Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Why Not Value Added in Health? Or Policing?

It is almost laughable, the national hysteria over finding bad teachers and rooting them out. And the use of value added test scores to do so.

The LA Times revealing of teacher ratings and the even more laughable piece that “Waiting for Superman” director Davis Guggenheim wrote at Huffington.

He claims we can't have great schools without great teachers? You've got to read this. How many schools are considered "great" because all the kids are smart to start with no matter what the teaching? And he and his wife and daughter are so excited over getting a favored 4th grade teacher. Do you think that was because the teacher had a good value added number? I would bet they never even checked that info if it was available. That the real reason they wanted that teacher had absolutely nothing to do with test scores but with the way that person treated kids and taught them in ways that have nothing to do with testing or the kinds of test prep maniacs Guggenheim's film is promoting.

The ed deformers make it seem like a matter of life and death. But when it really comes to life and death - like policing and health - and add the military (imagine rating individual soldiers in Afghanistan based on the success or failure of the daily missions - there is precious little push for some sort of value added.

But today in the NY Times there is an article about providing information to the public on surgeons.
Medical groups that perform heart bypass surgery are now being rated alongside cars and toaster ovens in Consumer Reports.
In most parts of the country, data-based ratings of doctors are not available to patients. Only a few states, including New York, provide them.
The magazine published ratings of 221 surgical groups from 42 states online on Tuesday and will print them in its October issue. Groups are rated, not individual doctors. The groups receive one, two or three stars, for below average, average or above average. The scores were based on complication and survival rates, whether the groups used the best surgical technique and whether patients were being sent home with certain medicines that research has shown to be beneficial after this type of surgery.

Groups are rated, not individual doctors? Where are NY or LA Times editorials, which call for teachers to be evaluated individually?

You have to love this point:
if a surgical group performs bypass surgery mostly on low-risk patients, its statistics may look great. Another group may perform just as well or better, but have worse outcomes because it accepts sicker patients. But a high-risk patient needing surgery might see the seemingly better results from the first group and choose it.
“What if you’re the sickest patient they’ve seen in three years?” Dr. Edwards asked, and explained that the data in the ratings were adjusted to take into account the patient’s overall health and degree of risk before the surgery. 
Adjusted to other factors? Class size anyone?


  1. I woulld like to value-add administrators.

  2. That piece by Guggenheim doesn't deserve to be there. It's nothing more than a long, dumb, maudlin comment. Sheds no new light on anything. You're right, Norm, it is laughable, in its inanity.

    The Dumbing Down of the Education Conversation in Prelude to the Continued Withdrawal of Support for Teachers: Resources, Conditions, Class Size, Respect, Security (Financial and Physical, etc., etc., etc. Disgusting and sick.

  3. As in every other corner of the economy, the term value added presupposes a management-dominated workforce (ideally employed at will) producing commodities. In the too too distant past, those commodities were known as students. It's an explicit representation of the twisted mindset that underpins corporate ed deform.

  4. Let's do some value-added assessments of the journalists who write this crap - what's the readership look like at the Times or Newsweek these days? Oh, right - getting smaller...what's the revenue stream look like at the Times and Newsweek these days? Oh, right - getting smaller...

    Must be the fault of Tom Friedman and Jonathan Alter.

    They're not providing enough "value" in their columns, so fewer people are reading their publications, and their publications are making less money...

    Time to fire them.

    Same rationale, yes?

    I sent both of these wankers an email to this effect.

    Didn't hear back from either.



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