New York court decision throws out use of 'VAM' for teacher evaluations... New York's highest court notes that the VAM system is bogus...
In a case that has huge implications for Chicago teachers, Sheri Lederman, desecribed as "a beloved fourth-grade teacher from Great Neck, New York," just won a lawsuit to have her 2013-14 VAM score of “ineffective” rating vacated and set aside by the Supreme Court of New York State. Like many states and school districts, New York was trying to utilize the so-called "Value Added" measures of student performance (VAM for short) to evaluate teacher effectiveness. Lederman challenged the practice in state court and won.
New York Justice Roger D. McDonough, who heard the case, recognized that score for what it was — “arbitrary” and “capricious.” The same type of scores are used to evaluate teachers and can be used to lay off teachers out of seniority according to the agreement with Chicago Public Schools and Illinois State law.
In his written decisions, Judge McDonough said he based his decision on the following five factors:
-- the convincing and detailed evidence of VAM bias against teachers at both ends of the spectrum (e.g. those with high-performing students or those with low-performing students);
-- the disproportionate effect of petitioner’s small class size and relatively large percentage of high-performing students;
-- the functional inability of high-performing students to demonstrate growth akin to lower-performing students;
-- the wholly unexplained swing in petitioner’s growth score from 14 to 1 despite the presence of statistically similar scoring students in her respective classes;
-- the strict imposition of rating constraints in the form of a “bell curve” that places teachers in four categories via pre-determined percentages regardless of whether the performance of students dramatically rose or dramatically fell from the previous...
According to the justice, the state failed to make its case in rationally explaining how Lederman’s score could so wildly swing in one year. The judge added that the petitioner met the high burden of proof needed for his ruling. The assessment system using the VAM method was developed when John King, the new U.S. education secretary, was the New York State education commissioner.
Chicago teachers who have studied the problems with VAM have regularly criticized the Chicago Board of Education's practice of utilizing the mismeasure. Three years ago, Chicago teachers heard from Jim Horn, whose book "The Mismeasure of Education" exposed the fraud of VAM. Nevertheless, CPS continued to pay a "Chief Accountability Officer" originally hired by Barbara Byrd Bennett after the disgraced former CEO was gone. John Barker, a VAM proponent who had been hired from Memphis, was only eliminated from Chicago a few months ago.
The story has national implications and has been reported in The Washington Post (see below) and elsewhere. It has not yet been reported in any Chicago media.
NY teacher victorious in having court throw out VAM score - Network For Public Education. (2016). Retrieved May 12, 2016, from http://networkforpubliceducation.org/2016/05/ny-teacher-victorious-court-throw-vam-score/?link_id=0
A master teacher went to court to challenge her low evaluation. What her win means for her profession. (n.d.). Retrieved May 12, 2016, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2016/05/10/a-master-teacher-went-to-court-to-challenge-her-low-evaluation-what-her-win-means-for-her-profession/
Judge calls evaluation of N.Y. teacher ‘arbitrary’ and ‘capricious’ in case against new U.S. secretary of education. (n.d.). Retrieved May 12, 2016, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2016/05/10/judge-calls-evaluation-of-n-y-teacher-arbitrary-and-capricious-in-case-against-new-u-s-secretary-of-education/
WASHINGTON POST REPORT:
Teacher Challenges Low Evaluation in Court and Wins (from Carol Burris). Reported May 10, 2016 Washington Post...
Sheri Lederman, the beloved fourth-grade teacher New York, won her battle to have her 2013-14 VAM score of “ineffective” rating vacated. Why this court ruling matters to more than Sheri Lederman. Charles Rex Arbogast/ AP,
Sheri Lederman, the beloved fourth-grade teacher from Great Neck, New York, was victorious in her battle to have her 2013-14 VAM score of “ineffective” rating vacated and set aside by the Supreme Court of New York State. Justice Roger D. McDonough, who heard the case, recognized that score for what it was — “arbitrary” and “capricious.”
[The Post's] "Answer Sheet" series readers will remember that her husband argued the irrationality of VAM scores before the court in August of 2015, laying out a careful, systematic argument that you can read about here. During the trial, Bruce Lederman, Sheri’s lawyer and husband, described the production of the score as a “black box” system that spit out predictions comparing his wife’s students to “avatar students.” He noted that “the magic of numbers brings a suspension of common sense.”
In his ruling, McDonough cited affidavits submitted by Linda Darling Hammond of Stamford University, Aaron Pallas of Columbia University, Audrey Amrien-Beardsley of Arizona State University, Sean Corcoran of New York University, Jesse Rothstein of University of California at Berkeley, clinical school psychologist Brad Lindell, and me [Carol Burrus].
Each of us used research and data to demonstrate that the VAM system was indeed arbitrary and capricious, and therefore an abuse of discretion by the New York State Education Department. In his ruling, the judge characterized that evidence as “overwhelming.”
The defendant was John B. King, the former New York State education commissioner and present U.S. Department of Education Secretary, who did not appear in court to defend the system he commissioned and defended as valid, reliable and fair when he was working in New York. Instead, an affidavit was submitted by Assistant Commissioner Ira Schwartz, who claimed that the New York VAM system (which is actually considered one of the better VAM systems) to be a rational and fair system to measure student growth.
