Here’s an excerpt of a paper I just finished for graduate work concerning the APPRs in New York State.
My Personal View of the APPR
“I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” – Abraham Maslow
Meaningful teacher evaluations have been a long time coming. As someone who cares about education and has deep personal convictions about enriching the lives children for the benefit of society, it has always pained me to see first-hand the people in our profession who are “taking up space.”
Fortunately, there are not many of them, at least not where I’ve worked up until this point in my life. However, I know that is not the case everywhere. In some schools apathy and patronage have taken over.
This leads to the question that frames my objection to the APPR process: why is my school being put through this onerous process when we are not the source of the problem?
More simply put, why is the federal goverment treating suburban Long Island like it is inner-city Baltimore. The education “problem” that exists in this country is for the most part directly related to the likely suspects: poverty, family structure and teacher recruitment. (Teacher recruitment is also a direct function of teachers salaries; Long Island teachers are well-paid and there is absolutely no problem finding good people to fill a job here.)
This is not to say that results should not be expected in low-income areas. Quite the opposite, these are the places that need federal support and in many cases federal direction. However Jericho, Manhasset, Great Neck and Syosset are not one of those places. So why are they being treated as if they were? Why is a school district that is named as one of the highest-performing in the country (making their community one of the most desirable to own a house in) being forced to spend time and resources on an instrument designed to bring change to failing schools?
Some people have come to see the light on this matter. Even people who were former champions of the high-stake testing and accountability movements are beginning to realize that they don’t work (Unless of course they are on the take from Pearson or some other private corporation that shills tests to clueless politicians and state boards of education.)
The Future of the APPR
I do not believe that the APPR will be a permanent fixture in our education system, but not for the same reasons that many others feel this way. Many believe that the APPR will “collapse under it’s own weight.” Educators make no secret about how the APPR contains many examples of Ivory Tower absurdities, however I believe the APPR will change for the following reason:
The people who are profiting from this change in sea level will have maximized their profits from the current direction. This will cause them to “innovate” other tools for legislators to brandish in their efforts to seem tough and forward-looking on education. Every corporation, particularly publicly-traded ones like Pearson, need to show not just profit, but growth in order to maintain investor confidence and market value. Therefore the APPR system (with its menagerie of privately-developed tests and workshops) will either be put aside or augmented with new products. This will be justified with “statistics” from cherry-picked sources that say that America is doing a terrible job of educating its children.
The the cycle of profit will begin again, with our students paying the price.