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Posted at 11:46 AM ET, 09/ 2/2010

How much power should we give to ed data?

By Valerie Strauss

This post was written by Anthony Cody, a science teacher in inner-city Oakland for 18 years who now works with a team of experienced science teacher-coaches who support the many novice teachers in his school district. It originally appeared on the Teacher Magazine’s website, here. Cody is a National Board-certified teacher and an active member of the Teacher Leaders Network. You can read more by Cody at his website, Teachers Lead.

By Anthony Cody
Our educational system is waltzing with a crowd of reformers who have the hubris to think they know a cure to every ill - and the cure always has something to do with test scores. The latest fix focuses on teacher quality, and proposes to improve evaluation by "unleashing the power of data," as Education Secretary Arne Duncan put it. But a new report was released this week that suggests this data may be unreliable for the jobs it is being asked to do.

Some of the nation’s leading education researchers, including Diane Ravitch, Linda Darling-Hammond, Eva Baker and Richard Rothstein, co-authored this report, entitled "Problems with the Use of Student Test Scores to Evaluate Teachers."

Here are some of the issues the authors highlight:

There are many factors other than teachers that have a significant effect on student outcomes, including:

• Other teachers the student has had
• School attendance
• Learning at home and in the community
• Family support
• Mobility
• The effect of peers
• Summer learning loss - especially profound among low-income students

All of this means that when value added methods are applied to teachers of low-income and
English-learning students, the teachers have a harder time achieving the expected growth. [Value added measures use student standardized test scores to track the growth of individual students as they progress through the grades to see how much “value” a teacher has added.]

Going beyond the limitations of the data, the authors raise concerns about the effect of focusing teacher evaluations on test scores.

They write:

"Research shows that an excessive focus on basic math and reading scores can lead to narrowing and over-simplifying the curriculum to only the subjects and formats that are tested, reducing the attention to science, history, the arts, civics, and foreign language, as well as to writing, research, and more complex problem-solving tasks."

They also point out that this trend will discourage teachers from choosing to work in schools with the neediest students. Here in Oakland we already see evidence of this, as turnover rates are the highest in the lowest-performing schools. Systems that reward teachers for their individual growth also can discourage collaboration by creating a competitive environment within the school.

When we think about the whole thrust of this effort, it is aimed at creating "accountability" for teachers. We can agree that we ought to be accountable for the quality of our work, but we must build that accountability on a solid foundation of shared values.

If I were to evaluate a restaurant merely on the popularity of the food that it sold, Dunkin' Donuts might emerge as the greatest in the land! Every serious consideration of this issue must return to this point.

Many of the values we actually seek to elevate in our schools - honesty, creativity, initiative, the ability to apply knowledge in solving problems - are not measured well by the tests we are using. We need systems of evaluation that are capable of encompassing the quality of teaching relative to these dimensions.

This week we heard that even in China, where the educational system has prized rote learning for millennia, Premier Wen Jiabao gave a lengthy speech calling for change. He said:

"Students don’t only need knowledge; they have to learn how to act, to use their brains. As Einstein said, imagination is more powerful that knowledge. We must encourage students to think independently, freely express themselves, get them to believe in themselves, protect and stimulate their imagination and creativity."

If it is good enough for a billion Chinese people, it ought to be good for us.

Update: For a chuckle -- and a very serious point -- take a look at School Finance 101’s post on the value-added issue. The author riffs on a satirical "news" clip from The Onion, which observes that students who do not care, tend not to score so well. And perhaps these students are not randomly distributed! Duh!

What do you think? Should we "unleash the power of data" for the purpose of evaluating teachers? Or should we keep data on a short leash?

-0-

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By Valerie Strauss  | September 2, 2010; 11:46 AM ET
Categories:  Guest Bloggers, Teacher assessment, Teachers  | Tags:  evaluating teachers, how to evaluate teachers, power of data, teacher assessment, value added, value added and teachers  
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Comments

Let's unleash the power!!! Yeah!!! (sarcasm intended)

Posted by: celestun100 | September 2, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

A phrase popularized by Mark Twain:

"There's lies, damned lies, and statistics" [read DATA].

Think Twain would have recommended a VERY short leash for Arne Duncan's data.

Posted by: PLMichaelsArtist-at-Large | September 2, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

This video is hilarious. I hope everyone takes a minute to watch it. The "outing" of "ineffective" teachers based on (probably) invalid test scores is so egregious that I'm pleased to see the Los Angeles Times become the butt of so many jokes.

