Monday, October 29, 2012

VAM Based on False Assumption

“Research has shown that teacher effectiveness is the greatest determinant of student outcomes followed closely by principal effectiveness”. This totally inaccurate statement which is based on an incorrect quote of research findings is included on page 113 of Louisiana's ESEA Waiver proposal as part of the justification for using student value added data as part of the COMPASS evaluation system to evaluate and certify teachers in Louisiana. It is inexcusable that State Superintendent John White would continue to use a bogus assumption for making such serious career decisions for teachers and principals.

The correct quote of research conclusions regarding the influence of teacher effectiveness relative to other factors states that “of all school related factors, teacher effectiveness is the greatest determinant of student outcomes followed closely by principal effectiveness”. While it is difficult to absolutely quantify the effect of various factors on student performance, most researchers have concluded that non-school factors including socioeconomic factors (primarily poverty levels) have approximately an 80% influence on student outcomes while school related factors make up the remaining 20%. That puts teacher effectiveness at a far cry from being the greatest determinant of student outcomes!

While improving teacher effectiveness is highly desirable for improving student performance, it is not the dominant factor. It follows that an evaluation system that makes a teacher's career so overwhelmingly dependent on student outcomes is a huge mistake and can produce many unfair unintended results. Louisiana's Act 54 of 2010 which makes 50% of a teacher's evaluation and therefore career dependent on student performance is counterproductive to say the least. In addition the Louisiana COMPASS evaluation plan allows an “ineffective” rating on VAM to totally invalidate the principals' observation portion of a teacher's evaluation and therefore is a violation of Act 54. It improperly magnifies any errors coming from the highly erratic and inaccurate VAM, and in those cases becomes 100% of a teacher's evaluation.

One of the principals who read my blog on flaws in VAM sent me an email informing me of another serious flaw involving what are called “connections” students. These are students who have failed the 8th grade LEAP but who state policy allows to move to a high school campus in hopes of getting them back on track for graduation. It seems that LDOE policy requires that if a high school teacher is teaching 10 or more of these students, the teacher may be included in the VAM portion of the evaluation system. This principal fears, with much justification, that if such students fail the 8th grade LEAP in the current year, their high school teachers could have their VAM score dragged down to the “ineffective” level. These teachers had nothing to do with moving such students up to the high school level, and may be providing minimal instruction related to the 8th grade LEAP, yet the teacher's job is being put in jeopardy by factors over which he/she have no control. It seems the examples of VAM flaws are quite numerous rather than highly limited and correctable as suggested by Superintendent John White. But that's on top of the false assumption upon which VAM is based. There is a new slogan going around in Louisiana educator circles. It is stated simply: “White lies”.

White continues hiring non-educators to top administrative positions in LDOE.

Long time investigative reporter Tom Aswell who publishes the blog, LouisianaVoice, recently uncovered the fact that Superintendent White had hired motivational speaker/utilities lobbyist, and all around flimflam man, Dave Lefkowith, to head the “Office of Portfolio” which includes administration of the Choice Course program. (See the October 10th post in the LouisianaVoice)The salary for this non-educator, with no credentials whatsoever will be $144,999 to recruit private companies to teach just about any course they can sell to our public school parents and students. This is the massive course privatization program authorized by Act 2, which is scheduled to go into full operation next school year. Private companies and individuals will be allowed to raid the MFP of all school systems in the state with little or no accountability for results. An email response to several questions I posed recently to BESE President, Penny Dastigue confirmed that choice course providers can be paid up to 90% of the pro-rated amount for one Carnegie unit of credit for some high school courses even though the students do not have to attend any particular number of hours of instruction and do not pass the end of course test. Such a rip-off would raid critical MFP funds while leaving the local school system and parents holding an empty bag. This program which is an open invitation to fraud and abuse using our tax dollars is just the kind of rip-off that Lefty Lefkowith is really qualified to run. How long will our legislators allow this madness to continue?
 
Have you submitted your name and address to my Defenders of Public Education data base yet? All you have to do to get special emails about upcoming votes of BESE and legislators is to send me a short email at louisianaeducator@gmail.com telling me your preferred email address and either your home address or the name or number of your state Representative and Senator. I am not interested in your private information, I just need to know who your legislators are so that we can do some targeting of legislators when key votes are coming up.
Thanks,
Mike Deshotels

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I cant open the article, I guess you have to pay or access now. How do I find out who my members are?

Anonymous said...

I cant open the article, I guess you have to pay or access now. How do I find out who my members are?