Putting value-added model to the test: Study finds student scores can predict teacher effectiveness

I joined a conference call today with researcher Marcus A. Winters about his new study, “Transforming Tenure: Using Value-Added Modeling to Identify Ineffective Teachers.”

In the study released a few hours ago, Winters examined one of the most controversial approaches to teacher evaluations: Using student test scores to identify how much an individual teacher contributes to a student’s progress over the years.

Known as the value-added model or VAM, this approach appeals to lawmakers. However, educators argue that it’s not reliable because it ignores the many variables involved in a classroom.

A senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and an assistant professor at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs, Winters examined teacher data and VAM scores in Florida and found that a value-added model did predict which teachers were effective in future years in raising student achievement, but cautioned that the model should not be used in isolation to determine a teacher’s fate.

However, even used in isolation with no other assessment of a teacher’s performance, Winters found VAM was a better predictor of later teacher effectiveness than current evaluation methods.

“Everyone knows that teachers matter,” said Winters on the media call. “We know from empirical research that teachers are the most important school-based factor for producing student achievement.  We also know teacher quality varies considerably. Some teachers are really great and some teachers aren’t very good at all.”

Now, tenure is awarded to both, largely because of flaws in teacher evaluation systems that virtually lead to all teachers being rated as effective, he said. His study asked: Is value-added a meaningful measure of a teacher’s performance and is it helpful in identifying future effective teachers?

Yes, according to his findings. Value-added ratings of teachers told more about a teacher’s later classroom effectiveness than the current proxy that many states rely on, whether a teacher holds a master’s degree, said Winters.

In fact, had Florida relied solely on VAM scores of its teachers to decide whether to keep or fire them after their first three years in the classroom, the state would have removed many teachers whose later VAM scores were low, said Winters.

Winters acknowledged that the value-added model is imperfect, but said current assessment tools that pronounce almost all teachers satisfactory are also imperfect. The difference, he said, is that the current imperfect system defaults in favor of teachers, while the value-added model — with its slight danger of mislabeling a few average teachers as ineffective – defaults in the interest of students.

Because I know that this issue is of great interest to teacher/readers here, let me pull out what Winters’ report says about it:

Critics of VAM analysis rightly point out that, as a statistical tool, VAM must contend with measurement error—the inevitable fact that measurements of the same thing, taken at different times, will vary, and some of this variation will be essentially random. VAM-based measures of teacher performance can be quite imprecise. When VAM is used to inform tenure decisions, it is likely that some average and even above-average teachers could be removed from the classroom because of a low VAM score caused by random variation in measurement over the years, rather than their own failures. The influence of measurement error can be mitigated by statistical adjustments and by incorporating multiple years of student performance when evaluating any particular teacher. But measurement error cannot be eliminated.

From the perspective of teachers (and their unions), the collateral damage of even a single teacher losing tenure from an inaccurately low VAM score is unacceptable. However, the issue is not as cut-and-dried from the perspective of the student. A tenure-reform policy based on VAM will be an improvement for students if it removes enough low-performing teachers to improve overall teacher quality in a school district. If student achievement is our most pressing concern, we need to consider the possible consequences of VAM-based policies on whole districts, even as we acknowledge the potential for error in individual cases.

No evaluation system creates a perfect measure of an employee’s productivity. VAM, then, should not be judged against a nonexistent ideal but rather evaluated for its potential to improve on the current system’s ability to predict future performance.

Now, back to the call:

“It is imperfect,” Winters said. “The question, though, is ‘Can it improve upon our ability to identify teachers who, in future years, are going to be effective in the classroom?’”

As policy, Winters would not rely solely on value-added scores to determine a teacher’s fate, calling for a multiple assessment that includes an observational-based judgement by a principal using agreed-upon rubrics of what effective teaching looks like in the classroom.

Thus, when a teacher earns low scores in both the subjective, the classroom observation, and the objective, the value-added model, Winter said school districts can be reassured that the teacher is ineffective. When the two assessments disagree, Winter said the system should consider it a red flag and look deeper. He also said that value-added scores should be considered over several years, so a teacher is not punished for one bad year.

Here is the official conclusion of the report, which can be read here:

Like previous research found in North Carolina, my analysis of Florida data found that pretenure VAM scores often provide information about a teacher’s future quality. Thus, VAM analysis can help replace “automatic” tenure with employment decisions based on reliable evaluations. It can be part of tenure reform and thus can contribute to improving public education in the United States.

