The True Mis-measurement of Education
On Friday, June 19, 2015, I spent the day attending the Educational Research Alliance (ERA) conference in New Orleans.
The title of the conference is The Urban Education Future? Lessons from New Orleans Ten Years After Katrina.
ERA Director Doug Harris, who I have written about more than once and with varied degrees of trust and acceptance, graciously allowed me to attend via media credentials.
My first knowledge of Harris came when I learned that he was the researcher who wrote the value-added model (VAM) textbook (2011) for which American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten wrote the foreword.
So, Harris and his fellow ERA researchers are into VAM.
They call it “measuring growth.”
One of the ERA conference sessions I attended was entitled, Measuring (and Mis-measuring) School Performance.
It was a presentation about adding a VAM component to school performance scores (SPS). I agree that SPS does not accurately capture student growth. However, I have yet to read any convincing empirical evidence that adding VAM into any high-stakes cocktail would improve (let’s just nebulously capture it in two words) “measurement outcomes.”
Nevertheless, in the panel discussion that followed (which included Margaret Raymond of Stanford University’s CREDO; ERA researcher Robert Santillano; New Orleans College Prep charter management founder/CEO Ben Kleban; Algiers Charter School Association charter management CEO Adrian Morgan, and Georgetown University education policy analyst Thomas Toch), it was clear that additional quantification was the preferred means of “improving” upon the “mis-measurement of education.”
As I listened to the discussion, I thought of specific students whom I have taught and whose learning outcomes, when quantified (not “if,” but “when”) would likely do my “quantified teacher value” no favors.
I have taught for over two decades, and thinking of students in terms of their “quantified value” in supporting my career is an issue that was not even a remote slice of my reality in 1991 when I began my teaching career.
But it is here now: the high-stakes testing standoff. Test-score-driven reality versus the ethical high road. “Me first” or my kids.
I choose my kids.
I will not refuse to teach a student who may not “pay off” for me. But each time I choose the student over potential consequences to my career, I am aware of the The True Mis-measurement of Education | deutsch29: