Shame on the PD and NPR

When the Cleveland Plain Dealer and NPR decided to publish the names of 4,200 Ohio teachers and their value-added grades, their reasoning was specious and self-serving. Most of all, it is damaging to the teaching profession in Ohio.

Despite pointing out all the flaws, caveats, and controversies with the use of value-add as a means to evaluate teachers, both publications decided to go ahead and shame these 4,200 teacher anyway. The publication of teachers names and scores isn't new. It was first done by the LA Times, and was a factor in the suicide of one teacher. The LA Times findings and analysis was then discredited

The research on which the Los Angeles Times relied for its August 2010 teacher effectiveness reporting was demonstrably inadequate to support the published rankings. Using the same L.A. Unified School District data and the same methods as the Times, this study probes deeper and finds the earlier research to have serious weaknesses.


The Plain Dealer analysis is weaker than the LA Times, relying on just 2 years worth of data rather than 7. In fact, the Pleain Dealer and NPR stated they only published 4,200 teachers scores and not the 12,000 scores they had data for because most only had 1 years worth of data. A serious error as value-add is known to be highly unreliable and subject to massive variance.

Beyond the questionable statistical analysis, the publication of teachers names and value-added scores has been criticized by a great number of people, including corporate education reformer Bill Gates, in NYT op-ed titled "Shame Is Not the Solution"

LAST week, the New York State Court of Appeals ruled that teachers’ individual performance assessments could be made public. I have no opinion on the ruling as a matter of law, but as a harbinger of education policy in the United States, it is a big mistake.

I am a strong proponent of measuring teachers’ effectiveness, and my foundation works with many schools to help make sure that such evaluations improve the overall quality of teaching. But publicly ranking teachers by name will not help them get better at their jobs or improve student learning. On the contrary, it will make it a lot harder to implement teacher evaluation systems that work.

Gates isn't the only high profile corporate education reformer who is critical of such shaming, Wendy Knopp, CEO of Teach for America has also spoken out against the practice

Kopp is not shy about saying what she'd do differently as New York City schools chancellor. While the Bloomberg administration is fighting the United Federation of Teachers in court for the right to release to the news media individual teachers' "value added" ratings—an estimate of how effective a teacher is at improving his or her students' standardized test scores—Kopp says she finds the idea "baffling" and believes doing so would undermine trust among teachers and between teachers and administrators.

"The principals of very high performing schools would all say their No. 1 strategy is to build extraordinary teams," Kopp said. "I can't imagine it's a good organizational strategy to go publish the names of teachers and one data point about whether they are effective or not in the newspaper."

Indeed, if the editors of the Plain Dealer and NPR had read their own reporting, they would have realized the public release of this information was unsound, unfair and damaging. Let's look at the warning signs in their own reporting

...scores can vary from year to year.

Yet they relied upon only 1 years worth of data for much of their analysis, and just 2 for the teachers whose names they published.

...decided it was more important to provide information — even if flawed.

How can it be useful to the layperson to be provided with flawed information? Why would a newspaper knowingly publish flawed information?

...these scores are only a part of the criteria necessary for full and accurate evaluation of an individual teacher.

And yet they publish 4,200 teachers value-added scores based solely on value add, which at best makes up only 35% of a teachers evaluation. Lay people will not understand these scores are only a partial measurment of a teachers effectiveness, and a poor one at that.

...There are a lot of questions still about the particular formula Ohio.

Indeed, so many questions that one would best be advised to wait until those questions are answered before publically shaming teachers who were part of a pilot program being used to answer those questions.

...variables beyond a teacher’s control need to be considered in arriving at a fair and accurate formula.

Yet none of these reporters considered any of these factors in publishing teachers names, and readers will wholly miss that necassary context.

...The company that calculates value-added for Ohio says scores are most reliable with three years of data.

Again, the data is unreliable, especially with less than 3 years worth of data, yet the Plain Dealer and NRP decided they should shame teachers using just 2 years worth of data.

...Ohio’s value-added ratings do not account for the socioeconomic backgrounds of students, as they do in some other states.

How many "ineffective" teachers are really just working in depressed socioeconomic classrooms? The reporters seem not to care and publish the names anyway.

...Value-added scores are not a teacher’s full rating.

No where in the publication of these names are the teachers full ratings indicated. This again leaves lay-people and site visitors to think these flawed value-added scores are the final reflection of a teachers quality

...ratings are still something of an experiment.

How absurd is the decision to publish now seeming? Shaming people on the basis of the results of an experiement! By their very nature experiments can demonstrate something is wrong, not right.

...The details of how the scores are calculated aren’t public.

We don't even know if the value-added scores are correct and accurate, because the formula is secret. How can it be fair for the results of a secret forumla be public? Did that not rasie any alarm bells for the Plain Dealer and NPR?