But which tenure-reform policies would make best use of this technique? I addressed this question by pinpointing the teachers in the Florida data who would have been removed from the classroom according to several different types of policies and performance standards. I found that any VAM-based policy would have removed teachers who, on average, performed worse than their peers later in their careers.

However, different versions of VAM-based policies proved to have different consequences. Specifically, certain versions increased the risk that effective teachers (as measured by VAM) would be removed. For example, a policy could target teachers for removal if they have two or more periods of consecutive poor performance. Alternately, the policy could simply score teachers on an average of their performance ratings for a given number of years. I found that the latter policy was more likely than the former to result in the removal of effective teachers (teachers who, despite a “bad patch” in the records, would prove to be effective later). Another way to increase this risk of “false positives,” I found, was to set the performance bar high. Such policies, applied to the Florida data, would also have resulted in the removal of teachers who would later demonstrate effective performance.

These results tell tenure reformers that they should consider the number and type of teachers likely to be denied tenure or removed from the classroom under their proposed policies. This will help them design policies that balance the interests of students in need of great teachers and the legitimate interests of teachers concerned that they will be inappropriately removed from the classroom because of a randomly low VAM score.

The need for well-designed policies should not obscure the finding that public schools can indeed use VAM to help identify teachers for tenure or removal. Instead, these results underscore the importance of blending VAM with sound policies. This report does not argue that VAM should be used in isolation to evaluate teachers for tenure or to make any other employment decisions. VAM, as we have seen, is subject to random measurement errors, and so must be combined with other methods of teacher evaluation. The lesson of this report and of other research is that VAM can be a useful piece of a comprehensive evaluation system. Claims that it is unreliable should be rejected. VAM, when combined with other evaluation methods and well-designed policies, can and should be part of a reformed system that improves teacher quality and thus gives America’s public school pupils a better start in life.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

58 comments Add your comment

Tech Prof

September 5th, 2012
1:28 pm

Another scholar’s view of “value added”: http://youtu.be/uONqxysWEk8

bootney farnsworth

September 5th, 2012
1:29 pm

not impressed.

I understand the need to evolve how faculty are evaluated, but VAM isn’t it.
it just replaces one set of variables with another one.

Classroom Teacher

September 5th, 2012
1:37 pm

How does the VAM account for differences in the curriculum from year to year? For example, in sixth and seventh grade social studies, the students study most of the world outside the United States. In elementary school, the focus is on the United States. Does the VAM take into account the remediation that may be involved in getting students prepared for studying the rest of the world?

If not, then there will be a drop between fifth grade social studies success and sixth grade. To me, the VAM assumes a continuum along which true growth in student learning is possible. To change a curriculum midstream would seem to upset that continuum and make the VAM almost useless in evaluating teachers.

Classroom Teacher

September 5th, 2012
1:38 pm

I meant “measuring growth in student learning is possible.”


September 5th, 2012
1:38 pm

bootney, what type of evaluation tool(s) would you use for faculty to determine effectiveness?

Jerry Eads

September 5th, 2012
2:01 pm

As I understand the research I’ve read, this doesn’t add much, except the attempt to minimize the impact of error. That would appear to be a rather gross misinterpretation of the data. There are HUGE swings in VAM from year to year for the same teacher, in most part because most state tests are, like ours, (a) really terrible and (b) not built for the purpose.

I happen to think, on the basis of the research to date, that IF we’re willing to spend the very large sums necessary to develop tests worthy of the job, and IF we are ACTUALLY willing to use “multiple measures,” and IF we recognize that the primary problem in education is the truly dismal state of school leadership (NOT teaching – among the truly great principals exist far too many who are truly dangerous and incapable of rating anyone in a classroom) THEN we might be able to build a better mousetrap.

Let’s remember that our current tests are built to do one thing, and one thing only: To determine whether very low-performing students have reached a very low “standard” of performance on questions tht ask little more than factoid recognition. These tests are in no way capable of either producing meaningul VAM scores or, for that matter, differentiating strong performance. Let’s hope decent testing comes from the multi-state testing cooperatives.

Jerry Eads

September 5th, 2012
2:10 pm

Classroom teacher: Yes. VAM MUST assume a coherent, stable and properly developed curriculum THAT THE TEST ACCURATELY REPRESENTS. It’s my understanding that what we have currently may not be what we need. It’s possible that the Common Core – which actually had curriculum development experts work with the crafters (what a radical strategy) may provide the basis for proper testing – if we can afford it.

