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Do Value-Added Models "Control For Poverty?"


Most everything you write here is equally true of indirect proxies for school dysfunctionality, and the effects of dysfunctional schools are also beyond a teacher's control. And yes, we should acknowledge upfront that high-povery schools, which are more likely to be dysfunctional, can have greater concentrations of bad teachers. In my experience, the top 75% of my colleagues were just as good as their counterparts in great schools, but every year we hired more warm bodies who had no chance of success. Typically the warm bodies went to classrooms which previously had hopeless cases, and so on. And everyone knew the parts of the school that had disproportionately had more classes that everyone knew to be dumping gounds. Another indirect correlation is whether the principal was allowed to enforce the district's academic, attendance, and disciplinary policies. In my experiences, "Fs," "No Credits" for nonattendance, and disciplinary consequences were like the photocopier budget. Every school got its quota. It didn't matter for schools that never approached their quota. In schools like mine, our quota was used up by October. Once the alternative schools were full, the principal lost power to deal with chronic "hall walkers." And this was doubly true for disruptive and violent kids whose behavior stemmed from their disability. For instance, a principal was not allowed to suspend an IEP student with a knife with a blade shorter than 2-1/2 inches. That wasn't an issue in most schools, but in schools were 40% of our kids in regular classes were on IEPs, that was huge. I'm curious if you'd find the same indirect correlation related to today's NYC news regarding credit recovery. Abuses of that can be a huge factor beyond the teacher's control, and I'd be curious if those abuses were more common in schools under the gun. Every district is different. But I bet that most urban district will have their own unwritten ways of empowering and disempowering different schools. So, I'd take all of the qualifications you made about indirect estimates of student factors not under the control of teachers, and double it for the school factors not under the control of teachers and principals.


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