TeacherMatch: Matchmaking Towards a Corporate Hell?
by Ken Derstine
July 6, 2015
In Philadelphia, all new applicants to the School District of Philadelphia must create a login and apply through a corporate portal called TeacherMatch.
All across the country, school districts, such as Chicago, are outsourcing their hiring of personnel to this private firm called TeacherMatch. This hiring method takes away community control of who staffs schools and gives the control to a private corporate entity.
In their About page, TeacherMatch would have us believe that four teachers just happened to spearhead “the design and implementation of a comprehensive hiring and professional development plan involving thousands of teachers.” They were so successful “that the U.S. Department of Education used it to shape their multi-billion-dollar school improvement program.”
There is no hint on the website of who the funders of TeacherMatch are, but it is full of “great teachers” corporate education reform jargon. And doesn’t their logo “Because Teachers Matter Most” sound like the preppy talk of StudentsFirst? TeacherMatch is a collaboration with the Northwest Evaluation Assocation that describes itself as a “global not-for-profit organization” which “offers educational products and services”. Once again, nothing about who the funders are for NWEA but its website describes it origins.
"Back when NWEA was established in 1977, paper-based testing ruled. So founders Allan Olson, George Ingebo, and Vic Doherty pioneered new ways to measure student growth using an empirically-derived scale based on Danish mathematician Georg Rasch’s Item Response Theory model. Their solution—our NWEA RIT (Rasch Unit) scale—accurately measures student growth term-to-team and year-to-year."
NWEA built from this model and developed MAP, Measures of Academic Progress in 2000. The MAP led to protests at Garfield High School and a boycott of the MAP in Seattle in February of 2013 that was the beginning of the Opt Out Movement.
If you look at the TeacherMatch Advisory Board, it includes Charlotte Danielson, head of Framework for Teaching, which is “a comprehensive and coherent framework that identifies those aspects of a teacher’s responsibilities that have been documented through empirical studies and theoretical research as promoting improved student learning.”
The Framework is used by the Gates Foundation-funded Measures of Effective Teaching, or MET. The Gates Foundation has given at least $335 million to “promote effective teaching” including $45 million for MET.
In its November 19, 2009 press release for these grants the Gates Foundation stated:
"Important partners in this effort are the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA) and their affiliates in the participating communities.
"This process has been a thoughtful, deliberative, collaborative way to understand—and then design and implement—systems that improve teaching and learning. These districts, working with their unions and parents, were willing to think out of the box, and were awarded millions of dollars to create transparent, fair, and sustainable teacher effectiveness models,” said Randi Weingarten, President of the AFT.
“Collaboration and multilevel integration are important when it comes to transforming the teaching profession,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “These grants will go far in providing resources to help raise student achievement and improve teacher effectiveness. Our local NEA affiliates are working daily to help improve the practice of teaching,” added Dennis Van Roekel, President of the NEA.
The foundation will work with the Intensive Partnership sites to ensure that their successes, challenges, and lessons learned are shared widely with school districts and policymakers around the country. Progress will be tracked through common indicators and communicated regularly."
Just as corporate education reform has based itself on the premise that schools in the United States lag behind the rest of the world, the Gates Foundation has based MET on the premise that teacher quality is “bleak” despite continual evidence to the contrary.
When MET was announced to study “effective teaching” in its November 19, 2009 press release the Gates Foundation said,
"The MET project will enroll 3,700 teachers from a number of school districts around the country and will gather a variety of data, including videotaped teacher observations, student surveys, teacher surveys, and supplemental student assessments. As with the Intensive Partnerships, the MET project represents a real opportunity for teachers to inform the national discussion on education reform."
On January 6, 2012, NY Chalkbeat reported on the Gates Foundation second report on MET and said,
Though an overhaul of teacher evaluation in New York has been stalled by the failure of teachers unions and school districts to agree on how to conduct it, both the New York City teachers union and the Department of Education agreed to participate in the Gates Foundation study when it launched in 2009. The union helped recruit teachers to join, and ultimately, teachers from about 100 schools signed up to have their lessons videotaped and analyzed.
“It takes the politics out of what’s being measured,” UFT president Michael Mulgrew said when the union first agreed to participate. “Teachers are very frustrated with the political debate. They are always saying, ‘why don’t you just come into the classroom?’ That’s what this is doing.”
Since then, the politics over teacher quality has grown even more heated.
Last summer, a GothamSchools reader who had worked in a school piloting the Danielson evaluation said it was very hard for teachers to be rated “effective.”
Is this collaboration with the Gates Foundation by thousands of well-intentioned teachers who want to be trained in how to be “effective teachers” leading to a system of corporate control of who can be a teacher and what they can teach?
Where Obama's Race to the Top Leads: Chicago, Philly, Miami public schools privatize teacher hiring. | Bruce Dixon at Black Agenda Report - July 14, 2015