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President of Math for America Descries Misuse of Value-Added Modeling

May 16, 2011

The most common misapplication of mathematics today is the reliance on value-added modeling (VAM). That's according to John Ewing, president of Math for America.

VAM, which helps to interpret test data, is being used instead, Ewing indicates, as a way to convince the public that an idea or process is “objective” and hence better than competing approaches. Touted as the modern, “scientific” way to measure educational success in everything from charter schools to individual teachers, it pops up in newspapers, television, and political campaigns.

The upshot, however, is “mathematical intimidation,” says Ewing. Value-added modeling is “especially persuasive because so many people are awed by mathematics and yet do not understand it—a dangerous combination.”

Ewing presents an overview of the history, use, and problems associated with the valued-added model of assessing teachers in “Mathematical Intimidation: Driven by the Data” (Notices of the American Mathematical Society, May 2011) The article is “well worth your time,” observed Valerie Strauss of The Washington Post.

Source:The Washington Post (May 9, 2011)

Start Date: 
Monday, May 16, 2011