...The department’s top research official, Matt Cohen, acknowledged that he can’t explain the details of exactly how Ohio’s value-added model works.

But somehow NPR listeners and Cleveland Plain Dealer readers are supposed to understand the complexities, and read the necessary context into the publication of individual teacher scores?

...StateImpact/Plain Dealer analysis of initial state data suggests.

"Initial", "Suggests". They have decided to shame teachers without properly vetting the data and their own analysis - exactly the same problem the LA Times ran into that we highlighted at the top of this article.

It doesn't take a lot of "analysis" to understand that a failing newspaper needed controversy and eyeballs and that their decision to shame teachers was made in their own economic interests and not that of the public good. In the end then, the real shame falls not on teachers who are working hard everyday often in difficult situations made worse by draconian budget cuts, endless political meddling, and student poverty - but on the editors of these 2 publications for putting their own narrow self-interest above that of Ohio's children.

It's a disgrace that they ought to make 4,200 apologies for.

Education News for 04-23-2013

State Education News

  • Delays predicted in Common Core success (Cincinnati Enquirer)
  • There’s good news and bad news about the rise of the Common Core, that new system of math and English standards people hope will reshape and restore American education…Read more...

  • Lorain's Academic Distress Commission looks to set foundation for schools (Lorain Morning Journal)
  • Lorain’s Academic Distress Commission’s first meeting yesterday allowed the group to lay the foundation for its plan to dig Lorain schools out of its academic hole…Read more...

  • Common Core education goals come under fire (Marietta Times)
  • Three years after Ohio adopted the Common Core educational standards and a little more than 15 months from the start of the first year…Read more...

  • State superintendent OKs updated school recovery plan (Youngstown Vindicator)
  • Saying the city school district and the academic commission that oversees it have made progress, the state superintendent of public instruction has approved an updated academic recovery plan for the schools…Read more...

Local Education News

  • Free school lunches coming soon to some local elementary schools (Chillicothe Gazette)
  • Starting this fall, free lunches will be available to every student at Mount Logan, Tiffin and Worthington…Read more...

  • T.J. Lane appeals life sentence without possibility of parole (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  • Convicted Chardon High School shooter T.J. Lane has appealed his sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole…Read more...

  • Dual enrollment options explained (Marietta Times)
  • Marietta High School students will have more ways to earn college credit without leaving campus next year…Read more...

  • Strongsville teachers union offered 'one-time' proposal to school board (Sun Newspapers)
  • The negotiation team for the Strongsville Education Association presented a new contract proposal to the school board…Read more...

  • Bay Village school district reaches contract agreement with teachers' union (Sun Newspapers)
  • The Bay Village school board Monday night approved a new three-year contract with the district’s teachers…Read more...

  • Boardman schools oppose state expansion of voucher program (Youngstown Vindicator)
  • The board of education approved a resolution Monday in opposition to two voucher programs included in Gov. John Kasich’s biennial budget…Read more...

Education News for 04-18-2013

State Education News

  • School funding plan from Ohio House headed to a vote with many details still unclear (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  • The school funding proposal created by Ohio House leaders is scheduled for a vote Thursday, along with the rest of the state budget…Read more...

  • Patrolman’s substitute-teaching job might start security trend (Columbus Dispatch)
  • When Columbus Police Officer Bret Wilson encountered teens on the job, he found them to be disrespectful, rude to their parents…Read more...

  • Legislator’s sex-ed proposal baffles some educators (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Some local school administrators say it’s unclear how a ban on teaching about “gateway sexual activity” would change sex-education lessons in their districts…Read more...

  • Coleman balks at school-takeover legislation (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman opposes a legislative plan that would allow him to pick two of the five members of a state panel that could take over Columbus City Schools…Read more...

  • Teachers see movement in state reading requirements (Mansfield News Journal)
  • Helping struggling readers master the skill is becoming more difficult for some Ohio teachers, even as lawmakers try to make it easier…Read more...

  • Conotton Valley debuts student helpline (New Philadelphia Times-Reporter)
  • Conotton Valley Union Local Schools has launched an anonymous helpline where students can report threats of violence, illegal activity, depression or bullying situations…Read more...

  • Bring Your Own Device pilot starting soon (Newark Advocate)
  • Newark City Schools is running a pilot for the Bring Your Own Device initiative in select classrooms at the high school. The students in the pilot will be encouraged to bring their own…Read more...

  • Budget bill contains proposal for state takeover of schools (Toledo Blade)
  • Proposed legislation could lead to a state takeover of Toledo Public Schools and eight other districts because of its data-reporting practices…Read more...

Local Education News

  • Phila school board gets ‘EverFi’ update (New Philadelphia Times-Reporter)
  • Members of the New Philadelphia Board of Education got an update on the EverFi Program…Read more...