VAM with a proper curriculum and tests SHOULD take into account a reasonably wide range of student performance. Whether the necessary requirements actually happen in practice remains to be seen.

Pride and Joy

September 5th, 2012
2:12 pm

Measuring the amount kids have learned is a common-sense approach to measuring teacher effectiveness. The author clearly says that “Thus, when a teacher earns low scores in both the subjective, the classroom observation, and the objective, the value-added model, Winter said school districts can be reassured that the teacher is ineffective. When the two assessments disagree, Winter said the system should consider it a red flag and look deeper. He also said that value-added scores should be considered over several years, so a teacher is not punished for one bad year.”
And his best point being that what we are using now is not useful because the system we use now evaluates every teacher as effective and even teachers admit there are bad apples in the classroom.
No model is perfect.
None of us out in the business world get a perfect model to evaluate our effectiveness either.
But you can be sure of this…when parents are trying to remove their kids from a teacher’s classroom, something is up. When parents routinely request a specific teacher that tells us something as well and when a teacher cannot speak nor write common, standard English, her butt should have never been allowed in the classroom.


September 5th, 2012
2:27 pm

Oh noes!! A tool that can measure teacher effectiveness????? That can’t be! It’s always the parents and the administrators that are at fault! I can’t ever be the teacher!!! You can’t tie salaries to effectiveness. That will ruin the teachers!

/sarcasm off


September 5th, 2012
2:46 pm

ABC got it 1-2-3.


September 5th, 2012
3:07 pm

All this evaluation talk could be eliminated if we just hired teachers with high IQ’s who actually major in the subject they are teaching, and not in education. I have always been amazed that a certified teacher can be assigned to teach subjects in which they have no expertise. The same Northern European country that leads the world in standardized test scores (and doesn’t start school until the child is 8) only hires teachers with a masters degree in the subject they are teaching, and only hires from the top 10% of the college class. They do not have education majors at all. Here in America, we hire exclusively education majors, most of whom graduate in the bottom third of their college class. So we have the dumb teaching the dumber, no wonder standard scores are falling. We can evaluate the current population of teachers all you want, but that will not make them any smarter or better teachers. We have to systematically replace them with better qualified teachers who actually major in English or Mathematics or Chemistry. The good news is a large number of PhD’s in the life sciences and chemistry are currently unemployed or underemployed, due to the cut backs in pharmaceutical research. The bad news is we will not hire them, they are not education majors. A golden opportunity wasted.


September 5th, 2012
3:10 pm

So are we to administer additional tests to students to determine teacher efectiveness or are the minimal competency crcts and eocts sufficient? What if you teach a class with no standardized test? It sounds like someone is taking us all to the cleaners and we just got our shirts done!


September 5th, 2012
3:17 pm

Tech Prof – Interesting video created to oppose merit pay. If the students were assigned (sorted) by IQ and assigned to classes such that all students are within 15 IQ points, it might be easier to measure value added. As it is the teacher must teach in the same class the child with an 85 IQ as well as a child with a 130 IQ. One is going to be left behind, the other is not going learn as much or as fast as they are capable of learning. Grouping by IQ would help both children progress at a faster rate.

Pride and Joy

September 5th, 2012
3:53 pm

Classroom Teacher asks “How does the VAM account for differences in the curriculum from year to year?”
Common sense dictates studetns are tested at the beginning of the year and at the end of the year on the same material. that will absolutley tell you what the children learned from that teacher in that class. it doesn’t matter what changes from year to year.
If we want to measure a teacher’s effectiveness in world history, we should give a world history test at the beginning of the year and then let the teacher teach world history all year and then retest the children at the end of the year on world history to determine how much is learned. Now combine those scores with the other common sense measurements such as teacher observations. I would also like to include another measurement — testing the teacher on what she knows about world history. Let’s make sure the teacher knows her material before she teaches it.

Mountain Man

September 5th, 2012
3:54 pm

So the VAM tests kids when they ENTER a grade and when they EXIT a grade, and the improvement is the score? Does it take into accout absenteeism? Does it take into account discipline referrals? So a sixth grade teacher who recieves a student reading at 1st grade level has to give individualized attention to raise that student up to a second grade level to get credit for “value added”? Do they get “extra credit” if they bring that student up to a third grade level? Too many variables.

