“The Worst Popular Idea Out There”

Featured on the blog titled the “Big Education Ape,” David B. Cohen recently wrote a nice summary re: the current thinking about VAMs, with a heck-of-a way of capturing them, that also serves as the title of this post: “The Worst Popular Idea Out There.” That statement alone inspired me to post, below, some of the contents of his piece. Hopefully, his post will resonate and sound familiar, but to those who are new to VAMs and/or this blog, this is nice, short summary of, again, the current thinking about VAMs (see also the original and longer post by Cohen here).

David writes “about [this] evaluation method [as it] stands out as the worst popular idea out there – using value-added measurement (VAM) of student test scores as part of a teacher evaluation. The research evidence showing problems with VAM in teacher evaluation is solid, consistent, and comes from multiple fields and disciplines…The evidence comes from companies, universities, and governmental studies…the anecdotal evidence is rather damning as well: how many VAM train-wrecks do we need to see?…[Teachers all agree] that an effective teacher needs to be able to show student learning, as part of an analytical and reflective architecture of accomplished teaching. It doesn’t mean that student learning happens for every student on the same timeline, showing up on the same types of assessments, but effective teachers take all assessments and learning experiences into account in the constant effort to plan and improve good instruction. [While VAMs] have a certain intuitive appeal, because they claim the ability to predict the trajectory of student test scores,” they just do not work in the ways theorized and intended.

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