NYSED Recommends “Teacher Effectiveness Gnomes” to Fix Persistent Inequities

Posted on April 14, 2015

I guess I knew that when ED released their “teacher equity” regs late fall of 2014, that we were in for a whole lot of stupid.

You see, there was some good in those regulations and the data released to accompany them. There was discussion of teacher salary and qualifications parity, and some financial measures provided that would allow states to do cursory analyses, based on 2011-12 data, of the extent to which there existed objectionable inequities in either cumulative salary expenditures per child across schools, or average salary expenditures. The idea was that states would set out plans to evaluate these disparities, using data provided and using their own data sources. And then, states would provide plans of action for mitigating the disparities. This is where I knew it could get silly.

But state officials in New York have far surpassed my wildest expectations.Here’s their first cut at this issue: http://www.regents.nysed.gov/meetings/2015Meetings/April/415p12hed2.pdf

In this memo, NYSED officials identify the following inequities:

According to the USED published equity profile, the average teacher in a highest poverty quartile school in New York earns $66,138 a year, compared to $87,161 for the average teacher in the lowest poverty quartile schools. (These numbers are adjusted to account for regional differences in the cost of living.) Information in the New York profile also suggests that students in high poverty schools are nearly three times more likely to have a first-year teacher, 22 times more likely to have an unlicensed teacher, and 11 times more likely to have a teacher who is not highly qualified.

& you know what? They’re right. Here’s the full continuum of average salaries and low income concentrations across NY state schools, first with, and then without NYC included.



As I’ve pointed out over, and over and over again on this blog, NY State maintains one of the least equitable educational systems in the nation. See, for example:

  1. On how New York State crafted a low-ball estimate of what districts needed to achieve adequate outcomes and then still completely failed to fund it.
  2. On how New York State maintains one of the least equitable state school finance systems in the nation.
  3. On how New York State’s systemic, persistent underfunding of high need districts has led to significant increases of numbers of children attending school with excessively large class sizes.
  4. On how New York State officials crafted a completely bogus, racially and economically disparate school classification scheme in order to justify intervening in the very schools they have most deprived over time.

Ah, but I’m just blowin’ hot air again, about that funding stuff, and the fact that NY State continues to severely underfund the highest need districts in the state, like this:


But I digress. Who needs all of this silly talk (and actual data) about funding disparities anyway? And what do funding disparities possibly have to do with teacher equity problems, or salary disparities like those identified above by NYSED using USED data?

Well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=wfgnNI9-ImY&list=PLuzsMod17tiHrlaBvDcm2us_k68uxZcSy#t=801

Of course, NYSED official know better – much better what’s behind those ugly salary and ultimately, teacher qualification disparities plaguing NY State schools. The ED regs require that states first identify problems/disparities. Then, ROOT CAUSES, thus, leading to logical policy interventions – Strategery at it’s finest!


So what then are the root causes of the disparities identified above by NYSED?

Through the collaborative sharing of lessons learned through the STLE program and research, the Department has determined that the following five common talent management struggles contribute significantly to equitable access:

  1. Preparation
  2. Hiring and recruitment
  3. Professional development and growth
  4. Selective retention
  5. Extending the reach of top talent to the most high-need students

Although the Department believes the challenges described here are reflective of broad “root causes” for the statewide equity gaps, it is still important for each LEA to examine their unique equity issues and potential root causes. In talking with superintendents, principals, and teachers involved in STLE, the Department was able to see that equity gaps that appear similar across contexts may in fact stem from different root causes in various LEAs. For example, one district struggling with inequitable access for low-performing students may find that inequities stem from a pool of low quality applicants, whereas a second district may find that they have a large pool of high quality applicants but tend to lose top talent early in their careers to neighboring districts who offer more leadership opportunities for teachers.

Ah… okay… I thought equitable funding to actually pay equitable salaries might have had something to do with it. How silly am I? It’s about bad teacher preparation programs which somehow produce bad teachers who ask for lower salaries in high poverty districts? and high poverty districts selectively retaining only their bad teachers, intentionally, by just not paying well. It’s a conspiracy that can be fixed by clever talent development strategies. No money, except some chump change in competitive grants, needed.

And thus, if we know that bad teacher prep and crappy local management of talent is the root cause, the solutions are really easy?

The Department believes the overall quality of teaching and learning can be raised through the implementation of comprehensive systems of talent management, including sound implementation of the teacher and principal evaluation system.

Key Component 1 (Educator Preparation): The Department will continue to support and monitor improvements to access and entry into the profession, such as the redesign of teacher and principal preparation programs through performance-based assessments, clinically grounded instruction, and innovative new educator certification pathways.

Key Component 2 (Educator Evaluation): With the foundation laid by Education Law §3012-c, the Department will continue to provide support and monitoring to LEAs as they implement enhanced teacher and principal evaluation systems that meaningfully differentiate the effectiveness of educators and inform employment decisions.

Key Component 3 (The TLE Continuum): The Department will provide resources and support to LEAs utilizing evaluation results in the design and implementation of robust career ladder

All that’s missing from this brilliant plan are the teacher effectiveness gnomes.

So yeah… it all comes down to the state’s brilliant model for rating, ranking and dumping “bad” teachers to open the door to all the really good teachers who are currently waiting in line to work in schools that …

serve high concentrations of low income and minority students,


have larger class sizes,


and still (and moving forward) have the largest state aid shortfalls!


What’s really great about all of this, is that these teachers – all chomping at the bit to work in these schools for low pay – can have it all! Funding gaps and greater needs. Note that the majority of “ineffective” teachers (as so declared by growth rating along) are clustered in schools with high low income concentrations and big aid gaps. Interestingly, even those in districts with fewer low income children, are also in districts with big aid gaps.

CRDC Ed Facts Data – NY State 2011-12

To summarize – the framework laid out by ED, was:


The brilliant application of that framework by NYSED was:

Problem=Huge salary & teacher qualification disparities by school poverty

Root Cause=Bad teachers, Teacher Prep & Administration

Strategery=Talent Development (fire bad teachers)

Are you kidding me? Really? In my wildest dreams…

To clarify – if it wasn’t already sufficiently clear – I do not at all accept that the patterns above represent the actual distribution of teacher effectiveness, but rather, that the crappy measures adopted by NYSED for rating teacher effect on growth systematically disadvantage those teachers serving needier students, in larger classes and schools with more scarce resources.

Yeah… I get it… NYSED and the Regents don’t pull the budget strings. The Gov has done that damage. But that doesn’t make the logic of the NYSED brief any less ridiculous!

Head… desk…

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