Houston’s “Split” Decision to Give Superintendent Grier $98,600 in Bonuses, Pre-Resignation

States of attention on this blog, and often of (dis)honorable mention as per their state-level policies bent on value-added models (VAMs), include Florida, New York, Tennessee, and New Mexico. As for a quick update about the latter state of New Mexico, we are still waiting to hear the final decision from the judge who recently heard the state-level lawsuit still pending on this matter in New Mexico (see prior posts about this case here, here, here, here, and here).

Another locale of great interest, though, is the Houston Independent School District. This is the seventh largest urban school district in the nation, and the district that has tied more high-stakes consequences to their value-added output than any other district/state in the nation. These “initiatives” were “led” by soon-to-resign/retire Superintendent Terry Greir who, during his time in Houston (2009-2015), implemented some of the harshest consequences ever attached to teacher-level value-added output, as per the district’s use of the Education Value-Added Assessment System (EVAAS) (see other posts about the EVAAS here, here, and here; see other posts about Houston here, here, and here).

In fact, the EVAAS is still used throughout Houston today to evaluate all EVAAS-eligible teachers, to also “reform” the district’s historically low-performing schools, by tying teachers’ purported value-added performance to teacher improvement plans, merit pay, nonrenewal, and termination (e.g., 221 Houston teachers were terminated “in large part” due to their EVAAS scores in 2011). However, pending litigation (i.e., this is the district in which the American and Houston Federation of Teachers (AFT/HFT) are currently suing the district for their wrongful use of, and over-emphasis on this particular VAM; see here), Superintendent Grier and the district have recoiled on some of the high-stakes consequences they formerly attached to the EVAAS  This particular lawsuit is to commence this spring/summer.

Nonetheless, my most recent post about Houston was about some of its future school board candidates, who were invited by The Houston Chronicle to respond to Superintendent Grier’s teacher evaluation system. For the most part, those who responded did so unfavorably, especially as the evaluation systems was/is disproportionately reliant on teachers’ EVAAS data and high-stakes use of these data in particular (see here).

Most recently, however, as per a “split” decision registered by Houston’s current school board (i.e., 4:3, and without any new members elected last November), Superintendent Grier received a $98,600 bonus for his “satisfactory evaluation” as the school district’s superintendent. See more from the full article published in The Houston Chronicle. As per the same article, Superintendent “Grier’s base salary is $300,000, plus $19,200 for car and technology allowances. He also is paid for unused leave time.”

More importantly, take a look at the two figures below, taken from actual district reports (see references below), highlighting Houston’s performance (declining, on average, in blue) as compared to the state of Texas (maintaining, on average, in black), to determine for yourself whether Superintendent Grier, indeed, deserved such a bonus (not to mention salary).

Another question to ponder is whether the district’s use of the EVAAS value-added system, especially since Superintendent Grier’s arrival in 2009, is actually reforming the school district as he and other district leaders have for so long now intended (e.g., since his Superintendent appointment in 2009).

Figure 1

Figure 1. Houston (blue trend line) v. Texas (black trend line) performance on the state’s STAAR tests, 2012-2015 (HISD, 2015a)

Figure 2

Figure 2. Houston (blue trend line) v. Texas (black trend line) performance on the state’s STAAR End-of-Course (EOC) tests, 2012-2015 (HISD, 2015b)


Houston Independent School District (HISD). (2015a). State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) performance, grades 3-8, spring 2015. Retrieved here.

Houston Independent School District (HISD). (2015b). State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) end-of-course results, spring 2015. Retrieved here.

New York’s Ahern V. King: Court-Ordered to Move Forward

In Ahern v. King, filed on April 16, 2014, the Syracuse Teachers Association (and its President Kevin Ahern, along with a set of teachers employed by the Syracuse School District) sued the state of New York (and its Commissioner of the New York State Department of Education John King, *who is Arne Duncan’s U.S. Secretary of Education Successor, along with others representing the state) regarding its teacher evaluation system.

They alleged that the state’s method of evaluating teachers is unfair to those who teach economically disadvantaged students. More specifically, and as per an article in Education Week to which I referred in a post a couple of weeks ago, they alleged that the state’s value-added model (which is actually a growth model) fails to “fully account for poverty in the student-growth formula used for evaluation, penalizing some teachers.” They also alleged that “the state imposed regulations without public comment.”

