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VAM in PA

January 5, 2013

I have some misgivings about writing yet another post debunking Value Added Measures (VAM), but this article written by a Pittsburgh University professor is full of links to technical and topical articles about VAM in Pennsylvania each of which underscores the fact that there is NO SCIENTIFIC BASIS for VAM as a metric for teacher quality. Here is a quote from the article that led me to post on VAM again:

Pennsylvania and many other states around the country have introduced these laws as part of the corporate-reform-movement, which rests on the idea that public schools are failing, and that we must measure students with tests that will then be used to hold teachers accountable and even close down or “turn around” low performing schools (often by firing all the teachers).This seductive reasoning centers on the assumption that teachers are responsible for how their students perform on tests and that tests are an accurate measure of their teaching. (emphasis added).

The first sentence neglects to mention that the reason these states are introducing this kind of legislation is to secure waivers for Race To The Top and thereby qualify for fairly substantial block grants that can be used to help underwrite the costs of administering these “seductive” tests. The tests will continue to prove what we already know: children raised in poverty don’t score as well as affluent children. The difference is that the tests will presumably “prove” that teachers are the reason for this failure and if we get rid of the “bad teachers” test scores will increase. Fifteen years from now we’ll see that this isn’t the case and another generation of children will be lost.

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