Why So Silent? Did You Think I Have Left You for Good?

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You might recognize the title of this post from one of my all time favorite Broadway shoes: The Phantom Of The Opera – Masquerade/Why So Silent. I thought I would use it here, to explain my recent and notable silence on the topic of value-added models (VAMs).

First, I recently returned from summer break, although I still occasionally released blog posts when important events related to VAMs and their (ab)uses for teacher evaluation purposes occurred. More importantly, though, the frequency with which said important events have happened has, relatively, fortunately, and significantly declined.

Yes — the so-far-so-good news is that schools, school districts, and states are apparently not as nearly active, or actively pursuing the use of VAMs for stronger teacher accountability purposes for educational reform. Likewise, schools, school districts, and states are not as nearly prone to make really silly (and stupid) decisions with these models, especially without the research supporting such decisions.

This is very much due to the federal government’s recent (January 1, 2016) passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) that no longer requires teachers to be evaluated by their student’s tests score, for example, using VAMs (see prior posts on this here and here).

While there are still states, districts, and schools that are still moving forward with VAMs and their original high-stakes teacher evaluation plans as largely based on VAMs (e.g., New Mexico, Tennessee, Texas), many others have really begun to rethink the importance and vitality of VAMs as part of their teacher evaluation systems for educational reform (e.g., Alabam, Georgia, Oklahoma). This, of course, is primary at the state level. Certainly, there are districts out there representing both sides of the same continuum.

Accordingly, however, I have had multiple conversations with colleagues and others regarding what I might do with this blog should people stop seriously investing and riding their teacher/educational reform efforts on VAMs. While I don’t think that this will ever happen, there is honestly nothing I would like more (as an academic) than to close this blog down, should educational policymakers, politicians, philanthropists, and others focus on new and entirely different, non-Draconian ways to reform America’s public schools. We shall see how it goes.

But for now, why have I been relatively so silent? The VAM as we currently know it, in use and implementation, might very well be turning into our VAMtom of the Profession 😉

9 thoughts on “Why So Silent? Did You Think I Have Left You for Good?

  1. The Roosevelt School District in Phoenix is still using VAM in our evaluations. It is having a devastating effect on teacher hiring and retention. I tried to get one of our board members to invite you to a board meeting to address this issue, but he never followed through.

    I would still love to find a way to address this issue at one of our board meetings. They meet the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month. Is here any possibility you could be available to speak to the board ?

  2. I love your posts and share the content with my colleagues often! Would you be willing to comment on the use of SLOs? My state (Illinois) still requires the use of student test data in evaluations and my district has gone this route, hoping to avoid lawsuits. I’m unconvinced SLOs are any more accurate or useful in teacher evaluation. Please continue to share your knowledge on the subject! It is so appreciated!

    • Unfortunately, I’m not an expert in the area of SLOs, but I can try to focus on reports re: these as they come out. I will add this to my Google Alerts (from where I get a large portion of my stories). This is the same alert system via which I’ve noticed a significant decline in stories.

  3. Two. Days ago I received an email from a school leader who said “we re drowning in VAM and SLOs.” The monsters are not dead. They are alive and well in all policy references to growth measures. All of the CORE districts in California are using VAM.

      • I just revised the original post above, noting (a) districts are still representing both of the extremes for sure (good for SF!!), but also noting (b) that the ways by which I get the stories I cover is via Google Alerts. This is where I have noticed the significant decline in stories to cover. Logically, news outlets don’t cover district-level stories, so to cover these we must rely on our local practitioners to keep the stories (and their personal stories) coming. That might be an option, Laura, for the school leader about whom you speak. Have them email me if they want to share their (anonymous or not) story. See also comments above.

  4. Admiring the hard work you put into your site and detailed information you offer. It’s good to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same unwanted rehashed material. Wonderful read! I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google account. ekfdkbddgcdbdged

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