Yet More Value Added

If you read one thing on the value-add debate today, this forthcoming NYT Magazine piece is your best bet.

Update: So much for education being the most interesting thing in The Times Magazine this weekend!

8 Replies to “Yet More Value Added”

  1. I find it ironic that no one supporting VAM for making high-stakes decisions about teachers is stepping up to say that they should be evaluated under a system that, at best, will incorrectly identify someone’s effectiveness 1 out of 6 times. No one–I mean NO ONE–in positions such as Kati Haycock or Joel Klein would work in a system in which there is a 1 in 6 chance of being fired or labeled a loser because of statistical error.

    When central office administrators agree to roll a dice and everyone that rolls a six gets a demotion or gets fired, then I think we should go full speed ahead with VAM.

  2. The article is not bad, but it unfortunately ends on the false, stale adults-vs-kids dichotomy. What Haycock and the many other boosters of VA for teacher evaluation miss is that randomness cuts both ways. Some good teachers will be unfairly dinged, while some not-so-good teachers will be protected. There will be both false positives AND false negatives, and there are tradeoffs between them. We don’t have a clue what these tradeoffs are, we don’t actually know whether we will be doing more harm than good, but the boosters are all for it anyway, while draping themselves in cloaks of righteousness.

  3. I’m tired of hearing that VAM’s are “random” with the implication being that we could do a better job accurately assessing teacher effectiveness by calling in the tribal Medicine Man to gauge via his sun dial. Are there problems with VAMs? Yes. Are they 100 percent accurate? No, course not. Do they fluctuate? Yes. But are they an equal or better measure of employee effectiveness than what the average private sector worker has in the form of a manager who makes an impressionistic determination if his employee deserves a promotion or to be cut? YES!

    What kills me is that everyone wants to focus on how VAMs are not perfect. Why is that the litmus test? No one is saying let’s fire a teacher for doing poorly on their VAM for 1 year. No one is saying let’s fire a teacher for doing poorly on their VAM for 2 years. What VAM proponents are saying is let’s use them to account for 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation and then only by looking at several years. It’s not 1 in 6. If VAMs can be wrong by 20 percent in 1 year (which I think is a high number to begin with), and then we are looking at teacher performance over several years and only as 50 percent of the evaluation total, no teacher is “randomly” getting fired. Only exhaustive year after year crapper performance will get one ousted. You can’t tell me that a teacher who gets no learning “growth” for 5 straight years is randomly the target of a bad stats package.

    And last point: why are we even talking VAMs? Because when reformers wanted to put principals in charge to make tough management decisions based on “softer” data about teacher performance the unions whined like little babies about how principals would play politics and be unfare (not like managers in other jobs aren’t)… so the lesson is for the unions careful what you wished for. Your whining that principals shouldn’t have the authority to make holistic evaluations to fire teachers is what got you VAM.

  4. “No one is saying let’s fire a teacher for doing poorly on their VAM for 2 years. ” Oh yes they are!!!!!

    The 1 in 6 number is using more than 3 years of data. VAMs can be wrong by at least 35% over one year–even more with models that don;t control for variables that should be controlled for like SES, ELL, special ed, peere effects, etc.

  5. I agree with Billy Bob that VAM’s are, in fact, starting to be used to fire teachers based on very short data collection periods. I’m pretty sure that in DC a number of teachers were just fired based on only one year of their IMPACT score (an evaluation method in which teachers of certain tested subjects and/or grades receive an evaluation based 1/2 on their students’ test scores and half on their administrator’s evaluations). And I wouldn’t be surprised if the use of these test scores for high-stakes decisions about teachers’ careers keeps growing.

  6. VAM will be the educational equivalent of stock market/real estate derivatives – no one understands them, VAM as a statistical tool was not created for this purpose (agriculture in fact), and they are going to make people giddy but then help to cause an educational recession. nofunzone makes a great comment on the union – isn’t hypocrisy a great thing.

  7. I found so many interesting stuff in your blog, especially its discussion. Really appreciate able

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