** “The American Statistical Association just slammed the high-stakes ‘value-added method’ (VAM) of evaluating teachers that has been increasingly embraced in states as part of school reform efforts. VAM purports to be able to take student standardized test scores and measure the ‘value’ a teacher adds to student learning through complicated formulas that can supposedly factor out all of the other influences and emerge with a valid assessment of how effective a participating teacher has been.

These formulas can’t actually do this with sufficient reliability and validity, but school reformers have pushed this approach and now most states use VAM as part of teacher evaluations. Because math and English test scores are available, reformers have devised bizarre implementation methods in which teachers are assessed on the test scores of students they don’t have or subjects they don’t teach. When Michelle Rhee was chancellor of D.C. public schools (2007-10), she was so enamored with using student test scores to evaluate adults that she implemented a system in which all adults in a school building, including the custodians, were in part evaluated by test scores.” ~ Valerie Strauss, Washington Post

** “Teacher evaluations were arguably the most important and far-reaching policy change to come out of Race to the Top and states are having serious trouble delivering. If this doesn’t work out, it will hurt the long-term legacy of RTTT–it’ll be another sign that the feds can get states and districts to do things, but they can’t make them to it well.” ~ Andy Smarick, Bellwether Education Partners

** “The White House this week released a report applauding the Obama administration’s $4.3 billion Race to the Top program, but it was so devoid of any actual substance that it makes you wonder why anybody thought this was a good way to promote the president’s signature education initiative … It’s no surprise that the White House would release a report that promotes what it considers the positive aspects of its signature education program, but it did so in such a nebulous way that it does give rise to the question of just how much top officials really know about the enormous skepticism that has been growing around the country among educators and parents regarding the administration’s education reforms.” ~ Valerie Strauss, Washington Post

** “A year from now, all but a handful of states will do something they’ve never done before–give exams based on one shared set of standards. In fact, more than three dozen of those states will use two shared sets of assessments, too. It’s an unprecedented level of change in a K-12 system that has long prized its ability to make curriculum and testing decisions at the state and local levels.” ~ Catherine Gewertz, Education Week

** “Inexperience with technology might frustrate many students taking the computerized Common Core assessments. As I recently realized after debriefing with hundreds of students who had participated in pilots of computerized assessment items, even many digital natives aren’t versed in the skills needed to take online tests, such as moving a cursor, dragging text, or even keyboarding.” ~ Kristine Gullem, education consultant


** “No, tests are not fun–but they’re necessary. Stepping on the bathroom scale can be nerve-racking, but it tells us if that exercise routine is working. Going to the dentist for a checkup every six months might be unpleasant, but it lets us know if there are cavities to address. In education, tests provide an objective measurement of how students are progressing–information that’s critical to improving public schools.” ~ Michelle Rhee, founder Students First & former D.C. schools chancellor