"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Saturday, November 14, 2015

AERA Concludes the Facts Are Factual about VAM

The American Education Research Association (AERA) can be counted on to remain irrelevant to research discussions of great social significance.  Not surprisingly, AERA's shrinking membership numbers have coincided with the org's steady drift into the arms of education reform schoolers and the corrupt CorpEd foundations that are laser focused on redirecting education at all levels into corporate revenue streams.  

AERA's complacency and complicity have been sickening to watch, with their kowtowing to Bill Gates and his various bad ideas culminating last year when AERA announced a fellowship program for doctoral students interested channeling and then relinquishing their doctoral research to the Gates's MET database.

Now almost 20 years after legitimate researchers starting ringing the alarm bell on the value-added muddle that was thrust upon the education world by the tobacco-chewing ag statistitian, Bill Sanders, and six years after the National Academy of Sciences sent their hair-on-fire letter to Arne Duncan (which was ignored), warning him about including not-ready-for-prime-time VAM in Race to the Top requirements , AERA has finally concluded that the truth must be true:  VAM is not a legitimate tool for ANY high stakes education decisions.  

From AERA's announcement:
. . . . In recent years, many states and districts have attempted to use VAM to determine the contributions of educators, or the programs in which they were trained, to student learning outcomes, as captured by standardized student tests. The AERA statement speaks to the formidable statistical and methodological issues involved in isolating either the effects of educators or teacher preparation programs from a complex set of factors that shape student performance.

“This statement draws on the leading testing, statistical, and methodological expertise in the field of education research and related sciences, and on the highest standards that guide education research and its applications in policy and practice,” said AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine.

The statement addresses the challenges facing the validity of inferences from VAM, as well as specifies eight technical requirements that must be met for the use of VAM to be accurate, reliable, and valid. It cautions that these requirements cannot be met in most evaluative contexts.

The statement notes that, while VAM may be superior to some other models of measuring teacher impacts on student learning outcomes, “it does not mean that they are ready for use in educator or program evaluation. There are potentially serious negative consequences in the context of evaluation that can result from the use of VAM based on incomplete or flawed data, as well as from the misinterpretation or misuse of the VAM results.”

The statement also notes that there are promising alternatives to VAM currently in use in the United States that merit attention, including the use of teacher observation data and peer assistance and review models that provide formative and summative assessments of teaching and honor teachers’ due process rights.

The statement concludes: “The value of high-quality, research-based evidence cannot be over-emphasized. Ultimately, only rigorously supported inferences about the quality and effectiveness of teachers, educational leaders, and preparation programs can contribute to improved student learning.” Thus, the statement also calls for substantial investment in research on VAM and on alternative methods and models of educator and educator preparation program evaluation. 
For a full research review and history of VAM's origin and growth in Tennessee, see The Mismeasure of Education (Horn & Wilburn, 2013).

No comments:

Post a Comment