Teacher evaluation systems

Two teachers have harnessed the power of the sun — and provided an insanely cool science lesson in the process.

Charles Dazzo and Gerard D’Ambrosio serve as the mentors of the Green Tech Team at Staten Island’s Tottenville High School, which built a solar-powered car that scored second place in a national competition last year.

“I’m a firm believer that education — hands-on education — really works very well,” said Dazzo, 64, a social studies teacher.

That’s especially true when the hands-on lesson involves building a futuristic ride that looks like a speedboat on wheels.

Last year, they came close to winning it all at the Solar Car Challenge in Texas. This year, the team of eight kids will enter again, with what they hope is an even faster and more efficient car — one that looks like it came straight out of “The Jetsons.”


While last year’s solar speedster was just a frame, the new one has a sleek, carbon-fiber body, complete with “Solar Pirates” emblazoned on the front bumper. It can travel more than 300 miles on a single charge and reach speeds above 70 mph.

Watch video:  http://nydn.us/1kug0Cm

“It’s a beautiful looking machine,” Dazzo said.

D’Ambrosio, 47, an automotive technology teacher, said seeing the students’ finished product on the racetrack is one of the most rewarding aspects of his job.

“The competition for me, is one of the greatest things,” said D’Ambrosio, of New Jersey. “And working with all the kids has been a pleasure.”

Dazzo, who handles fundraising for the after-school program that has about 20 participants, added that Tottenville High is the only city school represented at the elite competition.


“We’re very proud to represent New York City,” said Dazzo, who lives in the Prince’s Bay neighborhood of Staten Island.

For teaching students mechanical, environmental and engineering skills, along with the joy of competition, D’Ambrosio and Dazzo have been nominated for Daily News Hometown Hero in Education awards.

D’Ambrosio, who provides guidance on how to build the car, said several former students have pursued degrees in environmental engineering.


* BY  NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A predatory sixth-grade teacher used cellphone code names to keep his wife in the dark about an affair with his 14-year-old former student, whom he bedded at least a dozen times in his family home, Queens prosecutors said yesterday.

Daniel Reilly, 36, was arraigned on statutory-rape charges yesterday for allegedly preying on the teenager, to whom he once taught English at IS 237.

His humiliated lawyer wife, Annemarie, and her mom showed up to court to pay his $30,000 bail.

Reilly, an ex-Marine with an 11-month-old girl, initiated the relationship last year by texting “sexually graphic” messages, but she “just wanted to be friends,” law-enforcement sources told The Post.


He refused to take no for an answer, and continued to pursue her — eventually roping her into a sexual affair starting in August, prosecutors said.

He allegedly used a code name to conceal her identity on his cellphone so his wife wouldn’t find out.

The girl also used a code name for the teacher to keep it from her family and friends, authorities said.

Investigators would not release the code names because they believed it would reveal the young victim’s identity.


For their first encounter, Reilly waited until his wife and baby were away from their Forest Hills home and had the girl come over, according to the sources.

He then repeatedly asked her back to his place, where they had intercourse at least 10 times and oral sex at least twice, authorities said. They most recently hooked up on Monday, just hours before he was arrested, the sources said.

The victim’s sister allegedly discovered their secret relationship when she saw several text messages on the girl’s cellphone.

The girl — who no longer attends the school — came clean and admitted to the affair with Reilly, prosecutors said.

Her panicked mother called the school on Monday, and Reilly was yanked from his classroom until cops showed up to haul him away.

“The defendant planned to keep the relationship a secret,” a prosecutor in Queens Criminal Court charged yesterday.

Reilly is charged with second-degree rape, criminal sexual acts and endangering the welfare of a child. Prosecutors issued an order of protection for the teen.

Teacher's wife, Annemarie Reilly

“This case is particularly disturbing,” Queens DA Richard Brown said. “Schools should be safe havens for children. Instead, this defendant is accused of sexually preying upon one of his former students and rendezvousing with her at his residence.”

