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Last night, I waited in great anticipation for the start of the great blizzard of 2017. I enjoy big weather events, especially if I am physically safe. I like to watch thunderstorms. I was excited to wait for the howling winds and rapidly falling snow we were promised. I read this article, which made me laugh out loud (for the first page or so). It is about losing things, misplacing your keys, your wallet, your cell phone. That is the kind of thing I do often. I have attached an electronic device to my wallet and keys (called Tiles) to help find these things when they are lost. After hearing what Kellyanne said about being under surveillance by your microwave, I wonder if my keys and wallet are watching me. But I digress.
I saw the first snowflakes about 1 am, then went to sleep. When I woke up, I saw we were not getting a blizzard. The track of the storm shifted west, sparing us 2′ of snow. What we got was ice, snow, and slush. So much for the science of forecasting. Since I am in the midst of reading “Weapons of Math Destruction,” I understand that there are many variables that could not be predicted with certainty. So, bringing it back to education, I thought about how absurd the concept of VAM (value-added measurement or modeling) is. If weather scientists can’t accurately predict a weather event just a few hours before it happens, why do economists think they can accurately measure something as elusive as “teacher quality” by aggregating changes in student test scores over a period of years without accounting for the hundreds and thousands of unmeasured variations in students’ lives, th classroom, the school, etc.?
See how easy it was to go from the blizzard that fizzled to the flaws of teacher evaluation?
Time to check my chicken soup.