Archives for category: VAM (value-added modeling)


Mr. and Mrs. Bill Gates apparently feel they are not winning enough battles in the court of public opinion, so they have created a lobbying organization to promote their ideas in Congress and state legislatures. 

Will the Gates lobby push for Common Core? For more high-stakes testing? For more federal funding for charter schools? For evaluating teachers by the test scores of their students? For more technology in the classroom?

These are but a few of Bill Gates’ failed education initiatives. Has he learned from failure or will he use his C4 lobby to push his failed ideas even more?

Bill and Melinda Gates have launched a lobbying organization to advocate for issues in health, education, and poverty, The Hill reported on Thursday.

The Gates Policy Initiative, which was announced on Thursday, will work with lawmakers on issues such as global health, global development, moving people from poverty to employment, and education for black, Latino, and rural students. The initiative, which will be a 501(c)(4) organization under the US tax code, is independent from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the billionaire couple’s philanthropic organization.

Rob Nabors, the director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the former White House director of legislative affairs during the Obama administration, told The Hill that the Gates Policy Initiative would work in a bipartisan way.

In an article in The Hill, Rob Nabors said the new lobbying organization would reflect the work of the foundation.

Much of what they’ve learned running their foundation will help them through the process of establishing a lobbying shop.

“Probably the most important point for us is similar to the way Bill and Melinda have approached their philanthropic giving and other things that they do. They are interested in learning what works and what doesn’t work,” Nabors said.

He said that if they are not successful in a couple of years, they will “shutter the shop and figure out what else could potentially be done.”

“I think that experimental type of approach, that innovative type of approach, is both relatively unique in this space and embedded into the DNA that Bill and Melinda bring with them,” he said.

Nabors said that when he worked in the Obama White House, his job was often described as the White House chief lobbyist.

“I’m excited to get back into the mix of talking to people specifically about the work that they are doing every day, trying to put bills together that will make people’s lives better,” he said.

He added that Bill and Melinda Gates also bring a unique lens to a lobbying shop.

“They are very data-focused so a number of the types of issues that we will be exploring and the solutions that we are exploring are based on data that we collected from programs that we funded,” he added.


The battle has begun about whether to lift the cap on charter schools in New York City.

New York City has 235 charter schools serving 123,000 students (about 10% of those enrolled in public schools) and there are no empty slots for additional charters unless the legislature raises the cap.  Governor Cuomo, flush with hedge fund cash from his last campaign, wants to raise the charter cap.

Now billionaire Merryl Tisch, who previously was Chancellor of the New York Board of Regents and is now on the board of the State University  of New York, proposed that the city be allowed to use some of the 99 open charter slots from the rest of the state. 

Under Tisch’s leadership at the Regents, New York won a Race to the Top grant of $700 million, hired John King as State Commissioner, committed to evaluate teachers by the test scores of their students, and adopted the Common Core and PARCC Testing. Tisch set off the Opt Out Movement, and she also hired MaryEllen Elia from Hillsborough County in Florida, which was part of the Gates Foundation’s failed experiment with VAM (value-added measurement) of teachers.

We are told that the waiting list for admission to charters in NYC is very, very long.

So think about this:

If there is a long waiting list, as Merryl Tisch says, why do charters hire a marketing firm to send recruiting letters to children in public schools? Why are they moaning about not having access to the public school names and addresses? Why don’t they just accept kids from the waiting list? Is there a waiting list? Maybe there are actually vacancies, as in Los Angeles, where 80% of the charters have empty seats. Even Eva Moskowitz needs access to public school names for recruitment purposes.

Would someone please audit that alleged waiting list?





William Sanders was an agricultural statistician who developed a secret, patented formula for measuring teacher effectiveness. It’s call EVASS. It was tossed out by a Houston judge who said it was wrong to judge teachers by a secret algorithm that they could neither examine nor question.

As Stuart Egan reports, North Carolina clings to EVASS, no matter how many times it has been discredited (by scholars such as Audrey Amerein-Beardsley) or by courts that findit arbitrary and inscrutable.

Want to understand how teachers in North Carolina are evaluated?

Egan writes:

“Actually, the chain is from a .gov to a .org to a .com.”

Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post has an editorial chastising the New York Board of Regents for failing to reactivate the value-added method of evaluating teachers by the test scores of their students.

Whoever wrote the editorial is ignorant of the fact that the American Statistical Association warned against the use of this method or the RAND-AIR report that found zero benefit from the Gates Foundation’s investment in districts that used this method.

This teacher-blogger reminds readers that a New York Judge already labeled this method “junk Science.”

