The discussion was over Value Added Testing in regards to teachers, and the data was showing that teachers results were rather inconsistent.  Someone who ranked high enough to receive an award one year,  could be below mediocre  the next.  That defies common sense.  If you are a good teacher, wouldn’t you do well the next year too? Especially if you did everything the same?

Well, guess what?

Not if you scores were dependent upon the affluent student composition of your classroom.

Meaning if you are given children to teach who are smart, your scores are off the charts.  If you are given children less smart than the year before, your scores go down.

Other outside factors can play a huge part.  Did the curriculum change 5 years ago?  Well if that change is entering your classroom this year, the things missed or covered back then, will impact your scores this year far more than anything you as a teacher could possibly do or say.

The RTTT funding, and the new Common Core,  is specifically tied to teacher’s performance based solely on test scores.

History has many parallels.  I can remember back when Global Warming was beginning to be debated by the general public, pushed in part by the very odd and drastic hurricane season of 2005.  Opponents finally found a glacier that was growing, and pegged that global warming was a hoax, because look at that one glacier.

Now, with cumulative global temperatures well over half a Celsius degree over what they were back then when the Caesar Rodney Institute was digging ice,  the obvious error of looking at just one indicator and extrapolating everything from that one item, is unequivocally faulty.

How many of us would spend money like mad, because on one day, we saw our checking account had an extra digit more than what we are normally accustomed to seeing?  Yes, on that one day someone else’s deposit was mis-entered.  Doesn’t mean it will always stay at that level…  We need to check other things. Maybe four of five might be prudent.

Value Added Test Scores when tested have shown that students who are well endowed to begin with, perform well, and students who aren’t, don’t.   A student entering the system with a 5000 word vocabulary, may raise it by 20%, up to 6000 words at the end of a year, but that won’t be shown on a test.  The test only shows they are below proper level. The affluent student with a vocabulary of 50,000 words, who adds a 1000 more  (6%), does show up as a genius on the test.  And both students learned 1000 words.

VAM testing is based on a faulty premise.  Using it as the only guide to grade a teacher, a principal, close a school, determine future funding for a district,  is wrong.

For even at this point, despite the $2 billion dollars of private Bill and Melinda Gate’s money donated to think tanks to prove that VAM testing determines highly effective teachers, there is still zero evidence proving it does…. Not even $2 billion dollars can make it work!

And so, in order not to embarrass one’s well endowed benefactor, …. failure is blamed  instead on “lack of grit” or “inadequate rigor”….

In truth it should be blamed on the simple fact that children who live in abject poverty only have a 5000 word vocabulary when they enter kindergarten.  Firing their teachers after one year, won’t make them smarter.  In fact, if those kindergärtners have became emotionally attached to their teacher, who (being totally realistic here), is probably the first adult to ever see them as a person of potential, … firing that teacher may traumatize them with enough guilt, so they choose never to  learn at all.

Basing teachers performance on one single egg…  simply goes against all common sense.  Real life never has worked that way…

In fact, when one hears Markell speak. or hears Mark Murphy say a few words, or reads Hefferman’s op ed’s in the News Journal, or see’s Dave Sokala defend one of his puff pieces of legislation, one senses that these people really do live in some form of an alternative universe.  One where the physical laws of nature which we deal with every day, just don’t operate like they really do here. They, like some science fiction, dictatorial-state political novel, are plucked from out from some gymnasium somewhere, spirited away to be indoctrinated with false knowledge and beliefs, never given the opportunity to intellectually challenge the one side which has been spoon-fed to them, pumped up to believe there is only one way and it is theirs, and are then turned loose upon society.

All they create during their tenure, is collateral damage.

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