Well, the decision on the state’s motion to dismiss is in. The Court rejected the state’s attempt to dismiss this case; hence, the case will move forward. For the full report, see attached the official Decision and Order.

As per plaintiff’s charge that controlling for student demographic variables, within the Decision and Order document it is written that the growth model used by the state was developed, under contract, by the American Institutes for Research (AIR). In AIR’s official report/court exhibit, AIR acknowledged the need for controlling for students’ demographic variables, to moderate potential bias; hence, “if a student’s family was participating in any one of a number of economic assistance programs, that student would have been ‘flagged,’ and his or her growth would have been compared with students who were similarly ‘flagged’…If a student’s economic status was unknown, the student was treated as if he or she was not economically disadvantaged” (p. 7).

Nothing in the document was explicated, however, regarding whether the model output were indeed biased, or rather biased as per the individual plaintiffs charging that their individual value-added scores were biased as such.

What was explicated was that the defendants attempted to dismiss this case given a four-month statute of limitations. Plaintiffs, however, prevailed in that the state never made a “definitive decision” that was “readily ascertainable” to teachers on this matter (i.e., about controlling for students’ demographic factors within the model); hence, the statute of limitations of clock really never started taking time.

As per the Court, the state’s definition of “similar students” to whom other students are to be compared (as mentioned prior) was indeterminate until December of 2013. This was evidenced by the state’s Board of Regents’ June 2013 approval of an “enhanced list of characteristics used to define” such students, and this was evidenced by the state’s December 2013 publication of AIR’s technical report in which their methods were (finally) made public. Hence, the Court found that the plaintiffs’ claims fell within the four-month statute of limitations upon which the state was riding in order to dismiss, because the state had not “properly promulgated” its methodology for measuring student growth at that time (and arguably still).

So ultimately, the Court found that the defendants failed to establish their entitlement to dismiss the specific teachers on the plaintiffs side in this case, given a statute of limitation violation (that is also more fully explained in detail in the Decision and Order). The court denied the state of New York’s motion to dismiss, and this one will move forward in New York.

This is great news for those in New York, especially considering this state is one more than most others in which education “leaders” have attached high-stakes consequences to such teacher evaluation output. As per state law, teacher evaluation scores (as based in large part on value-added or growth in this particular case) can be used as “a significant factor for employment decisions including but not limited to, promotion, retention, tenure determination, termination, and supplemental compensation.”

New Mexico’s Teacher Evaluation Lawsuit: Final Day Five

The final day in the New Mexico’s Teacher Evaluation Lawsuit in Santa Fe was this past Thursday, October 8th. Unfortunately I could not attend day five (or day four) due to a prior travel engagement, but here are two articles that highlight the events of the final day (for now) in court.

The first comes from The Santa Fe New Mexican. This article captures some of the closing arguments on the plaintiffs’ side, primarily in terms of (1) the state model “incorrectly rating nearly 10 percent of the state’s 20,000 teachers,” (2) the state using flawed data, leading to incorrect results, and (3) attempts to convince Judge Thompson to suspend the provision that these teachers — who purportedly post low value-added scores — be put on “growth plans” that lead to termination. As per one of the plaintiffs’ two lawyers: “The mere issue of a notice that you are minimally effective or ineffective puts each district in a position where they can terminate these employees…These are the [high-stakes consequences and] provisions that need to be removed” from New Mexico’s teacher evaluation model.

The main attorney on the defendant’s side avoided talking about #1 and #2 above, and instead focused on #3, “that no teacher had reported losing a job, license or promotion as a result of the teacher evaluations”…yet. In other words, so the defense argued, the system in New Mexico has not (yet) caused “irreparable harm,” although how one defines that is certainly also up for debate (e.g., good teachers leaving teaching because of the system in and of itself might be considered “irreparable harm”).

This defendant’s attorney also focused on what it might mean for the state of New Mexico to lose its No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waiver, which by federal mandate requires New Mexico (and all other states) to have a teacher evaluation system in place as based on student test scores. However, the defendant’s key witness on this topic – Matthew Montaño, Educator Quality Division, New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) – evidently overstated claims about these purported threats while on the stand, after which an expert from Washington DC was phoned in to testify regarding the truth about New Mexico’s waivers; the truth being that approximately a dozen states are thus far not in compliance, and only the state of Washington has thus far lost its waiver. Washington, however, did not lose any federal funding as a result.