We are in a stupid period in education right now. The Times article that labels teachers on the basis of a standardized test that wasn't even designed to measure their effectiveness will probably represent the height of this stupidity in years to come. After all, these state tests are the ones that are the same, or nearly the same, from year to year and sit in classrooms for days before they are given by the classroom teacher. Yes!

Under laws in every state, the principal of a school is free to visit every classroom as frequently as she wants, observe the work of the children and assess their progress. She has complete authority to view pupil records and look at the results of every test ever taken by each child in her school.

Why then do most teachers get cursory and subjective evaluations every two years or so? Because it's time-consuming and EXPENSIVE to evaluate a teacher properly. A principal might head a school of 40 or more teachers. In addition to evaluating teachers she has mountains of paperwork and must deal with parents and disciplinary problems. In my experience good principals always know how much the children are learning in each classroom. They also know much about the classroom environment (are the children engaged; enthusiastic?) and the social and emotional growth of each child. Most of all they know the standardized test couldn't possibly measure all of this; only a trained professional can.

So why are we having this conversation? It's the recession. People realize they can get rid of older, more expensive teachers and do it quickly and cheaply by using test scores. As more information comes out about these tests, I think most citizens will realize how ridiculous this is.

To answer your question directly: the principal already has the power to review as much data as she wants. She should use her professional judgment to decide how appropriate that data is. For example, most teachers and principals know that in-class compositions assigned during the year can tell much about a child's academic progress. Reading tests administered by the school psychologist or reading specialist in the fall and again in the spring also yield important information about growth. Standardized tests can contribute also, but obviously these tests must be professionally proctured. Now it's time to give the principal and other professionals the time and the opportunity to do the job properly.

In conclusion I want to say that yes, a teacher can be evaluated with VALID data, but it can't be done for the price of one standardized test.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | September 2, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

When we think about the whole thrust of this effort, it is aimed at creating "accountability" for teachers. We can agree that we ought to be accountable for the quality of our work, but we must build that accountability on a solid foundation of shared values.
.....................
Why do educators always get it so wrong?

This is not about accountability but simply the political gains that can be obtained by pretending to be concerned and doing something about public education.

This has been true since 2001 with the introduction of No Child Left Behind and now is being continued with Race To The Top.

The President obtains political mileage out of stating the goal that every American should obtain a college education.

Meanwhile the President simply ignores the lack of Americans enrolled in colleges and universities in the computer sciences, engineering, the sciences and mathematics since these fields are no longer for Americans since the entry level jobs in all these fields are for cheap foreign labor.

Like so much in government policy, public education is simply viewed as a means to reelection in this country.

Posted by: bsallamack | September 2, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Under laws in every state, the principal of a school is free to visit every classroom as frequently as she wants, observe the work of the children and assess their progress. She has complete authority to view pupil records and look at the results of every test ever taken by each child in her school.

Why then do most teachers get cursory and subjective evaluations every two years or so? Because it's time-consuming and EXPENSIVE to evaluate a teacher properly.
Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher
..............................
This is correct but the answer is really quite simple.

Hire assistant principals or staff so that the work of evaluating teachers can be done by the principal.

The reality is that evaluating anyone is really totally subjective. There are no totally objective methods in evaluating anyone.

The reality is that a principal at a public school is far more important in education at that school than the teachers.

The idea that teachers are the most important element in education may have been true for one room school houses but is no longer true.

The added cost so that principals can effectively do teacher evaluations is far less than the billions that will be spent on meaningless local standardized tests and computer systems.

But I forgot. We are not looking for solutions to problems. We are looking for someone to blame.

Posted by: bsallamack | September 2, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Linda/RetiredTeacher, "So why are we having this conversation? It's the recession. People realize they can get rid of older, more expensive teachers and do it quickly and cheaply by using test scores."

Yes, and I will add to that profit driven motivation.

This report (link) is nearly a decade old. The profiteers could smell the profits, and now with Duncan & Co., they are cleaning up and look to be sitting well for years to come; saying such reform efforts are for the children is a smokescreen. Obama should be ashamed of himself for appointing Duncan.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/schools/testing/companies.html

Posted by: shadwell1 | September 2, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

It's stupid to have principals or assistant principals to do the evaluating to begin with. No administrator can have experience in every discipline and can therefore evaluate only on entertainment value and little else.

In Canada, I'm told, it's the head of the department who does the evaluating, and not the administration. One step better would be to have retired teachers do the observations on a part-time basis.

