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[Susan notes: I would ask these questions of the reporter, who is billed "education reporter." Why is reader informed of who endorses this plan but not informed of the many who oppose it? Where is the mention of NEPC research on this topic? Why is the article so uninformative?]

To the editor

From Timothy D. Slekar

Submitted to Pittsburgh Post Gazette but not published (12/31/2012)

In Pittsburgh schools readying teacher evaluation plan published on December 31st in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Eleanor Chute reports that "Pittsburgh Public Schools is poised to become the first district to seek state approval for its teacher evaluation plan under a new state law" and that there will be a final vote on January 23rd.

I urge residents of the Pittsburgh area school district to please flood the meeting on January 23rd and demand that this waste of your tax dollars be stopped. Evaluating teachers is such an incredible responsibility and it is clear from this article that the Pittsburgh Area School District is totally disregarding the current research on the use of Value Added Measures (VAM) and students test scores in the evaluation of teachers.

First, isn't it telling that according to the article, "Cory Koedel, assistant professor of economics at the University of Missouri, who is a technical consultant for the district" endorsed the evaluation system. What about researchers in education? Where are the educational measurement experts? Where are the curriculum experts? Where are the educational psychology experts? Where are the child development experts? In other words: Why would Pittsburgh Public Schools put an evaluation system in place for teachers that has been endorsed by an economist? Again, where are the education researchers and measurement experts?

The sad reality is that they are out there and have researched and published about this looming disaster and have consistently issued statements that using student test scores in Value Added Measures is extremely problematic at best. The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) in a review of Gates Foundation funded VAM research stated "that a teachers' value-added for the state test is not strongly related to her effectiveness in a broader sense. Most notably, value-added for state assessments is correlated 0.5 or less with that for the alternative assessments, meaning that many teachers whose value-added for one test is low are in fact quite effective when judged by the other." And in even simpler terms. Value Added Measurement systems will incorrectly rank teachers one out of every three times—at best.

Also, Research-Based Inclusive System of Evaluation (RISE) is a distortion of Charlotte Danielson's original work on quality teaching. Danielson's qualitative system of evaluation was never meant to be merged with a invalid and unreliable quantitative evaluation system—Valued Added Measures.

This politically motivated policy will create a culture of fear for teachers and do little to improve the teaching and learning conditions for the children of Pittsburgh. Instead the most challenging schools and students in Pittsburgh will see an exodus of the most gifted teachers.

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