Thursday, January 13, 2011

Gates Report Touting "Value-Added" Reached Wrong Conclusion

Gee, expect an honest accounting from anything associated with Bill Gates? This comes from Susan Ohanian and is worth reading. Also check out my piece on value-added in the Indypendent, which seems to have gotten a number of hits beyond the usual. (My Article on Teacher Value-Added Data Dumping in The Indypendent.)

NOTE: After reading my introduction here, please click through to the National Education Policy Center site. Rothstein's review reads better there. I post it  here, for historical purpose. My intent, as always, is to keep a record of assaults on public schools. But go read it at the National Educational Policy Center site. They are doing excellent work on the behalf of public schools, and we want their "hits" to soar.

In a wowser of a technical review, Rothstein finds that The Gates Foundation study on teachers' value-added performance "is an unprecedented opportunity to learn about what makes an effective teacher. However,"there are troubling indications that the Project's conclusions were predetermined." [Emphasis added.] This, of course, comes as no surprise to teachers across the land, but it's good to have a respected scholar, somebody with no horse in the race, say it. Rothstein finds:
In fact, the preliminary MET results contain important warning signs about the use of value-added scores for high-stakes teacher evaluations. These warnings, however, are not heeded in the preliminary report, which interprets all of the results as support for the use of value-added models in teacher evaluation.
And more:
The results presented in the report do not support the conclusions drawn from them. This is especially troubling because the Gates Foundation has widely circulated a stand-alone policy brief (with the same title as the research report) that omits the full analysis, so even careful readers will be unaware of the weak evidentiary basis for its conclusions.5
Rothstein characterizes the Gates report conclusions as "shockingly weak" and points to how the part they released to the press hid this weakness.

Is it any surprise that the Gates study doesn't even bother to review existing research literature on the topic? When one's results are "predetermined," (Rothstein's term), such a review would, of course, be a waste of time.

AND "[T]he analyses do not support the report's conclusions. Interpreted correctly, they undermine rather than validate value-added-based approaches to teacher evaluation."[emphasis added]

Review of: Learning About Teaching
by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
December 10, 2010
Reviewed by Jesse Rothstein (University of California, Berkeley)
January 13, 2011

Summary - MORE

Check out Norms Notes for more on this issue.

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