Saturday, February 25, 2012

NYC to Release Teachers' 'Value-Added' Ratings: Why It's Not Fair

This from The Nation:
The New York Times and WNYC are preparing to publish online the “value-added” ratings of 12,000 New York City teachers—an estimation of each teacher’s impact on his or her students’ standardized test scores in math or English.

Value-added, a tool developed by economists, is highly controversial, and the Times and WNYC acknowledge the measure is volatile. (To read about how value-added scores are calculated in New York, click here.) For math teachers, the margin of error in estimating a teacher’s impact on students’ test scores could be up to thirty-five points on a 100-point test; for English teachers, the margin of error could be up to fifty-three points. A state court ruled against the United Federation of Teachers’ attempt to prevent the city from releasing the data to news agencies.

In 2010, the Los Angeles Times created an online database of value-added scores, searchable by teacher name. Ever since, the question of whether to publicly release such reports has split the standards-and-accountability school reform movement. New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg and federal Secretary of Education Arne Duncan support publication with names attached. But yesterday, Bill Gates wrote a Times op-ed arguing that although value-added is a useful tool when combined with more holistic evaluation methods, such as classroom observation, he opposes releasing individual teachers’ value-added scores to the public, calling publication a “shaming” device. Teach for America founder Wendy Kopp is also on the record opposing publication...


Christina Stallard/ EDF203 said...

Any teacher can hammer into their students' minds certain information and how to correctly shade a bubble. In fact, I'm pretty sure that made up the majority of my fourth grade year. Everything we covered in class leading up to our standardized tests in the spring was preparation for the test. To be honest, there's not much I recall from that yea, except maybe how to correctly shade in a bubble on a Scantron (whatever you do, do NOT put an X through it and do not even consider using anything other than a wooden, #2 pencil). 
If my teacher would have been "graded" on how well we, the students, did on our testing, she probably would have gotten an excellent grade. She made sure we knew how to write an Open Response, we knew the scientific method, we could do all kinds of math. She even organized a test prep night for the entire fourth grade. However good a grade she would have received for how well we did on our standardized test, I don't think that would have been a fair determination of what sort of teacher she was.
A "value-added" accountability system isn't necessarily the best way to assess a teacher's value or worth. Sure, my 4th grade class had great test scores; our teacher would have received a gold medal I imagine. But, an assessment based on just our test scores would not have been an accurate assessment because it did not show just how valuable our teacher was. She was a great teacher who taught us well, even though she was limited basically to hammering core content into our heads. Likewise, bad teachers could produce a class of great test scores, or other good teachers could produce a crop of bad test scores. Since teaching is multi-faceted, so should the assessment be determining a teacher's value. Data is good, but it has to be accurate. 

Anonymous said...

If we are going to do this, then we need to do the same for all folks who in some way recieve tax funding. Doctors who recieve Medicare/Medicaid patients could have a "days of life added" rating. Police could have an "incarceration added" score. IRS would have a "revenue added" rating too. We could even publish state and federal worker scores based upon productivety and timely completion of tasks.

I though worker performance evaluation was a personnel element and there was suppose to be some sort of confidentiality involved in that process.

Don't see how you are going to narrow gaps when you are publically taring and feathering teachers in the paper. I wouldn't take a job with at risk kids and potentially end up publically ridculed and end my career.