In last week’s Ed Bites, I mentioned two pieces — one by Hanushek, and the other by Gates — that debated the merits of releasing the value-added scores for public school teachers in New York City. Since last week, the scores have been released, and people everywhere are having a field day with the data. Predictably, the fallout is terrifying. Los Angeles released its scores back in August 2010 with results that fared little better. In fact, many question whether one teacher’s suicide was the result of his poor performance on the evaluation.
Which brings us back to NYC. Take a minute to read this story published by Edwize that critiques the behavior of the New York Post in the aftermath of the scores’ release:
On Sunday, the Post published another story, now proclaiming Mauclair to be the “city’s worst teacher.” Next to this description, it printed a photograph of her taken from a yearbook. The Post quoted a single parent to whom it had provided this description as saying that he wanted to have his child removed from her class. Another parent whose child was no longer in the school was quoted saying Mauclair should be fired and her salary given to the school.
Wait, didn’t Hanushek say that releasing these measures is a positive step towards improving the quality of teaching? Let’s check:
The release of value-added scores of teachers is not a way of shaming the ineffective teachers. It is a prod to insisting that teachers who harm their children should finally be removed from the classroom.
Oh! So these value-added scores aren’t supposed to shame ineffective teachers, but merely prod bad teachers out of the classroom? Is that what the New York Post is doing? Because, from where I stand, their actions seem like an attempt to shame teachers. Once again, non-educators view teaching as easy, and therefore feel that they have a right to speak loudly against what they see as flaws in the model.
Merit pay and VA scores are heralded as the way to incentivize teachers to improve their performance — more pay for better performance. Calculating these scores is controversial enough, but releasing them to a vitriolic political environment is dangerous and ineffective. There’s no incentive system built in for teachers when these scores are released — only disincentives. Bill Gates is right; releasing these scores is a form of public shaming, and it ought to be punished.
Have we not learned our lesson?