NY Court Ruling on Teacher Evaluations Could Hit Chicago
By Jim Vail
Special to Mychinews.com
Special to Mychinews.com
In a case that could have huge implications for Chicago teachers, a New York state court last week threw out a teacher’s evaluation based on test scores, calling it “arbitrary and capricious.”
President Barack Obama’s Race to the Top demands that schools tie teacher evaluations to not only classroom instruction, but how well their students’ test scores improve.
Teachers have lost their jobs when their students do not show enough “growth.”
The Chicago Teachers Union and many independent education researchers have argued that the controversial system known as Value Added Metrics or VAM used to rate teachers is flawed.
Research reveals that gains in student achievement on tests are influenced by much more than any individual teacher, including class sizes, curriculum materials, instructional time, availability of specialists and tutors, home and community support or challenges, individual student needs and abilities, health, attendance, prior teachers and schooling, and summer learning loss, all of which value-added models don’t actually measure.
In the case of NY, the judge stated that the teacher evaluation system based on test scores was biased against teachers whose students were consistently high scorers. The teacher sued John King, then the commission of the NY State Education Dept. and is now the Education Secretary under President Obama, because his administration helped develop the test.
The judge also cited the fact that the teacher’s rating swung wildly from 14 to 1 despite the presence of statistically similar-scoring students, whose tests went up or down only a little from one year to the next.
The value-added testing system was intended to hold teachers accountable for using quantifiable data on student progress but it created outrage in New York state, leading to 20 percent of students opting out of the annual tests for third through eight graders and resulting in state education officials voting to exclude test scores from evaluations until at least 2019, when a new growth model will be introduced.
Chicago is still using this flawed system to fire teachers. The Chicago Public Schools evaluate teachers with a system called REACH, and have been pushing to make 50% of a teachers rating based on test scores. It currently stands at 20%.
Outspoken critic and former Blaine Principal Troy LaRaviere, who was removed from his position for insubordination, helped lead his students to opt out of the PARCC exam and said the REACH doesn’t create more effective teachers.
The NY case, which has not yet been reported in the mainstream local media, could have national implications.
Chicago teachers who have studied the problems with VAM have regularly criticized the Chicago Board of Education's practice of utilizing the mismeasure. Three years ago, Chicago teachers heard from Jim Horn, whose book "The Mismeasure of Education" exposed the fraud of VAM, John Kugler wrote in Substance News.
“Nevertheless, CPS continued to pay a "Chief Accountability Officer" originally hired by Barbara Byrd Bennett after the disgraced former CEO was gone,” Kugler wrote. “John Barker, a VAM proponent who had been hired from Memphis, was only eliminated from Chicago a few months ago.”