Posted by: physicsteacher | September 2, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

physicsteacher:

I do agree with you that peer evaluation and review, as used at the college level, would be a much better method of evaluating teachers. And using retired teachers is a good idea too. After all, teachers know who their ineffective colleagues are and, if given the chance, would not nominate them for tenure.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | September 2, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Great News From the New York Times

States Awarded Grants to Improve Achievement Tests
By SAM DILLON
The Department of Education on Thursday awarded $330 million to two groups of states to design new standardized tests to replace the end-of-year reading and math exams used over the past decade to measure achievement under the federal No Child Left Behind law.

The new tests, which are to be aligned with the common academic standards that nearly 40 states have adopted in recent months, are to be ready for the 2014-15 school year, the department said.
.............................
It will only take 5 years to create tests for public schools at a cost of 330 million.

Developing the Atomic bomb was done in less than 5 years so of course the government thinks 5 years for tests is great.

Oh and two groups are being used to develop separate tests. I guess during World War II there should have been also a Brooklyn Project to show that we were serious about building an Atomic bomb.

Since the Secretary of Education thinks data from tests are so important for public education what will he do until the tests are available in 5 years?

Posted by: bsallamack | September 2, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

How can we get this information out to the public?

How can we get this information to the president (unless he already knows and doesn't care)?

Posted by: educationlover54 | September 2, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

How can we fire the president (after all, he is anxious to fire us) without letting some pro-business republican in office?

Posted by: educationlover54 | September 2, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

It's stupid to have principals or assistant principals to do the evaluating to begin with. No administrator can have experience in every discipline and can therefore evaluate only on entertainment value and little else.

In Canada, I'm told, it's the head of the department who does the evaluating, and not the administration. One step better would be to have retired teachers do the observations on a part-time basis.

Posted by: physicsteacher
.............................
Teachers really have to start to think in terms of reality.

An employee is evaluated by a superior simply to indicate whether the employee is meeting average expectations. This is the expectation of a replacement if a decision is made to replace a current employee.

Contrary to popular misconception you can not simply hire some one with the expectation that they will provide above average performance.

At a school the principal is the best person to gauge the nature of the school.

This is not universities but public schools where a principal should be able to evaluate teaching without advanced knowledge in the field.

Too much is made of the nonsense regarding evaluating teachers. All that is required is that a teacher meets minimum average expectation.

It is time for the recognition that the problem is large number of students that have a great deal of difficulty in learning.

The 56 percent of students in D.C. that failed 4th grade reading was because of this significant difficulty in learning and not because of teacher 137 and teacher 233 in the public schools of D.C.

Time for teachers to stop drinking the kool aid.

Posted by: bsallamack | September 2, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

How can we fire the president (after all, he is anxious to fire us) without letting some pro-business republican in office?

Posted by: educationlover54
..............................
Simple.

Support having the Democrats select a different candidate for President in 2012.

Posted by: bsallamack | September 2, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

Message to teachers: B. Obama is more of a friend and fan of yours than any, repeat, any Republican who would oppose him or run for the House or Senate.

Of course, in the District, Vince Gray stands as a much greater friend of teachers than the Mayor. Vince is preparing to roll over for the unionistas.

Posted by: axolotl | September 2, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

reading the comments of axolotl brings to mind that 1972 Robert Frank movie about the Rolling Stones.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0068389/

Posted by: phillipmarlowe | September 2, 2010 6:46 PM | Report abuse

This is not universities but public schools where a principal should be able to evaluate teaching without advanced knowledge in the field.
===============================================

Coulda should woulda. Whether or not someone "should", is irrelevant. What is relevant is what they do.

Second, who said anything of advanced knowledge? Most principals don't have even rudimentary knowledge of most fields. It seems you've been drinking the edu-koolaid this time. Educrats had long ago divorced teaching from content and that is why they claim that there are isolated teaching skills which any administrator can supposedly observe. This is bunk.

If you took violin lessons and are reasonably proficient, you may be able to observe a violin teacher in action and render a reasonable verdict as to the teacher's teaching skill. Can you say the same for a trumpet lesson? A drum lesson? There are very important things in the learning/teaching of those instruments that you've never experienced, so you are hardly the person to judge instructors in those instruments, especially when there are better people for that.

Like I said, Canada doesn't seem to do this, and from what I remember they educate better than we do.

Posted by: physicsteacher | September 2, 2010 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Message to teachers: B. Obama is more of a friend and fan of yours than any, repeat, any Republican who would oppose him or run for the House or Senate.

Of course, in the District, Vince Gray stands as a much greater friend of teachers than the Mayor. Vince is preparing to roll over for the unionistas.

