Oral arguments began this past week in Sheri Lederman’s bid to challenge her ineffective rating and the entire VAM (value added modeling) system currently being used to rate teachers in New York State.
The trial got off to a good start, with State Supreme Court judge Roger McDonough pushing back hard against the state’s attorney. As reported by Carol Burris, the judge did his homework on VAM, and seems inclined toward using a common sense standard, which certainly works against the state’s defense of this ludicrous system (e.g. how can her VAM score have gone from 14 (effective) one year to a 1 (ineffective) the next, when her students got similar (and very good) scores both years?). A few members of the Badass Teachers Association (BATs) attended the proceedings as well, and this post on the BAT website contains some good analysis of the status of the case.
It is important to note that this is not the first time that VAM has been challenged in the courts. Last year, a Florida judge acknowledged that this type of model is indeed unfair, but nonetheless ruled that it is not unconstitutional and upheld its use. In this case, Lederman will attempt to show that the lack of transparency in the model is a violation of state law and will be presenting a number of affidavits from experts to demonstrate that the process is arbitrary and not scientifically valid.
Everyone seems to agree that this case has huge potential ramifications, but nobody seems to want to go out on a limb and predict just what that means. We’ll have to wait and see and hope for the best.
A decision is expected in two to three months.