McDonough was not convinced. He based his decision on the following five factors:
• the convincing and detailed evidence of VAM bias against teachers at both ends of the spectrum (e.g. those with high-performing students or those with low-performing students);
• the disproportionate effect of petitioner’s small class size and relatively large percentage of high-performing students;
• the functional inability of high-performing students to demonstrate growth akin to lower-performing students;
• the wholly unexplained swing in petitioner’s growth score from 14 to 1 despite the presence of statistically similar scoring students in her respective classes;
• the strict imposition of rating constraints in the form of a “bell curve” that places teachers in four categories via pre-determined percentages regardless of whether the performance of students dramatically rose or dramatically fell from the previous year.
According to the justice, the state failed to make its case in rationally explaining how Lederman’s score could so wildly swing in one year and the petitioner met the high burden of proof needed for the ruling.
There are thousands of teachers like Sheri Lederman all across this nation who suffer in silence when they receive a VAM score labeling them ineffective. They and all teachers and principals owe the Ledermans a great debt. Sheri was willing to be publicly identified as “ineffective” while her attorney husband spent countless hours preparing meticulous briefs and cajoling experts to write affidavits in support.
The Ledermans knew they were fighting against the testocracy that is destroying the schools that they love. Across the country, students are laboring over unfair tests that are too long in order to produce enough “data” for a teacher score. News agencies have printed these invalid scores, humiliating teachers across the nation. Politicians, such as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, have raised the weight of those ludicrous scores to 50 percent of a teacher’s and principal’s evaluation, and Brian Davison of Loudon County Schools petitioned the court (and won), to turn this nonsensical data with teacher names over to him so he can have the power to publish it on his Facebook page.
It is time for the madness to stop. It is time for other teachers to stand up and legally challenge their scores. And it is past time for taxpayers to stop these silly measures that cost them millions while enriching test companies and the research firms that produce the teacher scores.
Let’s hope that this judge’s decision has unmasked VAM and other growth scores for what they are—arbitrary and capricious numbers that require the suspension of common sense. You can read the entire decision elsewhere and watch and listen to Bruce Lederman explain the case during a legal panel at the recent Network for Public Education Conference here.
NY teacher victorious in having court throw out VAM score. May 10, 2016 by Darcie Cimarusti
STATE OF NEW YORK SUPREME COURT COUNTY OF ALBANY. In the Matter of the Application of SHERI G. LEDERMAN, Ed. D. Petitioner, For a Judgment pursuant to Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules
-against- JOHN B. KING, JR., Commissioner, New York State Education Department1, CANDACE H. SHYER, Assistant Commissioner, Office of State Assessment of the New York State Education Department Respondents,
TO DECLARE PETITIONER’S GROWTH SCORE AND RATING FOR THE 2013-2014 SCHOOL YEAR (RATING PETITIONER AS “JNEFFECTIVE”) TO BE ARBITRARY AND CAPRICIOUS AND AN ABUSE OF DISCRETION.
Supreme Court, Albany County Article 78 Term
Appearances: D’ Agostino, Levine, Landesman & Lederman, LLP Attorneys for Petitioner
345 Seventh A venue, 23rd Floor New York, NY 10001 (Bruce Lederman, Esq., of Counsel) Index No. RJINo. 5443-14 01-14-ST6183
Eric T. Schneiderman Attorney General State of New York Attorney for Respondents, The Capitol Albany, NY 12224-0341 (Colleen D. Galligan, Esq., Assistant
At the time the proceeding was commenced, John B. King, Jr., was the Commissioner of the New York State Education Department.
DECISION, ORDER AND JUDGMENT
Roger D. McDonough, Justice
Petitioner seeks a Judgment: (1) setting aside or vacating the Growth Score and Rating
(“growth score”) of Petitioner of 1 out of20, and the identification of petitioner as “Ineffective” for school year 2013-2014; and (2) declaring that the New Yc;>rk State Growth Measures (“growth measures”) are arbitrary ·and capricious and an abuse of discretion, and permanently enjoining the use of said “growth measures” unless they are modified to rationally evaluate teacher performance. Respondents oppose the petition in its entirety.
Petitioner is a fourth (41h) grade teacher employed by the Great Neck Public School
District in the State of New York. She has been so employed since September of 1997. For the school year 2013-2014, she received a growth score of 1 out of a possible 20 points. Said score correlates to a rating of “Ineffective”. A score/rating sheet defines “Ineffective” as: “Results are well-below State average for similar students”. For the school year 2012-2013, she received a growth score of 14 out of 20 points. Said score correlates to a rating of “Effective”, defined as: “Results meet State average for similar students”.
Petitioner, via her counsel, confirmed with the New York State Education Department (“Education Department”) that neither an administrative appeal nor an appeal to the Education Commissioner was available to challenge her growth score. The instant proceeding ensued.
PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND. Respondents moved to dismiss the petition for lack of standing. Petitioner cross-moved for permission to conduct discovery and to supplement her petition. The Court denied the motion to dismiss and reserved decision on the discovery issue. Additionally, the Court granted petitioner permission to supplement her petition. A briefing scheduled was established, respondents served their answer and the Court heard oral argument on the petition. Additionally, the parties reached a stipulation as to certain issues of confidentiality. Prior to the petition’s final return date, petitioner brought a motion...