Houston Slams VAM (Plus: All About SAS)
As a Pennsylvanian teacher, I am paying particular attention to the news from Houston, where VAM just suffered another well-deserved loss. I'll get to that in a second, but let me set the stage and tell you a little story of how we arrived here.
Houston and Reformsters
The Houston Independent School District has always been out in front of education reformsterism. It was Houston where Superintendent Rod Paige performed the "Texas Miracle" of raising test scores even for non-wealthy, non-white students. The Texas Miracle became part of the justification for the test-driven baloney of No Child Left Behind, and Rod Paige was whisked to Washington to employ his miracle-inducing powers as George Bush's Secretary of Education.
Only, there was no Texas Miracle. Houston was not an example of how test-centered accountability could create excellence; instead, it was an example of Campbell's Law, of how using bad measure as proxy for a complex social behavior just leads to increasing corruption (aka gaming, spinning and cheating) of that measure. Houston schools had pushed low-scoring students out the door, or held them back a year and then leapfrogged them over the testing grade.
Fast forward a few years, and we find HISD signing on with SAS to use their nifty Value-Added instrument called EVAAS.
The SAS Story
SAS has been in the analytics for a while ("Giving you the power to know since 1976"). FounderJames H. Goodnight was born in 1943 in North Carolina. He earned a Masters in statistics; that combined with some programming background landed him a job with a company that built CURMUDGUCATION: Houston Slams VAM (Plus: All About SAS):