Online Survey Used To Ban Teachers

Still no response from CPS or Polaris, the maker of TeacherFit, but a commenter over the weekend dug up the following lines from the Polaris website that suggest the online measure may be being used inappropriately (or at least differently from how it's being presented to teachers):

"While the completion of this tool is a required component of the CPS teacher application, the RESULTS WILL NOT BE USED in any way to assess or inform your candidacy for employment at CPS. Principals and other hiring managers will NOT have access to the data. The results of this tool will ONLY be used to research the accuracy and reliability of the Polaris tool itself."

How broadly, or how appropriately, the online test is being used in CPS, or how much is being spent on this project, we still don't know.  We don't even know what the test covers, or aims to get at.  The company is Illinois based, if that helps, but seems to be relatively unknown outside the state.

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  • The TeacherFit development process includes a detailed job analysis of the positions that will be covered by the tool. That, along with position-specific validation, will determine the range of characteristics that the tests will address. In advance, the following characteristics have been identified for inclusion: Fairness and Respect, Concern for Student Learning, Adaptability, Communication and Persuasion, Planning and Organizing and Cultural Competence. Polaris Selection Validation Process: Evidence of validity is important to a district (CPS-District 299) for a number of reasons. Primary among these is that statistical validation documentation is the strongest evidence that a measure will help the district (CPS-District 299) select the right people. Additionally, validation documentation is necessary if REGULATORY or LEGAL ENTITIES review a district's (CPS-District 299) hiring practices!

  • Many applicants to CPS have rec'd the automated response that they are not being considered for candidacy, including those who are not teachers. I was required to take it even though I am not a teacher, I am a certified, licensed, masters level special service provider. Anyone whose email address is linked to the teacherfit inventory, whether you are a teacher or not, will get the response. When I called "human capital" (why do they call it human capital?) first thing in the morning after receiving the email, the lady who helped me on the phone said "we've been getting these calls all day". It had only been 9am. When I was taking the teacherfit inventory I was answering as a clinician would respond to the situations. When answering the questions I was thinking how biased and culturally insensitive it was, but thought maybe it was a strengths based inventory. It turns out is is not. It is a deficiencies test. CPS wants every employee to fit in a box, just like they want their students. Education in this country is a failure, and this is adding to the problem. I don't feel comfortable sending my kids to a CPS school when they are using a baised computer program to evaluate a teacher. Is this now the standard in teacher evaluation? What happened to IL certification, a bachelors or masters degree, experience, recommendations, etc? This is the final determination no matter how many credentials a person has. This is "fairness"? It is total hypocrisy! Why aren't applicants given a chance to explain their answers? Hypothetical situations are not black and white. Is a teachers candidacy based on whether they checked "agree" versus a "neutral" response? Who has tested the Polaris inventory for bias? Who were the contributing members of this "test"? Who evaluated it for accuracy? Was an independent research organization involved in the process? If CPS wants to hired the best teachers they would use a STRENGTHS based inventory, to see what schools may benefit from those teachers. A special ed teacher needs certain strengths than say, a math teacher or a phys ed teacher. They cannot lump every teacher in the same category.
    In response to the article, I believe the link is outdated. I assume they used CPS employees/newer applicants a while ago to determine how effective the teachefit inventory was.
    I have faith that the teaching programs and certification process are doing their job to make sure that teachers are prepared for the classroom. I think this "inventory" is unethical and I hope teachers are writing congress and the Dept of Education. CPS needs to fix their administration and stop investing taxpayer money into a useless program created by a greedy company. My heart goes out to all the teachers who worked their asses off to go to school and now are banned from employment for 18 months.

  • As I commented on earlier, the language referred to in Mr. Russo's introduction is not how the test is being presented to today's applicants. That language was taken from a web snapshot of what CPS told 750 national board certified employees last year when they were trying to establish a norm group.

    Here's a sentence from the disclaimer on this year's survey (the one on which many people were red flagged) :

    "The results of this tool will produce an overall indicator of the fit between the candidate and teaching jobs within CPS and will be used as part of the candidate interview and selection process"

    What gets me is the use of the word "part," indicating the survey is one of many measures that is considered in the hiring process. In fact, it's the only factor. Well said Big Brother.

