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Open Access Publications from the University of California


InterActions is an open access journal hosted by the eScholarship initiative of the California Digital Library, edited and managed by graduate students, based at the UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies. Our publication’s authors foster an open and critical dialogue with readers and colleagues through applying diverse social justice frameworks to the discussion of pressing issues in the fields of education and information.

Special Section Articles

VAM-Based Teacher Evaluation Policies: Ideological Foundations, Policy Mechanisms, and Implications

For the first time in history, many states, districts, and administrators, are now required to evaluate teachers by methods that are up to 50% based on their “value-added,” as demonstrated at the classroom-level by growth on student achievement data over time. In this critical literature review, the authors use a three-tier framework to review VAM-based literature, reports, and U.S. education policies to examine this controversial topic of teacher evaluation that continues to sweep the nation. The authors argue that, given the current problems with VAMs in terms of reliability, validity, bias, and fairness, as well as the lack of evidence that previous accountability policies have worked to alleviate the root causes of low educational quality, it is hard to make a legitimate claim that VAM-based teacher evaluation policies will work in their intended ways.

Value-Added Modeling: Challenges for Measuring Special Education Teacher Quality

Teacher evaluation systems that rely upon subjective observations and are limited to binary rating scales have been criticized for their inability to distinguish highly effective from ineffective teachers.  Largely in response to the Obama administration’s Race to the Top competition for federal funding, school districts are looking to value-added models as a means by which to improve their teacher evaluation systems and promote highly qualified and effective teachers.  Value-added models purport to measure teacher quality by collecting longitudinal student achievement data in the form of standardized test scores.  While value-added models could potentially improve teacher assessment, there are limitations to including students with disabilities in the models.  This literature review examines the promises and criticisms of value-added models, and continues the discussion of measuring special education teacher equality using the standardized test scores of students with disabilities.

VAM in Greek, English, and Implication: Explanations of Different Models and their Effects on Aggregate and Individual Teacher Outcomes

This article first explains how to estimate the most common value-added models and discusses the assumptions underlying each model. Second, we compare how the models differ in estimates of effectiveness for individual teachers, emphasizing the large differences found for some teachers from one model to another.  Finally, our study illustrates how policies for the use of value-added models could mitigate the implications of these large differences and capitalize on the strengths of these models.

The Semantics of Measuring Teacher Effectiveness: How Word Choice Shapes Public Perception, Policy, and Practice

Using a framework from general semantics, communication as a semantic environment (Postman, 1976), this paper analyzes specific language used in discourse about measuring teacher effectiveness.  Three contextualizing features of this sematic environment are discussed (people, purposes, and rules of discourse).  With the use of multiple examples, the author introduces and illustrates four common language behaviors (Definition Tyranny, Model Muddles, Propaganda, and Silent Questions) and shows how they can lead to conflict and/or confusion in discourse about measuring teacher effectiveness.


The Spectrum Doctoral Fellowship Program: Enhancing the LIS Professoriate

With the aid of an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grant the American Library Association (ALA) Office for Diversity offered the first full fellowships under the Spectrum Scholarship program for 12 students to pursue doctoral degrees in Library and Information Science at accredited institutions around the country.  The Fellows were drawn from the four underrepresented ethnic populations and are in various stages of study from early course work to near completion of their doctoral degrees.

With the goal of increasing racial and ethnic diversity among the profession’s next generation of Library and Information Science (LIS) faculty and leaders, the program has provided an unprecedented opportunity for the scholars.  It has also created the ability to extract a wealth of information from the scholars about their experiences as doctoral students.  The major goal of this research is to capture that information, especially the advantages and disadvantages those students experienced both as Fellows and as minority students in LIS PhD programs. The results of this research will inform LIS education and pedagogy and provide documented evidence of experiences that can lead to the improvement of doctoral education for minorities in the future and enrich the knowledge on which future initiatives are based.

“Education in Disguise”: Culture of a Hacker and Maker Space

Hacker and maker spaces (HMSs) are open-access workshops devoted to creative and technical work. Their growing numbers (over 500 worldwide) make them a significant grassroots movement supporting informal learning. Scholars have found pedagogical benefits of tinkering and hacking, but the cultural contexts from which these practices arise remain under-studied. How do members of hacker and maker spaces bring about personalized and collaborative learning? In-depth interviews were conducted between October 2011 and March 2012 with members of GeekSpace, a North American HMS. Findings suggest that the pragmatic attitude present in other hacker cultures served a similar uniting function in this space. Specifically, members encouraged learning and collaboration predominantly through a belief in materialities, particularly as GeekSpace's collective identity shifted from hacker to maker. Members altered the space to serve individual and collective goals rather than employing deliberation or strong organizational methods. Initially the group approached learning through lectures and solo problem-solving, which gave way to learning through hands-on work and peripheral participation on projects. Future avenues of research on HMSs include patterning across different sites, organizational practices and factors that inhibit participation. This article draws on interviews with HMS members to discuss how the spread of hacking and making has led to members forming loose organizations focused on informal learning and peer production.

Book Reviews

Book Review: Evgeny Morozov: To Save Everything, Click Here.

This is a book review of technology pundit Evgeny Morozov's latest book in which he criticizes what he calls "technological solutionism".

Book Review: Overcoming Disadvantage in Education by Stephen Gorard and Beng Huat See

Review of Stephen Gorard and Beng Huat See's Overcoming Disadvantage in Education.

Book Review: Import of the Archive: U.S. Colonial Rule of the Philippines and the Making of American Archival History by Cheryl Beredo

Book Review of Cheryl Beredo's recent book Import of the Archive: U.S. Colonial Rule of the Philippines and the Making of American Archival History.

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