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More evidence that 'VAM' is a synonym for BULLSHIT...

None of the members of the Chicago Board of Education asked why they were being told to hire John Barker from Memphis, Tennessee, to become Chicago's "Chief Accountability Officer" two years ago. Barbara Byrd Bennett made the recommendation in a Board Report, and the Board members, as usual, rubber stamped it unanimously and without debate. But Barker came to Chicago from Tennessee, where the so-called "Value Added" metrics for measuring schools and teachers has been completely discredited. Substance photo by David Vance.Nobody is going to outdo John Oliver's classic takedown of so-called "Value Added Measures" (VAM) and standardized testing as the corporate tools for evaluating teachers (and also schools and principals). But it's nice when some of the most prominent researchers also add to the trove of studies that show how VAM is, well basically, as John Oliver would say, 'BULLSHIT!' And the latest to add to that trove of research is Columbia Teachers College. VAM fails.

The question is, then, why is Chicago paying a guy whose roots are in the worst examples of VAM $175,000 a year as "Chief Accountability Officer"? And the answer, of course, is that Chicago's Board of Education is still filled with corporate Atlas Shrugged zombies who have brainwashed themselves into believing that their corporate models of how schools should work are reality. The only thing more odious might be when the Chicago ruling class suggests that fascism -- the original version of corporate/government cooperation, be installed formally in Chicago. Whoops! That's already been done: The Chicago Tribune has declared editorially that Chicago needs a Benito Mussolini to get the schools and the other various civic trains running on time, so to speak.

Of course, Oliver's joyous send-up of VAM wasn't the first or the most complete. That job was done in the book "The Mismeasure of Education" by Jim Horn years ago. Nothing since has added to the stunning critique of so called VAM. But because VAM fits the corporate version of how reality should work, it remains in place in many school districts and people like Chicago's "Chief Accountability Officer," John Barker, remain in their jobs even after their sponsors (Barbara Byrd Bennett) have been forced to resign. Barker is currently being paid $175,000 per year in Chicago.

And so now we have the latest study from Columbia University Teachers College, the summary of which is here:

Evidence of Grade and Subject-Level Bias in Value-Added Measures

by Jessica Holloway-Libell — June 08, 2015

The seven members of the Chicago Board of Education voted unanimously and without debate to approve Barbara Byrd Bennett's recommendation to hire Memphis school bureaucrat John Barker to become Chicago's "Chief Accountability Officer" despite the fact that the "Value Added" version of measuring schools and teachers used in Tennessee had made the state even then a national joke. While value-added models (VAMs)—the statistical tools used to measure teacher effects on student achievement scores—continue to emerge throughout districts and states across the country, education scholars simultaneously recommend caution, especially in terms of the inferences that are made and/or used based on VAM outcomes. This research note investigates an unexplored feature of bias in VAM-based estimates—that which is associated with grade levels and subject areas. Findings contribute an alternative perspective regarding how we think about VAM-based bias and teacher classifications.



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