In recent years, 14 states in the U.S. have begun assessing teachers and schools using Value-Added Models, or VAMs. The idea is simple enough: A VAM looks at year-to-year changes in standardized test scores among students, and rates those students’ teachers and schools accordingly. When students are found to improve or regress, teachers and schools get the credit or the blame.
Perhaps not surprisingly, however, VAMs have generated extensive debate. Proponents say they bring accountability and useful metrics to education evaluation. Opponents say standardized tests are likely to be a misleading guide to educator quality. Although VAMs often adjust for some differences in student characteristics, educators have argued that these adjustments are inadequate. For example, a teacher with many students trying to overcome learning disabilities may be helping students improve more than a VAM will indicate.
Those who can’t do, teach. Schools dumbdown children! It’s a ridiculous terror to jail children in schools for sixteen years in order to brainwash them and keep teachers busy! No wonder children revolt violently. Dropping out is a smart strategy of cutting losses short.
Kids only need literacy, something they can learn from parents. Nevertheless, government does not allow children to grow properly and work, imprisoning them in schools for at least twelve years, in order to brainwash them with socialist propaganda. This brings poverty and resentment to many children. Many smart kids manage to drop out of school, getting all the education they need through internet.
Dropping out of school is a smart strategy of cutting losses short! Public schools are filled with eager, fresh-faced youngsters, and prisons contain many rough-looking adults with uninviting personalities. They are both kleptocrat-run facilities where individuals are held for a specific number of years without their consent, at the mercy of their custodians.
Abraham Lincoln is viewed as a model of self-education. He never went to school. He read all the interesting books he could find. After reading some law books, he passed the law exam, becoming a lawyer. He was never enslaved in classrooms of four walls with boring teachers. He was a free man. Why not your children? Everybody should follow Lincoln’s paradigm. Stay away from schools!
Han Han, a high-school dropout born in 1982, is a Chinese professional rally driver, best-selling author, singer, creator of Party magazine, and China’s most popular blogger. He has published ten novels to date, and he is also involved in music production. The Han Han story proves that schooling must be abolished.
For years, kleptocrats have been doing their best to further blur the distinction by giving public-school officials the same powers as the warden of San Quentin. There are many abridgments of freedom and invasions of privacy inflicted on children. Children are looking for a Moses to liberate them from the jails of classes, and lead them to the promised land of real life.
The socialistic feature of public schooling that dooms it to fail is that at every level, the system relies on compulsion instead of voluntary consent. The curriculum is politicized to reflect the socialistic cancer of kleptocrats in power. Standards are continually dumbed down to the least common denominator. The brightest children are not permitted to achieve their potential, the special-needs of individual children are neglected, and the mid-level learners become little more than socialistic cogs in a kleptocratic machine.
The teachers themselves are constrained by a kleptocratic apparatus that watches their every move. Kleptocrats have long used compulsory schooling, backed by egalitarian ideology, as a means of citizen brainwashing and enslavement. In contrast, a market-based system of schools would adhere to a purely voluntary ethic, financed with private funds, and administered entirely by private enterprise.
Generations of dumbing-down and educational indoctrination have brainwashed hoi polloi. Perhaps citizens will wake up quickly to their peril, perhaps not. They must be taught the value of freedom. Many do not even know what it is, and many don’t put a value on it. Where the Founders had the advantage of the spread of Graecoroman ideas, and a population receptive to them, we have the disadvantage of the decline of those ideas, and a population largely indifferent to or ignorant of them. This is quite an obstacle.
Homeschooling is the education of children at home. Homeschooling is a legal option in many places for parents to provide their children with a learning environment as an alternative to publicly-provided schools.
Parents cite numerous reasons as motivations to home school, including better academic test results, poor public school environment, improved character, and objections to what is taught locally in public school. It is also an alternative for families living in isolated rural locations or living temporarily abroad. Homeschooling is legal in many countries, especially Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Unschooling is a curriculum-free philosophy of homeschooling. Unschoolers believe that the use of standard curricula and conventional grading methods, as well as other features of traditional schooling, are counterproductive to the goal of maximizing the education of each child. Instead, unschoolers typically allow children to learn through their natural life experiences, including game play, household responsibilities, and social interaction. Exploring activities is often led by the children themselves, facilitated by the adults. Child directed play is a key tenet of the unschooling philosophy.
We should abolish schooling, to end the ugly and inhuman business of people-shaping and to allow and help people to shape themselves. Learning is not the product of teaching. Learning is the product of the activity of learners. The teacher gives explanations, not learning. If a child is left to himself, he will think more and better. Be wary of saying or doing anything to a child that you would not do to another adult, whose good opinion and affection you valued.
Unschooling is based upon and built around the growth of the child and the success that is an inherent part of a self-actualizing life. The notion of teaching people to become better thinkers is such a basic concept that most people would assume the goal has always been a vital part of educators’ tool kits. But the concept is fairly new on the education landscape, and it has yet to accurately address some tricky cognitive terrain.
