Today Judge McDonough ruled that Sheri Lederman had met the burden of proof for showing that her APPR VAM-based "ineffective" rating was "indisputably arbitrary and capricious." The recent actions of the New York State Regents to impose a four year moratorium on the use of VAM in teacher evaluations had led the state to seek a settlement with Lederman, but she held on for this important victory. The judge did rule that the second category of relief was moot by the actions of the Regents. What will be most useful moving forward is the language about inherent bias in the use of VAM. Judge McDonough wrote in his 15 page summary posted by Leonie Haimson that he found:
"...convincing and detailed evidence of VAM bias against teachers at both ends of the spectrum (e.g. those with high-performing students or those with low-performing students)....and most tellingly...a 'bell curve' that places teachers in four categories via pre-determined percentages regardless of whether the performance of students dramatically rose or dramatically fell from the previous year" (p. 11).
I wrote about the hearing and Judge McDonough's difficulties with bell curve logic back in August. It seems increasingly that the public is understanding the many problems with standardized, normed testing and the inappropriate ways it is being used. Evidence is mounting that national tests such as PARCC are created to produce high rates of failure and are not even aligned with the common core standards. See for example this recent account of a teacher revealing in detail inappropriate content and questions on the 4th grade PARCC posted by Teachers College professor Celia Oyler on her blog. Alan Singer also reported on his Huffington Post blog about high numbers of parents and students opting out of the state tests, and outrage about the content and difficulty level.
This is a day for celebrating, but the truth is, this testing nonsense is not going away anytime soon. Time to open our eyes and make our outrage known.