Posted by: axolotl | September 2, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

In one sense this is an unfair question. Data is more than numbers. The amount of data that we process while teaching a class dwarfs the data in these primitive models.

Data-informed accountability is even better, probably much much better, than intuition. But data-driven accountability kills real, constructive use of data.

The idea that numbers from these assessments can compete with the intuition of an effective teacher is superstition. Data is a great supplement or complement but these true believers in numbers haven't taught. In fact, I wonder how much experience of any kind do they have with people who are different than they are.

And worst, they are moving rapidly ahead with lowest common denomnator numbers generated by lowest common denominator tests. Their theories only make sense if a) they come from people who don't understand the people skills that teachers need, or b) they just want fig leafs to destroy "the status quo."

Posted by: johnt4853 | September 2, 2010 7:37 PM | Report abuse

johnt4853 -- good points, but please try not to give us the gratuitous, ole "you don't understand because you are not a teacher" line. Having been a student, parent, and involved w schools qualifies say, a hundred million of us to comment credibly on teacher quality. Sure, it takes method and technique and practice, but its magic is no big secret. We certainly know it when we see it and can almost instantly sense and confirm a deficit of teaching quality. And too many teachers, including Mr. Cody, just barely accept, if at all, the notion of accountability of any sort. Teachers themselves have ignited the tidal wave of teacher criticism. The legion of parents keeps that flame alive, not politicians. (Politicians follow voter sentiment.) And so teachers are getting deeply into parent-bashing and "parent accountability." They are playing a zero-sum game with parents that they cannot win, no matter what the unionistas do.

Posted by: axolotl | September 2, 2010 8:41 PM | Report abuse

Physicsteacher is correct! Those of us who teach a specific, specialized content areas have been frustrated for years about the fact that we no longer have people knowledgeable in our content area to observe us. Years ago, in Montgomery County, we had music supervisors (both vocal/choral and instrumental music) who would come and observe us. Those positions were done away with years ago. Likewise, those people hired new music teachers. Now, someone in human resources does this. Basically, they just check to see that the applicant has a music degree whereas the supervisors would conduct an in depth interview to assess the applicant's knowledge and skills in specific things necessary for the music classroom. It's very frustrating to have an administrator observe who has no knowledge of current methodology in your content area. Music is not taught the same way as reading and math. It has its own specific pedagogy. Basically, administrators look for those general things that everyone is expected to do: post agendas and objectives and maintain good classroom order. The lesson could be awful, but if they see the other things, then they thing it is effective.

We now have a peer review system with consulting teachers in each content area (sort of). These teachers serve as second observers to probationary teachers and those who are not meeting standard. This is a huge improvement. However in order to save costs, I've heard that some content areas are being combined--having one person to observe music and art teachers --which are two completely different disciplines! It's all about money. We wouldn't do this in any other profession. Would we have ophthalmologists serve on the board that certifies cardiologists? I doubt it.

Posted by: musiclady | September 2, 2010 8:55 PM | Report abuse

axolotl has been to the hospital and now he's a brain surgeon.

Posted by: mamoore1 | September 2, 2010 9:00 PM | Report abuse

The legion of parents keeps that flame alive, not politicians.
Posted by: axolotl
.............................
According to the Washington Post poll the legion of parents in D.c. do not want Ms. Rhee.

They see that the continuous bashing of teachers by Ms. Rhee is not improving public education in D.C.

Posted by: bsallamack | September 2, 2010 9:07 PM | Report abuse

How many legions are there in Washington these days?

Posted by: mamoore1 | September 2, 2010 9:19 PM | Report abuse

If you took violin lessons and are reasonably proficient, you may be able to observe a violin teacher in action and render a reasonable verdict as to the teacher's teaching skill. Can you say the same for a trumpet lesson? A drum lesson? There are very important things in the learning/teaching of those instruments that you've never experienced, so you are hardly the person to judge instructors in those instruments, especially when there are better people for that.
Posted by: physicsteacher
.......................
Teachers really do drink the kool aid.

We are not talking about Julliard but a public school where a principal should be able to make a judgment on whether a teacher is average or below average.

Notice that I do not use the term effective.

The valuation is based upon the individual ability to teach and it time to recognize that teaching does not equate to learning.

Teachers should stop drinking the kool aid and stop being concerned about being effective or being superior in their teaching. A teacher should be expected to be competent to perform their job and their job is not to work a miracle and make every child learn.

