The Danielson Thanksgiving Framework

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First, an explanation is needed. I would like to refer readers to http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alan-singer/who-is-charlotte-danielso_b_3415034.html for an article on this new teacher evaluation system that is sweeping the nation.

Who Is Charlotte Danielson and Why Does She Decide How Teachers Are Evaluated?
Posted: 06/10/2013 3:03 pm

A New York Times editorial endorsed the state imposed teacher evaluation system for New York City as “an important and necessary step toward carrying out the rigorous new Common Core education reforms.” The system is based on the Danielson Framework for Teaching developed by Charlotte Danielson and marketed by the Danielson Group of Princeton, New Jersey.

Michael Mulgrew, the president of the city’s teachers union, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, also announced that they are generally pleased with the plan. According to the Mayor, “Good teachers will become better ones and ineffective teachers can be removed from the classroom.” He applauded State Commissioner John King for “putting our students first and creating a system that will allow our schools to continue improving.”

Unfortunately, nobody, not the Times, the New York State Education Department, the New York City Department of Education, nor the teachers’ union have demonstrated any positive correlation between teacher assessments based on the Danielson rubrics, good teaching, and the implementation of new higher academic standards for students under Common Core.

Bottom line is that 40% of a teacher’s evaluation will be based on student test scores on standardized and local exams and 60% on in-class observations. In this post I am most concerned with the legitimacy of the proposed system of observations that are based on snap-shots, fifteen minute visits to partial lessons, conducted by supervisors potentially with limited or no classroom experience in the subject being observed, followed by submission of a multiple-choice rubric that will be evaluated online by an algorithm that decides whether the lesson was satisfactory or not.

Sigh. You’d have to be in the trenches to understand how threatening this framework can be when you work in a poor school district that has traditionally had low scores. You also don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that your best chance to succeed in teaching is to work in a district with a tradition of higher scores. I expect this rubric will lead many capable young teachers to move to districts higher up the socioeconomic ladder simply because students who plan to go to college will yield much higher results on the Danielson rubric, leading to better reviews.

That said, here’s a delightful, paraphrased version of the rubric for a teacher’s evaluation that captures the essence of the rubric’s problem: It’s results are more heavily based on the behavior of students than the effort and performance of teachers.

The Danielson Guide to the Highly Effective Thanksgiving (I can’t find the original source. This turkey is all over the internet.)

Unsatisfactory: You don’t know how to cook a turkey. You serve a chicken instead. Half your family doesn’t show because they are unmotivated by your invitation, which was issued at the last minute via facebook. The other half turn on the football game and fall asleep. Your aunt tells your uncle where to stick the drumstick and a brawl erupts. Food is served on paper plates in front of the TV. You watch the game, and root for the Redskins.

Needs Improvement: You set the alarm, but don’t get up and the turkey is undercooked. 3 children are laughing while you say grace. 4 of your nephews refuse to watch the game with the rest of the family because you have failed to offer differentiated game choices. Conversation during dinner is marked by family members mumbling under their breath at your Aunt Rose, who confuses the Mayflower with the Titanic after her third Martini. Only the drunk guests thank you on the way out. Your team loses the game.

Proficient: The turkey is heated to the right temperature. All the guests, whom you have invited by formal written correspondence, arrive on time with their assigned dish to pass. Your nephew sneaks near the desert dish, but quickly walks away when you mention that it is being saved until after dinner. You share a meal in which all family members speak respectfully in turn as they share their thoughts on the meaning of Thanksgiving. All foods served at the table can be traced historically to the time of the Pilgrims. You watch the game as a family, cheer in unison for your team. They win.

Distinguished: The turkey, which has been growing free range in your back yard, comes in your house and jumps in the oven. The guests, who wrote to ask you please be invited to your house, show early with foods to fit all dietary and cultural needs. You watch the game on tape, but only as an video prompt for your family discussion of man’s inhumanity to man. Your family plays six degrees of Sir Francis Bacon and is thus able to resolve, once and for all, the issue of whether Oswald acted alone.

Eduhonesty: If I were looking for a synonym for Danielson Framework, I doubt I could find a  better one than turkey.