The plaintiffs’ attorneys other primary goal was to convince the Judge to file at least a partial injunction now, and then come back to court in April, after both sides have had an equal opportunity to examine the state’s data as per the state’s actual model and model output. The goal here would be to actually determine how the model is functioning and whether it is actually functioning as those on the side of the defense testified (or not, as some of information about the model’s functionality was oddly unknown to the state).

The second article coming from The Albuquerque Journal highlights more details regarding the NCLB waiver, as well as the defendant’s claims regarding “irreparable harm,” or rather that “the plaintiffs cannot show that they were harmed by the teacher evaluation system through loss of a job or reduction of salary…It has to not be theoretical (harm) to these plaintiffs.”

Judge Thomson is expected to present his findings/ruling by early November.

Teacher Evaluation Systems “At Issue” Across U.S. Courts

As you have likely noticed, lawsuits continue to emerge whereby (typically) state’s “new and improved” teacher evaluation systems, based in part on value-added model (VAM) output, are at legal issue.

If you have lost track, Education Week just published an article with all lawsuits currently filed, underway, or completed across the nation. In sum, there have been 14 cases filed thus far across seven states: Florida n=2, Louisiana n=1, Nevada n=1, New Mexico n=3, New York n=3, Tennessee n=3, and Texas n=1.

While I won’t try to recreate Education Week‘s user-friendly chart for this particular post, I do suggest that you click here to read more about each lawsuit, as well as the charges or alleged allegations per lawsuit, who has filed each one, and each lawsuit’s current status.

New Mexico’s Teacher Evaluation Lawsuit: Day Four

Unfortunately I could not attend “Day Four” of the New Mexico’s Teacher Evaluation Lawsuit yesterday (Tuesday, October 6th) in Santa Fe, but for those of you following, tomorrow (Thursday, October 8th) closing remarks are scheduled. Originally, only two days of testimony were scheduled to secure an injunction stopping the state’s teacher evaluation system, but the judge, stating that “the material under consideration is complex” will end with a five-day hearing on Thursday.

But as for what happened in court yesterday, here is an article with a short video (compliments of local news station KOB4) capturing at least some of the day:


Here is another article capturing another reporter’s views of the hearing, as per The Albuquerque Journal, who notes that “Tuesday’s testimony highlighted the state witnesses’ stance that the new [evaluating system is] a big improvement over the previous approach, which rated 99 percent of teachers effective.”

Perhaps most important to the hearing was the testimony of Matthew Montaño, Educator Quality Division, New Mexico Public Education Department (PED), who “testified at length about the creation of the new teacher evaluation system, which PED instituted administratively in 2012.”

Most interesting to come Thursday will be his cross-examination, for reasons impossible to list in both length and his history as per his role and position within the state.

New Mexico’s Teacher Evaluation Lawsuit: Day Three

As per my last post about the second day in court in Santa Fe, New Mexico, I was purposefully ambiguous about one of the two articles written in The Santa Fe New Mexican regarding my testimony. The first article titled, “Experts differ on test-based evaluations at NM hearing,” I felt fairly captured the events of the second day in court, but the second article titled, “Professor’s testimony: Teacher eval system ‘not ready for prime time,” did not. But that is about all that I said, being purposefully ambiguous for two reasons that I can now (more or less) share.

The first reason was that the author of this article (in my opinion) unfairly captured my four hours of testimony, by primarily positioning me as an “expert witness” who did not know really anything about the New Mexico teacher evaluation model. Just to be clear, during my testimony I explained that I had not analyzed the actual data from New Mexico. I also argued (but this was unfortunately not highlighted in this particular article), that I could not find anything about the New Mexico model’s output (e.g., indicators of reliability or consistency in terms of teachers’ rankings over time, indicators of validity as per, for example, whether the state’s value-added output correlated, or not, with the other “multiple measures” used in New Mexico’s teacher evaluation system), pretty much anywhere given my efforts.

I testified that this, in and of itself, was problematic, given much of what should have been accessible and retrievable, for example, via the website of New Mexico’s Public Education Department (PED), via the internet in general (e.g., about developer Pete Goldschmidt’s value-added model), and via my attempts through contacts throughout New Mexico to gather the particular information for which I was looking, was not available to the public via any of these means. This, in and of itself, as I also testified, was problematic, especially given New Mexico Governor Martinez’s claims about “Ensuring Transparency and Ethics in our Government.”

