SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL: Blake Unger Dvorchik Data Expert

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Blake Unger Dvorchik Data Expert

I would first and foremost like to apologize to those who listened to the radio program last night and were anticipating Blake Unger Dvorchik. Unfortunately, Blake got scared and ran away. The Education 4 Excellence member in my opinion, just couldn't take the heat. I was looking forward to it being that Blake was to be the first E4E jugend to appear. But late Monday evening, just a little over twenty four hours before showtime I received this email from Blake.
From Blake Unger Dvorchik to South Bronx School date Mon, Jan 3, 2011 at 8:34 PM subject Re: Data Specialists mailed-by signed-by Dear BT, I apologize but I have decided to cancel our interview. Sincerely, Blake Unger Dvorchik
OK, so I responded back inquiring as to why is was canceling and received this response.
from Blake Unger Dvorchik
to So BronxSchool
date Mon, Jan 3, 2011 at 9:23 PM
subject Re: Data Specialists
While I agree with a number of your points of view I find your personal attacks on people whom I respect offensive. It's completely legitimate to disagree with with their intent, but not to libel them in public.
I wish you the best of luck in pursuing areas where the interests of teachers and students meet.

Unfortunately, I feel that I need to also inform you that attempts to reach people in my private life, obtain private information about me, or post disparaging information about me will be viewed as harassment and libel, and dealt with accordingly.

Blake Unger Dvorchik
Firstly, Blake does not know the definition of libel. Blake, and others like him are, as defined by the 1964 Supreme Court decision in New York Times Co. v. Sullivan,
"a limited purpose public figure, meaning those who have "thrust themselves to the forefront of particular public controversies in order to influence the resolution of the issues involved."
So Blake, by publishing your writings, in fact on a government website, not only are you acting as an agent of the United States government, but you have become a public figure open to disparagement. Sorry dude.

So onto why I am writing this today, and why I wanted Blake to appear on my radio program.

Two weeks ago Blake wrote this on, a United States government website. Blake was so proud of how he was able to use the math standards and reward and track the students progress over time.

As we complete each test, students record their mastery of each standard on the tracker. The data is displayed in a student-friendly manner: students scoring under 80% get a blue star for the performance indicator, students scoring 80%-89% get a silver star, and students scoring 90%+ get a gold star. The color coding is based on the idea of “blue ribbon, silver medal, gold medal.”

That's super. But where are the tests? What is on the tests? Are are the tests devised? How are the tests graded? Are these tests differentiated? Are the students all at the same level? You mention that you are a CTT teacher for 8th grade. What is the ratio of general ed. students to special ed. students in your class? It is supposed to be 60-40, but we know the DOE has a hard time following education law.

At the beginning of last year, I found that my students had no knowledge of the curriculum, possessed little understanding of how they learned, had no way to monitor their own progress or assess their own proficiency, and were generally disengaged in their own learning. This strategy helped them make significant strides in all of those areas.

Again, how did they assess their proficiency? In which way were they disengaged? Did this help them learn, or are they becoming rote learners? Did this help them in the standardized tests? You show zero evidence and empty anecdotes. The proof is in the pudding? Where then is the pudding?

The tracking system helps students because, once they are aware of their learning deficits, they can self-remediate at a station that I set up using targeted resources linked to each of the standards.

What kind of station? A carving station, an omelet station? What resources? Again, this is empty and bereft of any clear cut evidence. As far as I am concerned it is all gibberish.

Last year their progress was amazing, with student mastery going up an average of 6.8% from their original tests to their cumulative tests after remediation.

It went up 6.8% from what? Why do you consistently fail to show any evidence? One thing I have a concern with Blake is that you are the one not only giving the tests, but rating them as well to show data that the students are improving. I am not saying they are not, but how can we be sure that you are doing it in a clear, concise, objective manner. Again, this not only benefits the students, but you as well.

One problem I have with this is that the students data, an individual students data is there for the entire class to see. How does this make the lowest performer feel? Can this damage that students psyche? Do other students make fun of this student, tease this student? Does not the lowest, and in fact all the students, have a right to privacy. Have the parents of the students agreed to this?

This seems to be in violation of Chancellor's Regulation, A-820, Confidentiality and Release of Student Records; Records Retention. I suggest as one UFT colleague to another that you familiarize yourself with this regulation post haste. I think Blake that while you are on the website you also take time to read FERPA. Perhaps it might do you some good. You wouldn't want to get in dutch with Arne.

You know Blake, there is no need to disparage you at all. You are doing a wonderful job doing it to yourself.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This guy sounds like he came out of the same school as Michelle Rhee. She claimed exceptional (ie. impossible) gains in her student's scoring on reading and writing tests, but the records of those gains mysteriously disapeared.
This guy is another of the "reformers" who are "all sail and no ballast".