Would you blame the architect if you accidentally burned your house down

The Plain Dealer has a comprehesive article on teacher level value add, that's worth reading in full. We pulled out the following excerpt to highlight the problem with having a secret forumla no one understands, and which might not prove stable over time

Former Cleveland State University professor Douglas Clay said the complicated formula and a calculation process that SAS keeps secret are a concern, especially if pay is eventually tied to ratings.

"It will go to court the first time someone is denied a raise," he predicted.

SAS' White said a simpler calculation of subtracting students' scores on the state achievement tests from the previous year's scores would be easy to understand, but would be so simplistic it would ignore many factors and misclassify many teachers.

Kenston Superintendent Bob Lee is among the educators who are hesitant about applying value-added to individual teachers because of constant shifting or "stabilization" of test scores by the state and changes to the range of scores that meet, exceed or fall short of the standard. He said most legislators and even fellow superintendents do not understand all those details.

"I'm worried it's being rolled out with very little understanding at the state level of how it behaves," he said.

What is interesting about this article is the response in the comments, overwhelmingly opposed to the idea of teacher level value add as a means of evaluation.

cognitiveguy November 13, 2011 at 6:47PM

Value added seems like a fundamentally good idea but this story points to a significant problem with it, which is that it's far too complicated for most educators and parents to understand and, therefore, few educators and parents are likely to buy into it or trust it. ODE needs to explain how progress is measured in a way that everyone can understand. For example, I read in a previous story and on the ODE Web site that multiple regression analysis is used to calculate student progress. Really? Multiple regression analysis? Say that to a parent, teacher, or superintendent and watch their heads spin. By the way, good story.

petre November 13, 2011 at 7:07PM

I pity the teacher who gets students whose parents don't give a ____(fill in the blank). What will they be forced to do to get chronic truants to come to school? To get those from families who don't value education to do anything at all? Teach to the tests only? What about classes like science and history if the measurement is English and math?

Pirate November 13, 2011 at 7:10PM

What do we want to teach our students? Do we want it to be measured with the same bubble tests which have little to do with learning and much to do with measurement so that teachers and students can be defined as smart, or not, with learning disabilities, or not, creative or not, and all these determinations are made by who? Bubble tests which have given the measurement people what they want so that they can define our entire education process from the governors mansion. Fire this one because of poor tests, fail this one and label them a failure for the next five years. It is fact that operating an educational system based upon bubble tests places an identity on children which follows them through school. 'The looking glass self' has harmed many and still does. Only a joyful learner can learn or teach (which is one in the same thing to you who are not educated in education). It is a process which goes on all of the time and the roles can and should switch. Learning is a joy when done right. We are not doing it right and if we get politicians involved in hire and fire of teachers we are dead. The conservative is always bad for freedom in education and seeks to punish and control all in their path. There is already enough of them in education making education a bore and a numbers game like profit and business and selling and marketting worthless junk to the masses. Teachers need to help kids think, and reason and make choices based of helping others and not competing with them and envying them...Our system needs much change, but more bubble tests is not the answer.

heyfrank25 November 13, 2011 at 7:11PM

Hopefully with the regression they will be controlling for socioeconomic factors, student's attendance, parent's negligence, etc. Otherwise these teachers are just screwed. And 40 percent of teachers are failing in the "excellent" rated Perry SD? Obviously these tests have no criterion validity.

susiecat November 13, 2011 at 7:15PM

This is a very bad idea for two reasons. First of all, who will want to work with students who have low ability? If teachers are rated based on student performance, all teachers will want to work with the more capable students. Also, it will create an atmosphere where teachers will no longer share their ideas and methods freely. Right now, teachers share ideas for the betterment of the entire school community. With value added, who will want to share? Who will want to work together for the common good of ALL students, not just those in their own personal class? Teachers will just shut their doors and keep to themselves the wealth of information that they could share with new teachers. There will be a DECLINE in student performance.

CityontheLake November 13, 2011 at 8:12PM

This won't work. If a kid doesn't want to learn something, they're not going to learn it. A teacher's skill in teaching doesn't matter. Now, our education system does have problems, but I think teachers are causing very few of them. This is coming from someone who was a mediocre student all through high school.

Would you blame the architect if you accidentally burned your house down?

djkorn1 November 13, 2011 at 9:11PM

I feel bad for teachers that have high populations of Special Education students. How are students with learning disabilities supposed to get 'more than a years' worth of growth?? According to No Child Left Behind and the Ohio Acheivement Assesment, they are supposed to... (and they count double), if they are poor, they count triple.

This is like trying to win the Superbowl with the Chess club.

kmark92s November 13, 2011 at 10:13PM

Will the state publish the names of the parents who don't show any interest in their children's education? Will the state grade them on how many unanswered phone calls, unattended conferences or how many days their children have missed school? I would love to see that in the same report.

Shu71 November 13, 2011 at 10:24PM

I would like to know if this means that teachers will be able to draft the students in their class? Otherwise all you would need is 1 principal with an ax to grind and poof, you get all of the behavior problems, home problems and family problems in a classroom.

I would also like to know if the legislation includes identical mandatory testing and student service requirements for all Charter and Private Schools that receive a single cent of tax money. After all, those schools (with their controlled student populations) will crow loudest if permitted to cherry pick the best of the best kids. If this is going in to effect in Ohio, then ALL educators/school that receive state dollars need to play by the same rules.

american November 13, 2011 at 10:40PM

I feel bad and unlucky that we have ignorant political leaders who consider teachers enemies of their political party. This cold war is not only against teachers but it is 100% against students. If our leaders take their time to develop our state standards to meet standards in England or Germany or Japan, or France, or China, or India, our children and parents will appreciate their great work. For Politicians to spend their time just to attack teachers instead of thinking to improve the economic situations in Ohio is an evidence that our leaders in Columbus must go.

howardbeale November 13, 2011 at 11:51PM

So, if the State fails to maintain facilities or equipment, doesn’t buy new books or teaching materials, will not hire the required number of educators and lays-off new teachers, and not only ignores the Ohio Supreme Court when it rules that the financing of education in this state is unconstitutional it actually puts up the money to replace the judges, then we should grade the teachers who survive all this junk? Why don’t we begin to grade these administrators and legislators who have been failing us for thirty years? I’m not asking the Plain Dealer, I’m asking you the posters. It is time we rebelled, withheld campaign contributions, and voted against these idiots.

There's an awful lot of confusion, complexity and very good points in just these comments.