Mercedes Schneider and VAMs in Louisiana

I’ve been communicating recently with Mercedes Schneider, lifelong and now Louisiana teacher, blogger at deutsch29, and author of a newly-released book on corporate educational reform, A Chronicle of Echoes. We recently got onto the topic of George Noell – the infamous developer of the state of Louisiana’s VAM – pondering where he has gone as since 2012 he seems to have disappeared from the politics surrounding the VAM he created for the state (he had also been quite a vocal advocate of VAM-based policies in Washington D.C., and in particular their use for evaluating the effectiveness of colleges of education in preparing teachers who “add value” to student learning and achievement once graduated). I know…

Anyhow, it seems that Noell’s “service had come to an end,” at the Louisiana Department of Education in 2012 as apparently Noell could not endorse the state’s VAM as being suitable for teacher evaluations and dismissal, as the state apparently desired. Regardless of his endorsement, Louisiana became the first state well-known for terminating teachers as based on not-three (as is the minimum recommended), not-two, but one, yes just one year of low VAM scores. The goal was to allow for the termination of the bottom (arbitrarily set) 10% of teachers in the state per year until, I suppose, Louisiana’s poor achievement worked itself out of the quaggy swamps.

While things have since changed in the state, whereas the state has lightened up on this aggressive state policy and, for now, suspended VAM (see an article about this here), although the state has also become hyper-reliant on its “student learning targets” (SLTs) that can still be used to make a teacher unemployable or result in dismissal, Mercedes also sent me this video created by one of her colleagues (Heb Bassett). While a little outdated in terms of the state’s policy landscape surrounding this video, the video presents in a very easy-to-understand and accessible way the still very current issues surrounding all VAMs across the county. Hence, I thought it important to share with you all as this video is one of the best at illustrating some of the major issues.

See the imbedded video here:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *