VAMboozled!: “You Are More Than Your EVAAS Score!”

Justin Parmenter is a seventh-grade language arts teacher in Charlotte, North Carolina. Via his blog — Notes from the Chalkboard— he writes “musings on public education.” You can subscribe to his blog at the bottom of any of his blog pages, one of which I copied and pasted below for all of you following this blog (now at 43K followers!!).

His recent post is titled “Take heart, NC teachers. You are more than your EVAAS score!” and serves as a solid reminder of what teachers’ value-added scores (and namely in this case teachers’ Education Value-Added Assessment Scores (EVAAS)) cannot tell you, us, or pretty much anybody about anyone’s worth as a teacher. Do give it a read, and do give him a shout out by sharing this with others.

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Last night an email from the SAS corporation hit the inboxes of teachers all across North Carolina.  I found it suspicious and forwarded it to spam.

EVAAS is a tool that SAS claims shows how effective educators are by measuring precisely what value each teacher adds to their students’ learning.  Each year teachers board an emotional roller coaster as they prepare to find out whether they are great teachers, average teachers, or terrible teachers–provided they can figure out their logins.

NC taxpayers spend millions of dollars for this tool, and SAS founder and CEO James Goodnight is the richest person in North Carolina, worth nearly $10 billion.  However, over the past few years, more and more research has shown that value added ratings like EVAAS are highly unstable and are unable to account for the many factors that influence our students and their progress. Lawsuits have sprung up from Texas to Tennessee, charging, among other things, that use of this data to evaluate teachers and make staffing decisions violates teachers’ due process rights, since SAS refuses to reveal the algorithms it uses to calculate scores.

By coincidence, the same day I got the email from SAS, I also got this email from the mother of one of my 7th grade students:

Photos attached provided evidence that the student was indeed reading at the dinner table.

The student in question had never thought of himself as a reader.  That has changed this year–not because of any masterful teaching on my part, but just because he had the right book in front of him at the right time.

Here’s my point:  We need to remember that EVAAS can’t measure the most important ways teachers are adding value to our students’ lives.  Every day we are turning students into lifelong independent readers. We are counseling them through everything from skinned knees to school shootings.  We are mediating their conflicts. We are coaching them in sports. We are finding creative ways to inspire and motivate them. We are teaching them kindness and empathy.  We are doing so much more than helping them pass a standardized test at the end of the year.

So if you figure out your EVAAS login today, NC teachers, take heart.  You are so much more than your EVAAS score!

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Audrey Amrein-Beardsley

Audrey Amrein-Beardsley, a former middle- and high-school mathematics teacher, received her Ph.D. in 2002 from Arizona State University in the Division of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies with an emphasis on Research Methods. Awarded tenure in 2010 as an ASU Presidential Exemplar, she is currently an Associate Professor in the...