The value of Value Added

This morning I read an article (not recent) about a California teacher, Rigoberto Ruelas. He was apparently wonderful at what he did, but his perception of his success changed when someone decided it was a good idea to publish the value added scores of the LAUSD teachers in the paper. This performance score is based on student test scores. Mr. Ruelas taught in a what we would call a tough school, and despite that, he made a difference. Unfortunately, to him, his entire career was boiled down to a number that reflected he was less than that difference he actually made. To make matters worse, that number was published for the whole world to see.

There are so many things wrong with this. And I’d really like to know who makes the decisions to make individual teacher’s classroom test scores public. Who are those decision makers who understand so little about what happens in the classroom?  They don’t seem to understand that we don’t control all the variables that come in with each student. That reaching every kid in a tough school takes time and effort outside of the curriculum. That some kids take longer to reach and in the meantime aren’t learning the curriculum. What they are learning is to trust someone else and feel comfortable in a place. They are learning to let go of the past and inhibitions and appearance. For some of these kids, it will take much, much longer than hat that  single year reflects in test scores, and this would be  in an excellent school with teachers that year after year are loving and caring. Some students will not be reached until they are adults and they reflect on what happened.

Back to the story. It’s bad enough that test scores are posted in the paper, but apparently the LA Times takes it a step farther and does their own rankings based on their own algorithms. They have a FAQ page to explain it all. These rankings are figured differently from the ones the school district does. Seriously. The school district even asked the paper to stop because of the difference in models. (See Washington Post article.) That WP article btw does a good job of explaining the pitfalls of Value Added scores. The appellate court tentatively ruled in April that the LAUSD did not have to release teacher information but it’s too late for Mr. Ruelas.

A three-judge state appellate court panel tentatively found a stronger public interest in keeping the names confidential than in publicly releasing them. Disclosure would not serve the public interest in monitoring the district’s performance as much as it would affect the recruitment and retention of good instructors and other issues, the ruling said.

Thank goodness some one is thinking here, and this does answer my earlier question about who. The paper, the courts.

LA is not the only area where this happens.

I’m sure I’d find more if I did more digging.

Now, I’m struggling with looking up other teacher suicides. I’ve read them in the past. I don’t know why this one has resurfaced. At least one suicide in my memory was a woman and was also over published scores that inaccurately portrayed what happened in the classroom. I”m thinking this has been depressing enough. That will be a task for later.

 

 

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