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How Value-added Teacher Data Is Like a Baseball Batting Average

Neither is consistent from year-to-year, but they're among the best measures we've got for evaluating talent.

In early-September—amidst the hubbub spurred by the Los Angeles Times' release of value-added teacher assessment dataa report from the Economics Policy Institute warned that it would be "unwise" to use data pertaining to students' performance on standardized tests in making personnel decisions at a school. A new report out of the Brookings Institute says it would be unwise not to use the data at all.

The researchers behind the Brookings paper make an interesting case, drawing parallels between selective colleges' use of SAT scores in admissions, despite the fact that they don't have a strong correlation with freshman-year GPAs (about 35 percent). In the medical space, the patient mortality rates for various surgeries are published annually for hospitals and their surgeons, yet the rates aren't consistent from year-to-year more than 50 percent of the time. And, in Major League Baseball, how well a hitter bats in one year is only roughly 36 percent predictive of what he'll hit the following year.


As Jay Mathews, The Washington Post's venerable education reporter says, it's equivalent to asking the question: "Should the San Francisco Giants keep rookie of the year Buster Posey [pictured above] on their team next year?" (Answer: Of course, they should, he hit .305 last year!)

Interestingly, this 0.35 range of correlation is also where the year-to-year value-added scores for teachers lie. What that means is that if in one year a certain group of teachers falls in the top 25 percent in terms of improving their students' test scores, there's only a 35 percent chance they'll remain in that cohort the following year. This is a major criticism thrown out by detractors of value-added data—and one deftly deflected by the Brookings Institute paper.

Brookings is supportive of value-added methodology, but not full-throated in its use of anything beyond teacher evaluation for the purpose of feedback, though they strongly stress that the use of value-added data should be approached from the perspective of what's best for the student (not the teacher). If a few average teachers are mistakenly rated as poor, and then subsequently dismissed, that's preferable to ineffective teachers being characterized as adequate.

When teacher evaluation that incorporates value-added data is compared against an abstract ideal, it can easily be found wanting in that it provides only a fuzzy signal. But when it is compared to performance assessment in other fields or to evaluations of teachers based on other sources of information, it looks respectable and appears to provide the best signal we’ve got.

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Photo (cc) via Flickr user Chase N

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via Gage Skidmore / Flickr and nrkbeta / flickr

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) dropped a bombshell on Tuesday, announcing it had over 900 emails that White House aide Stephen Miller sent to former Breitbart writer and editor Katie McHugh.

According to the SPLC, in the emails, Miller aggressively "promoted white nationalist literature, pushed racist immigration stories and obsessed over the loss of Confederate symbols after Dylann Roof's murderous rampage."

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Politics
via Around the NFL / Twitter

After three years on the sidelines, Colin Kapernick will be working out for multiple NFL teams on Saturday, November 16 at the Atlanta Falcons facility.

The former 49er quarterback who inflamed the culture wars by peacefully protesting against social injustice during the national anthem made the announcement on Twitter Tuesday.

Kaepernick is scheduled for a 15-minute on-field workout and an interview that will be recorded and sent to all 32 teams. The Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, and Detroit Lions are expected to have representatives in attendance.

RELATED: Joe Namath Says Colin Kaepernick And Eric Reid Should Be Playing In The NFL

"We like our quarterback situation right now," Miami head coach, Brian Flores said. "We're going to do our due diligence."

NFL Insider Steve Wyche believes that the workout is the NFL's response to multiple teams inquiring about the 32-year-old quarterback. A league-wide workout would help to mitigate any potential political backlash that any one team may face for making an overture to the controversial figure.

Kapernick is an unrestricted free agent (UFA) so any team could have reached out to him. But it's believed that the interested teams are considering him for next season.

RELATED: Video of an Oakland train employee saving a man's life is so insane, it looks like CGI

Earlier this year, Kaepernick and Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid reached a financial settlement with the league in a joint collusion complaint. The players alleged that the league conspired to keep them out after they began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016.

Before the 2019 season, Kaepernick posted a video of himself working out on twitter to show he was in great physical condition and ready to play.

Kaepnick took the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012 and the NFC Championship game in 2013.

He has the 23rd-highest career passer rating in NFL history, the second-best interception rate, and the ninth-most rushing yards per game of any quarterback ever. In 2016, his career to a sharp dive and he won only of 11 games as a starter.

Culture
NASA

Four black women, Engineers Christine Darden and Mary Jackson, mathematician Katherine Johnson, and computer programmer Dorothy Vaughan, worked as "human computers" at NASA during the Space Race, making space travel possible through their complex calculations. Jackson, Johnson, and Vaughn all played a vital role in helping John Glenn become the first American to orbit the Earth.

They worked behind the scenes, but now they're getting the credit they deserve as their accomplishments are brought to the forefront. Their amazing stories were detailed in the book "Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race" by Margot Lee Shetterly, which was later turned into a movie. (Darden was not featured in the movie, but was in the book). Johnson has a building at NASA named after her, and a street in front of NASA's Washington D.C. headquarters was renamed "Hidden Figures Way."

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Science

Between Alexa, Siri, and Google, artificial intelligence is quickly changing us and the way we live. We no longer have to get up to turn on the lights or set the thermostat, we can find the fastest route to work with a click, and, most importantly, tag our friends in pictures. But interacting with the world isn't the only thing AI is making easier – now we can use it save the world, too.

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Good News
Courtesy of John S. Hutton, MD

A report from Common Sense Media found the average child between the ages of 0 and 8 has 2 hours and 19 minutes of screen time a day, and 35% of their screen time is on a mobile device. A new study conducted by the Cincinnati Children's Hospital published in the journal, JAMA Pediatrics, found exactly what all that screen time is doing to your kid, or more specifically, your kid's developing brain. It turns out, more screen time contributes to slower brain development.

First, researchers gave the kids a test to determine how much and what kind of screen time they were getting. Were they watching fighting or educational content? Were they using it alone or with parents? Then, researchers examined the brains of children aged 3 to 5 year olds by using MRI scans. Forty seven brain-healthy children who hadn't started kindergarten yet were used for the study.

They found that kids who had more than one hour of screen time a day without parental supervision had lower levels of development in their brain's white matter, which is important when it comes to developing cognitive skills, language, and literacy.

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Health