  • Real time survey

    We can come up with our own survey
    Question one:

    You have lunchroom duty when the cashier brings a student to you for
    stealing a cheeseburger. He stuck it under his armpit and walked out.
    What would you do?

    A. Have him arrested for theft
    B. Have him suspended for theft
    C. Call a parent
    D. Kick his ass
    E. None of the above

    Here is what I did. Make him open his wallet. Observed he had a total
    of twelve cents. Ask him why, realize he was too embarrassed to tell me
    He was hungry. Go off on the lazy counselor when I found out he lived with
    Grandma who was broke herself. Make said counselor produce a free lunch
    application on the spot. Finally tell kid stealing is wrong, then give him five bucks for
    Lunch and tell him to see me if he was hungry.

    What did they ask you survey takers?

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    Did anyone went to CPS Human Resource personally and ask for answers why didn't you fit to be a teacher in CPS?

  • A friend of mine called human resources and after being told there is nothing we can do for you try again in 18 months she asked to speak with a supervisor. The supervisor said I passed the test, why didn't you, you can work in the office and hung up. Maybe the office personnel should be taking this test too.

  • Do we know if TFA and AUSL candidates have to take the TeacherFit exam?

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    TFA and AUSL candidates take it but if they fail it does not keep them from being hired (or so I've heard).

  • Well, as an NBCT I'm quite glad I heeded the union's advice to ignore the email asking me to participate in this mess. However, I'm also a little insulted. Teaching is not an easy profession and it takes many years to master skills, even with a solid preparation program and some experience. Why is CPS expecting possibly new teachers to have the same judgement and expertise level as a seasoned educator? (That's assuming that this test can even accurately measure that, which it seems it cannot) You cannot possibly imagine how to respond in the variety of situations that teaching puts you in, especially in some of the tougher schools. I suspect that most of us wouldn't have made it if someone hadn't taken a chance on us, taken us under their wing, and supported us. Our system is broken. broken.

  • I share the frustrations described by the commenter Anonymous (NBCT). CPS is attempting to cram all educators into one small box. Now, that may work very well for accountants, secretaries, business managers, or bean counters, but it does not work well for educators.

    Given a problem that arises with one of my students there are four or five ways I might handle the situation - all dependent on my knowledge of and relationship with that particular student and none of which have anything to do with what the right answer CPS is looking for on some sort of half-baked survey. Likewise, given a conflict with a colleague my response and solution will vary depending on that individual relationship.

    No one should expect to see the same expertise, management, and planning from a first or second year teacher as one might expect from a ten year veteran. That goes for application assessment as well as teacher evaluations. Education is a second career for me and though I had 10 years of professional experience in my field, state certification, and a master degree from a prestigious university I did not know my elbow from my rear end my first couple of years of teaching. And no, my youthful exuberance and enthusiasm did not make up for my lack of real-time, practical, classroom experience and expertise. My principal took a chance on me based on my resume, application, experience, and interview, not the outcome of a 20-minute survey. Without the support I have received from veteran teachers I would not have blossomed into the highly effective educator I am today.

    I wonder if I would "pass" this current test. I probably think too much, ask too many questions, fight too hard for my students, ignore too many bureaucratic mandates, and refuse to make enough assumptions to give the answers CPS is looking for on TeacherFit.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    If there are 4000 applicants for 200 teaching jobs, not everyone can get hired. It might be because a principal didnt like your resume. Should the principal have to call you up and tell you why they didnt like your resume and explain how your resume could have been better ? Of course not.

    Having a degree or a teaching certificate does not entitle you to a job, only the opportunity to get a job. In fact most university programs are not that great, evidenced by students failing the Basic Skills test now that you have to score at an 11th grade level. Or is that unfair too?

    What the inventory does, based on the information given, is compare the choices you would make with the choices the majority of highly qualified teachers make.There is nothing wrong with that. CPS has a right to try to hire the best of the best. It is not a charity.

