1. It’s January 19th 2013. Teachers in Dade county still have no evaluations for the 2011-12 school year, nor have they received any merit pay, because of delays in receiving their VAMs. An evaluation system that takes 10 months for completion and has to go through layers and layers of data correction, negotiations and highly paid bureaucrats is not sustainable. I have created a human life faster than my district can evaluate one.
2. Various studies by scientists and mathematicians have proven VAM to be unreliable junk science and discourage its use for high stakes decisions (even AIR, the DC nonprofit that Florida paid $4 million for its algorithm, recently issued a report with this conclusion). The FLDOE has put out videos trying to persuade teachers of its reliability and claiming that because they use 3 years of test data it is more reliable. As we transition to evaluating certain teachers on EOCs, there won’t be 3 years of data available. How does the formula predict scores for students on a test they have never taken?
3. The obvious flaw of evaluating teachers on the basis of test scores of students they have never taught or subjects they don’t teach.
4. Creating new tests for every subject and grade level, just so the results can be used to evaluate teachers, is a time consuming waste of money. Our students will spend their lives testing.
5. Nothing about this process is transparent. Teachers receive only a rating and have no access to the data that was used to arrive at that rating. Teachers are forbidden from looking at the tests and have no rights to see the answers to the test to see if they are in fact correct. Teachers should be able to access how much growth the algorithm is predicting for their current set of students so they can monitor growth throughout the year.
6. We don’t need a test to evaluate a teacher’s job performance. How about student portfolios if they want to include a student growth component? Some students do poorly on standardized tests no matter what. Other students may have been sick, had family issues, or a fight with a friend the night before the test and are not focused. Some students just don’t care. Case in point, I just had a teacher put some students in my classroom to make up their American history EOC interim assessment. The first thing out of one of the student’s mouth was “let’s just Christmas tree it.” Bottom line, a test measures the performance of the student, not the teacher.
7. I have no problem being held accountable for my job performance. Here are some easy and cheap ways to evaluate a teacher’s job performance:
a. check the online grade book to see that the teacher is entering grades in a timely manner with a variety of assessments.
b. does the teacher maintain an updated website with information about upcoming homework assignments, quizzes and tests?
c. does the teacher actively communicate with parents? If a parent complains that a teacher does not respond to email, document it.
d. administrators should be freed from endless data analysis and district trainings on new evaluation systems (we’ve had 4 different ones in 8 years) so they can actually walk around their schools and observe what is going on in their classrooms. If they find teachers playing irrelevant and inappropriate movies or giving students “free time” document it. I haven’t had an administrator walk in my room all year. I could have been playing “Finding Nemo” for the past six months and nobody would know the difference.
It’s really that simple to tell which teachers are doing their jobs and which ones are not. We don’t need a $4 million algorithm that arbitrarily rates teachers to figure it out.