More of What VEA Wants to Hide

Turning again to the SGP data that Brian Davison sued out of VDOE last year, let’s look at mathematics.

No. 40837, the teacher with the best 2014 math SGP average in Virginia, 95.2, had a fifth grade class in Fairfax.  Here are the data:


We can resist the temptation to dismiss this as the result of a class full of very bright students:  Students who scored in the advanced “proficient” range two years running didn’t get an SGP (it’s hard to show growth from really-good-already).  Thus, the students reported here did not obtain superior scores in both 2013 and 2014; they improved radically in 2014, compared to the others in Virginia who had similar performances in 2013.

Of further interest, this teacher’s reading SGPs (average of 65.7) are above average (48.0) but much less spectacular:


We can think of all kinds of explanations for this pattern.  In the absence of other data, Friar Occam would tell us to look first at the simple one: This is a superior math teacher and an above average reading teacher.

At the other end of the spectrum, we have No. 76323 whose fifth grade math students in Richmond averaged an SGP of 4.0.


The Virginia “Education” Association has threatened to sue because it doesn’t want you to know about this teacher.  But you can bet that the Richmond School Board members, Superintendent, principals and teachers knew and that none of their kids was among the unfortunate 25 in No. 76323’s class.

The reading performance of this teacher was a world better, with an above-average mean of 57.7


This suggests that there is a place for this teacher in Richmond, just not teaching math (absent some heavy-duty retraining).

The second worst 2014 math performance comes from fourth grade teacher No. 71819 in Lynchburg, with an average of 4.4.


This same teacher turned in a 25.7 in reading.


So, one awful performance and one clearly sub-par. 

Unfortunately, this teacher was getting worse:


You can again bet that no child of a School Board member, the Superintendent, or any Lynchburg principal or teacher was damaged by this teacher.

All the schoolchildren of Lynchburg (and their parents who pay the teachers) deserve to be protected from this teacher, and the too many others who are nearly as bad.  Another twenty-nine Lynchburg teachers averaged a math SGP of less than thirty in 2014; eight of those were less than twenty.


The 2014 reading performance in Lynchburg was less horrible: One teacher was below an average SGP of twenty, another six were between twenty and thirty. 

The SGP data from 2012 to 2014 tell us that Lynchburg’s average performance was sub-par and deteriorating.


Unfortunately, we can’t rely on the schools to deal with the ineffective teachers.  VDOE quotes a 2009 study for the proposition that

99 percent of teachers were rated as satisfactory when their schools used a satisfactory/unsatisfactory rating system; in schools that used an evaluation scale with a broader range of options, an overwhelming 94 percent of all teachers received one of the top two ratings.

The only Virginia data we have on performance evaluations for teachers are from 2011.  That year 99.3% of the Lynchburg teachers were rated “proficient”; 0.1% (one of 731) were “unacceptable – recommend plan of assistance”; 0.5% (four of 731) were “unacceptable – recommend non-renewal or dismissal.”  Looks like Lynchburg, like Richmond, thinks it is the Lake Woebegone of teachers.

Indeed, it looks like there was little thinking involved and the evaluation process was a bad joke.  I have a Freedom of Information Act request pending at VDOE to see whether their new process is any better (or whether they are part of the VEA conspiracy of secrecy).

The Virginia “Education” Association is threatening to sue VDOE, Brian Davison, and me because they don’t want you to know whether your kid is being subjected to a lousy teacher.  Their behavior demonstrates that their mission is protecting incompetent teachers, not advancing “education.”  That makes the very name of the Association an exercise in mendacity. 

As to Richmond (and, doubtless, Lynchburg) I said earlier:

Seems to me City Council should demand, as a condition of all the money they are spending on [the schools], an audit of teacher performance (SGP in the past, progress tables going forward) with an analysis of Principal and Superintendent actions regarding underperforming teachers.  For sure, if Council doesn’t demand those data, the rest of us will continue to be operated on the mushroom principle (keep ‘em in the dark, feed ‘em horse poop).