Yeah, uh, no. The DOE rolled out a pilot program not of Value Added Modeling (VAM), but of Student Growth Percentiles (SGP):Here's four challenges that face New Jersey's public school system as it implements new procedures under a harsh spotlight. None of these challenges are insurmountable, but all will require careful oversight and strong leadership.[...]Refine Teacher Evaluation Rubric: Last year, the DOE rolled out a pilot program of value-added teacher evaluations under the heading of Excellent Educators for New Jersey. Participation was limited to 11 districts (including Newark), plus 20 low-performing schools that received federal grants. Original plans called for statewide roll-out in 2012-2013; that's been pushed back a year until the kinks are worked out, although all districts will tiptoe towards the new system in September. Districts are also allowed to use their own templates, as long as they conform to the minimum standards in the bill, which include evaluating teachers based on "multiple objective measures of student learning." [second emphasis mine]
Why does this matter? Bruce Baker explains:Q: How does New Jersey measure student growth?A: New Jersey measures growth for an individual student by comparing the change in his or her NJ ASK achievement from one year to the next to that of all other students in the state who had similar historical results (the student’s "academic peers"). This change in achievement is reported as a student growth percentile (abbreviated SGP) and indicates how high or low that student’s growth was as compared to that of his/her academic peers. For a school or district, the growth percentiles for all students are aggregated to create a median SGP for the school or district. The median SGP is a representation of “typical” growth for students in the school or district. [emphasis mine]
Yes, that's right: the NJDOE is proposing to use a method of evaluating teachers - SGPs - that does not even attempt to estimate how much influence the teacher has on student growth!But what about those STUDENT GROWTH PERCENTILES being pitched for similar use in states like New Jersey? While on the one hand the arguments might take a similar approach of questioning the reliability or validity of the method for determining teacher effectiveness (the supposed basis for dismissal), the arguments regarding SGPs might take a much simpler approach. In really simple terms SGPs aren’t even designed to identify the teacher’s effect on student growth. VAMs are designed to do this, but fail.When VAMs are challenged in court, one must show that they have failed in their intended objective. But it’s much, much easier to explain in court that SGPs make no attempt whatsoever to estimate that portion of student growth that is under the control of, therefore attributable to, the teacher (see here for more explanation of this). As such, it is, on its face, inappropriate to dismiss the teacher on the basis of a low classroom (or teacher) aggregate student growth metric like SGP. Note also that even if integrated into a “multiple measures” evaluation model, if the SGP data becomes the tipping point or significant basis for such decisions, the entire system becomes vulnerable to challenge.* [emphasis mine]
This is critically important to understand in the days ahead: the NJDOE is not proposing to use an inaccurate method like VAM to evaluate teachers; they are proposing to use SGP, a method that is completely inappropriate to the task!
Let's hope Laura Waters figures out the difference before her next column.