  • Local groups could gain, schools lose under tax exemption (Zanesville Times-Recorder)
  • Some local fraternal organizations could save thousands of dollars each year if they are exempted from paying property taxes, dollars that could be directed to other charitable work in the community…Read more...

Education News for 01-10-2013

State Education News

  • Teacher education programs at public, private state colleges can now be compared (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  • Prospective teachers, school superintendents and parents can now judge the quality of teacher education programs in Ohio's public and private colleges…Read more...

  • Secrecy to shroud school seclusion, restraint use under new state rules (Columbus Dispatch)
  • New state rules would require schools to keep records of how often and why educators place children in seclusion rooms or physically restrain them…Read more...

Local Education News

  • Casino money headed this way (Marion Star)
  • School districts are getting their first taste of casino-tax revenues, though this new revenue stream won’t be a windfall…Read more...

  • Newcomerstown schools' recycling drive helps beat budget crunch (New Philadelphia Times-)
  • Staff and teachers of Newcomerstown Exempted Village Schools have been earning free technology equipment by participating in the FundingFactory Recycling Program…Read more...

  • Scioto schools get $277,500 from Casino Tax (Portsmouth Daily Times)
  • The state of Ohio announced Wednesday nearly $38 million will go to Ohio schools…Read more...

Education News for 11-20-2012

State Education News

  • School levy failure won’t stop drug testing (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Despite a failed tax levy that could lead to more cuts, the North Fork school district is reinstating its drug-testing program…Read more...

Local Education News

  • Audit cited in board members' defeat (Cincinnati Enquirer)
  • The fallout from the state audit of the Mason County School District continues with the defeat of two Board of Education members in the Nov. 7 election and the near-loss of a third member to a write-in candidate…Read more...

  • Cleveland City Council seeks tougher penalties for failing to stop for school bus (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  • Ten days after a Cleveland municipal judge ordered a woman to stand in public with a sign labeling herself an “idiot” for driving on a sidewalk to avoid a stopped school bus…Read more...

  • Highland Schools: No charges for not reporting sexual misconduct (Columbus Dispatch)
  • No charges will be filed against two Morrow County elementary-school principals and one teacher who had been under investigation…Read more...

  • Elida board soon to decide on levy, cuts (Lima News)
  • The next couple of months will be full of tough decisions for the Elida school board. After the levy defeat earlier this month, the board now faces decisions on going back to voters and what to cut from its budget…Read more...

  • Warren board discusses unanticipated tax bill (Marietta Times)
  • The granted appeal of a tax bill from several years ago has cost the Warren Local school district more than $160,000…Read more...

  • Conotton Valley cuts music program (New Philadelphia Times)
  • The Conotton Valley Union School Board made the first of what may be several budget cuts…Read more...

  • Auburn Career Center focuses on community outreach, opens welding lab (Willoughby News Herald)
  • At Monday's ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new welding lab, educators with Auburn Career Center also unveiled the new strategic plan for the center…Read more...


  • On the money (Columbus Dispatch)
  • As other major American cities struggle to provide the basic services, Columbus is fortunate to have leadership that has locked down expenses and is able to propose a 2013 budget that invests in improving neighborhoods, strengthening safety forces…Read more...

  • Example exists for grad rates (Warren Tribune Chronicle)
  • Among nine schools the Ohio Department of Education is holding up as models of success under trying circumstances is East Garfield Elementary in Steubenville…Read more...

Education News for 10-12-2012

State Education News

  • Superintendent evaluation process varies (Hamilton Journal-News)
  • While Race to the Top and other education reform movements are putting an emphasis on teacher and principal evaluations, there is no uniform method for evaluating superintendents…Read more...

  • CTC programs take students from classroom to workforce (Portsmouth Daily Times)
  • The Scioto County Career Technical Center has changed faces since its old days as “VoTech,” with a significant growth…Read more...

Local Education News

  • Former Cleveland schools CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett to take over top post in Chicago (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  • Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard stepped down Thursday after a little more than a year in the post, a spokeswoman for Mayor Rahm Emanuel said…Read more...

  • Levy failure would result in loss of up to 20 teachers (Lorain Morning Journal)
  • Failure of Amherst schools 4.9-mill levy, Issue 28, would mean up to 20 more teaching positions would be eliminated, Superintendent Steve Sayers said…Read more...

  • Nonstudents enter LaBrae High, triggering a lockdown of school (Youngstown Vindicator)
  • LaBrae High School was on lockdown for 90 minutes Thursday morning after three young men walked into the school who were not students there and were noticed by a teacher…Read more...


  • Access denied (Akron Beacon Journal)
  • State agencies catch grief for layers of bureaucracy that waste time and money. Many times, the problem originates with the General Assembly. Ohio’s Statewide Student Identifier system…Read more...