    I sympathize with all of you who are not getting hired. There are many jobs I didnt get that I was probably qualified for. So I understand your frustration. But these types of assessments are used everyday for police officers or firefighters, people who risk their lives. Are teachers more special? I dont think so.

    My husband, who is a cop took exams for 3 different police departments even though he had a degree in criminal justice. In some places, he would have to wait 3 years to apply again because he didnt score high enough or some departments just tell you to wait until they decide to give the test again. But he never complained they should have told him the questions he got wrong or given him the opportunity to explain his answers or that it was unfair. He waited until there were other departments with opportunities. That is how the world works and teachers are really no different. This sense of entitlement you all seem to have is probably why you didnt pass.

  • The teacher survey is not unique to CPS. Gallup (yes the polling company) is used in many districts nationwide. It's the same sort of thing. I'm quitting CPS after 8 1/2 years, and have been looking for jobs in other districts in other states. When I took the Gallup teacher survey, there were threatening disclaimers (to which I had to agree before continuing) about not revealing the questions on the assessment...

    Do a google search on TeacherFit and Gallup to find helpful suggestions on answering the questions.

  • I amazed at the sense of entitlement I see here. Just because you have a degree and a certificate doesnt mean you are entitled to a job. It means you now have the opportunity to be considered. If there are 4000 applicants for 200 jobs, not everyone can be hired. Should a principal who doesnt like your resume have to call you up and tell you why they didnt like it and how your resume should be improved? Of course not. That would be ridiculous. Is a principal scanning only your resume and deciding not to hire you "putting you in a box". Certainly, based on what you can put in a 2-page resume. Is that unfair too?

    What CPS did is compare those who took the inventory's choices to those choices made by highly qualified teachers. What is wrong with that? CPS has a right to choose the best of the best.

    These assessments are used all the time. My husband is a cop and had to take 3 tests at 3 different police departments to get hired even though he had a master's degree in criminal justice. He never demanded that the departments who didnt hire him tell him what questions he got wrong or let him explain his answers. He had to wait until the next opportunity at another department. That is the way the world works. Works for police officers, fire fighters and doctors and plenty of others who have to make critical decisions daily. Why are teachers more special ? They are not.

    Perhaps the sense of entitlement I see here is why some of you didnt pass.

  • Not even sure if Anonymous below me is a teacher so she probably has NO IDEA how wrong she is about some of the people who are incredibly upset at the situation at hand.

    I will defend myself AND many others like myself (not everyone) by saying we ARE entitled to CHANCE to stay in the CPS system. Why?
    1. We go to school and get a degree. For teaching. If all those credit hours in EDUCATION classes aren't good enough, I don't see what is.
    2. We are certified. How does one get certified in Illinois? We take not 1, not 2, but 3 exams that gear toward TEACHING.
    3. We have student taught...and you know what? SOME OF US HAVE STUDENT TAUGHT WITH CPS.
    4. A 40 question inventory is the ONLY deciding factor to whether or not we stay in the CPS System. How is that fair? If it was used as PART of the process, I completely understand...but this is the ENTIRE thing.
    5. Adding on to #4, the Inventory itself STATED (as Alexander Russo has posted above) that the RESULTS WILL NOT BE USED so we're also being lied to.
    6. The questions in the Inventory make CPS seem like all schools are exactly the same and all students are exactly the same. The Inventory is basically saying a pre-school student is the SAME as a 12th grade student since there is only ONE correct answer out of 5 given for a HYPOTHETICAL SITUATION. I'd love to hear from ANYONE who thinks every CPS student from ACROSS Chicago is EXACTLY the same and have the EXACT SAME needs.

    In addition to all those things that apply to many of the 2000 applicants that have been cut from the CPS pool, I personally feel EXTREMELY entitled to a job with CPS. Why? I have seen a principal, interviewed with the principal as well as 7 other teachers, taught a lesson and was observed, and was about to be hired ABOVE all other applicants. Now I have to tell the principal that she cannot hire me because CPS deems me NOT qualified even though she is the MOST qualified person to determine so since she is the one who knows her SCHOOL, her STUDENTS, her STAFF, the COMMUNITY and etc and knows WHAT TYPE OF TEACHER the school needs to hire.

