A wonderful find by loyal reader KrazyTA, who has read the Vergara transcripts. The esteemed economist Raj Chetty of Harvard, a cheerleader for VAM, says he prefers large data sets (no humans) to anecdotes, then tells a theoretical anecdote about a coach who lays off rookie Michael Jordan. The fact that this never happened is of no consequence to the professor from Harvard.
A good intro to my last posting on the Vergara Decision.
What role do reason, consistency, logic, and facts play in the self-styled “education reform” movement?
From a posting on this blog of 3-23-2014, “Common Core for Commoners—Not My School!”—
“This is an unintentionally hilarious story about Common Core in Tennessee. Dr. Candace McQueen has been dean of Lipscomb College’s school of education and also the state’s’s chief cheerleader for Common Core. However, she was named headmistress of private Lipscomb Academy, and guess what? She will not have the school adopt the Common Core! Go figure.”
When you’re a supernova of the “new civil rights movement of our time” like Michelle Rhee you don’t have to get your numbers right—or even read the source you cite for your assertion!—when you make a claim.
“So the report Rhee herself cites contradicts her main point: standardized testing does, in fact, gobble up lots of classroom time. Her statement above, according to the source she herself cites, is just dead wrong.”
If you’re Bill Gates you can assert to Lyndsey Layton re the potential $tudent $ucce$$ synergy between Common Core, Pearson and Microsoft that:
“Yeah, we had the old Pearson stuff. I, it, it, there’s no connection, there’s no connection to Common Core and any Microsoft thing.”
But then there’s the joint statement by Pearson and Microsoft of 2/20/2014—
But surely during the Vergara trial Dr. Raj Chetty was able to demonstrate the hard-nosed, data-based logic, consistency, reasons and facts behind VAMania and high-stakes standardized testing and the like, right?
Please refer to the following link for the references re Dr. Chetty’s testimony:
*Note that I will refer to the latest more refined version of the rough draft, which goes from pp. 508-595.*
Pp. 553-554, Dr. Raj Chetty:
“In my opinion there are two different approaches to analysis. You can look for anecdotes or you can look at large data sets. I prefer to look at large data sets because I think there is a psychological bias that any human being has to focus on outliers.”
Sounds reassuring until you realize that this is his way of “reasoning” away myriad accounts that VAM estimates fluctuate wildly or that Campbell’s Law is a real concern, not just a “conjecture.”
But here’s where the rubber meets the road.
When discussing LIFO (i.e., seniority) policies, he goes all in to make sure we of little understanding grasp why the least effective senior teachers should be laid off before the more effective novice teachers:
P. 576: “…[L]et me give an analogy which hopefully will resonate and be familiar with many people here.
Let’s say you are a manager of a basketball team and you have a new player, Michael Jordan in his rookie year who looks very promising, but in his rookie year he is not doing so well relative to the other players on the team. So you could take a short term perspective and say, well, this guy doesn’t seem to be doing so well this year, so I’m going to let him go and stick with the other players so that we do well in the next season, or could you take a longer term perspective and say Michael Jordan seems to have a lot of potential, he is going to be great in two years, he’s going to be one of the superstars, I’m going to keep him because I really care about my team in the longer run.
The LIFO policy is effectively saying let’s let Michael Jordan go, I wouldn’t want to have Michael Jordan on my team.”
There are so many things wrong with this brief example of “high-disorder” thinking that I hardly know where to start. But just some brief comments, and I won’t even bring up the whole mismangled approach to teamwork, cooperation and collaboration he brings up. *Michael Jordan could give Dr. Chetty some good advice: “There is no ‘i’ in team but there is in win.”*
So we lesser beings must zealously avoid the “psychological bias” we have in focusing on “outliers” and ground ourselves instead in “large data sets”? Is it too much to remind a numbers/stats person that the NBA has, maximum, less than 500 players [and not all can dress for any one game? And that these are exceptionally fine athletes, world class no less—literally, if you saw one of them playing in your local gym or playground, they would blow everyone else away. The bench warmers are outliers! They are ALL outliers!
And Michael Jordan is an outlier among outliers! Picking him as an example of what approach to use in assessing the effectiveness of millions of teachers via numerical rankings is betraying a hopelessly confused surrender to the “psychological bias” to focus on “outliers”!
And as for those millions of teachers: VAM already has moved the “highly effective” and “highly ineffective” and the “most effective” and “most ineffective” all over the rankings from year to year—how long could Dr. Chetty’s “Michael Jordans” survive such VAMboolzement before being kicked out of the classroom? [With all apologies to Dr. Audrey Amrein-Beardsley.]
I stop here. End of my Vergara Decision series.
Let’s pay heed to Joe Flood, author of THE FIRES:
“Initially, we use data as a way to think hard about difficult things, but then we over rely on data as a way to avoid thinking hard about difficult problems. We surrender our better judgment and leave it to the algorithm.”
[Jim Horn and Denise Wilburn, THE MISMEASURE OF EDUCATION, 2013, p. ]
P.S. Even a very dead, very old and very Greek guy knew better:
“A good decision is based on knowledge and not on numbers.” [Plato]