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OMG, a Good Idea: Educational Value-Added Assessment System

Good Ideas in education are hard to come by. People in Education like Lofty Ideas – ideas that sound good but have vague execution plans and no difficult choices or dirty work, and thus no results.  Good Ideas have difficult, politically challenging implementation processes and actually produce results.  Good Ideas don’t just sound nice, but they have guts and teeth.

I knew about EVAAS (Educational Value-Added Assessment System), but I didn’t KNOW about EVAAS until, at a BBQ in San Francisco, I met Claire Robertson-Kraft, a Penn/TFA alum who works at Operation Public Education. OPE has formed a team of leading experts across the country to develop a compehrensive approach to school reform. One of their consultants is Bill Sanders, who apparently invented EVAAS with his own two bare hands.

Claire sent me an insider’s look at Operation Public Education’s Comprehensive School Reform Model, which is a Good Plan (as opposed to a Lofty Plan).  (It has to be with Gates Foundation bankroll and love.)  They’ve got a fair and comprehensive method to determine value added from state assessments (which, I acknowledge, are limited) coupled with a killer Observation Framework for instruction developed and operated by Charlotte Danielson.  Add a little Administrator Evaluation as robust as the teacher observation.  Give it some incentive pay to get people moving towards the goals, and give it support with peer review and remediation.  Finally, give it teeth with mandatory remediation and ultimately dismissal with underperforming teachers.  Oh WAIT, new teachers also start as Apprentices and have to move up; if they can’t in five years, they are dismissed.  Yeah, like I said.  Its a Good Plan.  With a capital G and a capital P.

But, of course, to make it politically feasible there’s even a “Grandfather Clause” that allows existing teachers to keep the old compensation model.  Fine.

I know, critics argue that the assessments are non-comprehensive and a mere end-of-year, 3 hour clip of a summative assessment that students don’t even really care about.  True.  Alas, it’s better than nothing: the state tests are, for the most part, disastrously easy for well-educated children, and you gotta start somewhere.  OPE is already thinking about the next level of assessments, integrating comprehensive, varied, and authentic assessments is one of their chapter-worthy goals.

This is what I’ve been looking for: a plan that couples comprehensiveness and noble direction with guts and teeth.  Thank goodness.

2 Responses to “OMG, a Good Idea: Educational Value-Added Assessment System”

  1. Jared Stein August 22, 2008 at 11:30 am #

    Sounds promising. Keep us updated on OPE’s progress. (OPE…isn’t that the infamous recall code in Dr. Strangelove?)

  2. james April 21, 2012 at 6:02 am #

    Michael, You present many interesting ideas on this site, but I wish you would approach these “new ideas” with the healthy skepticism necessary for genuine educational reform. You write about an assessment system developed by a team of leading experts (according to who?) bankrolled by Bill “1984” Gates.

    What are the credentials of these so-called experts, and what exactly does Bill Gates know about taking “non-school type kids” (you mentioned you were one of these once) and the academically-inclined kids and turning them into people on the road to self-actualization? Many teachers DO have some of these answers, but they lack the authority or freedom to carry their ideas out. John Taylor Gatto was one such brave soul, and I doubt very much he would do well with the aforementioned assessment.

    Self-styled experts who TELL others how to teach, create “assessment systems,” and offer consulting services for thousands of dollars are a huge problem in public ed. Too many chiefs and not enough willing, I mean, working, indians. If you’re not providing a direct service to students, you’re only adding to the problem. Most can agree that there are many skills not taught in schools, skills that will be useful in earning a living, perhaps even providing happiness, but why is Bill Gates wanting a controlling stake in education?

    He’s throws plenty of money at states, towns, and districts willing to allow him to pull the strings, yet Microsoft is one of the leading corps. raiding India, China, and other Asian countries of their gifted programmers, robbing those countries of the intellects their education systems and cultures created. Gates ia a TRUE GLOBALIST in every sense of the term. He benefitted greatly from the education system in the U.S., but he still hired cheaper foreign labor to boost company profits (a real partiot concerned about American education, huh?) He’s one of the chief behind-the-scenes architects of the common core standards — the standards developed by his hand-picked lackeys (not publically elected) — the standards tying everyone and their information in schools around the world into his dataweb. Why, exactly is HE entitled to everyone’s information for free, and what will he, other corporations, and governments do with this?

    These are some serious questions you and the rest of us should be asking. And, after reading the article, I couldn’t tell you anything very specific about this assessment system, where it has been tried, where it has worked, or even if it has worked. Teachers need to be better trained, and long ago they were — we need only to look to the past when we provided schools that taught vocations. We DID NOT expect everyone, or even MOST students, to attend college, yet today’s public education system holds the philosophy/ideal that ALL STUDENTS ARE ACADEMICALLY-INCLINED and obliged to get a college degree in order to be successful. What a crock!

    P.S. As teacher, I also realize that some things are valuable even if they’re not useful — I don’t think anyone has much use for a Kandinsky painting, but his paintings did get me to try to think in a different way — they presented a challenge — I don’t think I understood them at all, but they made me try (work — use my mind). It’s important to keep classical knowledge alive for that reason alone.

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