More from Moshe on Chetty, Kane, and their Vergara Testimonies

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Moshe Adler is one of Chetty et al.’s biggest and most important critics, especially as an expert in economics and econometrics himself. Likewise, he has been debunking Chetty et al.’s works from the time Chetty et al.’s studies were first released in 2011 (when the studies were cited by by President Obama) through their most current 2014 versions (when the studies were cited by the judge in Vergara v. California). Examples of some examples of Adler’s criticisms of Chetty et al.’s works can be found here and here.

Adler is also a critic of the work of Thomas Kane, another person of interest (see prior posts about Kane here and here), as Kane is also involved with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, he is a proponent of VAMs as aligned with the Gates Foundation’s interests, and he (like Chetty) served as a key witness for the prosecution in the same Vergara v. California trial. In many ways, Chetty and Kane together delivered the final blows that cost the defense its lost in the Vergara v. California case (as explained here).

That being said, Adler recently presented his work at a conference of the National Organization of Lawyers for Education Associations that was held in Washington DC in October of 2014. More specifically, he presented his review of Chetty’s and Kane’s Vergara v. California testimonies. He also agreed to share his PowerPoint presentation with a brief summary, below. Here’s what he wrote, although you can also click here for his full PowerPoint here.

In the Vergara trial in Los Angeles, the economist Raj Chetty testified that teachers with high teacher value-added scores have a life-long positive impact on the incomes of their students, and the economist Tom Kane testified that minority students in Los-Angeles lose more than a month of schooling each year because they are assigned low value-added teachers.

Chetty’s testimony is based on two articles that he co-authored with economists John Friedman and Jonah Rockoff. Tom Kane’s testimony is based on his work for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

However, what is highlighted in this PowerPoint presentation is that Chetty’s research, on which he based his testimony, constitutes bad science, and that Kane chose to present his findings in units that present trivial effects as significant [emphasis added].

When Chetty et al.’s articles were accepted for publication by the American Economic Review (AER), Chetty emailed me to inform me of this news (and to suggest that these articles should earn him the Nobel Prize). I immediately wrote to the editors of the AER to alert them of the problems with the articles. Curiously, the editors did not send my concerns to a third party reviewer or even to the referees who originally reviewed the papers for the review. Instead, they sent them to Chetty et al., who published a reply to which I have responded. For more information about all of this, see this aforementioned debate here, and see all of this email correspondence here.

But as for this PowerPoint, the main point is that Chetty et al.’s claim that an increase in teacher value-added leads to higher income throughout adulthood is contradicted by their own findings. Again, you can read more about this here.

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