The Network for Public Education Action Fund is delighted to endorse new leadership for New Mexico: Michelle Lujan Grisham for Governor and Howie Morales for Lieutenant Governor. After eight years of horrible education policies, Lujan and Morales wupill be a breath of fresh air for students and teachers. The Land of Enchantment has one of the highest rates of child poverty in the nation, which the previous administration ignored. Instead, it insisted on high-stakes teacher evaluations, which are currently enjoined by court order. Despite—or because—of eight years of failed Reform policies, New Mexico remains stuck at the bottom of NAEP.

Time for new thinking!

The Network for Public Education Action has endorsed Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham for Governor of New Mexico and State Senator Howie Morales for Lieutenant Governor.

Grisham, a 12th-generation New Mexican, has served as the U.S. Representative for New Mexico’s 1st congressional district since 2013.

Morales is the State Senator for District 28 in the New Mexico Senate. He has an M.A. in bilingual special education and a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Both candidates have worked to make positive changes in our public schools. As the Secretary of New Mexico’s Department of Health, Grisham expanded the number of school-based health centers in the state. Morales spent 10 years as a special education teacher and was the head baseball coach in the Cobre Consolidated School District.

Grisham and Morales have promised to “end use of the PARCC exam in favor of less intrusive and frequent alternatives, implement authentic and useful assessments developed by teachers to connect with what students are really learning, and reform school and teacher evaluations to focus on more holistic measures of progress.”

When it comes to other critical issues facing New Mexico’s public schools, they have said they will increase funding and make universal access to high-quality Pre-K a reality for every New Mexico family. To address the state’s severe teacher shortage, they intend to support public school employees by raising salaries across the board, including the salaries of assistants and support staff.

On November 6th, please be sure to cast your ballot for these pro-public education candidates.

Mark Weber aka blogger Jersey Jazzman is a veteran teacher and a doctoral candidate at Rutgers University.

He wrote an open letter to a state senator in New Jersey who was angry that Governor Phil Murphy reduced the stakes attached to PARCC testing in relation to teacher evaluation.

State Senator Ruiz mistakenly believes that evaluating teachers by test scores is sound practice. She is wrong.

Weber reviewed the research demonstrating the invalidity of such measures.

By the way, New Jersey is one of the very few states that still mandates the PARCC tests. It originally was offered by 24 states. Only six states and DC still are in that small group.

You might find this to be a valuable resource for understanding why it makes no sense to evaluate teachers by the test scores of their students.

You know that “value-added modeling” (VAM) has failed everywhere. Several courts have blocked its use. It is one of those zombie ideas that never works and never dies. Actually, it will die because some states have dropped it as an expensive and useless exercise that does not identify the best or the worst teachers. The Gates Foundation pushed it but the Gates-funded evaluation showed that after $575 million spent, it did not improve student test scores, it did not identify teacher quality, it nearly bankrupted those that tried it.

Steven Singer has saved us all some time by listing the 10 Top Reasons it doesn’t work.

Democrats in New Mexico chose a strong candidate for Governor, Lujan Grisham, a member of Congress who supports teachers. She and her Republican opponent agree on two things: Dump PARCC and scrap the broken test-based teacher evaluation system.

The current Governor Susanna Martinez has been a disaster for public schools and teachers. She hired a non-educator, Hannah Skandera, who had previously worked for Jeb Bush, to impose the “Florida model” of high-stakes Testing for students and teachers and choice. The state remains at the very bottom of NAEP. Skandera’s successor has doubled down and a court injunction has blocked his efforts to penalize teachers for low scores. This in a state with staggeringly high levels of child poverty.

Politico reported on this race:

EDUCATION SPOTLIGHT ON NEW MEXICO GOVERNOR’S RACE: Poor education outcomes, low teacher pay, high unemployment rates and an active education funding lawsuit are just some of the problems facing the next governor in the Land of Enchantment.

— It’s not surprising, then, that education has become a key issue in the race for the governor’s mansion between two sitting members of Congress representing the state: Republican Rep. Steve Pearce and Democratic Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

— Right off the bat, New Mexico’s next governor will become entangled in a legal battle over funding of the state’s public schools. A state district court judge ruled last month that New Mexico’s students are “caught in an inadequate system” in need of improvement — a ruling the state has appealed. As in Washington and Kansas, funding lawsuits often present yearslong challenges for state leaders, who must figure out how to boost funding for schools to the pleasure of the courts. When the parties become caught in appeals, a resolution can take even longer.

— Lujan Grisham has said that should she be become the state’s next governor, she would cut the fight short by “immediately” halting the state’s appeal of the ruling, according to local reports. “New Mexico’s public education system is broken and underfunded,” she said in a statement. Among Lujan Grisham’s campaign promises is a proposal to boost teachers’ starting salaries to $40,000 from the current $36,000.

