One hour after The Gates Foundation released their big report that justified the use of Value-Added Measurement to evaluate teachers, Nate Silver was participating in a question/answer session on the Reddit site. Here’s the first question and his answer:


What are your thoughts on data-driven metrics for teacher evaluation? Do you think a system that accurately reflects teacher value could ever be created, or will it always be plagued by perverse incentives (teaching to the test, neglecting certain types of students, etc)?


There are certainly cases where applying objective measures badly is worse than not applying them at all, and education may well be one of those.

In my job out of college as a consultant, one of my projects involved visiting public school classrooms in Ohio and talking to teachers, and their view was very much that teaching-to-the-test was constraining them in some unhelpful ways.

But this is another topic that requires a book- or thesis-length treatment to really evaluate properly. Maybe I’ll write a book on it someday.

I’ve said his book was the best one I read in 2012 related to education, and I have quite a few notes that I’m preparing to turn into a blog post. I should probably move that up on my priority list…