Paging Winston Churchhill

It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.
The firestorm continues unabated over the Los Angeles Times series that explores tying student growth to teacher efficiency. Today the series posted names of teachers and their scores, including the 100 highest- ranking teachers and schools. Take a look. Also worth a read: today’s New York Times story on the increasing use of value-added models and a measured (ha!) Stephen Sawchuk analysis in Edweek.

Serendipitously, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) just published a paper called “Problems with Use of Student Test Scores to Evaluate Teachers.” Authors include such luminaries as Linda Darling-Hammond, Diane Ravitch, Richard Rothstein, Eva Baker. FYI: EPI’s Board of Directors includes Presidents of the International Assc. Of Machinists and Allied Workers, Service Employees International Union, Communication Workers of America, United Steelworkers of America, United Auto Workers, American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Workers United, Service Employees International Union, AFL-CIO, American Federation of Teachers. Funny that. NEA is also a big contributor to EPI, which also published a paper on July 30th explaining that NJ public employees are underpaid. Here's a sample from EPI's paper denouncing value-added assessments:

We began by noting that some advocates of using student test scores for teacher evaluation believe that doing so will make it easier to dismiss ineffective teachers. However, because of the broad agreement by technical experts that student test scores alone are not a sufficiently reliable or valid indicator of teacher effectiveness, any school district that bases a teacher’s dismissal on her students’ test scores is likely to face the prospect of drawn-out and expensive arbitration and/or litigation in which experts will be called to testify, making the district unlikely to prevail. The problem that advocates had hoped to solve will remain, and could perhaps be exacerbated. There is simply no shortcut to the identification and removal of ineffective teachers.
We'll give the final word to the fine blog, The Quick and the Ed:
Value-added is the worst form of teacher evaluation but it’s better than everything else.