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TFAer Rebecca Kockler Leaves Louisiana to Work Her Wonders in Los Angeles

June 24, 2018

Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) announced on June 21, 2018, that it will pick up another “career educator” with little hands-on teaching experience: Rebecca Kockler:

Superintendent Austin Beutner announced today that Rebecca Kockler, Assistant Superintendent of Academic Content for the Louisiana Department of Education, will join the Los Angeles Unified School District as Chief of Staff to the Superintendent. In this role, Kockler will work with Mr. Beutner and District leaders across all of L.A. Unified’s efforts, and will lead the transition of the new administration. For almost six years, Kockler has led Louisiana’s nationally recognized efforts to raise academic standards, provide additional support to Louisiana teachers and schools, and improve equity by reducing the achievement gap.

“Rebecca is a terrific addition to our team,” said Superintendent Beutner. “Her work in Louisiana helped narrow long-standing achievement gaps, resulting in the state’s highest ever graduation rate, while increasing standards and course requirements, and improving ACT scores for all students. As a career educator, she will help our District deliver on our promise of providing every student with a high-quality education.”

Kockler began her role at the Louisiana Department of Education in 2012, when the state was suffering from low-quality standards and lacking support for teachers and schools. Today Louisiana’s academic system is seen as a national model.

Interestingly, the LAUSD announcement offers no details about Kockler’s *career educator* experience prior to 2012, including no mention of her brief time in the classroom and her years of Teach for America (TFA) involvement.

I first wrote about Kockler in March 2013, and at that time, Kockler’s TFA info was on her Linkedin bio:

TFA is making big money off of Louisiana.  And the TFA influx into DOE continues. Yesterday I learned from a teaching colleague just who has been put in charge of Louisiana Common Core lesson assessment planning resources. My colleague emailed LDOE (Louisiana Department of Education) asking for a name and received this response: Rebecca Kockler.

Guess what Kockler’s bio is heavy on? TFA!  Like, her bio is a TFA billboard!

Guess what Kockler is light on?  Actual classroom teaching experience!  Her bio says she taught 1 year, 11 months. Now she holds the title LDOE Chief of Staff, Content! I know I feel confident knowing that she is offering to me and to my colleagues across the state Common Core lesson assessment plans.

Now, at the time, “Common Core” was a popular term to use. However, by 2016, the standards game was one of review-and-rename, with what is essentially Common Core rebranded as “Louisiana standards.” (Just compare Louisiana’s ELA and math standards to those of Common Core. The difference is negligible.)

According to the LAUSD press release on Kockler’s hire, “Kockler began her role at the Louisiana Department of Education in 2012, when the state was suffering from low-quality standards….”

And it’s all due to Common Core, I mean, Louisiana’s Standards, I mean, Rebecca Kockler, who taught for 1 year 11 months. Actually, it was less than that, but the public would not know it from Kockler or from LAUSD.

Note that Kockler has deleted the Linkedin bio linked in my 2013 post. Furthermore, it seems she has tried to scrub the internet of any detailed account of her TFA involvement. For example, her Broad Center bio (yes, she’s a Broadie) only offers Kockler’s current employment (until she departs Louisiana for California, that is). Broad also makes the mistake of mentioning Louisiana’s NAEP tests as a Kockler-connected accolade. (More to come on that front.)

Rebecca Kockler

The Broad Academy 2016-17

CURRENT TITLE  Assistant Superintendent of Academic Content

CURRENT ORGANIZATION  Louisiana Department of Education

As assistant superintendent of academics for the state of Louisiana, Rebecca Kockler works to build a system that delivers on the promise of high expectations for every student. Concentrating on empowering local educators, Rebecca has created a comprehensive model for teachers, principals and districts that provides unique resources and direct support, integrating assessments, curriculum, professional development and educator evaluation. Those efforts are paying off: Louisiana is one of the fastest improving states on the ACT, Advanced Placement and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) exams.

Only “current Kockler,” who is a wonder for “empowering local educators.”

For image’s sake, it seems that Kockler’s TFA history has become an inconvenience.

Still, one can read the details of Kockler’s TFA years; her full bio is page 65 of this 296-page, 2016 US Department of Education (USDOE) grant application from Louisiana.

Below are the details of Kockler’s experience– TFA years included:


Kockler’s TFA years include two years of teaching experience in a Newark (New Jersey) middle school (September 2003 – June 2005). As soon as that was over, and in true TFA-ladder-climbing form, Kockler became a TFA leader (in her case, a regional director) for 14 months (June 2005 – August 2006). Then comes her noted time with “curriculum”; as a TFA “director of design,” Kockler trained “teacher coaches” in a six-month course. Moving on in the TFA world, Kockler picked up a ten-month stint (August 2009 – June 2010) “expanding instructional tools” for TFA staff, at which time she was promoted to a TFA VP in charge of training TFA teachers (June 2010 – September 2012).

