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09 May 2014 @ 10:36 am
What is a teacher worth?  
This question is one I am never quite able to answer succinctly. Answers such as her weight in gold or his weight in diamonds are too pat, too trite. I have a quote from Crista McAuliffe framed on the wall across from my desk that reads: A teacher affects eternity. She never knows where her influence stops." I see that quote often each day I spend in the office. It remonds me that it is perhaps impossible to calculate the worth of a teacher.

But Texas is now one of the states ready to give that a try. A new teacher evaluation measure, submitted to meet the requirements of the NCLB waiver for the state, will attempt to measure that influence. The plan has been submitted for approval according to this post: http://www.teachthevote.org/news/2014/05/05/tea-announces-details-of-teacher-evaluation-pilot-submits-plan-to-usde-for-approval/. No specific details were available. What concerns me is simple: VAM (value added measures) such as using the scores of students to evaluate teacher performance have been roundly criticized by those who know about balidity and reliability in research. I am most assuredly NOT one of those folks. But I do have some common sense that tells me there are a whole host of factors that can impact the one-shot, one day measurement. Headache, illness, argument with parent, boyfriend, sibling, lack of nutrition, resentment or resignation at taking yet another test. Add this to other variables: learning disabilities, ELL, special ed needs to name a few. I speak from some experience as a former middle school teacher and even now as a professor whose students take a certification exam to become sschool librarians after they complete coursework.

Texas is beginning this process next year via a pilot program targeting some of the districts and a few charter schools (part of me wants to see ALL charters have to participate). After a year, the program will, ostensibly, be tweaked and put into effect state-wide. Only 20% of the evaluation of teachers will be done through VAM. The remainder of the evaluation will remain what is already in place.I worry about beginning a program at all until there is sufficient evidence that suggests VAM are reliable and valid. But Texas does not wish to lose the NCLB waiver. It is all about the $$$$.
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