Hillbilly D

September 5th, 2012
3:57 pm

who actually major in the subject they are teaching,

There’s a lot to be said for that. Just because you knowing something doesn’t mean you can teach it to someone else but you can’t teach what you don’t know yourself.

Mountain Man

September 5th, 2012
3:57 pm

I don’t see anything at all about testing kids coming into the classroom. They surely are not using the previous year’s exit scores (which are probably made from cheating) to determine the “entry score, are they?

I see LOTS of encouragement for cheating here.

Mountain Man

September 5th, 2012
4:00 pm

“who actually major in the subject they are teaching, ”

You don’t mean, gasp, having English teachers teach English, and Math teachers teach Math, do you? Everyone know an education major is a master at everything.

Pride and Joy

September 5th, 2012
4:06 pm

To Solutions and Others Regarding IQ:
I think it would be a good start to group kids by their ability. I am an advocate for advanced placement and accelerated classes for those who have the motivation or innate ability to learn faster than their peers but IQ may not be a good meausrement. Some kids are innately motivated to learn as I was. My IQ isn’t high — it’s 138. I’m no genius: I don’t consider myself gifted and I had no one pushing me to succeed. I just wanted to do well in school because it made feel good about myself.
If you sorted all the kids by IQ, I might have been left in the average to below average class, which would have crushed my motivation.
Maybe IQ isn’t such a good determining factor. Perhaps group kids by their ability regardless of their IQ. High-achievers, even when they have an average IQ like mine, should be allowed to be in an advanced class if they can grasp the concepts and are doing the work.
Your thoughts?

old teach

September 5th, 2012
4:25 pm

Teacher evaluations have been, and will continue to be, a part of the teaching profession. But I think a good administrator can determine whether a teacher is effective or not without the lengthy, cumbersome process used today. I also think that the new VAM is overkill; ineffective teachers can be removed without it–if that’s its purpose.

Voice of Reason

September 5th, 2012
4:29 pm

Classroom Teacher is spot on with the comments above. Adding to her comments, a school system would only need to adopt a growth model instrument that utilizes adaptive measures (questions get harder or easier as students answer) to pinpoint where the student’s academic progress existsin the content areas (math, science, and science). Social Studies has not been developed to date. MAP or Measures of Assessment Progress (used in Decatur City Schools, Statesboro, some private schools, etc.) dynamically adapts to a student’s responses – as they take the test.
Answer a question correctly and the test presents a more challenging item
Miss a question, and MAP offers a simpler item
In this way, the test narrows in on a student’s learning level, engaging them with content that allows them to succeed. MAP tests are administered three times each year. Because NWEA, who owns MAP, has over 10 years of data collected, each students growth can be compared against a norm. This, along with VAM would provide educators with the tool to accurately assess a teachers impact and a schools influence on student achievement. Go to NWEA.org to learn more. I am sure there are many other types of content area adaptive measures other than MAP testing that exists.

Mortimer Collins

September 5th, 2012
4:58 pm

“Value added” is so 90’s. Gotta any thing more current?


September 5th, 2012
5:47 pm

Two questions: When you fire all these “ineffective” teachers, what will be the next excuse for not paying teachers at the same rate as other professions?
Since the school systems can’t afford to pay teachers their base salaries now, having imposed freezes on step/inflation increases and furlough days for years, how will we afford to pay more for effective teachers?


September 5th, 2012
6:24 pm

So, my pay cut this year was due to the VAM!!
What about last years pay cut? That too was due to the VAM? Paycuts usally mean ineffectiviness. How did they determine I needed a paycut?

BTY, my contract states, they will pay my salary if “funds are available”. So who cares about RTT or pay for preformance. It is a farce.


September 5th, 2012
6:30 pm

solutions: the problem is, those researcher, wont put up with the excrement!! Or the pay!! They may not even know how to teacher!! With all those PhDs and things, does not mean you can teach math or science to a 16 year old!!

But nor does an education major!!


September 5th, 2012
6:48 pm

“…but cautioned that the model should not be used in isolation to determine a teacher’s fate.”

Anyone care to guess what will worm its way out of our legislature?
I submit it will be exactly what he is warning against.
Our legislature has a long history of trying to do everything on the cheap, especially when it comes to education.
Anyone remember the last time QBE was fully funded?
Comparing CRCT results is cheap, the data is already there.
Paying for developing & implementing all that “other stuff” to supplement the VAM numbers won’t be very palatable to our fiscally conservative loony-toons.


