Thursday, September 6, 2012

Biased teacher study does not stand up to scrutiny, LFT says

A study purporting to support a new teacher evaluation system is the product of a biased, pro-business think tank and should not be taken seriously by education reformers in Louisiana, according to the Louisiana Federation of Teachers.

“If this study were to be taken seriously, it would have been published by a peer-reviewed journal instead of by the Manhattan Institute, which prides itself on promoting ‘market-oriented policies’ aimed at privatizing public services,” said Louisiana Federation of Teachers President Steve Monaghan.

In a conference call to reporters, Manhattan Institute Fellow Marcus Winters said that his new report validates the use of the so-called Value Added Model to evaluate teacher performance. Winters said that his research is based on the results of value added data collected in Florida public schools.

The Baton Rouge Advocate quoted Winters’ report as saying that value added models “can be a useful piece of a comprehensive evaluation system” and that “claims that it is unreliable should be rejected.”

Sections of Winters’ report not quoted by The Advocate appear less confident: “VAM is not a perfect measure of teacher quality because, like any statistical test, it is subject to random measurement errors. So it should not be regarded as the ‘magic bullet’ solution to the problem of evaluating teacher performance.”

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