At a panel discussion in New York City, Bridgeport Superintendent Paul Vallas made a startling admission. He said that the efforts to develop a teacher evaluation metric was a huge mess and that no one understands it.

He said:

“The Bridgeport, Conn. superintendent — who has served stints in Chicago, Philadelphia, and New Orleans and earned a reputation as a turnaround consultant for struggling districts with big budget gaps — said reforms he backed were at risk of collapsing “under the weight of how complicated we’re making it.”

“We’re working on the evaluation system right now,” Vallas said of Bridgeport. “And I’ll tell you, it is a nightmare.” Vallas went further and said: ““We’re losing the communications game because we don’t have a good message to communicate,” he said. In separate comments, Vallas criticized evaluations as a “testing industrial complex” and “a system where you literally have binders on individual teachers with rubrics that are so complicated … that they’ll just make you suicidal.”

A nightmare, yes. A testing-industrial complex, yes.

Professor Audrey Amrein Beardsley at Arizona State has written extensively about teacher evaluation and in her most recent study–not yet published–she reports the results of a 50-state survey. Not a single state has figured out how to use the value-added data to help teachers, and–get this–in every state the formulae are so complex that no one understands them other than those who created them. And the billions invested in this nutty endeavor are supposed to improve education!

David Coleman, as is his wont, was provocative. “Coleman was perhaps the night’s most outspoken panelist, at one point suggesting that those who believe that poverty is an insurmountable obstacle to improving student achievement should offer to cut teacher salaries and redistribute those funds to the poor.”

Why would he suggest cutting teachers’ salaries to reduce poverty? Why not start with the billionaires? I don’t understand this comment or his logic at all. Do you?