The studies of value-added measurement keep on coming, and the findings usually show what an utterly absurd idea it to think that teacher quality can be judged by student test scores. In a just world, Arne Duncan would be held accountable for the stupid and harmful theories he has imposed on the nation’s public schools. The U.S. Department of Education has become a malignant force in American education. I cannot think of any time in our nation’s history when public schools and teachers were literally endangered by the mandates coming from Washington, D.C., where the leadership is wholly ignorant of federalism.
This story in Education Week summarizes the latest batch of studies of VAM. some researchers, having made this their area of specialization, continue to prod in hopes of good news.
But look at this:
“In a study that appears in the current issue of the American Educational Research Journal, Noelle A. Paufler and Audrey Amrein-Beardsley, a doctoral candidate and an associate professor at Arizona State University, respectively, conclude that elementary school students are not randomly distributed into classrooms. That finding is significant because random distribution of students is a technical assumption that underlies some value-added models.
“Even when value-added models do account for nonrandom classroom assignment, they typically fail to consider behavior, personality, and other factors that profoundly influenced the classroom-assignment decisions of the 378 Arizona principals surveyed. That, too, can bias value-added results.
“Perhaps most provocative of all are the preliminary results of a study that uses value-added modeling to assess teacher effects on a trait they could not plausibly change, namely, their students’ heights. The results of that study, led by Marianne P. Bitler, an economics professor at the University of California, Irvine, have been presented at multiple academic conferences this year.
The authors found that teachers’ one-year “effects” on student height were nearly as large as their effects upon reading and math. The researchers did not find any correlation between the “value” that teachers “added” to height and the value they added to reading and math. In addition, unlike the reading and math results, which demonstrated some consistency from one year to the next, the height outcomes were not stable over time. The authors suggested that the different properties of the two models offered “some comfort.” Nevertheless, they advised caution.”
So, let’s get this right: teachers’ effects on students’ height were nearly as large as their effect on reading and math.
Perhaps Arne can just arrange to have all teachers fired (except for TFA), close every school (except “no-excuses” charter schools), and turnaround the whole country.