With guest, Louder Than a Bomb poet Nate Marshall

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The war on teachers: Test 'em all, let God sort 'em out

Arne Duncan demands Value-Added teacher evaluation asking, “What’s there to hide?”
BUSH MENTALITY...Remember when Bush and Cheney decided to invade Iraq even though they knew Iraq had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks and that there were no WMDs? Now that same mentality is being used by the current administration, only in this case, it's applied to teacher evaluation. A stretch, you say? Take a look. 

Well we already know how crazy it is to rate teachers' performance on the basis of their students' standardized test scores, using this insane Value-Added metric.
y = Xβ + Zv + ε where β is a p-by-1 vector of fixed effects; X is an n-by-p matrix; v is a q-by-1 vector of random effects; Z is an n-by-q matrix; E(v) = 0, Var(v) = G; E(ε) = 0, Var(ε) = R; Cov(v,ε) = 0. V = Var(y) = Var(y - Xβ) = Var(Zv + ε) = ZGZT + R.
But here's where that kill-'em-all-let-God-sort-'em out mentality comes in to play. In Florida, where Bush Brother Jeb ruled the roost for years, about 70% of the Florida teachers are being evaluated, and often merit-paid, promoted or fired using scores based on test results from students they never taught and/or in subjects they don’t teach. 

There are numerous problems with using VAM scores for high-stakes decisions, but in this particular release of data, the most obvious and perhaps the most egregious one is this: Some 70 percent of the Florida teachers received VAM scores based on test results from students they didn’t teach and/or in subjects they don’t teach. 

Yes, you read that right: Teachers are being evaluated on students they didn’t teach and/or subjects they don’t teach. How can that be?
Yes, how can that be? For an answer, one might turn to former Defense Sec. Rumsfeld, who after 9/11 gave the order, "Go massive . . . Sweep it all up. Things related and not.”

Different administration, I know. Same mentality, only now there's a war directed at teachers.

Evaluate teachers -- things related and not. 

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