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By Anthony Cody (and Anonymous).

I received the following message from a reader this morning. With his permission, I am sharing it here, followed by my own thoughts:

I just applied to Downey Unified School District in Southern California and was referred to the Teachermatch website to take the “EPI” test to see if I was a good match. It was a bizarre, poorly-written test, that left me feeling angry that school districts are paying tens of thousands of dollars to this company for these bogus, meaningless assessments of candidates.

It was an hour-and-a-half with timed questions on logic, analogies, math, theory, hypothetical situations, etc. All multiple choice. Several questions about education philosophy did not have any choices that represented my philosophy–but I had to choose one to move on to the next question. There was a question about multiplying fractions — not a word problem, but literally 3/5 X 2/3—without the correct answer, but with fractions followed by abbreviations I have never seen before (ie “3/4 nf” and “1/2 bd”). I attended UC San Diego (consistently rated as one of top universities in the world) and have a Masters Degree. I had no idea what those abbreviations meant. But you have to choose an answer to continue to the next question. And you have to choose it within 90 seconds or you will be marked “in violation.”

My understanding is that Teacher Match is an LLC started by a former police officer in Chicago because he is “very concerned about unqualified teachers” in the schools. So he decided to gather a secret group of investors/finance industry executives together to develop this test (since those are the people most knowledgeable and most concerned about the crisis with incompetent teachers ruining our education system!). They charge tens of thousands to schools/districts to use their system that they claim is proven effective by data that they can’t share. And they are presenters at conferences that cater to investors looking at how to get into lucrative public education markets.

When the test was finished I was prompted to give them my personal information,, complete a profile and purchase a membership so that potential employers could view my profile (which I suppose would include the results of this test, which I could not see– I have no idea what score I got). I was not given a score, nor was there any explanation of how it would be scored.

Do you know anything about this? Does anyone have any thoughts?

My thoughts:
The TeacherMatch website says this about their test:

TeacherMatch EPI: Educators Professional Inventory is a dynamic, data-driven platform that predicts the impact teacher candidates will have on student achievement. Our groundbreaking first-of-its-kind hiring assessment tool is designed to identify the top teaching candidates for any teaching position.

Here is their video that explains their claims.

This is a logical extension of our obsession with test score data. If, as we have seen, Value Added modeling (VAM) is unreliable at predicting test scores of students based on actual data, how in the world can this test pretend to predict future test scores of purely hypothetical students?

In a way, this completes the test-focused circle. In order to see who will best prepare students to score well on tests, we give prospective teachers a sort of “master test.” Those who score well, we are told, will be the best test-preppers. We are not given any actual data as to how well this system works in the real world. And more fundamentally, it is taken as a matter of faith that the job of our schools is to generate the highest test scores possible. This is the biggest flaw in the entire data-driven system. These technocrats are obsessing over bogus indicators of quality.

School districts that turn their hiring process over to systems like this will spend many thousands of dollars to make themselves “data-driven”. In so doing, they are likely to make choices influenced by factors that may have little bearing on that which makes teachers most effective. Just as many of the most important aspects of student learning are not measured by tests, the qualities that make a great teacher cannot be captured by a test.

TeacherMatch was founded in 2011 by Ron Huberman, who had departed his post as CEO of Chicago Public Schools. This history served him well. According to this Chicago Sun Times report from 2015, more than half of the 500 job openings at TeacherMatch then were at Chicago charter schools.

We have heard that schools are moving away from being focused on test scores — and California is supposed to be leading the way. What does it say about our accountability climate that school districts here are spending thousands of scarce dollars on this sort of data-driven hokum?

Author

Anthony Cody
Anthony Cody

Anthony Cody worked in the high poverty schools of Oakland, California, for 24 years, 18 of them as a middle school science teacher. He was one of the organizers of the Save Our Schools March in Washington, DC in 2011 and he is a founding member of The Network for Public Education. A graduate of UC Berkeley and San Jose State University, he now lives in Mendocino County, California.

Comments

  1. susano98    

    From Mastery Learning to Data Driven Management, leaders of Chicago schools have been noteworthy for launching very bad ideas. Here’s a recap of Huberman’s work there.
    http://www.substancenews.net/articles.php?page=1592&section=Article

  2. howardat58    

    Over the years I have noticed, particularly in higher education, but seemingly elsewhere, the increasing reluctance of those “in charge” to make decisions based on their own appreciation and understanding of a situation. They want to dump the responsibility of decision making onto machines, grading systems, marks, computer output, tests, in fact anything that can be used to divert the “finger pointing”.

  3. Dr. A. Clark Snyder    

    Gee, what a surprise — another gimmick to undermine public schools and shovel taxpayer dollars into the pockets of corporations that have little interest in anything other than getting a big slice of the education pie, with no oversight or accountability on their watch. Their collective eye is on only one thing: profits (and students, parents and the public be damned).

  4. Sergio Flores    

    As the unchallenged corporate reformers’ ideological vision continues, their dominant frame now expands to the area of hiring teachers. However, Is there any one paying attention surprised by corporate reformers trying to profit from yet another opportunity open to them? Should anyone be wondering why the impersonal (and cheap) manner to provide the job of interviewing and hiring? That fits their profile. What alarms me is the stealthiness in the corporate reformers’ unstoppable takeover, both physical and ideological, of our public school system. Now, this sort of system may serve to control and coerce candidates into fitting a certain mold –liking CCSS, favor SBAC, and so on. Goodbye to personal identity!

  5. Sorme57    

    This is creepy. The test taker doesn’t even get to see their “score”? And I use that term with caution as it is unlikely to have any validity.

  6. Deborah West    

    I’m curious as to how well this school teacher applicant test truly predicts a better tester. Where are these data? We currently know that, for example, the GRE fails to predict student success, so why are educators wasting already reduced budgets for more similar useless tests? One can only follow the money trail when searching for answers. Who really benefits?

  7. philaken    

    TeacherMatch is another Gates funded project.
    “TeacherMatch: Matchmakng Towards a Corporate Hell?”
    http://www.defendpubliceducation.net/teachermatch-matchmaking-towar/

  8. amerigus    

    How do they know if the students had private tutors or not?

  9. Unemployable due to TM testing    

    I was just released from a letter of intent with a local school district due to my TeacherMatch score was not what this particular district deemed good enough. There are multiple teachers in districts around me not signing contracts after completing this ridiculous test. I believe it to be unfair to the teacher candidates to be subjected to take this test not knowing who heavy it will weighed on them being accepted into the pools of districts that require this to move forward in their job fairs, hiring and actually signing a contract. I am extremely upset because if it wasn’t for the principal that extended me the position and signing my letter of intent I wouldn’t have known about my score or how low it actually was. I believe it is misleading to have listed on a districts website on a posted position what the requirements are to apply for the position and not mention that a score of x is required beyond what is accepted by the state to be a certified teacher. I currently hold my Master’s in Early Childhood Education and Development and certificated in my state but due to this state I am unable to sign a contract with the district that hired me. I am being judge solely by a test I had no knowledge would determine whether or not I was able to get a position in a district. It makes sense when I think of why no districts have invited me to job fairs and why the offers I have had have all fallen through. I am educated in the field with more than the required amount of education to teach but due to this test I am deemed as a poor choice. I smell a lawsuit. I would love for other to join me to make it a class action suit.

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