Thursday, August 25, 2011

New York Judge's Ruling Throws Fantasy Season Into Disarray

At the Last Stand for Children First offices this afternoon, things were going crazy.  Staffers were on their computers and phones trying to get the latest on a state court ruling in New York that ordered the New York city school draft to release the test data on all it's public school teachers.

This announcement immediately threw our Fantasy School Draft into disarray.  For the last few months we've all been scouting the Los Angeles school district statistics trying to put together our dream faculties for this season.  We always hold the draft on the weekend after Labor Day when classroom rosters have settled in a bit.  After all, one low achiever being transferred into your teacher's class can cost you valuable points.  Our season was very competitive last season and I believe I only lost because two different teachers were saddled with less than perfect students who were counseled out of Green Dot schools.

It’s just as exciting as other fantasy sports and gives you a rooting interest in standardized tests that you don’t normally care about.  The advantage of starting the league now, is the schools are fairly settled and you are less likely to have a student transfer or a surprise pregnancy spoiling your fantasy season.

The rules are rather simple.   You must select a faculty consisting of the following teachers:
  • Two for each of the 8 primary grades
  • Two substitute teachers taken from any grade
  • One ESL teacher
  • One Special Ed Teacher
  • We are looking forward to President’s Physical Fitness results being online soon so that we can draft gym teachers.
  • One Principal 
  • One Assistant Principal
The draft can last for 4 or 5 hours before 24 schools in our fantasy school district are filled.  I was let down by my 6th and 3rd grade faculty.   Fortunately, there is no such thing as tenure in Fantasy School and they have been let go.   There are several scoring options, but we go by student improvement.   I have been pouring through newspapers and websites looking for  the teachers who I think will be on the top of their games.   I found out one of my early favorites is pregnant and another one who is from Teach for America is hedging her bets on staying in the classroom for the entire year.  It's always dicey when you select TFAers in their second year.

Because we go by the amount of improvement, taking the best students isn’t enough.  If some teacher out in the wealthy suburbs takes on  a homeroom where 95% of the students are meeting or exceeding standards, they can only get you 5 points and in fact they’ll probably go down.   On the other hand, a teacher at an inner city school who brings up students from 30% meeting standards to 52% meeting standards is going to win you the pot at the end of the year.  I try and look for young teachers who are still worried about their job and more likely to teach to the test.

With New York city teachers included, we now have very little time to scout a whole new group of teachers.  I have a few friends in New York that I hope I can hit up for scouting reports.  

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