    On top of all that, we as educators do not give ANY test and say, "you aren't being graded for this and this is for research" and then turn around and say "you failed but I'm not going to tell you why" so how is CPS going to tell educators so?

  • It would be counterproductive to respond to the previous poster the way I would like to. I'll just say this: People who go to school, earn masters degrees, take numerous state tests while student teaching should be "considered" for employment. Why would anyone go to school for a specific trade if they didn't think it would help them be "considered" for employment in that field. It defeats the whole purpose of higher education. The problem is this test prevents you from even being "considered." You are immediately disqualified. Principals don't even get to see your resume nor do they see your essays, which many of us put a lot of though into. In fact you don't even exist in the CPS system. If a principal looks up "John Smith" because a colleague highly recommended him, the principal would find nothing if John Smith scored "red" on the inventory. The principal would have to send an email to the office of human capital, and only then would they learn the applicant did not pass the TeacherFit inventory. I don't care if the whole world uses these types of surveys. It doesn't make them fair.

    Also, you don't need to post comments twice to get your point across.

  • Just to be clear (and I'm in no way defending CPS) but the language used in Russo's post is a web snapshot of the instructions given to the norm group (highly qualified teachers) before they took the survey a year ago. The instructions used before we took the survey were quite different. Go back to your application and reread it. It's vague and misleading, but we weren't lied to; just grossly mislead.

  • Disillusioned-
    You may be correct but I recall reading the exact snapshot before completing the Inventory. I went back to the application and read "The results of this tool will produce an overall indicator of the fit between the candidate and teaching jobs within CPS and will be used as part of the candidate interview and selection process." This still means we were lied to because it isn't PART but ALL of the process. This Inventory makes or breaks it.

  • As a pre-service teaching candidate who is just a year away from graduating, I have to say that this whole fiasco has really put a nasty taste in my mouth.

    It's not just reading about TeacherFit that's troubling, it's seeing my colleagues and friends going through the unnecessary duress coupled with that which is already present in searching for a job. Though many, many teachers have already posted their opinions and experiences on the matter, I just wanted to let off some steam.

    The entire concept of using TeacherFit is contrary to the CPS mission statement, the very mantra that ALL CPS employees should be striving to abide by.

    "The Chicago Public Schools will be the premier urban school district in the country by providing all our students and their families with high quality instruction, outstanding academic programs, and comprehensive student development supports to prepare them for the challenges of the world of tomorrow."

    Using TeacherFit to determine exactly what McTeacher fits the criterion of a good educator PREVENTS students from receiving the, " high quality instruction, outstanding academic programs, and comprehensive student development supports" described above. In creating a TeacherFit inventory and using a scale to select teachers inherently establishes the CPS as one homogeneous entity. Anybody who has even just visited two different schools in CPS can tell you that that, like students, no two schools are alike.

    Regardless of proximity, school A is NOT and will NEVER BE school B. Schools are localized, specific communities that all function in unique ways. By standardizing the teacher selection process with TeacherFit, CPS is preventing principals from choosing teachers with the "best fit" for their schools. A teacher who is fit to teach in Englewood may or may not be fit to teach at a school in Lincoln Park, or vice versa. The LIMITED pool of teachers is only going to be detrimental to students.

    We want to be teachers. We want to teach. This is something that most people wouldn't even dream of doing. We love what we do. We have worked hard to be Urban Educators and, in the end, what are we faced with? The countless hours of schooling, student teaching and testing is worth NOTHING. It DOESN'T MATTER. Principals won't even see all of the extracurricular activities I've managed in a leadership position, my 4.0 GPA, honors, recommendations, hours observing and student teaching...hell, they won't even get a chance to MEET ME if I cannot pass, what basically amounts to, a personality inventory you could probably find on FaceBook.

    We are most certainly entitled to teach. We have a right to feel that way. Those who can, teach (and not that other BS every non teacher says), but CPS won't let us. If this keeps up, I'll be taking my talents elsewhere, to a district that won't limit my potential as an educator.

