Sunday, April 24, 2016

Please Sign the Petition on Teacher Evaluation

The Network for Public Education, a pro-public education advocacy group of which I am a member just released this study of teacher opinion relative to recent trends in teacher evaluation. One of the major findings of the study is that teachers believe that the present trend of tying teacher evaluations to student test scores is counterproductive and damaging to the teaching profession. Many teachers believe, and recent statistics show, that current teacher evaluation methods incorporating student test scores is actually driving away some of the most promising teachers. This trend accomplishes the exact opposite of what the use of so called "Value Added" components of teacher effectiveness were supposed to accomplish.

That's why I have signed, and I am encouraging my readers to sign this petition promoted by a Louisiana teacher who wants to stop the excessive use of student VAM scores in Louisiana teacher evaluation. Please take the time to click on the link to the petition and sign it, if you believe as I do, that the use of VAM in Louisiana has demoralized and greatly lowered the status of the teaching profession in Louisiana.

We all remember when the proponents of Jindal's Act 1 of 2012 made grandiose predictions that the use of VAM as a major component in teacher evaluations was going to uplift the teaching profession and finally empower the best teachers to inspire other teachers to learn the secret to making every student perform at above average levels. What an insane unscientific notion! It was Mark Twain who over 150 years ago remarked: "Tis sad but true that half the American citizens are below average." Twain was making fun of our American tendency to ignore the rules of nature and mathematics in predicting human performance. To try to get every student to perform above average may be a great aspirational goal, but it defies the rules of statistics. So to base teacher's evaluations on and place in jeopardy their careers based on the iron laws of statistics which guarantee winners and losers in every measure of performance is illogical, not to mention cruel and unprofessional. All of this is made even more illogical and cruel by the finding by the American Statistical Association that teacher influence on student performance in school is limited to between 1 and 14 percent.

So as part of our continuing drive to implement the most unscientific methods of school reform,  Louisiana has decided to base at least 50% of a teacher's evaluation on a factor that experts say is between 1 and 14% responsible for student performance! In fact the Louisiana teacher evaluation system states that in certain circumstances, the VAM portion of a teacher's evaluation overrules all other measures of teacher effectiveness. That's the icing on the cake!

Also, the most comprehensive studies of VAM in Louisiana have found the year to year consistency of the VAM system to be extremely unstable and unreliable.

So exactly who is insisting that Louisiana use a statistically unreliable system that accounts for no more than 14 percent of student performance to make all decisions relative to teacher employment and retention in Louisiana? Does it surprise you that the main force for this extremely unreliable and unscientific process of employing people on the education profession in Louisiana comes from the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry and the Council for a Better Louisiana. These tow groups now have a stranglehold on state government through their use of PACS that literally buy the votes of the majority of our politicians in the Louisiana Legislature and BESE.

Despite the seemingly overwhelming power of big business in Louisiana, our citizens did succeed in electing a governor that was not under the thumb of big business even though the majority of the legislature will probably continue to follow LABI blindly.  Only if a large number of good citizens keep insisting on sound practices in the evaluation of teachers may we be able to salvage this extremely valuable profession.

Please Sign the Petition!

No comments: