We Have the Official Information Act – in America They Sue

Morning everyone.

This Labour Day morning I’d like to share something I read on the Huffington Post education website the other day.

In summary the Los Angeles Times is suing the local school district to release information that would allow it to update its on-line teacher rating database. Here is a link to the Times’ value-added (sic) service. It lets you can type in any teacher or school name and instantly be taken to a page that shows their ratings on an ‘effectiveness’ continuum. Here is the link to the FAQs on how they do their analysis. In a nutshell they use a student’s past scores to predict future results and then their actual results to show whether the teacher is good or not. If their actual results are above the predicted, then the teacher is effective. If actual results are below…

If you don’t think this is going to happen in little old New Zealand, then think again. Fairfax already have their School Report website. I guarantee that this will morph into a teacher rating page since it is already a quasi-rating page for schools anyway.

Here’s what the LA Times say about their value-added measures:

Although value-added measures do not capture everything about a teacher or school’s performance, The Times decided to make the ratings available because they bear on the work of public employees who provide an important service, and in the belief that parents and the public have a right to the information.

Here is the what Fairfax say about their School Report website:

Anyone who read the National Standards results as a proxy for quality would be quite foolish. We wouldn’t do that and we don’t suggest you do, either.

Previously I have talked about how completely unfair this rating or ranking process is to teaching. However the mainstream media and the politicians like to spin it, there are so many other factors influencing test scores other than ‘teacher performance.’ Of course, they will argue that I’m making excuses. I’m not. It’s actually statistical. It’s bad maths to take into account just one measure when talking about student achievement.

Although it is nice and easy for them to use test results (or in our case national standards) to rate schools or teachers, the media and politicians need to be aware of one thing: New Zealand is currently 7th on the 2009 PISA reading list and we WILL drop down this scale if the neo-liberal ideology of charter schools, national standards, and teacher rankings becomes the norm. In turn this WILL result in poorer educational outcomes for New Zealand students.

Remember parents, this ideology is modelled on the education systems in the United States (17th for reading) and the United Kingdom (26th). It is a falsehood to believe the politicians when they say these changes will give you choice. This is not about choice. This is about opening up the education sector to the profit-takers. Education run for profit is not going to get the best from our teachers. We will end up being in the top 30 rather than the top 10. Guaranteed.

Sorry for the rant. Enjoy the rest of your long weekend.

Mr. B.

NOTE: I realise it might be foolish of me to use a rankings system to back up an argument against rankings systems. It’s just that Treasury, National and the media really love measuring and ranking things to justify their positions. The PISA results shows how wrong and uninformed their positions are. You will also need to note that not one single person arguing for these changes (media & politicians) HAS EVER BEEN A TEACHER EVER.

Sources:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/19/los-angeles-times-sues-lausd_n_1986952.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000003&ir=Education

http://projects.latimes.com/value-added/

http://projects.latimes.com/value-added/faq/#what_is_value_added

http://schoolreport.stuff.co.nz/

http://www.oecd.org/pisa/46643496.pdf

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2 responses

  1. New Zealand teachers should run not walk from anything labeled value added measures (VAM). Check out http://www.schoolsmatter.info for more information.

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    1. Thanks Jeff. I find anything with the words ‘value added’ to be quite the opposite. It just politico-speak to baffle us.

      Like

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