Archive | May, 2016

Of Puzzles and Fuzzy Math

Last week in Tennessee education saw TC Weber calling on the Department of Education to trade-in its testing strategy for a new, more effective model. Then, Amy Frogge offered some insightful commentary on the high cost of school board races, even in Nashville. Commissioner of Education Candice McQueen announced she’s going on a summer tour. […]

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Hawaii Cans VAM

Last week, the Hawaii Board of Education decided to move away from the use of student growth scores (value-added modeling, or VAM) in teacher evaluations. From the press release announcing the change: The significant changes to Policy 203.4, Teacher Performance Evaluation, are: •Remove student test scores as a required measure of student learning and growth; […]

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The High Cost of Payday Loans

The Center for Responsible Lending is out with a new report that notes that Tennessee families lose more than $400 million a year in fees to car title and payday lenders: A recently-released study from the Center for Responsible Lending reveals that Payday and Car Title Loan Sharks are sucking more than $400 million out […]

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Pearson Saves the Day and TN Comes to Expect Failure

Last week, Tennessee reunited with an old friend, testing vendor Pearson. The company was awarded an emergency contract in the amount of $18.5 million to grade TNReady tests from this year. Already, some are questioning the wisdom of this arrangement. As graduation ceremonies take place across Tennessee, the state is also starting a new tradition: […]

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Connecticut Should Heed VAM Warning

Sarah Darer Littman writes of the recent Lederman decision on value-added modeling and warns Connecticut policymakers to take heed. Specifically, Littman notes: Justice Roger D. McDonough of the N.Y. Supreme Court’s 3rd District provided a reminder of this on Tuesday when he ruled in the case of Sheri G. Lederman that the N.Y. Education Department’s […]

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A New Director and some VAM Bias

Last week, Metro Nashville Public Schools hired a new Director, Shawn Joseph. Also, some careful analysis of a recent study by the Tennessee Department of Education on “effective teaching” reveals some bias in the way the state’s value-added scores are distributed. Specifically: The study used TVAAS scores alone to determine a student’s access to “effective […]

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VAM: Correct Diagnosis, Wrong Prescription

In his recent article in Education Post, Arthur Levine laments the limits of current Value-Added Modeling (VAM) while proposing a move to a “new” VAM or VAM 2.0. To his credit, he correctly points out some significant limitations of VAM in determining teacher effectiveness, but the solutions he proposes move in the wrong direction. Here […]

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VAM: “Arbitrary” and “Capricious”

Those are the words from a New York judge in the case of a teacher who sued over her evaluation scores — scores based on value-added modeling, or VAM. While VAM has come under scrutiny from educators and academics as a suspect means of providing teacher evaluation scores, this case marks a turning point as […]

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Money and Testing in Tennessee

Last week, I wrote about one district in Tennessee where the Director of Schools was fighting the state over the annual End of Course Tests after the shift to a new testing regimen ended in a disaster. Ultimately, the decision was made to resume the tests due to the threat of a $3 million fine […]

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More Testing Troubles for Tennessee

Last week was a very bad one for the new TNReady test in Tennessee. Here’s what I wrote about it: First, the state’s testing vendor, Measurement Inc. said the delays and challenges were not their fault. Then, correspondence between a Director of Schools and Education Commissioner Candice McQueen revealed some serious concerns about the test […]

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