Let me start with the positive. Some Florida newspapers have actually started covering teacher VAM rankings in a more investigative way than just publishing the entire database. The Tampa Bay Times covered the story of award winning teachers with less than stellar VAM rankings here http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/k12/confused-by-floridas-teacher-performance-scores-so-are-award-winning/2168062. A public school parent wrote a wonderful letter defending his child’s teachers with negative VAM rankings and it was published in the business section of the Florida Times Union (someone besides teachers might actually read it)! http://jacksonville.com/business/premium/columnists/2014-03-01/story/mark-woods-my-vam-much-less-exact-far-more-accurate. The Miami Herald…..well….they seem to be asleep at the wheel on this one.
Now back to the absurd. Somehow the Florida Times Union managed to find the one teacher in Florida who just loves VAM! To make matters worse, she’s a math and science teacher with a negative VAM ranking.
“In Duval County, among the current 15 semifinalists vying for Teacher of the Year, there are at least two teachers with negative VAM scores. Desirae Royal, a JEB Stuart Middle School science and math teacher, had a negative VAM score, but she suspects there’s some truth in it.
“I feel like I could have had greater values in some areas as far as student performance,” she said.
Being a mathematician, she loves formulas.
“I love VAM scores, and I love the model because I like the accountability,” she said. “I grade my students. I work in public service. Why shouldn’t I be graded?”
Who is this woman? A Michelle Rhee secret operative? Is she auditioning for the token Teacher of the Year panel slot on Bill Gates’ propaganda showcase Education Nation? The Times Union was smart to interview someone in the running for Teacher of the Year. She probably didn’t want to jeopardize her chances of winning a new Honda Civic by daring to say something negative about her district’s evaluation system. Sounds like Ms. Royal has an excellent future as a spokesperson for the Duval County school district, or if she aims big, the FLDOE. Either that, or she’s completely clueless. A math and science teacher who takes no issue with a formula that has been proven time and time again to have serious reliability and validity issues, even by the same institute that created the Florida Model http://pareonline.net/pdf/v17n17.pdf, is not one that I want teaching my kids. Did she fail Statistics 101?
The story gets even more absurd. I posted the link to this article with the following comment “Who is this teacher? What was she smoking when they interviewed her?” in the Badass Teacher Facebook group (a group I hesitated to join in the first place because I thought their name was a bit tacky) and the moderators asked me to edit the post because it looked like I was teacher bashing and they couldn’t have any references to drugs. This from a group that calls itself “badass”? They were polite when they asked me to censor myself and since it was their group, they get to make the rules. I caved and edited it. Thank goodness I have this blog where I am free to be my brash irreverent self!
Before anyone accuses me of teacher bashing, let me say, “Yes. I am teacher bashing.” I am bashing this one teacher who just threw her entire profession under the VAM bus. I am generally tolerant of different viewpoints, but I plan to fully bash anyone that supports and openly declares their LOVE for VAM. Especially a math teacher with a negative VAM ranking! VAM is the ultimate form of teacher bashing, even more so when it is published in newspaper. To make a statement professing one’s love for VAM, the same week your colleagues are being completely demoralized and having their hard earned professional reputations irreparably damaged over this pseudo-science garbage, is the ultimate betrayal. I understand some teachers are afraid of criticizing the system for fear of losing their jobs, but as someone who has openly come out against VAM since the beginning, who has published opinion pieces, spoken to journalists under my real name, and who has devoted two years writing a blog trying to expose this fraud, I’m disgusted that any teacher in this state at this point in time feels the need to declare their love of VAM in a major newspaper.