"...(W)hen a student fails to flourish, it is rarely the result of one party. Rather, it tends to be a confluence of confounding factors, often involving parents, teachers, administrators, politicians, neighborhoods, and even the student himself. If we could collect data that allowed us to parse out these influences accurately, then we might be able to hold not just teachers but all parties responsible. At present, however, we are light-years away from even understanding how to collect such data."
"...However, we might think of one model that has applicability on such a large data set. That is the 'Google Page Rank' algorithm that was the foundation of the world's most successful search engine... successful for being able to have a high degree of accuracy in finding true correlations between "your search query" and "the info that matches your query". Stats geeks - you figure it out.
Now, if such a system that can correlate a student's achievements with earlier teacher contributions, it will be a much better way of finding out which teachers are successful at doing the job, i.e. preparing students to go on to the next level of academics successfully."
The brilliance of My Idea...okay, of The Insider's idea found on MY blog (I'm happy now) is that it has an answer for what teachers say is an "insoluble" problem. Now I'm with The Insider on the fact that I don't know how it can be done...but would I be The Jenius if I didn't give it a stab?
How well you know Me.
--What Google--the Owner of the Internets--did with search was postulate a method by which any question could be correlated to a growing set of "inter-related data points." In contrast, what We want with "data-driven, value-added assessment" is to answer a very specific paired set of questions: How is a student progressing? and Who's teaching helps students progress more? Every other question We may wish to ask about education simply flows from these two starting points.
--Given that framework, We can begin aggregating data already in hand, from socioeconomic factors to test results and health data. Yes, it presents an incomplete picture of factors affecting education, but it starts to establish the framework and helps identify gaps that need to be filled.
--In the aggregation of data and the application of the algorithm, there is a ranking system (Google's success in taking over the world was predicated on this point.) By playing with the data and ranking systems, We can test different methods against historical results, as in determining how closely IQ tests are related to academic success or how much weight should standardized tests have. The strength of this exploration is that We can see the end results of factors in the recent past and weigh them accordingly. The weakness is that because more data needs to be added to fill out the evaluation framework, the algorithm will not be a reliable predictor of future success for maybe several years.
--During this "historical" assessment, We will again see how important family, health (particularly nutrition), funding levels and socioeconomic levels are to a student's ultimate success. Fine: We can them "average them out," essentially place them in the background so that the information We want to see, i.e., teacher performance, can then "rise" above the data.
--Teachers, don't get hissy about the previous paragraph: it's called "filtering" and it applies as much to search results as it does to seismic events, cardiograms and musical recordings, and so it will apply to this kind of teacher evaluation system.
--Given the amount of data and the need to capture the intangibles to improve education, coupled with the notion that by doing so the U.S. of part of A. could once again vault to the head of the (world)class and lead the way into true 21st century schooling, I'd be very surprised if Google doesn't start doing this soon--or if they might already be planning to do so. They may even have a test project going on somewhere. It makes sense that the world's leader in data analysis simplification (think about it) would want to use that power to impact the very basis of a society's future: education.
And then again, all this may come together because I had a brilliant idea...
Of expanding on The Insider's comments.
The Jenius Has Spoken.