— Pearce, meanwhile, stopped short of making such a commitment on the school funding case. “This ruling underscores the importance of my plan to reform education. The old way is broken,” Pearce said in statement to Morning Education through a spokesman.

— Among Pearce’s goals is to “diversify” the sources of education funding to make schools less reliable on the oil and gas industries. He also hopes to support an expansion of school choice, including “charter schools, magnet schools, e-schools and homeschooling,” according to his campaign website. He wants to return more “day to day management decisions to the local school districts and/or charter schools,” and institute per-pupil funding.

— Universal preschool and the funding stream for such a program have divided the candidates. Lujan Grisham has made preschool access one of her marquee issues and is proposing to fund its expansion through $285.5 million over five years from the state’s Land Grant Permanent Fund, she told the New Mexican . That fund culls fees from the extraction of natural resources from state lands. But Pearce isn’t keen on tapping into those funds and has not made preschool expansion a priority. “I’m very nervous about beginning to dip into that permanent fund until you have solutions,” Pearce told local station KRQE.

— Both candidates are in agreement on two things: teacher evaluations and PARCC. The Common-Core-aligned standardized test was created through a consortium of more than 20 states in 2010. New Mexico remains one in a handful of states to still administer it, but both Pearce and Lujan Grisham want to scrap it. “The PARCC test seems to be especially ineffective,” Pearce told KRQE. “My initial reaction is we should find a better way to measure our students.” Lujan Grisham’s education plan calls for “dropping the PARCC test in favor of less intrusive testing.”

— Both candidates have also said they would overhaul the state’s controversial teacher evaluation system. Lujan Grisham, who has the backing of teachers unions, would reform teacher evaluations “to focus on more holistic measures of progress.” Pearce said recently that after conversations with teachers, local school officials and others, it has become clear that “the current system has crushed the spirit of many talented educators and contributed to our state’s teacher shortage,” according to the AP.

Politico reports that Arne Duncan stubbornly clings to his belief that teacher quality can be measured by test scores and lashes out at those who disagrees. This despite the fact that several states have dropped it, several courts have suspended or ended it, and it worked Nowhere. Of course, his boook went to print before the release of the RAND-AIR study of the total failure of the Gates $575 Million program to use Arne’s VAM approach. But, the study is out, and you would think he might backtrack. But no.

Also, before the recent finding that the effect of the LA publication of teacher ratings meant that the richest families scooped up the teachers with the highest scores and the poorest kids got those with the lowest scores. And Arne forgot, but we won’t, Roberto Riguelas, the LA teacher who committed suicide after his rating was published. The LA ratings, by the way, we’re made up at the request of the LA Times and had many flaws.

Duncan accuses Lamar Alexander of “lying” or wanting to cover up poor teacher performance, but Alexander was right. The feds have zero authority to foist half-baked—and in this case, harmful and expensive—ideas on the states.

“HOW ARNE DUNCAN SEES ‘LIES’ IN EDUCATION: Arne Duncan, one of the most outspoken Education secretaries to hold the job, is out with an incendiary new book about the “lies” he says the public is fed about education and student potential.

— Duncan’s 200-plus-page read, “How Schools Work,” published Tuesday, tells how the former secretary attempted to dispel these “lies” and sell education reform while at the helm of both the Chicago Public Schools and the Education Department. The book is peppered with anecdotes spanning decades, some of them very critical of other education players. A few of the highlights are below; more from your host here.

— ‘Bare-knuckle politicking’: That’s how the Chicago native describes multiple interactions with elected officials and his attempts to “insulate” his education reform work from “political attack” and “stay above the political fray.”

— Senate HELP Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) figures in one anecdote. Duncan says that he was left “stunned” when Alexander refused to back the administration’s pursuit of policies that tied teacher evaluations to student test scores and higher standards. “This was the Tea Party talking, pure and simple. It was as if he’d been captured,” he writes of Alexander, also a former Education secretary, and governor of Tennessee. “Senator Alexander’s stance was one of the least principled things I’d ever heard from a politician, and it showed zero political courage.”

— Alexander said in a statement to POLITICO that Duncan came to Washington to “create a national school board” and that he came to reverse that trend. “Arne and I have a difference of principle, not politics. I believe that teacher evaluation is the holy grail of education and, as governor, helped Tennessee become the first state to pay teachers more for teaching well. As U.S. Education Secretary, I challenged every state to create voluntary national education standards and accountability systems. But I told Arne on the first day he walked into my office that Washington, D.C., has no business telling states how to evaluate teachers and what education standards to set,” Alexander said.

— ‘Teacher accountability was the third rail’: That’s how Duncan described the controversy he faced around the issue, not just from Alexander, but also from teachers unions and Democrats. He writes he was “shocked” that, when conceiving the Race to the Top grant program, he found states like California and Wisconsin banned school districts from using student test scores to measure teacher effectiveness.

