A few weeks ago a follower posed the following question on our website, and I thought it imperative to share.
Following the post about “The Arbitrariness Inherent in Teacher Observations,” he wrote: “Have you written about a statistically sound alternative proposal?”
My reply? “Nope. I do not believe such a thing exists. I do have a sound alternative proposal though, that has sound statistics to support it. It serves as the core of chapter 8 of my recent book.”
Essentially, this is a solution that, counter-intuitively, offers an even-more conventional and traditional solution. This is a solution that has research and statistical evidence in support, and has evidenced itself as superior to using value-added measures, along with other measures of teacher effectiveness in their current forms, for evaluating and holding teachers accountable for their effectiveness. It is based on the use of multiple measures, as aligned with the standards of the profession and also locally defined theories capturing what it means to be an effective teacher. Its effectiveness also relies on competent supervisors and elected colleagues serving as professional members of educators’ representative juries.
This solution does not rely solely on mathematics and the allure of numbers or grandeur of objectivity that too often comes along with numerical representation, especially in the social sciences. This solution does not trust the test scores too often (and wrongly) used to assess teacher quality, simply because the test output is already available (and paid for) and these data can be represented numerically, mathematically, and hence objectively. This solution does not marginalize human judgment, but rather embraces human judgment for what it is worth, as positioned and operationalized within a more professional, democratically-based, and sound system of judgment, decision-making, and support.