September 5th, 2012
7:45 pm

I don’t mind being evaluated for “effectiveness” unless by that you mean the “walk on the water type of effectiveness”, where a kid with limited abilities, no parental support, frequent absences, and frequent emotional outbursts is turned into a silk purse over the course of 9 months. There was only One Who could do such.


September 5th, 2012
7:49 pm

Many of those obstacles are over-comeable, but usually not in one year in all areas.

Ron F.

September 5th, 2012
8:35 pm

“Here in America, we hire exclusively education majors, most of whom graduate in the bottom third of their college class.”

Okay, show the data to back that up. I’ll bet the farm you can’t.

Elementary teachers major in elementary education- that’s a given. Upper level teachers have a choice, but from my experience the English education majors studied more curriculum as applicable to teaching, where straight English majors with a minor in education actually had less education training. There has to be a balance if you plan to teach. You don’t want someone with an English degree and little education study coming in to teach. That person won’t, in the actual practice, do any better than a person with more education theory and practical study.

All this study proves is that while VAM may be one possible indicator of a teacher’s effectiveness in a given year, it isn’t a long term predictor as too many variables can change that cannot be accounted for in a mathematical formula. Assuming a teacher teaches the same subject or grade level with the same curriculum (which seems to change often over a teacher’s career) using the same tests, the same administrative structure and focus, AND the same type and demographic balance of kids, then VAM might work. And in Oz there actually IS a wizard. Any teacher remaining in a school over time will tell you that the only constant in the school is CHANGE, and I don’t see how a mathematical formula can accurately predict performance when the initial conditions of the data are changing frequently. I think student performance should be a part of a teacher’s evaluation, yet it’s all but impossible to stabilize the conditions that directly affect a teacher’s craft and effectiveness.


September 5th, 2012
8:37 pm

There are some things in the article that trouble me. What about new teachers (less than 3 years or so) who need the time to become the effective teacher? What about holding the students accountable for their efforts as opposed to a punitive measure towards a teacher?

bootney farnsworth

September 5th, 2012
8:42 pm

@ Ernest,

to answer your question, we must make a couple of leaps of faith
1-no more grade inflation
2-all involved are competent professionals

that said….

a) on most matters (attendance, did you publish/present, ect) the direct supervisor is fine.
b) did the kids show progress?
c) percentage of kids failing / relation to others in school / district
d) percentage of kids excelling / relation to others in school / district
e) any extra activities (coaching, tutoring, sponsor clubs, ect) which should be considered?

in the event of a unsatisfactory review: a committee of faculty, admin types, and support staff NOT involving the supervisor or close friends of either party discusses the evaluation, the actions which should be taken by both parties to repair it, and realistic goals to achieve.

in the case of one or both parties (faculty and supervisor) objecting, a watchdog group is called in to mediate.

Former Math Teacher

September 5th, 2012
8:48 pm

Winters said that his model would be able to predict teacher effectiveness in the future. But he still hasn’t answered the question about how we measure teacher effectiveness. Does that mean that teachers whose students had good test scores once will likely have students with good test scores in the future?

Another thing that no one seems to be considering is once we have removed all the ineffective teachers and scared off some effective ones with unproven evaluation methods, who are we going to get to fill their spots?

John Brown

September 5th, 2012
9:19 pm

Maybe all those lazy ineffective teachers would give up tenure if the state of Georgia and all theses arm chair teachers would actually pay them a full contract. The good ole boys already get pay for lack of performance; go to any stadium on Friday night. Or just maybe, look at your state representative; no one needs to improve more than he or she. Keep fighting over quality teachers it’s so much easier than addressing the real problems in education.

Another HS Math Teacher

September 5th, 2012
9:43 pm

The comments about only education majors going into teaching jobs are off base.

There are many highly effective teachers who have degrees in academic areas other than the academic content that they might be teaching.
Alternative paths to teacher certification used to require that the teacher candidate acquire the content hours equal to a major in the chosen field. I have a bachelors degree in industrial management from Georgia Tech as well an MBA and in order to complete my certiifcation for teaching math, I had to complete another 55 quarter hours in math. This is the equivalent of another BS in math. And then I had to pass the required content area exam. On top of all this I was required to get 35 hours in courses such as Educational Psychology. I took the Praxis Math test (2 parts), currently the test required is the GACE Math test (also 2 parts).

