On another post Anonymous wrote:

"New Post:

http://www.post-gazette.com/news/education/2014/05/12/Pittsburgh-Public-Schools-state-use-different-formulas-to-calculate-value-added-by-schools/stories/201405120068
"

## Tuesday, May 13, 2014

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## 26 comments:

Mathematica has been very good at keeping their formula for determining VAM a murky secret. At the training where VAM was introduced there were math teachers present who asked how exactly it was done. they did not get an answer. Basically they were told that it was too complicated for them to understand.

The formulas tend to produce the results administration wants. Remember the scores to help MR "decide" which buildings to close? Calculations for those scores were never provided either.

It should not be so difficult. If they can figure it out and the math teachers can't, then perhaps the wrong people are teaching math...

I would rather think the difficulty is increased proportionally to the lies being given as the explanations. When we are told the truth, you don't have to remember the lies. When you give the truth, everyone is on the same page.

Formulas, codes, scores, deviations... all smoke and mirrors. Just tell us the truth if you will. Or dare.

Here's an idea, how bout someone calculating linda lanes VAM. Then, base her yearly performance bonus on that. If she don't raise the scores, keep property taxes level, close the racial achievement gap, LOWER HER VAM SCORE. If it is a negative number, take money away! Same for the rest of CA

I wll now reveal the PPS's VAM methodology, I least as I have seen it applied.

The Principal's pals get a higher VAM score. Others generally get a lower score.

Those who don't question the process get a higher VAM score.

Those who do question the process generally get a lower VAM score.

And the above effects are cumulative. So if you are not the principal's pal, and you have questioned the process, you are in deep VAM trouble.

Notice that how you actually teach usually has little influence.

But there is sometimes an exception to that last paragraph. A teacher with unique skills (like in advanced chemistry or advanced electronics) is often left alone.

But there is no such protection for those teaching, for example, 9th grade mainstream English. And the irony of it all is that the 9th grade English teacher has the tougher job.

Many of the leading researchers and most respected journals/periodicals are publishing substantial challenges to the use of value-added-methods. Those who are long time educators are inundated daily via the internet with works that are raising questions and documenting the problems embedded in VAM in its multiple formats and formulas.

We can question ad infinitum, but in Pittsburgh Public Schools, its all about adult agendas. The answer to the question "How are the children?" is never at the heart of the work of schools. If it was, we would not have to continually ask the question!

Doesn't PPS no longer have mainstream classes? Everyone is advanced (CAS or PSP)(even if by whatever formula many students are not proficient).

IF PPS cared at all about "how are the children?" they wouldn't be spending $$ on their own VAM.. or giving KDG children the TERRA NOVA test. Sll of my children were strong readers in Kindergarten, BUT the whole physical experience of this kind of test is ridiculous for children-- who belong outside in the sunshine!

No matter the formula, PPS administration's solution for your calculations, Pittsburgh teachers, is "you're screwed."

This administration can bend RISE any way it wishes to fire you. It can do whatever it wants.

Why worry?

Do your best for the kids and pray the Good Lord metes out the karma for these dregs who run the district.

11:01, The point was not that the math teachers did not understand the formula. They were never given the formula. There was an assumption that they would not understand it. As for having the Mathematica people teach, if they cannot explain their formulas to people who are interested in math, I doubt they would would be very "effective" teachers to children, many of whom find math a struggle.

6:45, sorry you missed my tongue in cheek humor. The rest of my post sums up how I feel. Central admin cannot give the formulas because they don't know how to explain it. Probably made up as they go along. I know of several math teachers in the system who are very smart, very fast with paper and pencil. They can analyze the data, form an opinion, then present it with confidence. The truth is, they are afraid to give such information to our math teachers. And, if you are a math teacher and were offended by my earlier comment, I am very sorry.

Capa # 32 in the state. But in the bottom 14 in the district under PPS VAM.. enough said....

9:58's comment didn't even fill one line and we parents can point to it and say that it is a fine example of why we don't trust the data.

How about a student athlete does not get to miss class time unless he/she has a solid legit B in the class they must miss?

There is always accurate data on the PDE website. In late September, with a little help, the public will be able to see the real data. It will NOT be the # posted for School Performance Profiles. That will be an inflated #.

The SCHOOLS will have the 2014 Reading and Math scores for every student in late June, but, these scores will NOT be PUBLISHED until late September.

Late September is too late for parents to do what they need to do.

Athletes should not miss class time as games should be all at night as is the trend with WPIAL SCHEDULES.

However, more than 30 periods of class time was missed in recent weeks by not only the participants, but the bulk of the school, for rehearsals for the Obama Drama / musical.

In school practices takes actors out of classes, days at a time. The rest of the kids, perhaps half, just play.

Why would no participants miss class time? A typical class (junior senior etc) would have over 100 students and maybe 10 would be a performer or musician for the musical.

Wrong on the #s. If 100 juniors, about a third, or more, are in the show.

Yes Anon 6:55- accurate data will be ion the PDE site- delayed but...

Also BUT-- what VAM is going into the beloved and very talented teacher that you were SURE you student would be getting? And what about the "cut off number?"

What about the veteran teacher who was below cut-off last year and magically became distinguished in a few short months? Ask Nina-- there scenerios are real.

People are worried about missing class time for sports, theater ,etc. Add up how much time is taken testing, how much time your kids have subs so individual tests can be given by teachers. Then WORRY (and yes the subs in, for teachers to give tests in in other districts too. Because of sign off sheets etc-- you can't let subs give these tests.

I apologize for my error.. Pittsburgh Capa is ranked 16th in the state.. philly is 32..

How about Brahear, three Principals running the school the past three years and test scores sank lower than a ship in an ocean. Disipline none. Vice principals usless. Students do what they want. The district gives each three principals their own building. What a joke. I pulled my children from pps. The LES lady in charge should have a clown suit on for the circus at Brashear!

Why is "looping" considered so important for teachers (Promise Readiness Corps) but seemingly disregarded when it comes to principals and other building administration? The churning seems to have increased beyond anything that could have been imagined pre 2005. It would be interesting to compare the average "building stability score" in the A+ schools reports then and now.

Since 9:57 mentioned discipline, are there any concerns about The Student Bill of Rights and what impact the suggested discipline component will have if accepted by the board in some way? There probably isn't anyone who does not admire what the Teen Bloc kids have attempted but they are not representative of all the kids in all the buildings.

http://video.discoverpps.org/?q=node/142

the link above is the education committee meeting where Teen Bloc presented the Bill of Rights.

there should be lots of discussion on this. is that happening?

obviously the kids worked hard to put the bill of rights together. for most of us though we need more detail since as a non-educator it is a lot of words that need examples to go with them. what are "positive school disciplinary policies" anyway? Mrs. Kennedy said with rights come responsibilities and I wish there had been more from the kids on that. even on their last item, transportation, we could have used some specific explanation. would have been great to hear what is wrong with what we have currently that they want improved. finally, the code of conduct was recently rewritten and to include the Bill of Rights in the code of student conduct would require a rewrite again? sorry to be negative.

I am working on a "Teachers' Bill of Rights."

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