  • Wake Up

    This survey is aimed at creating a road block to keep the unclouded out.
    By it’s very nature it is a gate keeping device .I personally am getting tired
    Of ignorant people throwing something called the real world in our faces.
    Nothing can describe the horrendous situations a CPS teacher faces
    every day. To the lady whose husband was passed over for a cops job three times
    I wonder if he was hired then lost the job, or didn’t pass the survey? Just like CPS
    There are all kinds of cops .Just like there are all kinds of schools. And I bet if he was
    Clouted there would be no problem getting a job. Recent events ,like the Edelman
    Video show how rotten this state has become.
    No war stories here but after 42 years in the Ivory Tower I know how close to collapse
    That tower has become. Running a classroom in CPS is one of the toughest job in America.
    No survey can predict how a person will react to my world .

  • To one of the Anonymous posters that is accusing those of complaining as having a sense of entitlement-
    This isn't about a sense of entitlement. It isn't fair of you to be judging people. This inventory is supposed to be used as part of the application process, but it is not. It is the only factor to consider a teacher. If you took the time to understand what is going on you will see the process simply is not fair, and the information about how the inventory would be used was lacking in the application process. No poster on here feels entitled to a job-they feel the process is misleading!

  • TeacherFit means teacher screwed. P.S.- sorry for the language.

  • Entitled? Yeah, right... I do not feel entitled to a teaching job with CPS or anywhere else. I DO feel entitled to have my candidacy reviewed fairly and that the people for whom I may be working for (principals, etc.) be given a chance to give me a look. That's all I ask. I have over 20 years of very successful teaching experience (but as a lot of it is in private schools, I have no problem coming in at Step 3 on the pay scale), appropriate certification, Master's degree, a lot of inner-city experience and absolutely fantastic references. I am really, really good at what I do. Just looking for a chance to sit face to face with a hiring authority, present my case, and see if it is a good fit. Nothing more, nothing less. I know I can sell myself. In fact, I had an offer from a CPS school on the table (they offered me the position ON THE SPOT in the first interview) when I got the Dear Applicant TeacherFit rejection notice last week - a month after I took the silly test!! Needless to say, the principal dropped me like a hot potato..... How many other positions for which I am really qualified have I been eliminated from without even knowing it? Someone at Teacher Recruitment told me that a principal could contact Staffing and request me anyway, which I now see as a probable lie just to get me off of the phone. Anyway, so where do we go from here? Is there any potential class action lawsuit possible? Media coverage of this? I would very much like to network with others in the same boat and see if we can come up with a plan of action. I did check in with a Field rep with the union (I'm not a member... yet) who unfortunately said the union has no say in personnel matters. His take is that this is a means to weed out potential strong union members, people with minds of their own and other assorted possible "problem children". Let's hire a very compliant, docile workforce. Well, anyone with any ideas on where we go from here?

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    It's sickening me how the CPS took my right to teach again in CPS. Literally, that job was for me and I had to call the principal that he/she needed to hire someone else because I didn't fit in as CPS candidate. WOW!!! REALLY!!!! I taught in CPS for couple years. Why I fitted then not now? I just wanted to be back in classroom with my kids ( a.k.a. my students).

  • Remember Miracle of 34th Street?
    To alleviate Doris's misgivings, Shellhammer has Granville Sawyer give Kris a "psychological evaluation". Kris easily passes the test, but antagonizes Sawyer by questioning Sawyer's own psychological health. When Kris learns that Sawyer has convinced a young, impressionable employee, Alfred, that he is mentally ill simply because he is generous and kind-hearted, Kris confronts Sawyer and raps him on the head with the handle of an umbrella. In a pivotal court scene, Mr. Macy himself testifies in favor of Kris. After leaving the stand, Macy gruffly states to Sawyer: “Psychologist. Where’d you graduate from, a correspondence school? You’re fired.”
    This one be all and end all test would keep Santa Klaus out of Christmas.

  • Students First Principal,

    Excellent analogy. Good for you.

