Thursday, January 24, 2008

Value Added

Bloomberg and his unity 08 cheerleaders like to talk of his sound business sense. His NYC Department of Education seems to be intent on collecting a museum of of business non-sense, i.e. the whole idea of "value-added." My idea of value added is what General Patton did when he got to the Rhine. He wanted to be the first one to piss in it.
One of my favorite ed bloggers is Eduwonkette, a mystery woman of brains and I'm told beauty as well. Her article this week on the secret use of teachers as test subjects set off a David Boren type poop storm.
In her defense was preaprez

I have no argument with those who are fighting the battle against using student test score data as a means to evaluate teachers performance. I have no argument with them, because I am one of them. But the secret use of teachers as test subjects is, to me, a much different matter. It is connected, because one can see in it the inevitable result of the political opportunism of those like Rotherham, Joe Williams of DFER and the political leaders like Daley, Bloomberg, Klein and Spellings as they push testingtestingtestngtesting..But when Eduwonnkette had the nerve to suggest that the secret program, willingly agreed to by middle management school principal hacks, was an ethical failure, arising out of the same moral pit as the infamous Tuskegee medical experiments on black people, oh did they raise a howl of protest. Obviously, Eduwonkette had cut a little to close to the bone. Reading Eduwonkette, it was clear that she was not claiming that the secret NY schools program was identical to the racist Tuskegee program. She was reflecting on the ethical failure.

and Mike Klonsky
New York “shock & awe” Monday’s NY Times report that teachers are being evaluated without their knowledge, in an experimental evaluation program, reminded Eduwonkette of the infamous Tuskegee syphilis experiments:
My point is not that the NYC experiment's secrecy is the moral equivalent of the Tuskegee Experiments....But the Hippocratic Oath of the research community - that subjects should be aware that they are part of a study - has been grossly violated.
Can it really be that many NY principals willingly went along with such a scheme without notifying teachers? Yes, says the Times: New York City has embarked on an ambitious experiment, yet to be announced, in which some 2,500 teachers are being measured on how much their students improve on annual standardized tests. The move is so contentious that principals in some of the 140 schools participating have not told their teachers that they are being scrutinized based on student performance and improvement. The NY teacher evaluation experiments must also have a familiar ring to Naomi Klein. In her book, The Shock Doctrine, Klein traces government “shock” economic and social programs, following disasters like Hurricane Katrina and 9/11, to Dr. Ewen Cameron’s electro-shock experiments conducted in Canada by the CIA, on unwitting patients. Don’t get excited, Ed Sector people. I’m not saying that Chris Cerf is putting electrodes on anyone. I’m just saying…“I have no idea…” Andy Rotherham, as usual hems and haws and skates around all sides of the issue quite militantly. Should teachers have a say in how their evaluated? What about their negotiated contract? Doesn’t Rotherham believe in collective bargaining? Are Bloomberg, Klein and Cerf free to do whatever they choose in violation of agreements on teacher evaluation ? AR is of course, frightened and repulsed by Eduwonkette’s provocative allusion to Tuskegee (Naomi Klein must really make him crazy). But, on the other hand, he isn’t quite sure if the N.Y. experiment on teachers is “ready for prime time” in terms of “consequence-oriented decisions.” After all, he says, it’s a “slippery slope.” He also has “reservations” about “value-added data,” not to mention, the “downstream effects” of those decisions.


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