Also not explained in this article was that I also analyzed New Mexico’s model using the documents made available via the exhibits submitted for this case, by both the plaintiffs and the defense. What I did not do, however, was conduct any direct analyses of any of the state’s actual data, yet, and for a variety of reasons (e.g., these data are a part of a lawsuit, and I am on the “wrong side,” there are standard data procedural and confidentiality agreements that take considerable time to secure, there is a certain timeline in place). This was also not explained.

I wrote a letter to the editor of The Santa Fe New Mexican in response, but not to my surprise, I never received a response, nor was this letter published. The goal of this letter, though, was to give those in Santa Fe, but also others throughout the state of New Mexico, not only a more comprehensive and accurate assessment of my testimony, but more a note about how the taxpayers of New Mexico have a right to know much, much more about their state’s teacher evaluation model, as well as the model’s output (i.e., to see how the model is actually functioning as claimed).

As I also testified, one of my goals (and I believe this to also be a goal of the plaintiffs’ writ large) is to (a) get the state of New Mexico to release the data to an external evaluator to evaluate the models’ functionality (this person certainly does not have to be me) or (2) release the data to the “expert witnesses” on both the plaintiffs’ side (i.e., me) and the defendants’ side (i.e., Thomas Kane of Harvard), so that we can both examine these data independently, and then come back to the court with our findings and overall assessments regarding the model’s overall strengths and weakness, as per the actual data. 

This brings me to my second reason for being purposefully ambiguous throughout my prior post: The defendants’ “expert witness” Thomas Kane of Harvard. I wanted to wait to be 100% certain that Thomas Kane had not examined any state data before I commented that he would eventually be critiqued for not having done so. But having witnessed his 5.5 hours of testimony yesterday, let me just say it was an interesting 5.5 hours, that (in my opinion) did not work in the defendants’ favor.

Kane, like me, had not examined any of New Mexico’s actual data. This was surprising in the sense that he was actually retained by the state, and his lawyers could have much more likely, and literally, handed him the state’s dataset as their “expert witness,” likely regardless of the aforementioned procedures and security measures (but perhaps not the timeline). Also surprising, though, was that Kane had clearly not examined any of the exhibits submitted for this case, by both the plaintiffs and the defense, either. He was essentially in attendance, on behalf of the state as their “expert witness,” to “only speak to [teacher] evaluations in general.” As per an article in The Albuquerque Journal, he “stressed that numerous studies [emphasis added] show that teachers make a big impact on student success,” expressly contradicting the American Statistical Association (ASA) on the stand, while also (only) referencing (non-representative) studies of primarily his econ-friends (e.g. Raj Chetty, Eric Hanushek, Doug Staiger) and studies of his own (e.g, as per his Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) studies). For more information in general, though, see the full articles in both The Albuquerque Journal and The Santa Fe New Mexican.

As also highlighted in both of these articles is that as one of the defendants’ witnesses, the Superintendent of the Roswell Independent School District testified in favor of the state’s model. As as highlighted in the The Santa Fe New Mexican, he testified that he viewed the new system as “an improvement over past practices [namely the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) measures written into No Child Left Behind (NCLB)] because [he believed the new system gave] him more information about his teachers.” He did not, however, testify as to how value-added output gave him this information, as the information about which he spoke was primarily about the observational system now in place, and the conversations surrounding such data, although districts also used similar observational systems prior.

He also testified that, as per the article in The Santa Fe New Mexican, “he had renewed licenses for teachers who received low ratings, despite the state Public Education Department’s protocol…[for one reason being]…he has too few teachers and can’t afford to lose any” due to this system. Related, as per the article in The Albuquerque Journal he continued testifying that “I am down teachers. I don’t need teachers, number 1, quitting over this and, number 2, I am not going to be firing teachers over this.” His district of about 600 teachers currently has approximately 30 open teaching positions, “an unusually high number;” hence, “he would rather work with his current staff than bring on substitutes” in compliance. So while he testified on behalf of the state, he also testified he was not necessarily in favor of the consequences being attached to the state’s teacher evaluation output, even if as currently being positioned by the defense as “low-stakes.”

It was more than an interesting day in court indeed. Stay tuned for Day Four (although due to prior conflicts, I will not be in attendance). I will still report on it, though, as best I can.

Florida’s Superintendents Have Officially “Lost Confidence” in the State’s Teacher and School Evaluation System

In an article written by Valerie Strauss and featured yesterday in The Washington Post, school superintendents throughout the state of Florida have officially declared to the state that they have “lost confidence” in Florida’s teacher and school evaluation system (click here for the original article). More specifically, state school superintendents submitted a letter to the state asserting that “they ‘have lost confidence’ in the system’s accuracy and are calling for a suspension and a review of the system” (click here also for their original letter).

