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Discredited Shill Pushing Merit Pay Bill

on Mon, 02/17/2014 - 05:57

On Tuesday, Feb. 18th, Michelle Rhee of StudentsFirst will testify on behalf of H. 4419 before the House K-12 Subcommittee.

H. 4419 would transition South Carolina schools to a merit pay system and strip away teachers' minimal due process rights in dismissal proceedings.

This bill would promote the use of a widely discredited technique called Value-Added Modeling (VAM) to evaluate and fire teachers on the basis of student test scores. 

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Merit pay is a faith-based policy built on junk science: 

  • Research has consistently shown Value-Added Modeling (VAM) to be wildly unreliable when used to evaluate teachers.
Rhee's record has been severely tarnished by recent revelations that she covered up rampant cheating during her tenure in DC and lied about student growth on her resume.
She cites data on NAEP growth in DC and Tennessee as proof that her brand of "reform" is producing results. 

She neglects to mention states like Louisiana and Colorado that followed the Rhee recipe and saw no significant gains.
She also neglects to mention that DC has rapidly gentrified over the last decade, and has the nation's largest achievement gap between black and white students (a trend that accelerated under Rhee's policies).  Tennessee radically overhauled its curriculum in 2009.

H. 4419 would transition South Carolina to a merit pay system. 

Texas, Chicago, NY, DC, and Denver squandered hundreds of millions on merit pay bonuses with nothing to show for it but cheating scandals.

Nashville offered teachers $15,000 bonuses: No impact on student achievement.

New York City’s heralded $75 million experiment in teacher incentive pay...did not increase student achievement at all

“If anything student achievement declined.” -lead researcher & merit pay advocate Ronald Fryer

H. 4419 would promote the use of Value-Added Modeling (VAM) to judge and fire teachers. 
Originally designed to compare crop yields, VAM has been widely discredited for evaluating teachers.

In 2010,The US Dept. of Education published a report showing that VAM systems have a 36% error rate in identifying teachers as effective or ineffective.
  • Using three years of data? 26% error rate.
  • Want to get the error rate down to 12%?  You’ll need ten years of data for that teacher
They’re not the only ones with concerns about VAM…

National Academy of Sciences:
    …VAM estimates of teacher effectiveness should not be used to make operational decisions because such estimates are far too unstable to be considered fair or reliable

RAND Corporation:
The research base is currently insufficient to support the use of VAM for high-stakes decisions.

American Institutes for Research
We cannot at this time encourage anyone to use VAM in a high stakes endeavor.

Educational Testing Service and the Economic Policy Institute reached similar conclusions.

Dr. Edward Haertel, former president of the National Council on Measurement in Education, Chair of the National Research Council’s Board on Testing and Assessment, and former chair of the committee on methodology of the National Assessment Governing Board:

"Teacher VAM scores should emphatically not be included as a substantial factor with a fixed weight in consequential teacher personnel decisions.

The information they provide is simply not good enough to use in that way."

A VAM study of five large urban districts found that only 1/3 of top-ranked teachers kept that standing in the second year. 

A larger group plummeted down to the bottom 40%.

Teachers at the bottom of the rankings showed the exact same pattern in reverse, with 1/3 rising to the top 40%.

None of this has stopped newspapers (including The Post & Courier) from publishing VAM ratings. 

Recent court rulings deem them public information, even when used for evaluation. 

One Los Angeles teacher committed suicide after a poor VAM rating was published.


NY officials pointed out that 75% of their teachers saw their category ratings go up or stay the same in the second year of their VAM scheme.

  Um…that means 25% of their ratings went down.

Are one-fourth of their teachers really worse this year than they were last year?

In other news, twenty-percent of all NC teachers flunked their VAM rating this year as Common Core curriculum was phased in.

Somehow their students scored above national averages on NAEP. 

Don't worry: Mathematica says Common Core won't be a problem here.


Want to know more about VAM?

Here’s a comprehensive report from some of the most prominent names in education research, and a definitive technical one by Dr. Edward Haertel of Stanford that is truly devastating.

Among other things, it slices and dices the oft-cited MET Study that cost Bill Gates $50 million and "proved" that, "Value-added really works!".

Turns out, the main thing MET proved is that the customer is always right.

Want more? it’s ALL here.