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    AERA Concludes the Facts Are Factual about VAM

    Ohanian Comment: AERA continues to do what AERA does best: Issue a call for more employment of its members.

    by Jim Horn

    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).

    From the back cover of this book:

    REVIEWSâ¨
    "When the Obama Administration decided to spend the billions it got for schools as part of the stimulus package to launch the Race to the Top program and the NCLB waivers, forcing many states to adopt teacher evaluation based on changes in student test scores, leading experts warned that this "value added" system did not have a reliable scientific basis and would often lead to false conclusions. This sobering and important study of the long experience with this system in Tennessee (where it was invented) shows that it did not work, was unfair, and took attention away from other more fundamental issues." Gary Orfield Distinguished Research Professor, UCLA, Co-Director, Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles, UCLA â¨

    "If The Mismeasure of Education offered only its penetrating new look at Conant and Coleman, it would be worth the price. But that's just the beginning. Horn and Wilburn uncover the obsessive instrumentalist quantification and apocalyptic rhetoric soapboxed by both liberal and conservative political elites. Their autopsy of value-added accountability reveals the pathology of ed reform's claim about teachers not being good enough for the global economy." Susan Ohanian Educator, Author, Activist â¨â¨

    "A well-researched (and frightening) look at examples of shameful pseudoscience in America, the latest manifestation of which is value-added assessment for determining teacher competency... A well-documented and thorough analysis, inescapably leading to the conclusion that student test data cannot be used to determine teacher effectiveness. A must read for policy makers enamored of the idea that value added assessments will do what is claimed for them. They do not!....An excellent and scholarly history of how we got to an educational-testing/industrial complex, now promoting invalid assessment strategies that are transforming education, but not for the better. A scary book that should be thoughtfully read by those who value America's greatest invention, the public schools." David Berliner Regents' Professor Emeritus, Arizona State University â¨â¨

    "The Mismeasure of Education is a magnificent work, an elegantly written, brilliantly argued and erudite exposition on why the "what," "how" and "why" of effective teaching cannot be adequately demonstrated by sets of algorithms spawned in the ideological laboratories of scientific management at the behest of billionaire investors... This book will serve as a sword of Damocles, hanging over the head of the nation's educational tribunals and their adsentatores, ingratiators and sycophants in the business community... The Mismeasure of Education will have a profound resonance with those who are fed up with the hijacking of our nation's education system. This is a book that must be read by everyone interested in the future of our schools. It is a book that advocates real educational justice, for student, teachers, administrators and the public; it is informed by impressive scholarship and compelling argument. It is surely to become a classic work." Peter McLaren Professor, GSEIS, University of California, Los Angeles, Distinguished Fellow in Critical Studies, Chapman University

    — Jim Horn
    Schools Matter
    November 14, 2015
    http://www.schoolsmatter.info/2015/11/aera-concludes-facts-are-factual-about.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+schoolsm


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