This is the evaluation model instituted by Florida’s former governor Jeb Bush, whom we all also identify as the brother of former President George W. Bush and son of former President George H. W. Bush. Former President GW Bush was also the architect of what most now agree is the failed No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001, that former President GW Bush put forth as federal policy given his “educational reforms” in the state of Texas in the late 1990s. Beyond this brotherly association, however, Jeb is also currently a running candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, and via his campaign he is also (like his brother, pre-NCLB) touting his “educational reforms” in the state of Florida, hoping to take these reforms also to the White House.

It is Jeb Bush’s “educational reforms” that, without research evidence in support, also became models of “educational reform” for other states around the country, including states like New Mexico. In New Mexico, the state in which its current evaluation system, as based on the Florida model, is at the core of a potentially significant lawsuit (see prior posts about this lawsuit here, here, here, and here). Not surprisingly, one of Jeb Bush’s protégés – Hanna Skandera, who is currently the state of New Mexico’s Secretary of its Public Education Department (PED) – took Bush’s model to even more of an extreme, making this particular model one of the most arbitrary and capricious of all such models currently in place throughout the U.S. (as also defined and detailed more fully here).

Hence, it should certainly be of interest to those in New Mexico (and other states) that the teacher and school evaluation model upon which their state model was built, is now apparently falling apart, at least for now.

“The superintendents [in Florida] are calling for the state to suspend the system for a year – meaning that the scores from this spring’s administration of the [state’s] exams will not be used in [the state-level] evaluations [of teachers or schools].” The state school superintendents are also calling for “a full review” of the system, which certainly seems warranted in Florida, New Mexico, and any other state for that matter, in which similar evaluation models are being paid for using taxpayer revenues, without much if any research evidence to support that they are working as intended, and sold, and paid for.

New Mexico’s Teacher Evaluation Lawsuit Underway: Day Two

Following up on my most recent post, about the “Lawsuit in New Mexico Challenging [the] State’s Teacher Evaluation System,” I testified yesterday for four hours regarding the state’s new teacher evaluation model. As noted in both articles linked to below, I positioned this state’s model as one of the most “arbitrary and capricious” systems I’ve seen across all states currently working with or implementing such systems, again, as incentivized via President Obama’s Race to the Top program and as required if states were to receive (and are to keep) the waivers excusing them from not meeting the previous requirement written into President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act of 2011, that all children would be academically proficient by the year 2014.

I positioned this teacher evaluation model as one of the most “arbitrary and capricious” systems I’ve seen across all states in that this state, unlike no other I have ever seen, because the state has worked very hard to make 100% of its teachers value-added eligible, while essentially pulling off-the-shelf, criterion- and norm-referenced tests and also developing (yet not satisfactorily vetting or validating) a series of end-of-course exams (EoCs) to do this. This also includes early childhood teachers using, for example, the norm-referenced DIBELS. Let us just say, for purposes of brevity, this (and many other of the state’s educational measurement actions in this regard) defy the Standards for Educational & Psychological Testing.

Nonetheless, the day’s testimony also included testimony from one high school science teacher who expressed his concerns about his evaluation outcomes, as well as the evaluation outcomes of his high school, science colleagues. The day ended with two hours of testimony given by the state’s model developer – Pete Goldschmidt – who is now an Associate Professor at California State University Northridge. Time ran out, however, before cross-examination.

For more information, though, I will direct you all to two articles that capture the main events or highlights of the day.

The author of the first article titled, “Experts differ on test-based evaluations at NM hearing,” fairly captures the events of the day, as well as the professional and collegial agreements and disagreements expressed to the judge by both Pete Goldschmidt and me.

The author of the second article titled, “Professor’s testimony: Teacher eval system ‘not ready for prime time,” however, was less fair. Nonetheless, for purposes of transparency, I include both articles for you all here, to also see how polarizing this topic can be (as many of us already know). I will say, though, that I liked the picture included in this latter article. Very Santa Fe-ish 😉

Day three of this trial will occur in Santa Fe next Thursday, during which 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, and who has also been the subject of prior posts (see, for example, here, here and here) will testify. Also to testify will be Matthew Montaño, Educator Quality Division, New Mexico Public Education Department (PED).

