Value-Added Capriciousness

Sorry, I meant value-added measurement. A while ago, I described how value-added testing of teachers went completely off the rails in Tennessee. Here’s a taste:

Because there are no student test scores with which to evaluate over half of Tennessee’s teachers — kindergarten to third-grade teachers; art, music and vocational teachers — the state has created a bewildering set of assessment rules. Math specialists can be evaluated by their school’s English scores, music teachers by the school’s writing scores.

…For 15 percent of their testing evaluation, teachers without scores are permitted to choose which subject test they want to be judged on. Few pick something related to their expertise; instead, they try to anticipate the subject that their school is likely to score well on in the state exams next spring….

It’s a bit like Vegas, and if you pick the wrong academic subject, you lose and get a bad evaluation. While this may have nothing to do with academic performance, it does measure a teacher’s ability to play the odds…

Half of their assessment is based on their students’ results on state test scores, a serious problem for those who teach subjects with no state test.

To solve that, the state is requiring teachers without test results to be evaluated based on the scores of teachers at their school with test results. So Emily Mitchell, a first-grade teacher at David Youree Elementary, will be evaluated using the school’s fifth-grade writing scores.

But maybe that was a one-off case? Nope (boldface mine):

There are numerous problems with using VAM scores for high-stakes decisions, but in this particular release of data, the most obvious and perhaps the most egregious one is this: Some 70 percent of the Florida teachers received VAM scores based on test results from students they didn’t teach and/or in subjects they don’t teach.

Yes, you read that right: Teachers are being evaluated on students they didn’t teach and/or subjects they don’t teach.

…Kim Cook of Alachua, Fla., who, as this post explained, was evaluated at Irby Elementary, a K-2 school where she works and was named Teacher of the Year last December. Forty percent of her evaluation was based on test scores of students at another elementary school whom she never taught

If this kind of meaningless exercise doesn’t prove the meaning of meaningless, tell me what does.

What boggles the mind is that people at the Florida Department of Education put serious cognitive activity–I refuse to call it thought)–into this policy. Somewhere, meetings were held, drafts were read, policies were discussed. I doubt this was something an intern whipped up one late night. And they wound up with a policy wherein seventy percent of teachers are ‘evaluated’ using students they have never taught.

To put this in highly technical terms, these people are fucking morons who fell out of the stupid tree and hit every damn branch on the way down.

Education reformers style themselves as hard-headed pragmatists who get things done, but, in reality, they are incompetent ideologues* who shouldn’t be trusted to organize a school picnic, never mind an educational system.

In the real world, the implementation of education reform, even if we credit reformers with honest motivations, is horrific, especially since we have systems that work that could be cloned and implemented.

I blame the teachers unions. Or something.

*Rather than debate stupid versus evil, given the potential harm to the cognitive development of children, I say the default setting should be both until presented with evidence to the contrary.

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5 Responses to Value-Added Capriciousness

  1. Min says:

    “To put this in highly technical terms, these people are fucking morons who fell out of the stupid tree and hit every damn branch on the way down.”


  2. Karst says:

    I would have thought that teachers and teacher’s unions would have immediately filed suit over this.

    Anyone have any links?

  3. Bayesian Bouffant, FCD says:

    “Value added”? Does that mean they’re going to throw in a free set of Ginzu knives?

  4. albanaeon says:

    Holy crap…

    They pretty much admitted that their whole teacher grading systems were arbitrary and meaningless.

    Can we PLEASE move on now?

  5. manuel istif makinası

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