— “What was the lie at the center of these laws?” Duncan writes. “Was it that good teaching was immeasurable? Or was it that some teachers … preferred to claim that they couldn’t help the kids who most desperately needed their help?”

— The idea that teacher quality is the most important variable remains up for debate — a recent report on a Gates Foundation initiative that attempted to prove as much claimed its effort was largely unsuccessful. But in his book, Duncan remains committed to the idea. “The simple fact is that quality teaching matters more than anything,” he writes.”

I learned from Bill Phillis’s posts about a great new organization that has just been launched in Ohio.

If you live in Ohio, join it.

The organization, called Public Education Partners, was inspired by Jan Resseger’s post:

Every candidate running for public office, whether school board, state legislature, the governorship, or Congress should be asked to take a stand: Do you support this platform?

Preamble to PEP’s Public Education Platform

The Ohio Constitution (Article VI, sections 2 and 3) requires the state to secure a thorough and efficient system of common schools and provide for the organization, administration and control of the system. School district boards of education have the constitutional and statutory responsibility to administer the educational program. Boards of education have the fiduciary duty to ensure the educational needs of all resident students are met in an equitable and adequate manner.

The state’s first obligation is to ensure that a thorough and efficient system is established and maintained. The state has no right under the Ohio constitution to fund alternative educational programs that diminish moral and financial support from the common school system. Ohio’s system of school was declared unconstitutional more than two decades ago, yet since that time $11 billion have been drained from the public school system for publicly- funded, privately-operated charter schools. This egregious flaw in state policy must be addressed.

Jan Resseger of Cleveland Heights has aptly defined state and local responsibility for education as follows:

A comprehensive system of public education that serves all children and is democratically governed, publicly funded, universally accessible, and accountable to the public is central to the common good.

The education platform premised on the constitutional responsibility of the state of Ohio as stated in the preamble is:

A comprehensive system of public education that serves all children and is democratically governed, publicly funded, universally accessible, and accountable to the public, is central to the common good.
~Jan Resseger

Ohio Public Education Platform

This education platform is premised on the constitutional responsibility of the state of Ohio:

 Provide adequate and equitable funding to Ohio school districts to guarantee a comparable opportunity to learn for ALL children. This includes a quality early childhood education, qualified teachers, a rich curriculum that will prepare students for college, work and community, and equitable instructional resources.

 Respect local control of public schools run by elected school boards. There are different needs for different schools of different sizes, and each local school board knows what its students, families, and community values.

 Reject the school privatization agenda, which includes state takeovers, charter schools, voucher schemes, and high-stakes testing. The school privatization agenda has proven to be ineffective at bringing efficiency and cost savings to our schools.,_Higher_Ed_Policy,_and_T eachers

 Do away with the state takeovers of school districts imposed in House Bill 70. State takeovers of school districts (HB 70), followed by the appointment of CEOs with power to override the decisions of elected school boards and nullify union contracts, is undemocratic, unaccountable, and without checks and balances.

 Promote a moratorium on the authorization of new charter schools while gradually removing existing charters, which take funding and other valuable resources from public school districts. Charter schools remove funds and other resources from public school districts and need to be phased out. For-profit charter schools should be eliminated – tax dollars should never be transferred into private profits.

 Eliminate vouchers and tuition tax credit programs. Voucher schemes take desperately needed dollars out of education budgets and undermine the protection of religious liberty as defined by the First Amendment. politicians-use-sell-private-school-voucher-schemes-parents/

 Encourage wraparound community learning centers that bring social and health services into Ohio school buildings. These wraparound services ensure that the public schools are the center of the neighborhood, and they include health, dental, and mental health clinics, after school programs, and parent support programs. Cincinnati Public Schools has a very successful program:

 End the test-and-punish philosophy, and replace it with an ideology of school investment and improvement. The tests have narrowed the curriculum to the tested subjects. If national standardized testing is to continue, testing should be limited to the federal minimum guidelines, and there should be no state standardized tests beyond those mandated by ESSA. sheet/wp/2017/01/06/how-testing-practices-have-to-change-in-u-s-public- schools/?utm_term=.45d28f77dcb0

 Remove high stakes mandates from schools, and abolish the practice of punishing schools, teachers, families, and students for arbitrary test scores. Do away with mandatory retention attached to the 3rd Grade Reading Guarantee and high school end-of-course state tests. If parents choose to opt their children out of testing, no one should be penalized. tests.pdf

 Restore respect for well-trained, certified teachers, and return educator evaluation systems to locally elected school boards. Dismiss Teach for America, which is funded by the Eli Broad Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation.

Eliminate the practice of judging teachers by their students’ scores – research has proven it unreliable. 6.pdf