Here comes VAM for social-emotional learning!
Controversy erupted years ago over holding teachers accountable for academic test scores. VAM (Value Added Measurement) was supposed to have been put to rest, but it never really left. Move over VAM, now teachers will be responsible for student behavior too!
Back in June, Peter Greene, writing for Forbes noted:
Few systems have been debunked more often then VAM systems, and yet somehow this failed system is still the primary tool for evaluating teachers across the country. Why?
Now reformers are giddy about adding more assessment in the form of student noncognitive soft skills to the mix. They want teachers to create perfectly behaved children in a world that is far from perfect.
Professor C. Kirabo Jackson, a professor of human development and social policy at Northwestern University, authored the study. An overall point to be made is that academics and positive behavior go together. Students who feel better about themselves will likely do better academically.
But Jackson seems to be advocating for a social-emotional learning VAM, to combine academic and social-emotional learning for a fuller teacher evaluation program.
…this study provides evidence that measuring teacher effects on test scores captures only a fraction of their effect on longer-run outcomes and presents the first evidence that evaluating teacher effects on non-test score outcomes may greatly improve our ability to predict teachers’ overall effects on longer-run outcomes.
Placing the burden of student happiness on the teacher is irresponsible, since a child does not only spend time in the classroom. It shouldn’t have to be said, that students are affected by peer pressure, their home life, and other variables inside and outside of school.
It also seems questionable that happy people are always successful and cranky kids repeatedly fail.
In today’s world maybe you shouldn’t be happy about what’s happening. Perhaps students shouldn’t like having their feelings manipulated, always being told to have grit and the proper mindset.
I’d say they should also be plenty upset that so much personal information is being collected about them and stored online where anyone in the future can have access.
Teachers often swim against the tide to help students with poor behavior overcome their difficulties—problems brought on by outside forces for which teachers have no control.
To say that teachers must now be accountable for such behaviors is absurd! But destroying democratic public education is absurd, and you can’t end public education if it were to make sense.
Like not wanting to work with students who fail tests, what teacher is going to want to work with students who act out and have behavioral difficulties? Who’s going to risk their career for troubled students? Yet these students need teachers who will care.
Teachers will be expected to raise social-emotional assessment scores. How will they do it when they have to juggle 30-40 students (150 or more if middle or high school) per class?
We had to have seen this coming. Social-emotional learning is not about helping children feel better about themselves or reducing high-stakes testing. It is about judging how schools address the growing problem of students frustrated over schools that have become hell due to corporate reforms that force teachers to test and punish.
Social-emotional learning involves testing to assess the effects of high-stakes testing. It is also much about collecting sensitive behavioral data about children for stakeholders.
The finding is not that teachers who raise test scores are doing poorly in terms of raising softer skills, [but] if you can identify teachers who raise both sets of skills, you’ll do a better job of identifying the best teachers.
Test scores are certainly a measure of a set of skills students need to be successful in school and perhaps later in life.
The best teachers.
Good teachers have always sought to help their students feel good about themselves. But now they better put on their nonstop happy faces and work harder at it. Their jobs could depend on it.
Sheila Resseger says
Such a travesty! This is not at all about the well-being of students, or even of determining who the effective teachers are. It is about vacuuming up huge amounts of personal and personally identifiable data in order to rank, sort, and profile students, to use predictive analytics to determine their cog in the global workforce. I’m sure that it also dovetails nicely with Pay for “Success”/Social Impact Bonds. It stinks! As Jonathan Kozol poignantly and tragically observed:
“Instead of seeing these children for the blessings that they are, we are measuring them only by the standard of whether they will be future deficits or assets for our nation’s competitive needs.”
Nancy Bailey says
Yes. And instead of measuring them with paper they will be measured nonstop online. Thanks, Sheila. I always appreciate your insight.
Roy Turrentine says
“To say that teachers must now be accountable for such behaviors is absurd”
The word absurd seems ubiquitous in educational discourse these days.
Nancy Bailey says
I’ll say. Thanks, Roy!