science Resource Center, UMass Medical School, 222 Maple
Street. (We will post information about the other forums on the MTA
Web site at www.massteacher.org as they are announced.)

The deadline for written comments on the proposed regulations is May
5, 2000. Written comments may be sent to Ann Duffy, Associate
Commissioner of Educator Quality, 350 Main St., Malden, MA 02148, by
fax at 781-338-3392, or by e-mail to TeachMath@doe.mass.edu. In
addition to comments submitted by your members, comments will be
submitted by MTA on behalf of all teachers.

A call to action!

While math teachers are the current target, these proposals present a
threat to all educators. Therefore, all educators must be heard:

1. Large numbers of educators should attend the regional forums and
make their opposition loud and clear.

2. A multitude of written comments should be submitted by practicing
educators.

3. Large numbers of educators should attend the Board of Education
meeting on May 23, should testify, and make their displeasure known.
Your MTA Field Representative will contact you about further actions
and further developments.

Math Teacher Test Q&A

These are some preliminary questions and answers:

Who would be tested?
1. Any teacher who teaches (for any part of the day) any mathematics
course in “any middle or high school where 30% or more of the students
fail the MCAS mathematics test and where the school fails to meet or
exceed its improvement expectation on the MCAS mathematics test, as
established through the School Performance Rating Process.”

2. Any teacher who teaches (for any part of the day) any mathematics
course in any middle or high school that has been referred for review
under 603 CMR 2.03(7), the existing Regulations on Under-Performing
Schools and Districts.

3. Any teacher who teaches (for any part of the day) any mathematics
course and who is not specifically certified in mathematics in any
middle or high school with a 30% or greater failure rate on the 1999
mathematics MCAS.

4. Any teacher who teaches (for any part of the day) any mathematics
course in any other middle or high school which the Commissioner
determines to be referred for review in addition to those required
under the current Regulations on Under-Performing Schools and
Districts.

How many teachers would be tested?
Department of Education staff predicts that math teachers in 80% of
all middle schools and high schools in the state would fall under
these proposals.

What will the test be?
The decision about what the math test would be has not been announced.
Among the possibilities not yet ruled out are: the Massachusetts
Educator Certification Test (the “new teacher test”); Department of
Education designed test; and Accuplacer (a test used for placement of
college students).

What if teachers “fail” the test?
1. In approving Individual Professional Plans, supervisors “must
determine that the professional development plan addresses the
weaknesses identified by the Mathematics Content Assessment.”
2. Supervisors must “withdraw approval of any professional development
plan that fails to address weaknesses identified by the Mathematics
Content Assessment.”

What if teachers refuse to take the test?
Once the test is available, supervisors will be prohibited from
approving Individual Professional Development Plans for impacted
teachers who have not taken the test.


Below is testimony that was submitted by MTA President Stephen E.
Gorrie on these proposed regulations.

Testimony by MTA President Stephen E. Gorrie
Submitted to the
Massachusetts Board of Education
March 28, 2000

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to address you today
regarding the proposed regulations to test mathematics teachers who
teach in middle and high schools with so-called Low-Performing
Mathematics Programs.

For the record, let me repeat that the MTA strongly believes that
only qualified, certified teachers should be hired in our public
schools, that all teachers should be held to high standards, and that
the most effective way to determine if teachers are doing a good job
is to evaluate their performance in the classroom.

That said, we strongly oppose these regulations on several grounds.
First, the Legislature has never granted this Board authority to
impose a testing requirement on any teachers and in fact has rejected
teacher testing legislation twice in the past two years. Second, we
believe that the criterion for determining which teachers must be
tested under this plan is arbitrary and misguided. Third, and most
importantly, we believe this proposal will do a disservice to the very
students it is purported help because it will drive good math teachers
away from our inner city schools. Let me address each point briefly.

As you know, in 1998 and again in 1999 Gov. Cellucci filed
legislation to require all teachers to be tested in subject area
knowledge and literacy skills. That poorly conceived proposal was
rightly rejected by the Legislature. This time, the governor has
decided to bypass the Legislature and impose a teacher testing
proposal administratively by regulation. In our opinion, the governor
did not have authority to test all teachers without explicit
legislative authorization and likewise he does not have authority to
test a subset of teachers without such authorization. We are currently
exploring our legal options in opposing this test.

A second concern is that the test score cut-off used to determine
which schools have so-called Low-Performing Mathematics Programs is
arbitrary and defies common sense. The 30 percent failure rate has no
relationship to any designation of Under-performance in your recently
adopted regulations. Indeed, as you know, a large majority of the
state’s middle and high schools have failure rates of 30 percent or
more on the mathematics MCAS tests, including many that are considered
excellent schools by other measures of achievement. Once again, this
disconnect between student MCAS scores and student success on other
assessments casts a shadow on the validity of the MCAS tests
themselves. Identifying such a large percentage of our schools as
“low-performing” in math is part and parcel with other recent rhetoric
and actions by this Board that unjustly undermine public confidence in
our public schools and the teachers who work in them.