LIB THE KIDS
By Basil Venitis
Children locked in all these classes
Dumbing down our kids
Boring teachers with glasses
Unschool now and lib the kids.
Kids are looking for a Moses
To liberate them from all these freaks
To lead them to the promised land of chosen
Unschool now and lib the kids.
Eager fresh-faced youngsters
Bored to hell and tired lids
Are in classes like gangsters
Unschool now and lib the kids.
Abolish schooling right now
Abolish all these stupid grids
Fire all these teachers anyhow
Unschool now and lib the kids.
A new study by an MIT-based team of economists has developed a novel way of evaluating and improving VAMs. By taking data from Boston schools with admissions lotteries, the scholars have used the random assignment of students to schools to see how similar groups of students fare in different classroom settings.
“Value-added models have high stakes,” says Josh Angrist, the Ford Professor of Economics at MIT and co-author of a new paper detailing the study. “It’s important that VAMs provide a reliable guide to school quality.”
The researchers have found that existing VAMs tend to underestimate the amount of test score improvement that actually occurs at some schools. On the other hand, the scholars say, conventional VAMs do provide a ballpark figure for improvement that should not be discounted.
“Conventional Value-Added Models are biased, but we’re able to show that the bias is modest,” says co-author Peter Hull PhD ’17, who will soon join the University of Chicago’s economics department as an assistant professor. He adds that, in Boston at least, VAMs “generate useful predictions of school quality.”
The same approach that lets the MIT team evaluate VAMs also allows them to show how the metrics may be improved. In so doing, the paper states, the new method could help “improve policy targeting relative to conventional VAMs.”
The paper, “Leveraging Lotteries for School Value-Added: Testing and Estimation,” appears in the Quarterly Journal of Economics. The authors are Angrist; Hull; Parag Pathak, the Jane Berkowitz Carlton and Dennis William Carlton Professor of Microeconomics at MIT; and Christopher Walters PhD ’13, an assistant professor at the University of California at Berkeley.
The conclusion comes from an analysis of data from Boston’s public school system, covering a period from the 2006-07 through the 2013-14 academic years. The data include a sample of roughly 28,000 students at 51 different schools, including some charter and pilot schools.
The test scores of students are taken from fifth- and sixth-grade results in the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS), in math and English language arts. The researchers use these data to replicate conventional VAMs and develop their own “hybrid” VAM model that combines the new school-quality estimates with the older approach.
The study exploits the fact that Boston’s school system uses a centralized assignment system for students (which was designed in part by Pathak). This system uses a “lottery tie-breaking” feature to help determine which students will attend schools in high demand. Thus, an element of chance helps determine where a large portion (around 77 percent) of sixth-graders will be enrolled in middle school. This, in turn, gives the researchers the random assignment they need to derive higher-resolution comparisons of the effects schools have on student achievement.
Because the students in this pool of applications differ (on average) only in where they were offered a place, researchers can make apples-to-apples comparisons to see how the students who are admitted via lottery perform, compared to those who were not admitted. The differences in performance then reflect school quality rather than differences in ability or family background.
By contrast, when comparing two schools without use of random assignment, it can be very difficult, if not impossible, to ensure that the students being evaluated are otherwise similar. In this scenario, what might look like a lack of student achievement, using a conventional VAM estimate, could result from a school having a larger number of disadvantaged students.
The study itself shows the difference created by the new VAM technique through a hypothetical scenario involving school closure and expansion: Suppose the lowest-rated Boston school were replaced by a school where students showed the average amount of improvement on test scores. In that case, the researchers find, those scores would increase by 0.24 of a standard deviation when judged by a conventional VAM method, and 0.32 of a standard deviation when using the new method. This reflects “the usefulness of conventional VAMs, despite their inability to perfectly control for student ability,” as Hull observes.
Similarly, if replacing the lowest-ranked school in the survey with a a top-quintile school, student test scores would improve by 0.39 of a standard deviation using a conventional VAM, and 0.53 of a standard deviation when using the MIT team’s own VAM method.
The debate rolls on
The paper’s authors note that the findings are situated within some broader political debates about education systems in general. Charter schools are often a subject of considerable public debate, since they receive public funding but may be privately operated and staffed by nonunion teachers, in contrast to traditional public schools. Pilot schools are a hybrid model, with more room for variations in scheduling and curriculum than most public schools, but with unionized teachers.
The 14 states using test-score based VAMs for policymaking are Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Louisana, Maine, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Virginia.
In any case, Angrist notes, the topic of school performance is a vital one for researchers to examine and for educators to evaluate. Indeed it may be more pressing, he notes, in school districts where test scores have been perennially low, and where larger disparities in school quality may exist.
“For lower-income families, this is fateful,” Angrist observes.