I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Friday, August 27, 2010

I Don't Love LA (Times)

Bruce Baker has been Tweeting about the LA Times's defense of their publication of "value-added" teacher evaluations:
  1. LAT argues no ceiling effect 'cuz schls with gifted kids do better. But also argues no effect of non-random assignment.http://ow.ly/2vsP9

  2. Evidence that these guys have absolutely no idea what they are talking about (canned explanations, but contradictory)http://ow.ly/2vsP9

  3. Can't have it both ways at LAT - Can't say that non-random assign doesn't bias tchr ratings, but that schls with more gftd kids do better?
Ouch. I outlined my original objections here and here. What's concerned me lately, however, is the notion that the LA Times has now become invested in advocating for VA teacher assessments; how are they supposed to report objectively on the issue when they have both a journalistic and economic interest in supporting VA assessment?

Which is why I find the LA Times' reporters answers to questions posed by Jay Matthews of the Washington Post so troubling:
There has been much debate about the reliability of value-added approaches, and there are ample ways to show it is a far from perfect measure. But shouldn’t we really be comparing it to the status quo for the vast majority of school districts – occasional, pre-announced and subjectively evaluated classroom visits, once every few years? And what of the reliability of some of the other “multiple measures” everyone agrees should be a component of teacher evaluations? What is the “error rate” of parent and student surveys, portfolio reviews, and the various observation rubrics? The answer: nobody knows. That’s why the Gates Foundation is spending millions to test them, using value-add as a baseline. When compared to these other largely unstudied measures of teacher effectiveness, experts tell us value-added vaults to the top of the class.
Are these guys journalists or have they taken jobs with the Gates Foundation? They are advocating a position that has many serious critics, including Bruce Baker and Daniel Willingham. How can this paper possibly claim to be able to adequately report on this debate when they have already staked out a position - a position they are making money with?

Fellas, either advocate for VA assessment or report on the issue: you can't do both.

No comments: