Monday, April 11, 2011

Day 13: "Value added" Strikes Again

Ahh the spring time: warmer weather, birds singing, layoff notices, and "value added" scores of teachers in LAUSD are again released. What a joyful time of year.
Another year with a less than good value added score for me. So according to the LA Times I add no value to my students during the year. The Times has explanations for questions about the "value added" system. According to them it is accurate, so then I must clearly be an ineffective teacher, and perhaps my layoff notice really is a benefit to our educational system. Each teacher gets a chance to write a response to their "value added" score. Below is my response to the LA Times.
I have five years of scores considered in this "value added" system. I concede that is is likely that I was not highly effective my first year or two. I do however know that my third and forth year of teaching over fifty percent of my students test scores increased or remained proficient or advanced. How do I know this you ask? I saw the scores. Maybe this is not enough to be highly effective according to the LA Times but it sure was effective for those children. In addition, I know the Times claims that there is no need to control for race or socioeconomic status, but a 2010 Study conducted by Stanford University and Berkley said differently. It claimed that the races of the children in the "value added" scores could effect the overall effectiveness rating. My career began at a school where 100% of the students were socioeconomically disadvantaged and all minorities, and I'm sorry Times, but no matter what you claim, that does matter. Finally, last year I began with a fourth and fifth grade combination class, by November I was renormed into a substitute position and then in January given a class of the school's 22 lowest scoring FBB students as an intervention. I worked with them until May when I left for maternity leave and the students tested with another teacher. I don't even know which group of children that I taught last year is even included in my "value added" score. Whichever children it was did not receive my instruction for more than three months in total, but I have their test scores to exclusively represent my test scores and effectiveness as an educator. How do you control for that Times? Do you even consider such factors? 
At the end of the day, you can keep printing "value added" scores. You can even contend that they define a teacher, however those of us that actually work in a classroom everyday know that simply cannot accurately represent our effectiveness. I know people want data, and statistics, and numbers to crunch. However, your "value added" system does not define me as a teacher nor as a human being. It does not define my enthusiasm, my knowledge of pedagogy, my intellect, or my love for my students. Finally, I know it does not accurately determine how "effective" I am in the classroom and nothing the the LA Times has to say will change that. Please LA Times come visit sometime, or would that be too much trouble?

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