I think the next time I hear somebody defend using test scores to evaluate teachers with the “95% of all teachers are found to be above average using the old system therefore it must be broken” I going to scream like I do when have a kidney stone (7 last year).
Below is a letter to the editor that I submitted to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette concerning a story about the city of Pittsburgh and how it plans to be the first in the state of Pennsylvania to use test scores to evaluate teachers working in the city’s schools.
How is it possible after all the research that has been conducted on Value Added Measurements that we are still discussing using this statistical voodoo to assess a teacher’s effectiveness? What part of “it doesn’t work and so don’t use it” escapes the intellect of our elected officials?
I ask this knowing full well that they (our elected officials) are all quite aware of this stubborn fact. However, we have to remember that this has never been about developing a valid and reliable system of assessment for classroom teachers. This is about redistributing tax dollars to the testing and data management companies that continue to finance our elected officials who put policies in place that continue to siphon tax money right back to the testing companies.
Letter to the Editor
In Pittsburgh schools readying teacher evaluation plan published on December 31st in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Eleanor Chute reports that “Pittsburgh Public Schools is poised to become the first district to seek state approval for its teacher evaluation plan under a new state law” and that there will be a final vote on January 23rd.
I urge residents of the Pittsburgh area school district to please flood the meeting on January 23rd and demand that this waste of your tax dollars be stopped. Evaluating teachers is such an incredible responsibility and it is clear from this article that the Pittsburgh Area School District is totally disregarding the current research on the use of Value Added Measures (VAM) and students test scores in the evaluation of teachers.
First, isn’t it telling that according to the article, “Cory Koedel, assistant professor of economics at the University of Missouri, who is a technical consultant for the district” endorsed the evaluation system. What about researchers in education? Where are the educational measurement experts? Where are the curriculum experts? Where are the educational psychology experts? Where are the child development experts? In other words: Why would Pittsburgh Public Schools put an evaluation system in place for teachers that has been endorsed by an economist? Again, where are the education researchers and measurement experts?
The sad reality is that they are out there and have researched and published about this looming disaster and have consistently issued statements that using student test scores in Value Added Measures is extremely problematic at best. The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) in a review of Gates Foundation funded VAM research stated “that a teachers’ value-added for the state test is not strongly related to her effectiveness in a broader sense. Most notably, value-added for state assessments is correlated 0.5 or less with that for the alternative assessments, meaning that many teachers whose value-added for one test is low are in fact quite effective when judged by the other. ” And in even simpler terms. Value Added Measurement systems will incorrectly rank teachers one out of every three times—at best.
Also, Research-Based Inclusive System of Evaluation (RISE) is a distortion of Charlotte Danielson’s original work on quality teaching. Danielson’s qualitative system of evaluation was never meant to be merged with a invalid and unreliable quantitative evaluation system—Valued Added Measures.
This politically motivated policy will create a culture of fear for teachers and do little to improve the teaching and learning conditions for the children of Pittsburgh. Instead the most challenging schools and students in Pittsburgh will see an exodus of the most gifted teachers.
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