A reader points out that value-added assessment is fundamentally flawed. It is unscientific and lacks validity and reliability. It will narrow the curriculum and promote cheating. Yet Race to the Top has pushed it, Secretary Duncan lauds it, and almost everyone (except education researchers) thinks it must be right, because…everyone is doing it. But it’s wrong. No other nation is doing it.
VAM continues to strike me as unscientific. As a science teacher I am continually astounded by the lack of scientific integrity when these methods are employed to personally, and professionally, evaluate teachers.
The validity of such methods are the first red flag. VAM uses the philosophy of economics which should be a crushing blow right off as economics is as soft a science as they come with a myriad of “lurking variables” ready at any given time to destroy the ability to measure any one variable, i.e. teacher effect. I cannot believe more science and math teachers, alongside mathematicians (I know Ewing stepped up) and scientists, have not come out in disgust over these methods. Of course, they have somewhat, but their voices cannot overcome billions of dollars acting as carrots to states under RttT and ESEA flex to adopt these policies.
The reliability of VAM, which has come under fire, really is moot. If a process is not valid, then questions of reliability are meaningless. I laugh when I read that VAM is unreliable, because real scientists know that if a process is invalid, reliability measures are meaningless. Economists are not real scientists.
If VAM were used as a diagnostic, then it would be acceptable, but it cannot be used as a diagnostic as its only purpose is to employ punitive measures. The VAM empire knows this, including SAS. VAM is not designed to help kids learn – it is designed to fire teachers under its own invalid measures measured solely on test scores.
The “multiple measures” of teacher evaluation are meaningless. Administrators will be biased concerning a teacher’s past VAM scores and will be scolded for not matching scores under the premise that they are not good evaluators (this is already being documented in HISD and in TN). Now, we have just placed more power in the hands of administrators to relieve themselves of whatever teachers they wish.
What good is a “projected score” to teachers? Teachers can do nothing to remedy a student who may not make “growth”, because there is no way to know who will or who will not make growth. No teacher-made assessment gives teachers a clue as to what students will or will not grow. A teacher may have a students that earns an A+ on all their assignments from the teacher and may still not show growth because they may have also earned A+’s from their previous teacher also. It used to be, at least with “proficiency”, that a teacher could figure out what students needed help and zero in on those students in order to attempt to get them to reach proficiency, but what are teachers to do with “growth”? How do teachers measure whether a student will or will not show growth? It is an impossible target.
I believe that target was made impossible for a reason. Just as NCLB was designed to show schools as a failure, so too, in 10 years, will reformers look back at NAEP, PISA, and TIMSS outcomes, and declare that teachers are failures.
You can bet that state mandated tests will increase as teachers rush to teach to the test, teach THE test (for those who can see or get their hands on them), or downright cheat.
May the best test prep. teacher or cheater win and hold their job and barely feed their families to do what they love. Good luck.