Transparency in evaluation should be a basic right

25 Oct

Over two centuries ago American colonies revolted against the crown under the slogan “no taxation without representation.” It is such a basic principle, you should be able to participate in the decisions that affect your life.

Today, we are faced with a new challenge; evaluation by secret algorithms. Right now, teachers across the country are being evaluated by proprietary value added algorithms. Recently, in Ohio, the contractor who produces the value added ratings announced that there had been an error in this year’s calculation.  Because the formula used to calculate the value added measures are secret, we have to rely on the good intentions of the contractor. There is no way to independently assess the contractor.

But there is a more fundamental question here, how can it possible be fair to be evaluated by a secret formula? I do not believe that value added measures of teaching are valid. Perhaps, one of the reasons they keep the formula secret is that people might come to realize that the practice itself is flawed.

This is not just an issue for teachers. There are efforts to evaluate colleges of education based on these secret algorithms. There have even been proposals to evaluate doctors this way. Secret evaluation techniques allow employers to have arbitrary power over employees.

Transparency in evaluation should be a basic right for all workers.

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