Monday, April 30, 2007

Reviewing My School's "Quality"

If you’re working in NYC I’m sure you’ve heard of the “Quality Review” that brings people in from England to audit schools and grade them. Nothing specific was ever said on how or what the Quality Review graded, but it’s assumed that schools need to be on best behavior when visited by Quality Reviewers.

My school has been getting ready for the Quality Review for the last five months, making these cute binders for each student (They become projectiles too easily for my taste) and giving teachers all these lists of how their room should look, and what to say if the Reviewer asks any questions. Our weekly grade meetings during a shared prep was based solely on what teachers can do to get the highest grade on the review. Administration was absolutely frantic trying to push many new policies on both teachers and students. (Policies like universal grading systems 8 weeks before the end of the year) It’s safe to say that administration had everyone up in arms about “looking good.” Teachers were bribing students with money to be quiet and do work. This superficiality makes me a little bitter, but I followed along wanting to CYA more than make a stand.

What’s funny is when the Quality Reviewer came recently I only saw her for a few moments during a staged grade meeting that she sat in on, and we never spoke. The gossip mill states that the Reviewer only visited three classrooms in my school before saying that they “saw enough” and left. I never saw the reviewer.

I guess pretending to be a good school isn’t enough. I feel like if administration can spend so much energy in making things look good…why can’t they actually make it a good school?


Anonymous Schoolgal said...

We had ours in November, and I knew not to worry since other people on blogs were saying that the principal picked the classrooms that were observed. And that's exactly what happened. Our reviewer met with some students and teachers, and the principal gave her the tour. Many on staff did not see her at all.

This whole thing costs big bucks, yet the principals, not the reviewers, were in total control.

As they say in England...What a crock!

Monday, April 30, 2007 2:22:00 PM  
Blogger Jules the Crazy said...

dude, that sounds really irritating and time-wasting. it totally defeats the purpose of the so-called review. and the reviewers MUST know this. i want to know why they don't run away from their escorts and visit the non-hand-picked classrooms, to at least attempt to get a glimpse of the real deal at that school.

it's all such crap. things like this make me so bitter about all nyc schools. money to cover their ass, but not to actually DO something! gah!

Monday, April 30, 2007 4:00:00 PM  
Blogger 17 more years said...

Our quality review is scheduled for the Friday before Memorial Day weekend- I'm dying to know who came up with this glorious idea. We received a folder chock full of information to help us get ready- in my spare time (you know, between test prep for 8th grade science and Regents, and exits projects and planning the honor society assembly) maybe I'll sit down and read it.

The bigger waste of money will come when yet another consulting firm is hired to find out why test scores drop in middle school. I'll tell them why for half of whatever they plan on paying.

Monday, April 30, 2007 7:12:00 PM  
Anonymous A mom said...

I believe that the visitation idea was a response to all the folks who have been yelling that you can't tell anything (or everything? I forget) from a single test.

I guess it just goes to show--no matter what you do, the schools are just going to put on a show, cheat and CYA. It sure would be nice--as a parent--to believe that there were some adults in charge who were willing to take a shot at actully BEING good, as opposed to putting so much effort into LOOKING good.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007 9:45:00 AM  
Blogger Nic said...

Sounds like the ISO quality reviews my ex always had to sweat when he worked at one of the Big Three automakers...they were Brit auditors, too. And sounds like someone's been taking a page from the "run the schools just like a business" playbook. Blech.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007 7:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Schoolgal said...

To Mom:

City schools used to have a yearly PASS Review which was more accurate and FREE. The committee included admins, teachers and parents. Many such reviews also included reps from the then Bd. of Ed. and District Office (FREE Again).

Every classroom was visited. We examined student notebooks and assessment folders and asked questions. Notes taken and then discussed. It focused on both the positives and areas that needed improvement.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007 2:35:00 PM  
Blogger Cristi said...

Nice blog. I was a teaching fellow (cohort 3) so I feel you. The preparation for the quality review was really overdone at our school (sounds like we might work in the same building). I told the kids, "Get ready, the British are coming!"

Wednesday, May 02, 2007 7:37:00 PM  
Blogger The People History said...

When i first saw this idea i thought it would be a good not for use as a big stick but to have a chance for ideas to be exchanged . But as usual management and politics change what could be good and helpful into a crock of S??T

Thursday, May 03, 2007 6:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hell. My principal did the whole sending the reviewer to only certain classrooms crap. But a colleague and I were able to meet for a full 30 minutes with the review. We told all, with data to prove our case, and the reivewer did nothing. I hate lies.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007 3:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you in an Empowerment School? Just curious, because you mentioned a (I can only imagine) torturous five month preparation sentence. As a teacher (and former Fellow) at a non-Empowerment school, we were first informed of the QR in late April. Apparently our Principal learned of it in a meeting on April 18. Enjoying your blog... sounds like you're doing pretty well for a first-year.

Thursday, May 10, 2007 4:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some bloggers are mis-informed! Not all reviewers allow the principal to guide them around the school.
I do agree, a school administrative team should prepare the school in being good not good for the review. However, as an admistrator myself, I always ask "why do teachers stay if they are unhappy"?
Whereas I do not agree with the process of the review, I do know there needs to be checks and balances in place. The students of the NYC school syste!m have suffered enough!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009 8:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the anonymous administrator - I realize this is a few years late, but I often ask, "how long does it take administrators to forget what teaching in a classroom is like?"

Our students suffer thanks to administrators who put so much pressure on their teachers in matters that have nothing to do with teaching. Designing binders for each an every student? Making "Datafolios" and cutsie bulletin boards?

How about sending teachers to trainings on effective teaching strategies? Or providing classrooms with the support they need from deans and administrators to run effective classes? Try being good administrators instead of riding the backs of your teachers to make yourselves look good. We are doing all the work here. All you have to do is escort the reviewers around.

Friday, April 20, 2012 11:02:00 AM  

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