The efforts by corporate education reformers to shame teachers by publishing value-add scores and evaluations is coming under mounting pressure. First Bill Gates penned an op-ed in the NYT titled "Shame Is Not the Solution, now comes 2 new pieces. The first is research from the National Education Policy Center, that finds the LA Times controversial efforts to shame California's teachers was grossly error ridden
Dr. Catherine Durso of the University of Denver studied the newspaper’s 2011 rankings of teachers and found that they rely on data yielding results that are unstable from year to year. Additionally, Durso found that the value-added assessment model used by the Times can easily impute to teachers effects that may in fact result from outside factors, such as a student’s poverty level or the neighborhood in which he or she lives.
“The effect estimate for each teacher cannot be taken at face value,” Durso writes. Instead, each teacher’s effect estimate includes a large “error band” that reflects the probable range of scores for a teacher under the assessment system.
“The error band . . . for many teachers is larger than the entire range of scores from the ‘less effective’ to ‘more effective’ designations provided by the LA Times,” Durso writes. As a consequence, the so-called teacher-linked effect for individual teachers “is also unstable over time,” she continues.
These failings have rendered the Times’ rankings not merely useless, but potentially harmful, according to Alex Molnar, NEPC’s publications director and a research professor at the University of Colorado Boulder.
“The Los Angeles Times has added no value to the discussion of how best to identify and retain the highest-quality teachers for our nation’s children,” Molnar says. “Indeed, it has made things worse. Based on this flawed use of data, parents are enticed into thinking their children’s teachers are either wonderful or terrible.”
“The Los Angeles Times editors and reporters either knew or should have known that their reporting was based on a social science tool that cannot validly or reliably do what they set out to quantify,” Molnar said. “Yet in their ignorance or arrogance they used it anyway, to the detriment of children, teachers, and parents.”
Their full report can be read here. Meanwhile in New York, which has long been at the cutting edge of corporate ed reform efforts has passed legislation that would eliminate this kind of teacher shaming
“It strikes a good balance between parents’ right to know and some form of confidentially,” Skelos said. Some GOP Senators were concerned that the bill would inadvertently result in the disclosure of the identities of teachers in small rural schools.
Senate Education Chair John Flanagan calls it a “work in progress,” and says the message of intent accompanying the bill will attempt to make clear the need to protect teacher privacy. “I’m hoping that if you’re in a small school and they release data by class, subject and grade that there’s some type of interpretation to protect people’s privacy,” said Flanagan.
Ohio's legislature should pass similar efforts in Ohio.