“Black Box” Value-Added Teacher Appraisal Under Scrutiny in Houston

An October 7 forum sponsored by the Houston Federation of Teachers will try to shine some much-needed light on Houston ISD’s “black box” methodology for statistical modeling of teachers’ effect on student learning, called the Education Value-Added Assessment System (EVAAS). The district is using this controversial methodology for high-stakes decisions about teacher evaluation, compensation, and termination, yet the precise workings of the methodology are protected–as confidential “proprietary” information of an outside contractor–from independent examination and evaluation.

The October 7 after-school forum for union members and the wider community will feature a keynote presentation from AFT President Randi Weingarten, who is leading AFT’s campaign to improve teacher appraisal practices and make teacher evaluation an integral part of a comprehensive system of teacher development. The forum will put the particular question of how EVAAS is affecting Houston public schools in a broader framework, starting from the following premises: (1) Measuring teacher quality and effectiveness is essential to lifting student achievement and improving our schools; and (2) the goal of a good teacher evaluation system should be to identify how we can continuously improve and inform teaching practice in a way that ensures the best education for all students.

Local, state, and national educational experts will make presentations on value-added models and join Weingarten in discussing the components of a fair and comprehensive system of teacher evaluation. The program will begin at 5 pm on Thursday, October 7, at the Jesse H. Jones Conference Center (The Power Center), 12401 Post Oak Road.