Sunday, February 26, 2012


Let's get right to it: value-added modeling might be right for the corporate world (and not being a part of that environment, I'd wager a small bet that it's not such a perfect tool there, either), but it's most certainly not right for education. For those of you who are still wondering what exactly it is, here's the briefest possible explanation: it's the use of data (numbers), in our case, student standardized test scores, in order to determine (or help determine) a teacher's worth. Educational researchers (who aren't educators, by the way) analyze the data. Too many education reformers (who aren't educators, by the way) believe the results of the researchers' analysis can and should be used as evaluative tools.

Here's the real formula for determining a teacher's success, and even this probably won't cover it all:

      Teacher preparation program (4-year college, often with double major, or similar)
+    Love for and knowledge of content area
x    Patience
+    Knowledge of and love for children
-     Desire for affluence
+    Required professional development (CEUs and advanced degrees)
+    Collaboration with colleagues
+    Communication with parents
+    Motivation of the unmotivated
+    Nurture of the un-nurtured
+    Effect on the disaffected
x    Flexibility to swing with the pedagogical pendulum
+    Organizational and time management skills
x    Perseverance in the face of profession-bashing by media, politicians, and sometimes our friends
+    Time beyond the school day, week, year
+    Ability to reflect, learn, and grow
+    Enjoyment of the work
=    A decidedly immeasurable formula.

But with decent evaluation tools, which teachers should help create, and timely evaluations, for which administrators need and must use time to complete, teachers can and should be evaluated. If my performance is measured appropriately, by skilled and knowledgeable administrators, my capacity to improve will increase, and that's a very good thing.

But VAM? No thank you, ma'am.