More Statistical Crap

More on the statistical crap known as Value-Added Measure (VAM), the teacher evaluation system that’s supposed to incorporate the improvement in learning (aka standardized test scores) experienced by students in their classes.

This time some teachers and their local union are suing the Houston Independent School District over the way this process has been applied.

There’s not much new in their criticism of this “badly flawed method of evaluating teacher effectiveness”, one that’s already been challenged by people who actually understand the analysis of data, the American Statistical Association.

However, one highly inaccurate statement posted to the district website in support of using VAM jumped out at me:

Nothing matters more to student success than teachers.

While good teachers certainly can make a difference, there are many studies showing that a student’s socioeconomic status and parents are far more important factors of their success in school.

And, which is important in this case, there’s very little credible research1 supporting VAM as a teacher evaluation tool or as a means of improving student learning (again, aka standardized test scores).


  1. Duncan, Gates, and Rhee constantly saying it’s true doesn’t count.

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