Time to start to recognize that "accountability" is simply a term for does who never want to take any responsibility.

Look at the 5 years it will take to develop tests for public schools. The tests will not be available until 2014 which is well past the reelection of 2012. That is the idea of "accountability" of this administration.

Teachers should unite and show this administration real accountability by working for the selection of a different Democratic candidate for president in 2012.

Posted by: bsallamack | September 2, 2010 9:32 PM | Report abuse

It is no small irony that nitwits like Duncan who probably took a stats for jocks class in college (at most) is so gung-ho about "unleashing the power of data" while every authentic expert in the country is warning us to go slow.

It's a vivid demonstration of how little this gaggle of education "reformers" actually value education.

Posted by: dz159 | September 2, 2010 9:56 PM | Report abuse

bsallamack wrote: A teacher should be expected to be competent to perform their job and their job is not to work a miracle and make every child learn.
______________________________
If our job is not to make every child learn, then what is it? I believe my job is to teach every child and that implies that they will learn. Sadly we know that there may be some who don't. We are being held accountable for all children "learning" which in this case means we are being held accountable for all children passing certain tests. We haven't necessarily drunk the koolaid as you say, though if our salaries and jobs depend on it, we have to appear to have done so. Unfortunately, when we argue against the use of standardized test data in determining our performance, we are told that we don't want to be held accountable. It appears that we can't win. So we have to suck it up and resort to classroom practices which are not educationally sound and often downright inappropriate. It really sickens me. When I get closer to retirement, I will really enjoy that last year because that's when I will do what I know works in spite of what I'm told to do. I bet my students will learn a lot more.

Posted by: musiclady | September 2, 2010 11:23 PM | Report abuse

• Other teachers the student has had
(same teachers, according to quarterly report cards, passed students multiple grade levels behind in reading and math)

• School attendance
(a child attends school but becomes frustrated due to multiple levels behind in reading & math..begins to act out...gets suspended and eventually expelled. Now a the streets, commiting crimes and producing offspring)

• Learning at home and in the community
(A child can learn a great deal at home & community, but effective academic instruction is to occur during school hours)

• Family support
(Family seeks support from teachers. Calls aren't returned, email not responded to. Parents call the school again. Leaves message. Phone call still unreturned. Child continues to perform poorly. This does occur.)

• Mobility
(There's also a great deal of teacher/principal mobility as well. Teachers that are tenure, but perform poorly, mobilize to other schools...it's part of their guaranteed life long employment contract)

• The effect of peers
(Give me a break. When did schools ever have nothing but "angels in class" and within an entire school buildings. Even adults are sometimes effected by "peers" so students shouldn't be?)

• Summer learning loss - especially profound among low-income students
(Economic situations impact Summer learning opportunities for a majority of students, especially during the current economic climate.)

The issues above have historically been the climate of public schools.

BUT

NO child in high school should be reading multple levels behind.

NO child in high school should need a calculator to perform basic math functions.

BUT

These same youth become adults, have kids of their own, and the terrible cycle continues.

As a result, we now enter climatic levels of low/poor income neighborhoods and inner city schools. Everyone blaming and pointing fingers...while children continue to fail and not prepared to become positive contributors to society.

Education Data serves as Proof of the terrifying low levels of students produced from public school systems.

The numbers don't change. The numbers don't lie. They are what they are.

Billions after Billions vested into public schools. Teachers have unions. Teachers draw a guaranteed salary. Students left with ???

Let us not forget:

Public school students are graduating NOT prepared for college level rigor.

Students are graduating NOT prepared to take BASIC college 101 classes.

Students DO require remedial assistance when entering post secondary schools.

Now enters: Education Reform.

Either teachers get on board and help prepare students for the current global requirements...or step aside for those who will.

Posted by: PGCResident1 | September 3, 2010 12:25 AM | Report abuse

Billions after Billions vested into public schools. Teachers have unions. Teachers draw a guaranteed salary. Students left with ???

Either teachers get on board and help prepare students for the current global requirements...or step aside for those who will.

Posted by: PGCResident1
..............................
Americans lost 2 to 3 trillion in 2008.

How many government officials were held accountable?

Millions of Americans jobs shipped to cheap foreign labor since 2001.

How many government officials were held accountable?

One grows tired of this supposedly righteous rage at teachers.

It simply follows from a nation that can no longer deal with reality.

Posted by: bsallamack | September 3, 2010 1:38 AM | Report abuse

I think the "data" movement has gained steam because most teachers have never taken a statistics or quantative analysis course and are uninformed about the collection of data....therefore we are leaving ourselves vulnerable to questionable reform strategies. The results of the data has become an end to justify a reform.

