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Sat Oct 25, 2014, 05:36 AM

The Big Problem With Time's Teacher-Bashing Cover Story


But back to the main point: Time reports that Welch and his ilk were able to find "a flood of new academic research on teacher quality " to back up their hunch that bad teachers are the problem. One research team relied on a "a controversial tool called value-added measures (VAM)" to measure teacher effectiveness, and they "found that replacing a poorly performing teacher with an excellent one could increase students' lifetime earnings by $250,000 per classroom."

So there's a technique that supposedly measures teacher quality, and you can sue public schools that fail to adopt it. Does anyone have a problem with this approach? Of course. Teachers, for example, and their unions–who are, shockingly, never quoted in Time's piece.

But we do get some outside perspectives: one researcher for a "conservative education think tank," and… another analyst for a conservative think tank (Michael McShane of the American Enterprise Institute). That's where Time went when it needed to find critics.There are, of course, plenty of other analysts who could critique the Silicon Valley approach.

But then, at the end of the piece, we finally get to the heart of the matter: Do these statistical models that purport to give us objective data on teacher effectiveness actually do what they claim?

The question of how to judge a teacher's value gets to a fundamental irony in the national war over education reform today. Welch's unexpected victory in Vergara, which hinges on the necessity–and feasibility–of measuring a teacher's effectiveness, comes just as a broad range of educational experts have begun to question the validity of the tests and evaluations on which those teacher-effectiveness measures are based.

Huh. "Irony" might be the right term to describe the problem here: The wealthy interests who claim they have found a system for measuring teacher quality may in fact have no such system at all–but are nonetheless attempting to use their power to make decisions about who should remain in the classroom. This is the fundamental problem; but for Time, you explain this is in the second-to-last-paragraph of the piece, where the magazine spells out the doubts about these "value added" models:

In April, the American Statistical Association released a statement questioning whether VAM, the methodology that undergirds the Chetty study, adequately measures a teacher's total value to a student's education. In May, the American Educational Research Association found a "surprisingly weak" correlation between teachers' VAM scores and their actual skills, as evaluated by surveys and expert observations. In July, the Department of Education found that VAM scores varied wildly depending on what time of day tests were administered or whether the kids were distracted. Even the Silicon Valley reformers appear willing to dial back the emphasis on testing and evaluations, at least for a bit.

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Reply The Big Problem With Time's Teacher-Bashing Cover Story (Original post)
eridani Oct 2014 OP
Demeter Oct 2014 #1
greatlaurel Oct 2014 #2

Response to eridani (Original post)

Sat Oct 25, 2014, 07:59 AM

1. Reality is the winner over any crack-brained political theories, every time


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Response to eridani (Original post)

Sat Oct 25, 2014, 10:00 AM

2. The corporations are so desperate to steal the tax dollars that go for education.

More people really need to pay attention to this, before our public school system is completely dismantled.

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