Valerie Strauss notes the growing number of studies that debunk the value of judging teacher quality by the rise or fall of test scores, and naturally she wondered what Secretary Arne Duncan thought about them.

There was the report of the American Statistical Association, which said: l

“VAMs should be viewed within the context of quality improvement, which distinguishes aspects of quality that can be attributed to the system from those that can be attributed to individual teachers, teacher preparation programs, or schools. Most VAM studies find that teachers account for about 1% to 14% of the variability in test scores, and that the majority of opportunities for quality improvement are found in the system-level conditions. Ranking teachers by their VAM scores can have unintended consequences that reduce quality.”

Days ago, a new Gates-funded study found no correlation between “quality teaching and the appraisals teachers received.”

Another study by a team led by Marianne P. Bitler, an economist at the University of California, said that VAM ratings had about the same relationship to reading and math scores as to changes in a student’s height.

VAM is the centerpiece of Race to the Top..

Strauss called the u.S. Department of Education to ask whether Secretary Duncan was aware of the research and whether it had changed his views. The answers: yes, he was aware of the research; no, it had not changed his views.