The collection and verification of data is more than just raw scores. Where are the variables? The margin of error? The causal explanations (other than "It's the teacher, stupid"). How prior selections affect the measurement?

We need answers, all the pertinent information, to determine WHY these kids aren't successful in school not just raw scores. Most teachers know which ones will do well, which ones will do poorly, and occassionally there is a surprise or two. We are spending far too much money on tests to tell us what we already know rather than spending money to get these struggling kids help...and I don't mean those kids at the extreme ends of the education curve...I mean those kids who are falling through the proverbial crack.

Those school division's whose schools did not make AYP are having to provide tutoring or school choice...that is taking money away from other students...and it will be those kids in the middle who will be affected the most.

Posted by: ilcn | September 3, 2010 9:07 AM | Report abuse

"Some of the nation’s leading education researchers, including Diane Ravitch, Linda Darling-Hammond, Eva Baker and Richard Rothstein, co-authored this report, entitled "Problems with the Use of Student Test Scores to Evaluate Teachers.""

hahahahaaha. Ravitch is a historian, not a researcher, and everyone on the list is notoriously biased.

I agree that they are also considered "top education researchers", but that's just a sign of how weak the field is.

I'm not sure what the answers are to these big questions, but to pretend these people are unbiased commenters is flatly shameful.

Posted by: Cal_Lanier | September 3, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Teachers have been looking at data for years. I don't know any teacher who doesn't follow up a change in presentation or content by looking for its effects on students' performance. As more and more of us use spreadsheets, this becomes easier and easier.
But using the macro data provided by test scores has only hurt education. Nothing matters to administrators, from principals through superintendents, but scores on the state tests. Principals look for ways to "redefine" a student--for example, asking a student's parents to reclassify her from White to Hispanic so that her great performance in math can bring up that group's score. Teachers are being required to essentially follow lesson plans handed down from people who haven't taught in years.
We need to get control on the use of data, not unleash it. We need to help teachers get the data they need. I guarantee that most of them will use it wisely and better than administrators.

Posted by: amstphd | September 3, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Whenever the question about the accuracy, validity or reliability of a study arises and, by extension, the conclusions drawn from their data, I always ask: "who benefits most from these findings/conclusions?"

If the party that originated the study would benefit most, the rigor of the research and the results are immediately suspect.

The problem with studies and research that are used as basis for decisions or bulwarks against debate on a position, is that 98% of the people that read them, have NO IDEA HOW TO READ THEM.

For instance; does a sample population mean it's representative of the nation as a whole? Or does it mean it's a group of people taken from a specific location?

The difference is that, while in the case of the former, a reasonable decision might be reached about something that can be generalized to the entire nation, any attempt to generalize to the entire nation based on findings of a study that used the later definition would be incorrect.

Yet, it's just that type of statistical -bordering on unethical- "smoke-and-mirrors" that is used to support political NOT scientific positions.

So, until we have a country that is populated by people who have the capabilities to THINK critically, we will always be led by those who have a vested interest in the population NOT THINKING.

Need I point out that there is no requirement in education to include Critical Thinking in the curriculum?

Hmmm, wonder why.

Posted by: topwriter | September 3, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

What we ask should not be how much power to give to the ed data, but rather who going to use it as a weapon against whom?

I know Arne Duncan is going to use it as a weapon against - teachers!

Posted by: educationlover54 | September 3, 2010 8:10 PM | Report abuse

This message is for Kati Haycock:

Who is going to want to teach in the boxcar, when the price of teaching in the boxcar is to get fired for not raising test scores?

Posted by: Nemessis | September 4, 2010 8:38 AM | Report abuse

/ when value added methods are applied to teachers of low-income
/ and English-learning students, the teachers have a harder time
/ achieving the expected growth.

So, um, how come the data says the opposite?

The LA Times just did a big review. The biggest growth area was in low-income and English-learning students. Giving those kids a good teacher made an enormous amount of difference. Some of the value-added scores were amazing -- kids scoring at the 20th percentile last year are at the 50th percentile this year. That's a *huge* jump for a single year. If this is so impossible, then how are teachers doing this?

And when you looked at the "good" schools with high-income kids and well-educated parents, the value-added scores often showed remarkably little improvement, or even small declines.

Maybe you need to spend more time looking at the actual data, and less time listening to the union rep's fearmongering.

Posted by: getjiggly | September 7, 2010 12:24 AM | Report abuse

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