"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was and never will be...nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe." – Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Rank order...

The LA Times has added a new level to the concept of "teacher bashing." They recently published rankings of LA teachers based on their students' test scores.

Its been repeatedly shown that student test scores are not reliable indicators of teachers' performance. Studies have shown that the so-called "Value-Added" methods are unstable and inaccurate. There are too many other factors involved. The same people who insist that teachers teach in a way which is "scientifically" or "Research" based seem to have no difficulty evaluating teachers using a measure that is NOT based on any research or scientific study.

In a letter, complete with references (listed at the end of this post), sent to Ebony on August 26, Stephen Krashen said,
...we should be focused on protecting children from the effects of poverty: Proper nutrition (no child left unfed), health care, and access to books. When this happens, all American children will have the advantages that middle class children have and our test scores will be among the best in the world.
Sam Smith, in his blog, Undernews, reported on the Economic Policy Institute's report dealing with using Value Added Modeling for evaluation of teachers.
Why Value Added Testing is a Bust

Student test scores are not reliable indicators of teacher effectiveness, even with the addition of value-added modeling, a new Economic Policy Institute report by leading testing experts finds. Though VAM methods have allowed for more sophisticated comparisons of teachers than were possible in the past, they are still inaccurate, so test scores should not dominate the information used by school officials in making high-stakes decisions about the evaluation, discipline and compensation of teachers.
Are any other professionals evaluated using this sort of unscientific criteria? Are any other professionals subjected to the public display of their evaluations? I don't think so...Here's Sam Smith again in "Personal to the Los Angeles Teachers Union...
The planned release by the Los Angles Times of the test score standings of individual teachers in your system is one of the worst acts of journalism I've run across in a half century in the trade. It's unfair, cheap and disgusting.

Here are a few suggestions for dealing with the problem:

Journalists like to think of themselves as highly ethical. To prove this, how about asking LA Times reporters Jason Felch, Jason Song and Doug Smith to publish all personnel reviews they have received over the past seven years, any notes from mental therapy, and the results of all their physical exams. That way we will know how much to believe them.

Even more productive would be a law suit demanding the release of similar information from all other city workers, including the mayor and the police, fire and sanitation departments. The successful arrest records of all police officers and all public complaints against city officials would be included.
Yeah...I think that would work.

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Stephen Krashen's Sources:

Berliner, D. 2009. Poverty and Potential: Out-of-School Factors and School Success. Boulder and Tempe: Education and the Public Interest Center & Education Policy Research Unit.
http://epicpolicy.org/publication/poverty-and-potential

Bracey, G. 2009. Education Hell: Rhetoric vs. Reality. Educational Research Service

Krashen, S. 1997. Bridging inequity with books. Educational Leadership 55(4): 18-22.

Martin, M. 2004. A strange ignorance: The role of lead poisoning in “failing schools.” http://www.azsba.org/lead.htm.

Payne, K. and Biddle, B. 1999. Poor school funding, child poverty, and mathematics achievement. Educational Researcher 28 (6): 4-13.

1 comment:

The Reflective Educator said...

That's quite the letter from the LA teacher's union, but fair nonetheless.