The current trend is for students to pursue a 4 year degree in a content area and then enter an MAT program (master of arts in teaching) which places the students in relevant education courses and practicum placements in schools where they get real-world exposure to the practice of teaching students.

I have seen several people who did not have math 4 year degrees enter the teaching field and become successful, effective teachers. Their degrees were in sciences such as chemistry/physics or computer-related degrees. These degrees require many upper level math course in their degree path.

Most would-be teachers without the necessary content courses/preparation do not pass the tests or cut it in the classroom placements required by the non-tradition certification process.

Personality and temperment are important to teacher effectiveness/success with students in the classroom but without the relevant academic content, many would-be teachers flounder and leave the field.

Performance evaluation based on student test scores needs a lot of work before it should be the final word.

The End of Course Test currently in place in 8 Georgia academic courses would need some sort of entry or pre-test benchmark to allow a measuremnt of the individual teacher’s impact on student learning.

And then what about all the other courses without tests that are state sponsored those teachers.


September 5th, 2012
11:10 pm

This Governor, the past Governor and all their “education advisors” along with many so called education leaders in the General Assembly are totally clueless about how to improve education. These are the same people who think Race to the Top and Charter Schools are saviors. Just looking after their voters – not caring about children.


September 6th, 2012
6:48 am

Teacher performance evaluation is already far too complex and far too protective of the teacher. No evaluation method is perfect and we need to get on with the process, focusing on the child and not on the teacher as the primary object.


September 6th, 2012
6:54 am

This was study was backed and paid for my an ultra conservative think tank that is pro voucher anti public school pro charter school. Vam has been thoroughly discredited by many researchers, the math does not compute,the tests do not test anything than success on future tests and this approach has the ultimate goal of defunding public ed while increasing the profits for Pearson testing co and many hedge funders. No valid study has proven vam truly effective.

Mountain Man

September 6th, 2012
7:16 am

I think we need a VAM for ADMINISTRATORS! Say, a test for how many days each child missed – if more than 10% of the students miss more than 8 days of school, the the administrator (Principal) is fired! Also, if there are more than 10 cases where significant discipline problems are returned to the same classroom, the Principal is fired! We need some effective administrators!


September 6th, 2012
7:39 am

You can make a research study say anything you want it to. There will be more of these in order to justify the ridiculous notions that test scores are the measurement of a good teacher and of student achievement because this is what the public wants to hear. It does not make it valid or true as all REAL teachers know. Just more propaganda to make teachers the scspegoat for all of society’s ills.


September 6th, 2012
11:11 am

As i said before, Im done with teaching…. Good luck finding ANYONE to work in the teaching profession. Such Bullcrap that teachers are being evaluated on student performance. WHERE THE HELL ARE THE PARENTS?????????????????????????????????????? Give me a freaking break. You have NO IDEA how hard we work every damn day!!!!

Pride and Joy

September 6th, 2012
11:58 am

Teachers have to be accountable for the product they are paid to produce — learning.
Learning is the product.
How much learning did a teacher produce?
That’s a fair and accurate assessment.
There are always mitigating factors for every single job on planet earth. No one is excluded from the mitigating factors teachers say are out of their control. Every single employee on planet earth is evaluated on things he or she does not have complete control over. Teaching is no different.
Teachers must be evaluated because we know for sure that not all teachers are good and effective. Even teachers admit that so we hae to evaluate them and we have to get rid of the ineffective ones.
No evaluation tool is perfect. If teachers want to wait to be evaluated with a perfect tool under perfect circumstances they should homeschool their own kids. That’s the only way they would have the perfect circumstances and the perfect evaluation tool.
Change the things you can.
Accept the things you cannot change.
Have the wisdom to know the difference and…
stop complaining about not working in a perfect world.

Another Math Teacher

September 6th, 2012
12:26 pm

Solutions : “All this evaluation talk could be eliminated if we just hired teachers with high IQ’s who actually major in the subject they are teaching, and not in education.”

I was fooled once, I wont be going back. Ten years ago, you could get people to do that. Now, the word is out and the people you described are very less likely to try it out. (Many of those that do will see it as a temporary job, leaving mid-year if something better comes along.)


