Some time ago I posted a list of those I consider the (now) top 35 VAM Scholars whose research folks out there should be following, especially if they need good (mainly) peer-reviewed research to help them and others (e.g., local, regional, and state policymakers) become more informed about VAMs and their related policies. If you missed this post, do check out these VAM Scholars here.
Soon after, a colleague suggested that I should follow this list up with a list of what I termed in a prior post as appropriate to this blog as the VAMboozlers.
VAMboozlers are VAM Scholars whose research I would advise consumers to consume carefully. These researchers might be (in my opinion) prematurely optimistic about the potentials of VAMs contrary to what aproximately 90% of the empirical research in this area would support; these scholars might use methods that over-simplistically approach very complex problems and accordingly make often sweeping, unwarranted, and perhaps invalid assertions regardless; these folks might have financial or other vested interests in the VAMs being adopted and implemented; or the like.
While I aim to keep this section of the blog as professional and fair, open, and aboveboard as possible, I simultaneously hope to make such information on this blog more actionable and accessible for blog followers and readers.
Accordingly, here is my (still working) list of VAMboozlers:
- Raj Chetty, an economics professor from Harvard University; John Friedman an assistant professor of public policy at Harvard; and Jonah Rockoff, an associate professor of finance and economics now at Columbia (was at Harvard); all of whom authored a “landmark” study published first in 2011 (in its non-peer-reviewed and not even internally reviewed form) by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) and then published again in the American Economic Review in 2014 (in the same form) but this time split into two separate studies (see, for example, here and here).
- Dan Goldhaber, an economist and professor at the University of Washington Bothell, the Director of the Center for Education Data & Research (CEDR), the Director of the National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research (CALDER), and a Vice-President at the American Institutes of Research (AIR) that offers their value-added services to states/districts (e.g., the state of New York); and who despite the best evidence continues to, as per the title of one of his recent articles, “Explor[e] the Potential of Value-Added Performance Measures to Affect the Quality of the Teacher Workforce.”
- Eric Hanushek, an economist and the Paul and Jean Hanna Senior Fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution of Stanford University who repeatedly advises policymakers, in support of VAMs, that allowing low value-added teachers to remain in teaching is outright harming students, “doing damage,” and “dragging down the nation.” Firing them, instead, or at least the bottom 5%, would do this and that for the nation’s economy, etc. are his standard claims.
- Doug Harris, an associate professor of economics and the Schleider Foundation Chair in Public Education at Tulane University and author of the book, “Value-Added Measures in Education: What Every Educator Needs to Know” which a former doctoral student and I reviewed here (after which he responded here; see also here and here). See also another non-peer reviewed article he recently wrote in Educational Researcher here.
- Thomas Kane, an economics professor from Harvard University who also directed the $45 million worth of Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) studies for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Kane also continues to write in various venues in support of VAMs.
*If you have any recommendations for this list, please let me know