Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Even Hess had a problem with L.A. Times story

The right-wing think-tank's man at Edweek, Rick Hess, liked the L.A. Times' singular use of student standardized-test scores and value-added assessment, to rank teachers. But even Hess was somewhat critical.
I'm all for building and refining these systems and using them to evaluate, reward, and remove teachers. But I think it's a mistake to get in the business of publicly identifying individual teachers in this fashion.

Hess' criticisms makes me wonder, just how far to the right does one have to be to really get behind this latest Times debasement of city teachers?

Value added?

There was one part of Hess' post that gave me a chuckle. It was his comment on public transparency:  
"It typically doesn't entail reporting on how many traffic citations individual LAPD officers issued."
I'm laughing only because I'm reading the front-page story in the Sun-Times about a memo from Mayor Daley's office (the man with singular power over our public schools) ordering Chicago cops to write more tickets. It's accompanied by a sidebar story: "Commanders told to make lists of worst cops" which reads as follows:
"Over the last year, officers have undergone evaluations on everything from the number of tickets they write to the number of arrests they make. But they don't know the standards for winding up on a list of worst performers."
You should understand that in the past year, Daley, in full privatization mode of any bit of public space that isn't nailed down, sold the city's parking meters to a private firm. The resulting anger from Chicago masses have left Daley popularity ratings down in the dirt.

It sounds now like City Hall has taken Hess' counsel to heart -- it's a kind of L.A. Times value-added approach without the actual naming of names in the press. It shows that VAA works sometimes, depending of course on what it is you value. In this case writing more tickets and thereby generating for cash for the city's coffers. Or in the case of the schools, a singular focus on test scores as a new gold standard in teacher evaluation.



Before I could finish writing this post, Daley went ballistic in response to criticism from the S-T story. The mayor now claims he knew nothing about the City Hall ticket quota memo.
"Stupidity. Just stupid. Just stupid. Some bureaucrat sent that out. That's all it is." (WBEZ)
And guess what? Daley is calling for the name of the poor schmuck who wrote the memo. No value-added, .


  1. "The idea is to remain vigilant, consciously vigilant, against statistical thinking and distancing and carelessness and abstractness, all of which [Camus] associates with the plague” --Maxine Greene, 1982

  2. Agree wholeheartedly!

    In the words of Sam Kinison, God rest his soul, to Rodney Dangerfield in Back to School, "I like the way you think! I'm gonna be watching you...."


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