“Career educator” Rebecca Kockler has a decade with TFA (2003-2012), and in 2018, she wants to hide it.

Indeed, one might argue that her time with TFA did not end in 2012 when she joined LDOE under fellow TFAer and Broad Academy alum, John White– both of whom also happened to be in Newark, NJ, with TFA in 2003-2005 (White lists himself as being a TFA “teacher mentor and coach” in Newark at the time.)

Beginning in 2012, Kockler takes credit for developing and implementing Common Core curriculum. (Since Louisiana’s “revised” standards are still Common Core, not much adjustment was needed to those curricular materials in 2016.)

I think that Kockler should get all of the credit coming to her, and I would be remiss in failing to mention Louisiana’s 2017 NAEP scores.

These are not mentioned in the LAUSD press release on Kockler’s hiring.

Here is the condensed, Louisiana 2017 NAEP success story, taken from this April 2018 post. (I credit John White with the state’s progress, but I am willing to share the credit with Kockler. After all, she did *develop and implement Common Core– I mean– Louisiana’s ELA curriculum used in 65% of districts state-wide.*)

Louisiana’s 4th grade math falls from 234 (2015) to 229 (2017)– the same as it was in 2009– and 2 points lower than it was since John White’s arrival as state superintendent (2012).

Louisiana’s 4th grade reading falls from 216 (2015) to 212 (2017). It was 210 in both 2011 and 2013. So, during White’s tenure, reading fell more in two years (2015 to 2017; -4 points) than it rose overall from 2011 to 2017 (2 points).

Louisiana’s 8th grade math falls from 268 (2015) to 267 (2017). It has not dropped below 268 since 2003– nine years prior to John White’s arrival as state superintendent (2012). It was 273 in 2011 (prior to White).

Finally, Louisiana’s 8th grade reading score has vacillated between 255 and 257 since 2011 (i.e., prior to White’s arrival).

Not pretty, and not marketable material in a test-centered ed-reform world.

As to Louisiana’s ACT composite: According to Louisiana’s Class of 2017 ACT Profile, Louisiana’s Class of 2013 composite was 19.5.

Class of 2014: 19.2.

Class of 2015: 19.4.

Class of 2016: Back to 19.5.

Class of 2017: Still 19.5.

Louisiana’s 2017 NAEP scores happened on Kockler’s watch.

Credit where credit is due.

As to Louisiana’s graduation rate: It fell slightly from 2015 to 2016 and then rose again in 2017, but John White tried to disguise it in the cloak of a “best-ever” press release in which he omitted details evidencing the drop in his May 2018 press release. (Note that Louisiana is a year behind in reporting grad rates; that is why Class of 2017 rates are reported in May 2018, the month when the Class of 2018 is actually graduating.)

He also omitted a press release altogether in May 2017, when the drop in grad rates was too obvious to paint as a “best-ever” moment.

Consider this May 2016 press release:

“High School Graduation Rate Vaults to All-Time High”

The Louisiana Department of Education today announced the state’s four-year high school graduation rate increased for a fifth consecutive year in 2015, reaching an all-time high of 77.5 percent for the class graduating that year. This represents an increase of 2.9 percentage points over 2014, the second largest annual gain in the past 10 years, and significantly higher than the national gain of only 0.9 percent.

Then, the graduation rate fell from 77.5 percent (Class of 2015) to 77 percent (Class of 2016). In May 2017, LDOE issued no grad-rate press release.

In May 2018, the grad-rate announcement was back, and the title a “best ever”– and no mention of details that might hint it fell the previous year:

“Number of Louisiana Students Graduating from High School Reaches All-Time High”

More Louisiana students than ever before graduated from high school in four years, according to results released today by the state’s Department of Education, as the statewide four-year graduation rate increased from 77 percent in 2016 to 78.1 percent in 2017. The graduation rate has increased by 5.8 percentage points since 2012 and by 12.1 percentage points since 2008.

White airbrushes the 77.5-to-77-to-78.1, Class of 2015 – Class of 2017 dip.

Press release plastic surgery– not unlike the makeover Kockler performed in hiding her decade of TFA experience.

If it doesn’t pay off to report information, remake it into that which promotes the best image.

Rebecca Kockler, Broadie, TFAer, Louisiana Wonder Worker.

She’s yours now, Los Angeles.



Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

  1. Thank you!

    Well done.

    Sent from my iPad


  2. ira shor permalink

    Brilliant expose, thank you. TFA flooded public education with so many lies in advance of Trump bringing The Big Lie to office as national policy.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. LAUSD Chief Picks TFA-Broadie from Nation’s Lowest Performing State as Chief of Staff | Diane Ravitch's blog
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