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 growth score and rating of her as “ineffective” for the 2013-14 school year was “arbitrary and capricious and an abuse of discretion.”

Littman surmises that caution should be exercised as Connecticut revisits its teacher evaluation process:

It’s worth revisiting a few of the important highlights of the American Statistical Association statement, particularly since the state Board of Education and Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) are revisiting Connecticut’s own teacher evaluation system at present, having postponed the 2012 legislative requirement to link 25 percent of Connecticut teachers’ evaluations to test scores for another year over the protests of corporate education reform groups.

She’s referring to a statement by the American Statistical Association that says, in part:

Most VAM studies find that teachers account for about 1 percent to 14 percent of the variability in test scores, and that the majority of opportunities for quality improvement are found in the system-level conditions. Ranking teachers by their VAM scores can have unintended consequences that reduce quality.

In light of both the ASA’s statement and the decision by the New York judge calling the use of VAM in the Lederman case “arbitrary” and “capricious,” it seems sensible that Connecticut education policymakers would set a new course and move away from VAM and toward other models of teacher evaluation.

Littman is skeptical as she suggests corporate education reformers will continue pushing the VAM solution.

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