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 it suggests the use of VAM in a specific case of teacher evaluation was arbitrary. The broader implications are that using this type of teacher evaluation could face additional scrutiny in other states.

Here’s more on the case:

Here’s what happened to Lederman: In 2012-13, 68.75 percent of her New York students met or exceeded state standards in both English and math. She was labeled “effective” that year. In 2013-2014, her students’ test results were very similar, but she was rated “ineffective.” Meanwhile, her district superintendent, Thomas Dolan, declared that Lederman — whose students received standardized math and English Language Arts test scores consistently higher than the state average — has a “flawless record.”

The Court found that the significant change in her ranking could not be adequately explained by data and evidence offered by the state. Essentially, the state couldn’t explain how a teacher whose students received similar overall test results in consecutive years went from an “effective” to an “ineffective” rating. It was noted that the VAM system failed to take into account classrooms with a high concentration of high-performing students and/or classrooms with a relatively small number of students.

More on VAM:

The Absurdity of VAM

Unreliable and Invalid

Some Inconvenient Facts about VAM

The Worst Teachers?

Value-Added Caution

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