Saturday, May 31, 2008

So, why have I been so busy?

I've been working with VARC Director Rob Meyer to grow our research center. We are engaged in a range of work in Milwaukee Public Schools, Chicago Public Schools, a series of Teacher Incentive Fund projects, as well as basic research on extensions of our value-added model.

The work includes a series of program evaluations, professional development around the use of VA measures, random assignment experiments, improvements in operational systems, and the use of VA models for quarterly diagnostic assessments. The current focus is on adding a number of tweaks to our model that uses two prior scores to compute VA measures. The complexity of including corrections for measurement error, mid-year testing, retention in grade, etc. has required lots of graph paper and white board makers.

As for the development of the team, at the last PhD count, we were up to 2 in sociology, 2 in industrial engineering, 2 in educational leadership, 1 in statistics, and 6 in economics. We are probably going to add a couple of more MAs in economics and statistics and a PhD in applied mathematics. I can also tell you that Fortran is alive and well here. We are hoping to start working with the Condor Project to address some of the computational problems of more complex VA models.

As the guy in charge of strategic planning and human capital development for this merry band, it's been an exciting 18 months.


Massachusetts Education Commissioner interested in VA

The new Commissioner for Education in MA is interested in VA for school and program evaluation. This notion that attainment alone does not tell enough of the story is popping up all over.


Ok. I'm going to try it again


I actually liked doing these posts. The pressure of starting up a major research and technical assistance center made this effort look like the back breaking straw at the end of a long day. I am at the end of a growth phase and have added quite a few staff members. My goal is actually to bring in a few guest bloggers amongst the VARCians to contribute analysis and materials.