On Tuesday May, 10, a New York State court ruled that the use of value added measures for a teacher’s evaluation was “arbitrary and capricious.” Let us repeat that, the use of VAM scores in teacher evaluations is null and void. Sheri Lederman and her attorney husband Bruce Lederman helped expose VAM as junk science.
This flies in the face of the Annual Professional Performance Review that the UFT leadership shook hands on in 2013. This historic court case has validated the collective angst of every public school teacher, not just in New York State but across the nation. Will our union organize a class action lawsuit on behalf of its members for systematically distorting the focus of teaching and learning to a single metric? Under a MORE/New Action leadership, this is possible.
A collective processing of this ruling is in order! While the use of high stakes tests, a supposedly non-subjective, scientific and mathematical method, to evaluate teachers was on trial, human values reigned.
- Teaching to students rather than to tests won.
- Those who have refused to have their children take the tests and those who have refused to administer the tests are fully validated.
- Progressive public schools who have stood their ground and resisted bending under the pressures of compliance are justified in safeguarding their communities based on collaboration and whole child learning.
- Those who have spoken out against the reallocation of funds for test centered programs vs. culturally relevant and developmentally appropriate pedagogy are fully justified.
- Many experienced mid-career teachers, who have found themselves targeted for excess or harassment because of the test-centric atmospheres in so many of our schools, can have peace of mind that they are, indeed, the professional and competent educators they’ve always been.
- Schools have been ranked, sorted and labeled for receivership or renewal arbitrarily and capriciously as well.
The values that we voice must align with the actions we take. The Lederman case is a tremendous win for what we believe in as educators. Our union can be the vehicle to make our visions a reality.