Being a horse, I saw John Young’s headline go by in my feed, and didn’t get back to it till now.  Of course, we all knew it wasn’t working so why interrupt the real news now?  After all, I didn’t even know who Andy Spears was.

I see he was reporting on Diane Ravitch’s piece here describing the meltdown in Tennessee over using Teacher Evaluations to judge teacher’s performance.

The original work comes from the Tennessee Education Report.

The promise of Value-Added Assessment was that we could learn a lot about which schools were working and which weren’t. We could learn a lot about kids and how they were progressing. We could even learn about teachers and how they were doing with all their students and with specific groups of students. With all this information, Tennessee would intervene and take action that would move schools forward.

What happened in Tennessee and is happening in Delaware, is that the Value Added Evaluating system does indeed, as does Common Sense, determine which schools are failing and which are not. But we already knew that. What it does not, and cannot do, … is tell us whether those scores are trending upwards or downwards… If one isolates just only math and only English, one can get a track record on those single subjects.  But it was practically impossible to rate Spanish, French, Chinese, home economics, business, social studies, science teachers and schools against each other, so one really wonders how any scores have merit at all.

Hence the horror stories.  Like where the gym teacher’s rating comes from the spanish department, or the European History comes from the psychology class, or the statistics teacher gets evaluated by the scores in Algebra II. Using these tests to hire of fire teachers has a worse probability of being right than rolling a pair of dice…  and that … is Delaware.

These tests are not designed to rate teacher’s performances.  They are designed to measure and compare schools across a wide range of subjects… They do not test what students know, as covered here earlier.  They test… to see how many students really know of topics they shouldn’t be yet knowledgeable at their grade level…  Then use that to compare schools… if that makes sense…

Let me put it another way.  If you want to find out if School A is better than School B, and both have all its students pass the tests.  how can you say one is better than the other?   But if School A gets 30% correct, and School B gets 40% correct, you can indeed surmise that School B is the better one…..

That is for what these tests were designed….

A teacher can be very effective, teaching children everything we knew and more, and because of these tests… have her class fail miserably….  and then be told by society…. “You are the weakest link… Goodbye.”

So in Tennessee, two thirds… correct… two thirds  of its teachers are being evaluated upon total scores of its school…. 

it’s the equivalent of playing fantasy football where every team member gets the same rating depending on the final score of the game… It’s not fair…  The number one place-kicker never kicked a ball, and the place kicker who kicked 3 single 53 yarders, is dirt. His team lost.

So what happens then, when you have a flawed test, and you make peoples jobs dependent upon that flawed test?  They spend all their effort to cheat the flaws, and look good… Instead of teaching subject matter, they teach how not to be tricked on the assessment tests.  So gaps of knowledge are prevelant in those children.

In Tennessee, the focus on their own test scores… “See we are climbing….” is masking the real assessment… the NAEP’s.   These are the real report cards.  These are the tests that have shown American education steadily improving across the board since the seventies…  Focussing on value added growth, has taken the focus from where it should be…

In fact, Tennessee’s rankings have dropped considerably since they instituted Value Added Testing…. Similar to that” I Love Lucy” skit where she and Ethel are on the assembly line, and must speed up production to impossible levels…  What happened in plain speak, is just like a manufacturer who becomes too focused on the amounts in  production, and  who speeds up the assembly line to get more products per hour, there is going to be a loss  of quality in those products, if that makes sense.  To meet the quota, some are going to come off the assembly line missing a couple of bolts….

Specifically, we were looking at raising the scores of Afro-Americans, or Hispanics, or Special Education between 2011 and 2012, that we didn’t teach them anything else…  The scores may rise one point, but they come out of the year remembering nothing.

In Tennessee, this stagnation has been in effect since 1992. 

Bottom line… value added testing tells us nothing about teacher effectiveness… the math behind the equation  that a highly rated great teacher can raise the income level of their students more than the average rated great teacher, comes down to $300 per year…

If you have a great teacher, you may earn a salary  of 40,300 ever a student from an average teacher who will only earn $40,000 each year… That is all the difference.

So we have to throw that out.  Then there is the cost.  For having no effective gains; for dropping 20 place settings behind what they were ranked in the beginning, Tenessee has spent $326 million.

$326 million with nothing to show…..