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Friday, June 17, 2016

Ditch the DDMs?

Massachusetts employed a District Determined Measure (DDM) effort to measure students' academic success. I do agree that it's important to find reliable ways to measure students' academic success, and then to use those measures to inform the work we do.

Many of the measurements that we use in our system truly help us to teach better as we can see who is making progress and who is not. Also, I've noticed how much better some of our programs are since we began measuring students' academic growth and progress. There is room for measurement when it comes to teaching well, and we typically use those measures to collaboratively think about and employ better ways to teach.

The trouble with the DDMs is that most systems are not using the effort correctly and instead utilizing measures that are not valid to rate teachers. Essentially they are completing the task quickly without good thought or investment. This is why I am not in favor of this mandate at this time.

I wanted the DDMs to work, but people weren't willing to give it the time to do it well--to truly follow the guidelines set forth by the State to measure in fair and profitable ways. So for now, it's unfair to rate teachers in ways that are not fair and reliable. I spoke up because the algorithm used to rate me seems unfair. I've asked many about it, but no one has been able to convince me that it is mathematically reliable. It's been some time since I studied statistics, but in the research I've done, the measure doesn't seem to be fair. Also single teachers are rated on individual students when in most schools those students are taught by many, many educators. This reality points to the need to think more deeply about how we measure academic success today and what we do with those measurements. In most cases it's a collaborative effort with multiple in-school and outside of school factors.

I know good time and effort have been put into this work, but I can't support an effort like this when teachers are rated unfairly, and the effort is not given the serious attitude and process required in order to be fair and just.