Will keep you posted, again…

New Mexico’s Teacher Evaluation Lawsuit Underway

You might recall, from a post last March, that the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), joined by the Albuquerque Teachers Federation, filed a “Lawsuit in New Mexico Challenging [the] State’s Teacher Evaluation System.” Plaintiffs are more specifically charging that the state’s current teacher evaluation system is unfair, error-ridden, harming teachers, and depriving students of high-quality educators (see the actual lawsuit here).

Well, testimonies started yesterday in Santa Fe, and as one of the expert witnesses on the plaintiffs’ side, I was there to witness the first day of examinations. While I will not comment on my impressions at this point, because I will be testifying this Monday and would like to save all of my comments until I’m on the stand, I will say it was quite an interesting day indeed, for both sides.

What I do feel comfortable sharing at this point, though, is an article that The New Mexican reporter Robert Nott wrote, as he too attended the full day in court. His article, essentially about the state of New Mexico “Getting it Right,” captures the gist of the day. I say this duly noting that only witnesses on the plaintiffs’ side were examined, and also cross-examined yesterday. Plaintiffs’ witnesses will continue this Monday, and defendants’ witnesses will continue thereafter, also this Monday, and likely one more day to be scheduled thereafter.

But as for the highlights, as per Nott’s article:

  • “Joel Boyd, [a highly respected] superintendent of the Santa Fe Public Schools, testified that ‘glaring errors’ have marred the state’s ratings of teachers in his district.” He testified that “We should pause and get it right,” also testifying that “the state agency has not proven itself capable of identifying either effective or ineffective teachers.” Last year when Boyd challenged his district’s 1,000 or so teachers’ rankings, New Mexico’s Public Education Department (PED) “ultimately yielded and increased numerous individual teacher rankings…[which caused]..the district’s overall rating [to improve] by 17 percentage points.”
  • State Senator Bill Soules, who is also a recently retired teacher, testified that “his last evaluation included data from 18 students he did not teach. ‘Who are those 18 students who I am being evaluated on?’ he asked the judge.”
  • One of the defendant’s attorneys later defended the state’s data, stating “education department records show that there were only 712 queries from districts regarding the accuracy of teacher evaluation results in 2014-15. Of those, the state changed just 31 ratings after reviewing challenges.” State Senator Soules responded, however, that “a [i.e., one] query may include many teachers.” For example, Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) purportedly put in one single query that included “hundreds, if not thousands” of questions about that district’s set of teacher evaluations.

In fact, most if not all of the witnesses who testified not only argued, but evidenced, how the state used flawed data in their personal, or their schools’/districts’ teachers’ general evaluations, leading to incorrect results.

Plaintiffs and their witnessed also argued, and evidenced, that “the system does not judge teachers by the same standards. Language arts teachers, as well as educators working in subjects without standardized tests, are rated by different measures than those teaching the core subjects of math, science and English.” This, as both the plaintiff’s witnesses and lawyers also argued, makes this an arbitrary and capricious system, or rather one that is not “objective” as per the state’s legislative requirements.

In the words of Shane Youtz, one of two of the plaintiff’s attorneys, “You have a system that is messed up…Frankly, the PED doesn’t know what it is doing with the data and the formula, and they are just changing things ad hoc.”

“Attorneys for the Public Education Department countered that, although no evaluation system is perfect, this one holds its educators to a high standard and follows national trends in utilizing student test scores when possible.”

Do stay tuned….

A Labor Day Tribute to NY Teacher Sheri Lederman

As per the U.S. Department of Labor, “Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”

There is no better day than today, then, to honor Sheri Lederman – the Long Island, New York teacher who by all accounts other than her 1 out of 20 VAM score is a terrific 4th grade and now 18 year veteran teacher, and who along with her attorney husband, Bruce Lederman, is suing the state of New York to challenge the state’s teacher evaluation system…and mainly it’s value-added component (see prior posts about Sheri’s case herehere and here). I’m serving as one of the expert witnesses, also, on this case.

Anyhow, Al Jazeera America just released a fabulous 3:41 video about Sheri, her story, and VAMs in general. Columbia Professor Aaron Pallas is featured speaking on Sheri’s behalf, and a study of mine is featured at marker 2:41 (i.e., the national map illustrating what’s happening across the nation; see also “Putting growth and value-added models on the map: A national overview.

Do give this a watch. It’s well worth honoring and respecting Sheri’s achievements, thus far, and especially today.