Last night, the Knox County Board of Education passed a resolution asking the state to not count this year’s new TNReady test in teacher evaluation.
Board members cited the grace period the state is granting to students as one reason for the request. While standardized test scores count in student grades, the state has granted a waiver of that requirement in the first year of the new test.
However, no such waiver was granted for teachers, who are evaluated using student test scores and a metric known as value-added modeling that purports to reflect student growth.
Instead, the Department of Education proposed and the legislature supported a plan to phase-in the TNReady scores in teacher evaluations. This plan presents problems in terms of statistical validity.
Additionally, the American Educational Research Association released a statement recently cautioning states against using value-added models in high-stakes decisions involving teachers:
In a statement released today, the American Educational Research Association (AERA) advises those using or considering use of value-added models (VAM) about the scientific and technical limitations of these measures for evaluating educators and programs that prepare teachers. The statement, approved by AERA Council, cautions against the use of VAM for high-stakes decisions regarding educators.
So, regardless of the phase-in of TNReady, value-added models for evaluating teachers are problematic. When you add the transition to a new test to the mix, you only compound the existing problems, making any “score” assigned to a teacher even more unreliable.
Tullahoma City Schools Superintendent Dan Lawson spoke to the challenges with TVAAS recently in a letter he released in which he noted:
Our teachers are tasked with a tremendous responsibility and our principals who provide direct supervision assign teachers to areas where they are most needed. The excessive reliance on production of a “teacher number” produces stress, a lack of confidence and a drive to first protect oneself rather than best educate the child.
It will be interesting to see if other school systems follow Knox County’s lead on this front. Even more interesting: Will the legislature take action and at the least, waive the TNReady scores from teacher evaluations in the first year of the new test?
A more serious, long-term concern is the use of value-added modeling in teacher evaluation and, especially, in high-stakes decisions like the granting of tenure, pay, and hiring/firing.
More on Value-Added Modeling
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