Sorry about last week folks: I was sequestered in my studio trying to meet a deadline. Let’s get back to it:
– A New Voice on NJ Education Policy
A group of education policy scholars, led by Bruce Baker of Rutgers, has put together a new resource for state-wide education policy: the New Jersey Policy Forum. Wonks will want to bookmark this, as I’m sure there will be any number of new briefs challenging the orthodoxies of Christie’s education policies, starting with…
– The Many Problems With NJ’s New Teacher Evaluation System
The NJDOE says there is research that backs the way it uses test scores to evaluate teachers in its new accountability system, AchieveNJ. Except the very research Education Commissioner Chris Cerf refers to doesn’t say that at all:
Another claim used in defense of New Jersey’s growth percentile measures is that a series of studies conducted with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provide validation that these measures are indeed useful for evaluating teachers. In a recent article by New Jersey journalist John Mooney in his online publication NJ Spotlight, state officials were asked to respond to some of the above challenges regarding growth percentile measures. Along with perpetuating the claim that the growth percentile model takes fully into account student background, state officials also issued the following response:
“The Christie administration cites its own research to back up its plans, the most favored being the recent Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) project funded by the Gates Foundation, which tracked 3,000 teachers over three years and found that student achievement measures in general are a critical component in determining a teacher’s effectiveness.”
The Gates Foundation MET project did not study the use of Student Growth Percentile Models. Rather, the Gates Foundation MET project studied the use of value-added models, applying those models under the direction of leading researchers in the field, testing their effects on fall to spring gains, and on alternative forms of assessments. Even with these more thoroughly vetted value-added models, the Gates MET project uncovered, though largely ignored, numerous serious concerns regarding the use of value-added metrics. External reviewers of the Gates MET project reports pointed out that while the MET researchers maintained their support for the method, the actual findings of their report cast serious doubt on its usefulness.
In other words: Cerf cites the Gates MET study to justify his policies, yet the study – which is already flawed – never addressed the methods NJDOE is proposing.
I know many of you here at BJ are not eduwonks, and this may go a bit far into the weeds. But it’s very, very important to understand that NJDOE is like so many other parts of the Christie administration: they are ideologues in the service of powerful interests, pushing an agenda that has no research to back it up.
When you make your lists of the sins of Chris Christie on environmental, health care, fiscal, women’s, GLBT, transportation, taxation, and many other issues, don’t forget education: believe me, he’s as bad on this as on anything else.
More after the flip…