    Is there any chance for those who "failed" this "inventory"?

  • CPS should just link applicants to Facebook so they can take one of those ridiculous quizzes instead. At least we get to see the results. My friend who is a teacher and didn't get the rejection email said he answered what he thought CPS wanted to hear. This response is the exact reason why this test/survey/inventory is ineffective at evaluating a teachers "fit". As far as it being a survey to weed out independent thinkers and union advocates, not so sure, but not ruling it out. But, the fact that CPS is trying so hard to union bust when it gladly accepts taxpayer funding and operates as if it is a private institution is questionable. Any not for profit that tries to union bust is clearly not in it for the human aspect. CPS' human resources is ironically called "Human Capital". Capital of what? The human capital is that damn computer that red flags qualified teachers b/c of some corporate agenda. Why has our society become so braindead and so dependent on useless tools?
    CPS needs to fix itself and get rid of those morons making these decisions

  • Check out link:
    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/education/ct-met-cps-teacher-survey-20110720,0,4200178.story

    Trib ran a story on the survey. Comment on it. $50,000? Really? For doing the job of a principal?

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    CPS paid $50,000 for the survey to predict good teachers. I wonder who suggested the survey to predict "good" teachers. First of all, they need to define what "good" teachers are. There are differences between the words the excellent and good. I guess they want good teachers not excellent. Just like the survey that they gave us. Strongely agree, agree, strongly disagree, disagree, and etc. Those words have the similar meaning but it's slightly different. Secondly, I wonder who were the 1,000 teachers took the survey. Thirdly, they didn't do enough research with this teacherfit inventory crap( one year research). Example, pharmaceutical industry tested their drugs for several years on mice to see the side of effect and then sell to retailers. Finally, who are the highest- performing organizations used this kind of survey and succeed without a lawsuit on their back? Are they schools?

  • In reply to King Lee:

    The Sun-Times Newspaper reports that CPS spent $130,000 to develope TeacherFit!

  • 1969

    They were called the Oral exam every teacher had to pass to be certified by
    What was called the Board of Examiners. this Outfit never had any contract
    With the CTU and was a force onto itself. It was a all powerful board that
    Made life and death decisions regarding one’s teaching career .After graduating college,
    Then passing All the tests required ,NTE, Basic Skills Exam, came the orals.
    A group of seven principals interviewed you in a conference room. Every candidate
    Had questions hurled at them while the inquisition looked you up and down with
    long noses and hostile stares. One hour was given you, but the longer it took the more
    Trouble you were in, unless you were a long haired hippie, or they perceived you were
    Gay, in those cases goodbye. A candidate had to get a score of 80% to pass. There was
    No appeal from the verdict.
    Not passing the orals did not prevent a person from teaching. You could still get a teaching
    job as a Full Time Basis Substitute known as a FTB. This separate but unequal situation
    saved the board tones of money because a FTB only advanced up the pay scale to step five.
    Hundreds of teachers spent their entire career as FTB’s because they could not pass the orals.
    This situation was so blatant it was one of the main reasons we went on strike in 1969.
    I am proud to say we crushed the orals on the picket line.
    This is why I am so suspicious of the current situation. Another arbitrary , separate,
    Non contractual element is making life and death decisions with no appeal .
    Will we have to destroy this situation on the line?

  • In reply to rbusch:

    The CTU must crush TeacherFit!

  • catalyst, the tribune, and the sun times all covered the story -- the links are in today's news here:

    http://www.chicagonow.com/district-299-chicago-public-schools-blog/2011/07/teacherfit-makes-the-news/

  • Correction, CPS actually spendt $50,000 to hire a Skokie-based General ASP to launch the TeacherFit survey (test) two weeks ago. The Chicago Public Education fund spent $130,000 to develop TeacherFit for CPS. The Chicago Public Education Fund former chairman was Penny Pritzker, now a Chicago Board of Education board member appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Bruce Rauner, a wealthy venture capitalist and close ally of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and former Mayor Richard M. Daley was a driving force behind the sweeping school reform bill (SB 7) that Gov. Quinn signed into law last month is still a member of this board.

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