NY Congressman’s Letter to Duncan on Behalf of NY Teacher Lederman

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In the fall I posted a piece on a “Highly Regarded’ Teacher Suing New York over [Her] ‘Ineffective’ VAM Scores.” This post was about Sheri Lederman, a 17-year veteran and 4th grade teacher, recognized by her district superintendent as having a “flawless” teaching record and “highly regarded as an educator.” Yet she received an “ineffective” rating this last here.

She is now suing the state because of her VAM scores that placed her in the “ineffective” category, which is the worst possible category in the state. She received the lowest VAM-based rating possible in the state and was assigned a 1 out of 20, with a 20 being the highest in terms of “added value.”

Her case is onto its way to the courthouse in the state of New York this week, and all fingers and toes are crossed in terms of a positive outcome, also given her particular case could also help to set a precedent for the (many) others in (many) other states.

Two days ago and on her behalf, a New York Congressman mailed to Secretary Arne Duncan a letter (attached here) explaining Sheri’s story and asking Secretary Duncan to not only hear Sheri’s case but also answer a series of questions about the VAMs Duncan has incentivized throughout the country (primarily via Race to the Top funding attached to “growth” [aka value-added] models).

These questions are pasted below; although again, I encourage those who are interested to read the full letter (attached again here) as well as the questions pasted below, as both provide a sense of that which this congressman is now questioning, as are others.

  1. Does the U.S. Department of Education believe that VAMs accurately measure a teacher’s contribution to student growth?
  2. What form of guidance has the U.S. Department of Education provided to states that are using VAM to measure teacher effectiveness?
  3. Has the U.S. Department of Education issued any guidance to states specific on how states and Local Education Authorities should handle appeals for teacher evaluation scores generated by VAMs?
  4. Has the U.S. Department of Education identified covariates of interest that should be included in a model that attempts to isolate teacher contribution to student growth?
  5. Has the U.S. Department of Education identified covariates that should not be included in the model that attempts to isolate teacher contribution?
  6. What alternatives to VAM have been found to be suitable to measure teacher effectiveness?

I will keep you posted…

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