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, March 4, 2011

Oh, Laura...

There you go again:
Here’s some tweets from NJEA’s twitter account, “stopthefreezenj” on the Interim Report issued by the NJ Education Effectiveness Task Force.
Uh, no. stopthefreezenj is not the blog of the NJEA. stopthefreezenj is a Facebook poster who became the focal point for NJ teachers fighting back using social media.

You owe a correction here.
Did the tweeters read the report? Maybe it doesn’t matter. NJEA itself, notes the Wall Street Journal, put out a response before the report was issued. (Read today’s NJ Spotlight for a balanced appraisal.) Indeed, the coordinated attacks – on a report that turns out to be far more moderate and measured than originally anticipated – aren’t about the report itself but on what the union correctly views as a power grab.
Yeah, see, here's the thing: EVERYONE knew that the report would include recommending VAM - Value-Added Modeling - analysis of standardized test scores. It was the worst kept secret in NJ.

Which is why the NJEA's statement one day before the task force issued its report was hardly a surprise to anyone paying attention. The statement specifically addresses the use of VAM, because everyone knew the report would endorse the use of VAM.

I've read the report, and it does not even try to address the very serious concerns that educational researchers have with VAM (an that are articulated very well in NJEA's statement); as I wrote:
- This report is a clarion call for using NJASK scores in teacher evaluations. Doesn't matter that every expert who knows anything about issue has said not to do this, including EPI, which is cited in the Task Force Report itself! Well, experts be damned:
Some say growth scores should not be used in evaluations. But based on our research, we believe that they provide important, if not perfect, information. When used in conjunction with other measures, growth can tell us a great deal. Despite limitations, these scores tell us something; that is, evaluations are better off using them than disregarding them altogether.  
We recommend that the new system use growth alongside other measures and that the State work with testing experts to continually improve their validity. [bold emphasis mine]
It doesn't matter if you think "growth scores" are "important" - the real question you should ask is: "Are they accurate?" They are not, and their inaccuracy is not open to debate.

"But they tell us something!" Yeah, they tell you how a kid did on a test. They were never designed to tell you how well a teacher teaches. And we know that they do not do that.

This task force is setting NJ up for a wave of lawsuits the likes of which the education establishment has never seen. When the first wave of teachers is fired using these faulty methods, no court in the world will side with the state. It is a disaster in the making, and it all falls squarely on the shoulders of this group of unqualified people.
I hasten to add that your little bud Peggy Noonan, to whom you so approvingly link, doesn't address this central issue either.

Both you, Laura, and Noonan seem to think that the "perception" of how teachers and unions deal with this is what's important; the "atmospherics," as Noonan prosaically puts it.

I guess I'm kind of old fashioned, but I think maybe it's more important to address whether this system actually is going to work. All indications are that it won't.

Is it really in the best interests of children to implement this disaster? Is it a good idea to "do something" for the sake of "doing something"?

You tell me, Laura.

No comments: