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Violin armed monkey! VAM!

Or maybe VAM means Vindictive Asinine Madness? Very Annoying Mess? Or is it an old school Batman-type knockout sound effect? (Boom! Ka-Pow! VAM!)

Nope, it’s the Value-Added Model (or Measure) used to determine teachers’  effectiveness. Basically it decides if I’ve added an appropriate amount of value to your child.

Before I get accused of being a lazy-overpaid-unionthug-who-doesn’t-care-about-children, let me specify that I have no problem being evaluate, after all, I evaluate children all the time. I don’t even mid too much that a large portion of my evaluation is based on my students’ performance on a poorly designed test. However, you would think that the powers that be would figure their system out before tying it to potential employment decisions.

Imagine this. I am you child’s teacher. I tell students that they can choose whether their grade on the final will be based on their score only, or the average of the class. They chose their score. When the final is over, I tell them that I “messed up” the exam they turned in, so they will get the class score, but they should not worry because it is about the same anyway. You show up irate, and demand that I prove to you that my slip-up was not in fact detrimental to your child’s grade. I say, “Sure, see for yourself. Here’s the formula I used to calculate the score:”

Simple, right? No? Well, welcome to my life! (VAM! in your face, Teacher!)

Last week, I was told that there was an error in my VAM score, so my VAM would be based the score of the whole school’s performance in Reading rather than that of my specific students. Additionally, there is no explanation from the state as to what the score means. All I know is that it is apparently determined by the formula above (??) and that it will count for 50% of my evaluation, which will be complete sometime this month. That’s last year’s evaluation, by the way. Wouldn’t it be awesome if I gave your child his or her final grade for 9th grade sometime in the fall of their sophomore year?

It’s just one of those things that make me reconsider my career path every so often.

All things considered, maybe the monkeys would come up with a better evaluation.