Does Louisiana need more value-added modeling? Douglas Harris says yes; Audrey. Amrein-Beardsley and Mercedes Schneider say no.

In a report to the State Board of Education, Harris proposed VAM for schools to increase accountability.

Beardsley reviews the research on VAM as well as her past exchanges with Harris and her specific critique of this proposal.

Beardsley writes:

“Harris concludes that “With these changes, Louisiana would have one of the best accountability systems in the country. Rather than weakening accountability, these recommendations [would] make accountability smarter and make it more likely to improve students’ academic performance.” Following these recommendations would “make the state a national leader.” While Harris cites 20 years of failed attempts in Louisiana and across all states across the country as the reason America’s public education system has not improved its public school students’ academic performance, I’d argue it’s more like 40 years of failed attempts because Harris’s (and so many others’) accountability-bent logic is seriously flawed.”

Schneider questions the practical value of VAM in her dissent. Schneider writes:

“Point systems for “grading” the teacher-student (and school-teacher-student) dynamic will always fall short because the complex nature of that dynamic defies quantifying. If test-loving reformers insist upon imposing high-stakes quantification onto schools and teachers, it will backfire, a system begging to be corrupted by those fighting to survive it.

“It is not that I cannot be evaluated as a teacher. It’s just that such evaluation is rooted a complex subjectivity that is best understood by those who are familiar with my reality. This should be true of the administrators at one’s school, and I am fortunate to state that it is true in my case.

“There are no numbers that sufficiently capture my work with my students. I know this. Yes, I am caught in a system that wants to impose a numeric values on my teaching. My “value” to my students cannot be quantified, nor can my school’s value to my students, no matter what the Harrises of this world might suggest in commissioned reports.”