Monday, August 16, 2010


The LA Times in cahoots with Rand researchers, and the Hechinger Inst. ran an article Sunday that's the first in a series leading to the release of scores of teacher effectiveness based on a value-added model. If the point, as the Times claimed, was to show the importance of having top-notch teachers in classrooms, especially those classrooms with the neediest kids, I would have been okay with it.

But instead, I found the article to be simply another a vile piece of teacher-bashing by the notorious Tribune Company. It's the kind of crap we have become used to reading here in the Chicago Tribune. In this case, questionable research methods based on the so-called "value-added" model, were used to supposedly rate teachers' effectiveness based entirely on student test scores. The Times faux researchers claimed that they "controlled" for outside-of-school factors, such as the effects of poverty, family and community issues, racism, etc... Of course they didn't, couldn't in a purely statistical study. To make matters worse, teachers' names and pictures were posted along with possible career-ending assumption made about them without any chance for them to respond. Talk about bullying!

But on the positive side, the Times piece inspired lots of us researchers, educators, bloggers and tweeters to get off our asses and respond which created some good controversy--not just about the Times piece, but about the limitations and proper use of value-added assessment.. Hopefully some light will be shed on this important issue and some valid and more authentic approaches to teacher evaluation will emerge. I also hope that, in the end, the Times will pay the price for its callous disregard for ethical research standards and its disrespect for the teaching profession.

I've collected some good tweets and links in response:

Larry Ferlazzo Larryferlazzo
New blog post "L.A. Times Prints Cheap Shot At Teachers" 

Bruce Baker SchlFinance101 LA Times "analysis" assumes prior scores correct entirely for other background characteristics? No details provided?

Sherman Dorn  shermandorn
Re L.A. Times story: my wonkish thoughts on growth models 5 years ago:
Diane Ravitch DianeRavitch
Experts like Helen Ladd of Duke say that VAA is not ready for prime time, but LA Times doesn't care, ready to ruin careers.

leonie haimson leoniehaimson
dumb reductionist article at L.A Times using Value-added; admits should only be part of eval system but makes it all

LATimes publishes naïve analysis of teacher quality, with reporters as expert classroom observers=practicing educ research without a license 
New blog post "More On The L.A. Times Article"

New study by US Dept of Ed shows huge error rates when using VAA:  

I felt terrible for the LA teacher whose picture was in LATimes, id as ineffective by their measure. Why shd he be humiliated?  

Union leader calls on L.A. teachers to boycott LA Times for reporting failing teachers | The Daily Caller  

More to follow

1 comment:

  1. I agree of course. I wrote about the "Race to the Bottom" shortly after it passed Congress. This is a travesty and once again publishers are using standardized tests to bash hard working teachers and make millions selling tests. It makes me sick.


    Tex Shelters


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