Friday, January 11, 2013

It's Not Value-Added! It's Growth Model!

The latest round of negotiations to bring junk science to New York City is about to begin, and boy do they have surprises for us! One is that yes, your Regents exams will indeed be used to determine whether or not you are fit to keep your job. I'd previously been under the impression that since these tests were not designed to determine whether or not we add value, they would not be used for that purpose.

Boy was I wrong! It turns out the city can make up some pre-test, then give the Regents exam at the end of the year, and figure out how well you did. And that's not value-added because there's no complicated mathematical formula attached to it, and no one's fretting over how many high-poverty students you have, or how many ESL students, or how they're disabled. It's just straght scoring.

If anyone watched the Michelle Rhee Frontline piece, you can see how well that worked out. There was Rhee, in front of everyone, declaring the amazing gains schools had made under her brilliant guidance. And that made a great deal of sense until all those erasures started showing up, and people said things like there was a better chance of winning the lottery than posting such incredible gains so quickly. So there you go. If you want to do well under the growth model, do it the old-fashioned way--cheat. Hopefully whatever merit pay that entails will be spent before anyone finds out.

Seriously, I have made inquiries, and my understanding is the growth model has no more validity than value-added. In fact, because it fails to consider external factors, it could indeed be worse. That's what the UFT is discussing with the DOE right now, and it's entirely possible they could come to an agreement before Cuomo's January 17th deadline. This is because a potential 1% cut in the city education budget is very important. What is of no importance whatsoever is the UFT contract, which expired over three years ago. Also of no urgency is the fact that educators have not had a raise in four years, despite the 8% raises all other city employees got.

So don't worry about those things. Just remember, as UFT officials will tell you, under the current system, principals have way too much power. The way to correct that, of course, is by making your evaluation 20%, 25%, 40%, or possibly 100% junk science and hoping for the best. So what if hundreds of DC teachers were fired as a result of a similar system? So what if good teachers get fired for no reason? So what if it's abundantly clear the only reason reformy types like Gates and Rhee even float these evaluation systems is so they can fire as many teachers as possible?

The important thing to remember is that, since value-added has such large margins of error as to be completely unpredicatable and unreliable, you may get a good value-added rating, even if you're the worst teacher on God's green earth!

So stop being such a Gloomy Gus, and start hoping for the best!
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