A veteran teacher suing New York state education officials over the controversial method they used to evaluate her as “ineffective” is expected to go to New York Supreme Court in Albany this week for oral arguments in a case that could affect all public school teachers in the state and even beyond.
Sheri G. Lederman, a fourth-grade teacher in New York’s Great Neck public school district, is “highly regarded as an educator,” according to her district superintendent, Thomas Dolan, and has a “flawless record”. The standardized math and English Language Arts test scores of her students are consistently higher than the state average.
Yet her 2013-2014 evaluation, based in part on student standardized test scores, rated her as “ineffective.” How can a teacher known for excellence be rated “ineffective”? It happens — and not just in New York.
The evaluation method, known as value-added measurement (or modeling), purports to be able to predict through a complicated computer model how students with similar characteristics are supposed to perform on the exams — and how much growth they are supposed to show over time — and then rate teachers on how well their students measure up to the theoretical students. New York is just one of the many states where VAM is one of the chief components used to evaluate teachers.
Testing experts have for years been warning school reformers that efforts to evaluate teachers using VAM are not reliable or valid, but school reformers, including Education Secretary Arne Duncan and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, both Democrats, have embraced the method as a “data-driven” evaluation solution…
…He said he had four students whose predicted scores were “literally impossible” because they were higher than the maximum number of points that can be earned on the exam. He said:
“One of my sixth-grade students had a predicted score of 286.34. However, the highest a sixth-grade student can earn earn is 283. The student did earn a 283, incidentally. Despite the fact that she earned a perfect score, she counted negatively toward my valuation because she was 3 points below predicted.”
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