Updates: A Giant Value-Added Waste Of Two Years
Now, even Bill Gates thinks sharing teachers' value-added ratings publicly doesn't make sense (see NPR Weekend Edition segment here). And that's a good thing, a walking back to a more reasonable position. But let's not forget that it wasn't always this way (my one quibble with Joy Resmovits' story Friday here). This is actually a big shift. Two years ago when the issue first started gaining attention the reform crowd generally sat on its hands. I remember calling around when the LA Times first said it was going to publish teacher ratings and trying to get comments, and not getting much response. Perhaps reformers weren't sure what they thought, or thought that they'd let the newspapers do the job for them, softening up the landscape (funded by Hechinger in one case, goaded by Joel Klein in another). Or perhaps reformers thought it was actually a good idea, instead of a fairly horrible one. Arne Duncan, in one of just a handfull of obvious gaffes, commented,to the LAT "What is there to hide?" Oh well, better late than never. There's talk about splitting the difference and giving the ratings to students' parents, which is as much a face-saving measure as a realistic or constructive alternative. Reformers run the risk of alienating their followers if they pull back too far, as this response to Wendy Kopp's conciliatory remarks on value-added testing attests. Let's be clear: fixating on value-added scores was, along with the obsession with "ending LIFO," a short-sighted, destructive, and largely fruitless exercise. If reformers wonder why there's been so much increased resistance and lost momentum over the last two years, they don't have far to look. It will take a certain amount of pride swallowing and a much better selection of priorities for reformers to regain the momentum they enjoyed in 2009 and 2010.