September 6th, 2012
1:18 pm

How many days must a student be present in a teacher’s class for the student’s score to be counted. This should be measured as a percentage of the possible days. A reasonable value could be 90 percent. Who proctored the testing for last year’s score which is this year’s base score? The teachers who receive the results as a base score should proctor the testing of next year’s incoming students. What about test security both before and after the testing? Since these are very important tests, the test results should have an effect on the student as well as the teacher. How does VAM measure extremes? A math teacher in New York City had a class in which all of the student’s test scores were perfect or nearly perfect. She had the students the previous year. Since some of the students’ scores went down and none went up, this year the teacher was rated by VAM as the worst math teacher in New York City. Even though the principal, the students, and the students’ parents wanted her to continue teaching, she quit and a good teacher is gone.

Ole Guy

September 6th, 2012
1:33 pm

Some of my more-effective teachers were known to issue grades which reflected performance (what a strange concept!). The “easy graders” (yea, they existed even back in the dark ages) were “nice guys”, but had no real respect from the students who quickly learned to “play the right music” to get/not earn that A+.

In an era of lazy incompetent educational administrators, these “models” can be constructed to support any half-baked notions. ONLY when these teachers have to FULL AND COMPLETE authority they deserve will we see student performance increase. No crappy “models” will change that.


September 6th, 2012
1:44 pm

Due to all the variables outside of a teacher’s control, no value added model that is fair to teachers can be implemented.

Also, administrator evaluations are shallow, political and biased.

Therefore, teachers should only be evaluated based on attendance, seniority, and the advanced degrees and certifications they obtain.

Jerry Eads

September 6th, 2012
1:53 pm

In 1977 Diane Ravitch noted “In order to judge [schools] by reasonable standards and in order to have any chance of improving their future performance, it is necessary to abandon the simplistic search for heroes and devils, for scapegoats and panaceas.” (In “The Revisionists Revised,” p. 19)

That observation probably could have been made in Socrates’ time, and certainly could be made in 2012. Will we ever learn? Nah. Doesn’t look like it. (And I’m just as guilty as the rest of us!)


September 6th, 2012
2:53 pm

@ Jerry Eads

You seem very concerned about the money it would take to develop appropriate tests. To me, that’s the least of our concerns. We have so much money being wasted in public education right now (central administration inefficiencies, for example) that developing a test that can help schools shed poor teachers and reward good teachers seems like money well spent. The problem isnt the cost of the test — it’s the cost of everything else.

Mountain Man

September 6th, 2012
2:56 pm

“Teachers have to be accountable for the product they are paid to produce — learning.”

Managers are held responsible for the products they make. For that purpose, they are given wide authority to handle that responsibility. They can enforce attendance and tardiness and they can fire the employees who misbehave and hire new employees, until they get good workers. Teachers have no such authority. How would you like to be a manager and told you will be accountable for the products your employees produce, but you cannot discipline or fire any employee for any reason. They can come in late, not do the work, or not even show up at all. And they get paid the same! (You can’t give them “zeros”) Does that sound like a good job? That is the way it is with teachers right now.

BTW, as someone else noted, once you fire all those “ineffective” teachers, where are you going to find these “super-teachers” to replace them with? Great, high-performance teachers who are willing to put up with crap wages, crap working conditions, lazy and unruly students, parents who don’t give a dang? Who is going to want to EVER work in an inner-city school? NO ONE! Then we can all move over to charter or private schools.

Mountain Man

September 6th, 2012
2:59 pm

There is a saying in management – the worst situation you can be in is to be given responsibility for something without also being given any authority to change conditions. THAT is where teachers are at. The ADMINISTRATORS have the authority – make THEM responsible for student test scores! Or if you continue to allow parents to dictate conditions – make PARENTS responsible!

Pride and Joy

September 6th, 2012
3:52 pm

Mountain Man and Others…here is a real world example.
A car salesman is evaluated by how many cars he sells. Many factors are outside his control: advertising — he can’t sell a car to a customer if there are no customers. Advertising has to do their part to get the customers in the door. The salesman also has no control over the quality of the car. He didn’t design it or put it together. Yet, he is still judged and evaluated by how many cars he sells and his income depends on it.
The choice the salesman has is to do the best job he can selling those cars — or go to another dealership.
The same is true for teachers except they get paid no matter how many cars they sell/students they teach. If the evaluation process is not up to a teacher’s liking, the teacher can leave and go to another school district or get out of the industry altogether.
There are bad teachers in our schools. We know that for certain. We have to get rid of the bad teachers. If teachers don’t want to be evaluated so taht we cna get rid of the bad teachers, we will get rid of the school altogether by taking away the money that funds it and start our own charter school.
Accept responsibilty or leave.
It’s just that simple.