Audrey Amrein-Beardsley on The New York Times’ Touching Tribute to William Sanders, Creator of VAM

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Diane Ravitch's blog

The New York Times published a tribute by Kevin Carey of the New America Foundationto William Sanders, “the little-known statistician who taught us to measure teachers.”

One hates to speak ill of the dead, but accuracy requires that we note that Sanders’ statistical model for “measuring” teachers was flawed, inaccurate, and damaged the lives of thousands of teachers based on Sanders’ obscure algorithms. Sanders was an agricultural statistician before he found a goldmine in education. Measuring teacher quality really is not akin to measuring cattle or crops. Every analysis of the influences on students’ test performance gives far more weight to family income and education than to the teachers who see her or him for an hour or five hours a day. Sanders tried to remove human judgment from the equation and ended up creating a profitable business that distorted teaching and learning into a struggle for higher test…

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