Last but not least, this proposal is poor public policy that will not
result in the desired ends. There is a presumption built into these
proposed regulations that teachers who work with disadvantaged
students are probably less competent than their peers who teach
affluent students. This is both untrue and insulting, and is precisely
the wrong message to send if this Board of Education is serious about
attracting and retaining excellent math teachers in our urban schools.
Imagine a certified teacher named Jane Doe who is highly-qualified in
mathematics. Imagine that she has two job offers, one from Lexington
High School and the other from Durfee High School in Fall River. If
she teaches in Lexington, she will be in a school that is deemed to be
high-performing. She will not be subjected to humiliating articles in
the media about the “low performance” of her students. Her
qualifications to teach will not be questioned by politicians. She
will not be subjected to the burden and insult of having to take a
math test. If she chooses to work at Durfee High School, however, she
will indeed face those burdens, and will be paid less for her efforts.
Members of the Board, I ask you: If you were in Jane Doe’s shoes,
which job would you accept?

I hope you will give serious consideration to the potentially serious
negative consequences of this proposal and will vote to reject these
proposed regulations.

Thank you.




Date Subject Author
4/25/00
Read Testing Math Teachers
Laura Barrett
4/25/00
Read Re: Testing Math Teachers
Anne Wheelock
4/26/00
Read Re: Testing Math Teachers
Pete Gilmore
4/27/00
Read Re: Testing Math Teachers
Andreae Downs
4/27/00
Read Re: Testing Math Teachers
Jim Hamos
4/28/00
Read Re: Testing Math Teachers
Pete Gilmore
4/26/00
Read Re: Testing Math Teachers
lyn heady
4/25/00
Read Re: Testing Math Teachers
Claire Graham
4/25/00
Read Re: Testing Math Teachers
Gloria Moran
4/26/00
Read Re: Testing Math Teachers
Ron Barndt
4/26/00
Read Re: Testing Math Teachers
Laura Barrett
4/27/00
Read Re: Testing Math Teachers
Anne Collins
4/27/00
Read Re: Teacher Test Forum Dates
Laura Barrett
5/4/00
Read Math Teachers Tests: DOE Press release
Anne Wheelock
5/15/00
Read Re: Math Teachers Tests: DOE Press release
Joseph Caruso
5/15/00
Read Re: Math Teachers Tests: DOE Press release
Joseph Caruso
6/19/00
Read Re: Math Teachers Tests: DOE Press release
[no author]
5/4/00
Read Re: Testing Math Teachers
Laura Barrett
5/25/00
Read Re: Testing Math Teachers-response by Supts
Peg Bondorew
5/26/00
Read Re: Testing Math Teachers
Bill Kendall
5/26/00
Read Re: Testing Math Teachers
Andreae Downs
5/26/00
Read Re: Testing Math Teachers
Gloria Moran
5/26/00
Read Re: Testing Math Teachers
Gloria Moran
6/19/00
Read Re: Testing Math Teachers
Anne Collins
6/21/00
Read Re: Testing Math Teachers
Michael Bresnahan
7/1/00
Read Re: Testing Math Teachers - Unions take action
[no author]
7/2/00
Read Re: Testing Math Teachers - Unions take action
[no author]
7/2/00
Read Re: Testing Math Teachers - Unions take action
[no author]
7/2/00
Read Re: Testing Math Teachers - Unions take action
[no author]
9/17/03
Read Re: Testing Math Teachers
Jean Adair
7/7/00
Read Re: Testing Math Teachers - News report 7/7
[no author]
7/9/00
Read Re: Mass. struggling to find math teachers
Anne Wheelock
7/9/00
Read Re: Mass. struggling to find math teachers
[no author]
2/12/01
Read Testing Math Teachers
Ken Worsley
2/22/01
Read Re: Testing Math Teachers
[no author]
2/25/01
Read Re: Testing Math Teachers
[no author]
2/25/01
Read Testing Math Teachers? We've earned a bonus!
Ken Worsley
4/13/01
Read Re: Testing Teachers
msmith
4/27/01
Read Testing Teachers
Ken Worsley
4/28/01
Read Re: Achieve, Inc
Nancy Buell
4/28/01
Read Re: Testing Teachers
Gloria Moran
5/8/01
Read Re: Testing Teachers.
Jan Mokros
5/8/01
Read Testing Teachers.
Ken Worsley

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