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Thompson: Los Angeles' Value-Added Mess

image from t2.gstatic.comThe Education Sector's Chad Alderman, In Value-Added Backlash, Part Two, and StudentsFirst founder Michelle Rhee are all denouncing the new evaluation system that Los Angeles was forced into negotiating. 

The tentative agreement may or may not meet the letter of the California law requiring the use of student performance data in teacher evaluations. 

But, the compromise plan seems to be designed to collapse under its inherent contradictions.  And, it might foreshadow the tricks that systems will use to dodge the value-added bullet.

There are three possible scenarios, none of them particularly likely or welcome:

The best approach would be to respect social science evidence and realize that high-stakes value-added for individuals is a silly idea. 

The worst case scenario would be to implement value-added in the way that Rhee and, presumably, Alderman would like.  That would produce an exodus of talent from inner city schools, doom the Common Core, and unleash a legal Battle of Verdun. 

The most likely scenario, however, is that systems will simply pretend to obey mandates that student outcomes must be used in evaluations.  The educational culture of compliance is skilled in playing statistical games and ducking problems. When faced with the absurdity of having to fire teachers with a data-driven rubric that makes no sense, schools will find whatever fig leaf is necessary to avoid unfairly firing urban educators who they cannot replace.  Then, lawyers will look at plans to fire teachers based on their school's test score growth and/or raw scores, and districts will find new ways to kick the can down the road. -JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via Daily Kos.

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