Defense attorney Eric Franz said Reilly’s family is “just happy he’s back home.”

Reilly joined the city Department of Education in 2007, when he was hired to teach English at IS 237. He earns $61,000 per year.

The teacher, who has a clean employment record, has been reassigned from the classroom while the case is investigated.

Reilly was honorably discharged in 2000 from the Marines, his lawyer said. He served in the Aircraft Maintenance Administration for five years.

He was stationed in Japan and Cherry Point, NC — and was discharged with multiple awards in 2000, a Marine spokeswoman said.


  • By JAMIE SCHRAM , CHRISTINA CARREGA and LARRY CELONA, New York Post, April 10, 2013

LAST week, the New York State Court of Appeals ruled that teachers’ individual performance assessments could be made public. I have no opinion on the ruling as a matter of law, but as a harbinger of education policy in the United States, it is a big mistake.

I am a strong proponent of measuring teachers’ effectiveness, and my foundation works with many schools to help make sure that such evaluations improve the overall quality of teaching. But publicly ranking teachers by name will not help them get better at their jobs or improve student learning. On the contrary, it will make it a lot harder to implement teacher evaluation systems that work.

In most public schools today, teachers are simply rated “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory,” and evaluations consist of having the principal observe a class for a few minutes a couple of times each year. Because we are just beginning to understand what makes a teacher effective, the vast majority of teachers are rated “satisfactory.” Few get specific feedback or training to help them improve.

Many districts and states are trying to move toward better personnel systems for evaluation and improvement. Unfortunately, some education advocates in New York, Los Angeles and other cities are claiming that a good personnel system can be based on ranking teachers according to their “value-added rating” — a measurement of their impact on students’ test scores — and publicizing the names and rankings online and in the media. But shaming poorly performing teachers doesn’t fix the problem because it doesn’t give them specific feedback.

Value-added ratings are one important piece of a complete personnel system. But student test scores alone aren’t a sensitive enough measure to gauge effective teaching, nor are they diagnostic enough to identify areas of improvement. Teaching is multifaceted, complex work. A reliable evaluation system must incorporate other measures of effectiveness, like students’ feedback about their teachers and classroom observations by highly trained peer evaluators and principals.

Putting sophisticated personnel systems in place is going to take a serious commitment. Those who believe we can do it on the cheap — by doing things like making individual teachers’ performance reports public — are underestimating the level of resources needed to spur real improvement.

At Microsoft, we created a rigorous personnel system, but we would never have thought about using employee evaluations to embarrass people, much less publish them in a newspaper. A good personnel system encourages employees and managers to work together to set clear, achievable goals. Annual reviews are a diagnostic tool to help employees reflect on their performance, get honest feedback and create a plan for improvement. Many other businesses and public sector employers embrace this approach, and that’s where the focus should be in education: school leaders and teachers working together to get better.

Fortunately, there are a few places where teachers and school leaders are collaborating on the hard work of building robust personnel systems. My wife, Melinda, and I recently visited one of those communities, in Tampa, Fla. Teachers in Hillsborough County Public Schools receive in-depth feedback from their principal and from a peer evaluator, both of whom have been trained to analyze classroom teaching.

We were blown away by how much energy people were putting into the new system — and by the results they were already seeing in the classroom. Teachers told us that they appreciated getting feedback from a peer who understood the challenges of their job and from their principal, who had a vision of success for the entire school. Principals said the new system was encouraging them to spend more time in classrooms, which was making the culture in Tampa’s schools more collaborative. For their part, the students we spoke to said they’d seen a difference, too, and liked the fact that peer observers asked for their input as part of the evaluation process.

Developing a systematic way to help teachers get better is the most powerful idea in education today. The surest way to weaken it is to twist it into a capricious exercise in public shaming. Let’s focus on creating a personnel system that truly helps teachers improve.


Bill Gates is co-chairman of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. NYT: Published: February 22, 2012